Great Indian meals: divinely delicious and supremely nourishing, part 4
Enough of the mind1There was a great scientist named Dr. Satyendranath Bose. His was a truly immortal name in the scientific world, not only in India but also in various other countries as well. Some people are great, but they may not have enough goodness. In his case, however, he was not only great but also extremely good, kind and humble. His heart was the heart of a little child. He had a special fondness for children and used to play many games with them. One game that he liked particularly and used to play with them quite often was Karam. He himself was a fine player and, though he had distinguished himself as an eminent scientist, he used to enjoy playing with the children and they, for their part, accepted him as their hero.
Once he happened to be playing Karam with some children, and he was deeply absorbed in the game. A middle-aged man came by and for a long time was watching the game. After some time the scientist said to him, “What can I do for you?” The man replied, “I will be so grateful if you will preside over a meeting we are holding at our school. Tomorrow there will be a special meeting at our school, and I will be so grateful if you can be there to preside.”
Very politely the scientist responded, “No, I cannot. I am sorry. Please find somebody else.”
But again the visitor urged, “Oh, we need you badly. There is nobody as great as you are. We shall be deeply honoured if you come and preside over the meeting.”
With utmost politeness the scientist repeated, “I cannot come tomorrow at that hour because I am supposed to play with my friends here. Nothing gives me greater joy than to play with children. I have presided over hundreds and hundreds of meetings, and there I don’t get any joy.
“I want joy, you want joy, everybody wants joy. To me, this Karam is infinitely more meaningful than the opportunity you are giving me to preside over a meeting, for I know that intellectual people and argumentative people will come to that meeting, and they will bring their reasoning minds. I am fed up with the reasoning mind. I want only the heart, the sincere and pure heart, the oneness-heart. I get that kind of heart here, with my little friends.
“I have promised them that tomorrow I shall play with them, and I shall definitely do it. I only want to remain in the heart. I have played my role in the mind and now I am playing the role of my heart. Satisfaction is there, only there. Peace is there, only there.”
GIM 61. 18 January 1979↩
An ocean of kindness1Some people may be rich, but they may not give money to others. Some rich people, on the other hand, do give money to the poor and needy.
Kaji Mohammad Maharshin was a distinguished and highly learned man. At the same time he had a heart that cried all the time for the poor, the destitute and the needy. He was great, very great. Yet greatness itself was not enough for him. He became the living embodiment of goodness as well. Every night he used to go out and help the poverty stricken.
One particular winter night he saw a beggar woman in the street with her children. They had neither food nor clothing. There was nothing to protect them from the heavy rain, and they were crying bitterly. He became very sad and asked them whether they had eaten anything. They replied, “No, father. For the last three days we have had nothing.”
Upon hearing this he felt extremely miserable and immediately offered them some money. “I am giving you money, true. But tonight, at this hour, it will be so difficult for you to get food even with this money. So this money you can use tomorrow during the day. Tonight, I shall bring some food to you.” Then he went out into the rain and walked alone for about two miles to where he was able to buy food from a store. He then offered this food to the mother.
This was a regular occurrence for the kind man. He opened himself wholeheartedly to the needs of the poor and helped them unreservedly. Each night he would walk along different streets of the city in order to find poor people to whom he might give money and other necessary help. During the day he had no time, because he worked extremely hard for his living. But in the evening he would turn to his own special work, which was service to mankind. In him the poor people of India found an ocean of kindness. His heart’s magnanimity touched the whole of Bengal.
GIM 62. 18 January 1979↩
Raja Rammohan Ray: emancipator of women1One day, a middle-aged man saw a group of people running after a young and beautiful girl. The people were playing on Indian drums, and they kept chasing the girl. The girl was running with all her might.
This middle-aged man happened to be one of India’s pioneer pathfinders of the modern age. A great philanthropist and a very learned man, he had studied Eastern philosophy very thoroughly and was conversant in many languages. As his learning was varied and profound, even so his achievements were vast and wonderful. Right from his adolescence, he had sacrificed his life to bring to the fore the true gems of India’s civilisation and to remove the obstacles that impeded her progress within and without. So when this great soul saw the girl running away, he said, “What is wrong? What is wrong? Why is she running and why are you following after her?”
A few of the people stopped to answer him. “Look, her husband has died. As you know, when the husband dies it is customary for the wife to jump into the burning pyre. This girl is afraid of death, but if she does not burn herself it will be a great evil, according to our custom. The wife has to sacrifice her life, but she does not want to. So we have to force her. We are running to catch her and then we shall throw her onto the pyre.”
“Why, why, why?” said the man.
The people who were chasing her answered, “This is ultimately for her good. The Scriptures say that if the wife dies for the husband, her glory will increase.”
At this the man said, “Forget about that kind of Scripture. If she does not feel love for her husband, why should she have to die? If she does not care for her husband and if she wants to live on earth to do good things for mankind, or if she feels that her own life is precious to her, then it is clearly wrong for her to sacrifice her life.”
“There is no question of feeling in this case,” the people insisted. “It is the law. She has to do it.”
But the man was the spirit of freedom incarnate and he confronted the people, saying, “Wait! I will not allow you.”
“Who are you?” they said. “Do you think you can stand against us?”
“All right,” the man said, “take this girl. I am deeply sorry, but I am helpless to prevent you. One day, however, I shall succeed. One day I shall stop this evil practice of sati. If the wife has to die for the husband, why doesn’t the husband have to sacrifice his life when the wife dies? Why does it not work both ways? This foolish and degrading practice I shall stop. I shall take help from the British Government and put an end to it. This is not mere stupidity; it is infinitely worse. It is a crime against the soul! If women don’t want to die after their husbands have died, if they don’t want to sacrifice their precious lives, then why should they? Each one is responsible to God for his or her own action, for his or her own life and death, so I don’t think it is at all advisable for this practice to be forced on people. I shall stop it, I shall stop it!”
He pleaded with the British Government and since he was well known in British circles and greatly admired for his goodness, the British Government inclined to his point of view. They also found this practice absurd. So they passed a law banning sati.
Many people objected to this order. They thought that if people did not practice sati anymore, then God would be displeased. But again, there were countless millions of people who thought that this man had done the right thing. If a girl really loves her husband, she does not necessarily have to burn herself. If their oneness was very strong, she can pray to God to allow her to join her husband in the other world. And if her prayer is soulful, God will definitely listen to her prayer. But if the wife did not like the husband or hated him, then it is stupidity for her to burn herself just because it is the Indian practice.
The name of this great father of regenerate India was Raja Rammohan Ray. He was a great philosopher, a great worker, a great server, a great patriot, a great dreamer and a great fulfiller of his dream.
GIM 63. 18 January 1979↩
The sannyasi in America1A great Indian hero, a great sannyasi, once came to America to preach Vedanta philosophy and also to bring India’s message to that nation. After giving a special talk at a great religious gathering in Chicago, he became famous overnight.
This lofty spiritual figure had many friends and admirers. One day, some of these friends and admirers came to his house and asked him many questions about Vedanta and Indian philosophy and spirituality. They were very moved by his answers to their questions. By the time they departed, it was around midnight.
All of a sudden the man thought of India, his poor India, especially Mother Bengal. He said to himself, “Now I am going to bed. But there are thousands and thousands of people without beds, who will be lying in the street, poverty-stricken, tonight. Here I have got a cosy and most comfortable bed. But once upon a time, I was a sannyasi. Even now I am a sannyasi. I used to roam in the street with no food, nothing. Still, from time to time even today I have no food or clothes. I am in a destitute condition.
“Again, God blesses me with riches and my generous friends keep me at their homes. Right now some friends of mine have given me this beautiful apartment. Indeed, I am in great luxury. In a few minutes, I will go to sleep in a most comfortable bed. And yet so many of my fellow brothers and sisters in Bengal will be lying in the street.
“My heart bleeds for them. I have still not fulfilled my task. I have to help my poor Indian brothers. I have to save their lives, I have to illumine them, I have to awaken their consciousness. There is so much to do, so much to do! Alas, what am I doing here? Anyway, I need rest, but I will not sleep on the couch. I will sleep on the floor.”
So he took off his turban and placed it on the floor, and passed the night lying down on his long turban. Early the following morning, when the owner of the apartment, who was his friend, came to invite him to breakfast, he saw this great Indian saint, this great Indian hero, lying on the floor. He said, “What is the matter?”
The Indian replied, “Thousands and thousands of my brothers and sisters spend the night in the streets. So how can I dream of staying the night in this most comfortable bed? I can’t, I can’t, unless and until I have done something for them. It is my bounden duty to serve God in the poor and the needy. So the life of comfort is not for me. The life of selfless service, the life of dedicated, devoted service, is for me. Service is my goal, service is my perfection in life.”
This great Indian sannyasi was Swami Vivekananda. He was the pioneer sannyasi who came with India’s age-old message of Vedanta to the West. His name inspired millions of Americans to lead a better life, a higher and more illumining life — to lead, in a sense, the God-life. Swami Vivekananda was Ramakrishna’s peerless disciple-son.
GIM 64. 18 January 1979↩
A citadel of strength1There was a time when hooligans used to torture the people of Bengal like anything. What they did was to inform the residents of certain houses that they were going to rob them, and then they did in fact come and rob them. They used to molest the women, torture the maids, steal what money they could and cause tremendous damage. As a consequence, many rich people left the city, while many others remained in a state of constant anxiety.
One day, the hooligans informed a particular house that they were going to come and plunder. The maids of the house were all frightened to death. Some of them immediately decided to leave the house, whereas others could not make up their minds. Finally, they all came to the decision that they would leave and allow the hooligans to take whatever they wanted. But at that moment, a young boy in the family, who was only twelve years old, said, “No! I shall not go. You can go. They will not be able to take anything, I assure you.”
His uncle was thoroughly surprised. He exclaimed, “Oh, so you are the greatest hero! You will stay and they will kill you!”
The boy said, “I will not be killed. But you go. I have some older friends who are experts in stick arts and they can fight the hooligans.”
The uncle said, “Don’t be a fool.”
“No, uncle,” the boy pleaded, “give me a chance. I will not be harmed and, I assure you, nothing shall be stolen.”
“All right, my child, then you do it,” replied the uncle.
So the boy went and brought his friends, who knew the art of self-defence as well as how to attack people with their sticks.
When the hooligans came, there was a terrible fight. Many people were severely injured, but nobody was killed. In the end the hooligans were badly defeated, all because of the tremendous inner strength that this young boy possessed.
Eventually this young boy became the literary emperor of Bengal: Bankim Chandra Chatterji. His remarkable courage and manliness were allied with a patriotic fervour, a seer-vision and an inspiration-flood that aroused the great sub-continent of India. It was he who composed India’s national song, Bande Mataram, which came from his famous novel Ananda Math.
Bankim Chandra demands our candid admiration. As a child, he mastered the Bengali alphabet at one sitting and, as he grew older, he revealed his true genius as a great patriot and a great lover of Mother India and of mankind.
GIM 65. 18 January 1979↩
Bankim Chandra's only medicine1After he crossed the barrier of fifty, Bankim Chandra Chatterji did not remain well. He wanted to write quite a few books but, alas, his health was failing rapidly. The members of his family became alarmed that he was not taking the medicine that his doctor had prescribed for him.
One day, the doctor came to him and said, “What can I do? You don’t take the medicine I give you. Do you not want to live? So many people will cry and miss you if you die. You are such a great man, the hero-leader of Bengal. Now, if you don’t take medicine, how will they fare? How will they live on earth? You are the father of the nation, and if you leave, many will feel fatherless. Granted, you have a frail constitution, but in that frail constitution India has seen a reservoir of stupendous possibility materialised.”
Bankim Chandra said, “Who said I don’t take medicine?”
“Where is your medicine? Please show me,” said the doctor.
Bankim Chandra picked up a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita from the table and showed it to the doctor. “This is my medicine, this is my only medicine. Your medicine may cure my body, but this will cure my body, vital, mind, heart and soul. This medicine has the message of Immortality. This medicine will make me immortal and there is no other medicine that can do that. So I must take only this medicine.”
The doctor remained silent.
GIM 66. 18 January 1979↩
Sri Ramakrishna and Bankim Chandra1Sri Ramakrishna and Bankim Chandra met with each other a few times and they liked each other very much. Bankim’s name has two meanings. It means “the brightest side of the moon” and, at the same time, it means “a little bent.” Sri Ramakrishna used to enjoy jokes with him and Bankim Chandra also used to cut jokes. One day, Sri Ramakrishna said to Bankim, “Bankim! What is it that has bent you?”
“Ah, Thakur, don’t you know what has bent me? It is the kick of the Englishman’s shoe!” Bankim replied.
Ramakrishna laughed and laughed, and everybody around also laughed. The reason is that, in those days, Englishmen used to torture the Indians like anything, and Bankim Chandra was a great lover of India. He constantly protested against English rule and wrote many patriotic novels. His novels are extremely inspiring, energising, illumining and fulfilling. He was a matchless novelist and also a man of indomitable will. The literary people of Bengal all bowed to him with their heart’s devotion and life’s gratitude.
His song Bande Mataram was the mantric incantation-fire of Mother India. It was the battle cry of freedom-fighters. Thousands of people sacrificed their lives while singing this song. To them, it was not a mere sound, but a living force; not words, but a fiery inspiration; nay, the vision of an apocalypse. Thousands and thousands of people received inspiration from this source of patriotism. Many people had to go to jail just because they sang this particular song, and all of them went happily and cheerfully. It was not an ordinary song but the mantra of mantras, which inspired them to fight against the English.
GIM 67. 18 January 1979↩
No self-respect, no progress1Bankim Chandra was always for justice and self-respect. He said, “If there is no justice, the world will collapse; and if there is no self-respect, no one will make any progress.”
The wild arrogance of the British could never frighten Bankim Chandra. When he served as a deputy-magistrate, his superior was an Englishman named Monroe. Monroe always demanded a disproportionate amount of respect, not only in the office but also elsewhere, even in the street. But Bankim used to tell him that he might be superior in the office, but he was not superior elsewhere.
“While in the office, I will show you respect and call you my superior. But if I see you elsewhere, then you are simply another human being like me. I cannot show you great respect, for I know who you are and what I am. Moreover, I know what I value. I appreciate inner strength and inner values. And in those things I far surpass you.”
But the arrogant Commissioner would not listen to this. One day, Bankim Chandra happened to meet Monroe in the Eden Garden in Calcutta. He neither said hello to him nor showed him any respect. The following day, Monroe came to the office and began shouting at Bankim Chandra and berating him like anything.
In response, Bankim Chandra said, “I told you before. Here in the office, I will show you respect. Here you are my superior. But in the street, in the garden, I will have nothing to do with you English.”
At this, Monroe grew really furious: “All right, I am transferring you,” he shouted.
Bankim replied calmly, “So much the better. You don’t like me and I don’t like you. You don’t need me and I don’t need you. You shall be satisfied by transferring me and I shall be satisfied by remaining away from you.”
The British Commissioner remained silent, but he transferred Bankim Chandra nonetheless.
GIM 68. 18 January 1979↩
Two genius friends1Even as a child, Satyen Bose was remarkable. Once he got 110 out of 100 in mathematics. Some of the students laughed; even some of the parents laughed. “How can someone get 110 out of 100?” they asked.
But Bose’s teacher defended himself. He said, “In the examination this boy solved the mathematical problem in various ways. I am his teacher, yet I could only solve it in one way. But he has solved it in three ways. If he does not deserve 110 out of 100, then who does deserve it? I am his teacher, but I have learned from him.”
At that time Satyen was only eleven years old. When he grew up and entered the university, he was so happy to have Jagadish Chandra Bose and Prafulla Chandra Ray, two very well-known Indian scientists, as his teachers. J. C. Bose taught him physics and Prafulla Ray taught him chemistry.
Satyen’s guru was Einstein. Once, when he was teaching at Dacca University, he wrote an article on physics which he sent to Einstein. Einstein was so deeply impressed that he translated it into German. The University of Calcutta and other universities were so pleased to hear this that they sent Satyen to various places to gather more scientific knowledge. He went to work with Einstein and other great German scientists.
It happened that the position of head Professor of Science fell vacant at Calcutta University, so Satyen’s friends asked him to apply for it.
But Satyen said, “I am not a Professor and I don’t have a doctorate. They will never give me this.”
His friends said, “Well, you don’t need those qualifications. You have more knowledge than most of the scientists.”
But still Satyen hesitated. “No, I can’t ask for it.”
Then his friends said, “Well, go and ask Einstein. Please ask him. Then we shall see. If Einstein puts in a few words for you, definitely you will get the job.”
“How can I exploit his affection and love?” Satyen replied. “He appreciates me and loves me. Is this the time for me to take advantage of him? No! I won’t take that course!”
His friends urged him further: “Go and ask, go and ask. It will help you and also it will help your Motherland.”
At last, with tremendous hesitation, Satyen went to Einstein and explained the situation, concluding, “This is what my friends told me to do. Also I am a little tempted myself. Now, what will you do?”
Einstein immediately picked up his pen and wrote, “Can there be any equal to Satyen Bose? He deserves that post. Please give him the post if you can.”
When the university authorities saw Einstein’s letter they were so deeply moved that they did give Satyen the post. Then Satyen wrote another article on physics and sent it to Einstein. Einstein appreciated it so greatly that he translated it into German also. Satyen then wrote a further article, which he actually dedicated to Einstein. He thought of giving it to him personally and was ready to come to visit him when Einstein suddenly died. Einstein’s death was a terrible shock to Satyen.
The scientific world remembers this immortal friendship in a most significant way. Satyen once wrote something which Einstein improved upon. Thereafter, it was known as “Bose-Einstein statistics.”
GIM 69. 18 January 1979↩
Satyen Bose solves the problem1Once a great scientist and well-known lecturer by the name of Niels Bohr was delivering a lecture on science to students at Calcutta University. Professor Satyen Bose was presiding at the lecture and he gave the speaker a glowing introduction. Then, to the students’ wide surprise, Satyen Bose sat down and proceeded to close his eyes, and he appeared to fall asleep.
Niels Bohr’s talk was extremely brilliant and everyone found it deeply interesting and illumining. Unfortunately, at a certain stage of the lecture, the visiting scientist found it extremely difficult to explain a particular point. Again and again he tried to solve the problem, rewriting it on the blackboard several times, but he could not solve it. Finally Bohr stopped and turned to Bose: “If Professor Bose helps me, I will be very grateful to him.”
Professor Bose still had his eyes closed and the students thought that the Professor was sleeping, so they burst into laughter. Bohr asked them, “Why are you laughing?”
Most of the students hesitated, but one young man said, “We are laughing because it seems that Professor Bose has been asleep the whole time.”
Upon hearing this, Professor Bose opened his eyes and said to the students: “Perhaps you are right. Now, what is the problem, O lecturer?”
Niels Bohr told him he was in trouble and asked for help. On hearing the nature of the problem Professor Bose said, “Ah! Is it a problem?” In a minute he solved it, to everybody’s utter astonishment. Then he sat down and closed his eyes and said, “Yes, now I am going back to sleep once again.”
The student who had accused Professor Bose of sleeping said, “Forgive me, Professor, it seems that your sleep world is more illumined than our wisdom world!”
Professor Bose kept his eyes closed for the rest of the lecture.
GIM 70. 18 January 1979↩
Satyen Bose wants to resign1The eminent scientist and professor Satyen Bose was dearly loved by his students at Calcutta University and indeed by everyone, young and old. In Satyen Bose everyone found not only the wisdom of the mind, but also the love and affection of the heart. Bose was not only fond of children; he was also fond of animals, especially cats. In the evening of his life he used to spend a large amount of time playing with his cats. This unusual hobby only endeared him more to his students and friends. They were so delighted that such a great and eminent scientist was so fond of cats!
Once his students at the University wanted to postpone a certain examination. They felt that since Bose was so affectionate and kind to them, they could easily get the professor to delay it. But Bose told them, “No. Give me some valid reasons at least.”
The students admitted, “We have no valid reasons; only we were not able to prepare for this examination.”
“That is not a valid reason,” said Bose. “You had enough time. Was there any special problem?”
“There was no real problem,” said the students, “except that we fooled around and then we found that time had become very short.”
Bose remained firm in his decision. “I am sorry. I will not postpone the examination. How can such a great university operate in this way? It is impossible.”
Some of the students became angry and said: “You have to give us an extension of time; otherwise, we shall go on a hunger strike.”
Bose finally said, “All right, here is the only solution that will please me. I cannot postpone the examination. I will simply resign.”
On hearing this the students became very alarmed. “We are so fond of you,” they cried. “We shall never allow you to resign, Baba. We shall study in the time that is left and if we do not secure high marks, we will know that this is what we deserve. But we can’t bear for you to leave us. We need your affection, we need your blessings.”
In this way Bose taught his students the power of conviction and determination, and the necessity for more sincere and serious attention to their studies.
GIM 71. 18 January 1979↩
Satyen Bose and the Bengal Tiger1Ashutosh Mukherji was India’s very, very great son and also Bengal’s devoted child. Because of his heroism, Ashutosh was known as the “Bengal Tiger,” and he did many brave and courageous things for his Mother India. As the head of Calcutta University, Ashutosh sacrificed his all so that the University could stand on the same footing as the highest ranking schools in the country.
Once, he wished a particular question to appear for three consecutive years on the final examination for one of the science courses. To please him, the professors posed the question, but not one student was able to answer it correctly.
After the third year Ashutosh asked to review the examination papers himself. Then he called all the professors into his office and said, “Why is it that nobody can answer this question? Do you not teach your students well?”
All the professors remained silent; either they could not or did not dare to answer the president’s question. But Satyen Bose stood up and said, “What can we do? It is the question itself that is causing the problem. How can our students answer it when the question is not correct?”
Then Satyen Bose demonstrated to Ashutosh what was wrong with the question. The other professors were embarrassed and afraid that Ashutosh Mukherji would be angry with Bose. But instead, the president appreciated and admired him like anything: “Oh, I am so glad that you have found the mistake. I need brave people. I need correction from every side. Then only can Calcutta University remain in the vanguard of India’s top-ranking universities. You are very great; again, you are very good. I bless you, for you are truly a great son of our Mother Bengal.”
GIM 72. 18 January 1979↩
Satyen Bose and the biographer1Once a young man came up to Satyen Bose and said, “Please, please, I want to write your biography.”
Bose replied, “My biography? No, I am not a great man and I will never be a great man. So the answer is no, no, no!”
But the young man persisted: “This is the sign of your greatness. He who is truly great will never declare so to the world. His life is great, but his goodness covers his greatness. In your case, your goodness has far surpassed your greatness. But we want your greatness also to be appreciated, for if people do not show proper admiration for one who is really great, then how can they themselves ever become great? Your goodness is beyond our comprehension, but we treasure your goodness in the depths of our gratitude-hearts.”
“Stop, stop!” Bose cried out. “How am I going to assimilate your Himalayan appreciation? For God’s sake, or at least for my sake, don’t waste your precious time writing my biography. Do something which will be of great help to you and also to Mother India. Otherwise, you will be wasting your time. Besides, I don’t deserve to be honoured in this way.”
The young man interrupted him, “Please, how can anyone judge his own importance in the eyes and hearts of his countrymen? India loves you, Bengal loves you. It will be of great help not only to India but to the entire world if your great and good deeds are captured forever in a biography.”
But Bose just shook his head, “I am not great enough or good enough to have a biography written about me. Please, don’t waste your precious time, my boy. Do something else which will bring glory to Mother India.”
The young man was deeply moved. “Your words have inspired and illumined me, and I shall indeed strive to follow in your footsteps and serve Mother India in a way that will be worthy of your life. But still, I shall cherish the hope that one day you will change your mind and allow me to write your biography, so that others may receive this same unparalleled inspiration and aspiration from your life and work.”
GIM 73. 18 January 1979↩
Depend only on God's Will1There was once a great spiritual Master who used to all the time tell his disciples, “Always depend on God’s Will, always have complete faith in God’s Will. Let God’s Will be done.” This was his motto.
One night he was about to go to sleep when he saw a snake near his bed. He said, “If I call my disciples they will come and immediately kill you. Again, if I do nothing, then you may kill me. Since I do not want you to be killed, the best thing is for me to leave the matter in God’s Hands. If my time has come, then naturally you will kill me. If my time has not come, you will leave of your own accord.”
The following day when one of the Master’s attendants came in to see the Master, he saw the snake and was simply shocked: “Perhaps the snake stayed near the Master’s bed throughout the night,” he said.
The Master said, “Yes. He remained here all night.”
The attendant asked, “Then how is it that you didn’t call us?”
“Shall I depend on you, you weaklings,” the Master asked, “or shall I depend on the Will of the Almighty, my Beloved Supreme? I depended on the Beloved Supreme, and He wanted me to stay on earth. Therefore, the snake did not bite me.”
“But what is the snake doing here now?” asked the attendant.
“Call the others. Let all the disciples see the snake,” the Master said. “The snake remains here to show human beings that when one has faith in God, God takes care of that person. I had perfect faith in God’s dispensation; therefore, the snake did not bite me. It is through the snake that God is giving you people a lesson. Have perfect faith in the Master, have perfect faith in God. Then, no ignorance can touch you. On the one hand, the snake symbolises ignorance. On the other hand, it is carrying the message of the Supreme. If one has faith in the Will of the Supreme, one knows that whatever happens is for the best.”
GIM 74. 18 January 1979↩
Replace desire with aspiration1One day a disciple came up to his Master and said, “Master, this mind is horrible, horrible, horrible. I can’t take it anymore. It is all meanness, jealousy, hypocrisy and lower vital thoughts.”
The Master said, “My son, why do you speak ill of your mind? The mind is not bad; it is only that desire is entering into your mind and agitating it. The mind is not torturing you; it is you who are torturing the mind. Desire comes and wants to play with the mind or strike the mind to get some sound from it. Therefore, the mind starts defending itself and tries to kill you. A snake usually remains peaceful, but if you go and bite the snake, then naturally the snake will come and bite you or kill you. Very rarely will the snake bother you otherwise. So do not blame the mind. Blame your desire that strikes the mind.”
The disciple said, “Then how can I get rid of desire?”
The Master said, “Desire has to be replaced, and this is possible only through aspiration. Empty the vessel of desire and fill it with aspiration. It is like emptying a vessel of dirty, filthy water and filling it with clean, pure water.”
“How can I do that, Master?” asked the disciple.
The Master answered, “You can do it only by seeing what happens to those who have not emptied their vessels. They suffer unbearably, beyond their imagination. And those who empty desire-ignorance from their inner vessel and fill the vessel with aspiration-wisdom not only make themselves happy, but also make the Beloved Supreme happy. Not only are they fulfilled, but God Himself is fulfilled in and through them.
“So do not blame the mind. Blame desire that comes to torture the mind. Truth to tell, blaming desire is also not the correct way. One should bring into one’s system something that will slowly, steadily and unerringly remove desire-life and replace it with its own reality. And that is aspiration. Replace desire with aspiration. Then you will have a heart of illumination and a life of perfection.”
GIM 75. 18 January 1979↩
The life of action1One day, a young man came to his Master with a problem. He had to make a decision, but he was not sure which course to take, and he was all the time changing his mind. “What should I do, Master?” he asked.
The Master said, “This moment you want to do something and the next moment you don’t want to do that very thing. But I wish to tell you that by doing a particular thing or not doing it you are not going to solve your problems. If you say that you won’t do something, you are creating problems for yourself; and if you say that you will do it, you are again creating problems for yourself.”
The disciple asked, “Then what should I do? Either I have to do a particular thing or not do that thing.”
The Master replied, “If you are doing something, then feel that God is doing it in and through you. If you decide not to do something, then feel that it is God who is not doing that thing. Always feel that, while you are going forward, God is working in and through you, and while you are going backward, He is also doing the same.”
“But Master,” the disciple said, “sometimes when I do something, I feel that instead of going forward and upward, I am going backward and downward. And since I don’t know what is the right thing to do, I don’t do anything.”
The Master said, “You have to feel that you are like a carpenter’s saw. When it goes forward, it cuts; and when it returns to the starting point, again it cuts. In your spiritual life also, when you go upward, feel that you are going up to realise God; and when you come down, feel that you are coming down to manifest God. At every moment feel that you are standing in front of a tree. When you climb up, feel that you are going to realise; and when you climb down, feel that you are going to manifest. So whether you are going up or going down, you are always acting.
“But you have to know if it is the Will of God for you to go up or down. And even if you do not know what is the Will of God, it is better that you act than not act, for action is infinitely superior to non-action. If you act, you will get the capacity for more action. If you do something wrong today, then tomorrow or the day after tomorrow you will have the capacity to do the right thing. But if you don’t act at all because you are afraid of making a mistake, then you won’t do anything either today, tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, and you will lose the strength ever to act.
“So if you don’t know what is right, the second best thing is to use your inspiration and aspiration to do what you feel is best. If it is not the right thing, God will sympathise with you and show His Compassion because you tried, although you didn’t know what the right thing was. Just because you tried to do the right thing according to your own understanding, God will give you more opportunity and more capacity to do the right thing eventually.
“So, my son, always act! The life of action is infinitely better than the life of non-action. You may not walk along the right road, but if you do not want to walk along any road at all, what can God do? My theory is to be like a carpenter’s saw, going forward and backward. Go forward to realise and come back to manifest. Climb up the tree, get the fruits and bring them down to share with fellow seekers. That is the right way to please God in God’s own Way.”
GIM 76. 18 January 1979↩
The King's favour1One day the ruler of the kingdom came to his spiritual Master and said, “Master, you have been helping me in my spiritual life unreservedly. May I do something for you?”
The Master said, “I have everything from God. What can you give me? What do I need?”
The King insisted, “Please, please, I will be so grateful if I can do something to please you. I will be so happy if I can be of some service to you or if you ask me to do something for you.”
The Master said, “I will be really happy and grateful if you can chase away the flies that bother me so often.”
“This is the thing that you are asking me to do?” said the King. “Such an easy task!”
“Then try, try,” said the Master.
So the King started chasing away the flies. O God, each time he chased them away, they kept coming back. There was no end to the flies’ mischief.
Then pride entered into the King: “I am the King. I am so obliged to the Master because he has given me some inner peace, which is so difficult to get from anybody. I wanted to do him a favour in return. I thought he would ask me for money or a vast plot of land, because I am such a kind-hearted and rich King. Now I feel really ashamed that I can’t do even this kind of job for the Master. It is such an easy task, yet I can’t do it.”
The Master said, “O King, your heart wanted to please me, but your mind did not want to. Your heart thought that by pleasing me it would make progress. But your mind had a kind of pride in it. Your mind thought that by pleasing me it would do me a great favour. Therefore, I wanted you to go through this experience — not of humiliation, but of humility. I want humility from you. That is why I have given you this job.
“The spiritual Master does not need anything from the disciples. He entirely depends on God’s Compassion. But again, God’s Compassion can work in and through his disciples. His earthly and material needs will always be supplied by the Supreme in and through his disciples.
“In my case, I needed nothing. But because you wanted to help me, I gave you the easiest job of chasing flies. If even the easiest job you cannot do, how will you do the most difficult job, which is to please God in God’s own Way? So give up your pride, give up your sense of humiliation. Only feel that in the spiritual life humility is of paramount importance. And of all the virtues, the most important is to offer gratitude to God for what you have and what you are.
“Then, if you want to help someone, feel that what you are offering is not actually help as such; it is an opportunity for you to be of service to your Beloved Supreme in and through the other individual. And if you go one step higher than this realisation, you will feel that the Supreme is fulfilling Himself in and through you. Do what the Supreme tells you to do, but on your own do not try to help mankind. Only try to serve the Supreme inside mankind. Then only you will please the Supreme in the Supreme’s own Way.”
GIM 77. 18 January 1979↩
Gandhi Buri's supreme sacrifice1There was an extremely patriotic old lady who was 73 years old. She was the greatest admirer of Mahatma Gandhi; his very name used to give her a sea of inspiration. She wanted the British government to leave India, and she did many patriotic things that were extremely inspiring to the women of India. Because of this lady’s extreme admiration for Mahatma Gandhi, everyone used to call her Gandhi Buri, “buri” meaning “old lady.”
In 1942, Gandhi was arrested, and all of India became furious. In many places people held processions, using the slogan “Quit India,” which was Mahatma Gandhi’s offering to his brothers and sisters of India. The day after Gandhi’s arrest, Gandhi Buri was involved in a march to a police station. The people in the procession wanted to take down the British flag, the Union Jack, from over the police station and hoist up the Indian flag.
The police stood in the way and warned the protesters that if they came forward one more step, they would shoot.
All the marchers stopped except Gandhi Buri. She snatched India’s flag from one of the young boys in the procession and ran towards the police station. The police first laughed at her. “Enough, enough! No more! Go away from here, old woman. We don’t want to kill you,” they shouted.
But Gandhi Buri cried, “Kill me. I am not afraid of you. I want to free my Mother India.”
She ran towards the staircase that led to the top of the police station. Before she reached the stairs the police shot her. With her right hand she was still holding the flag as she chanted a few times, “Bande Mataram, Bande Mataram, Bande Mataram: ‘Mother, I bow to Thee.’” Then she left the body.
This old lady of 73 years was so courageous that she gave her life for her beloved country. There were some young boys in the procession who were shouting and screaming things against the British, but when the time came for them to sacrifice their lives, they hesitated. But Gandhi Buri devotedly and proudly gave her life. From that day on, people who were in that procession became more inspired to dedicate their lives totally to the freedom of India.
GIM 78. 21 January 1979↩
The fire of freedom burns all-where1Thousands and thousands of people died for the freedom of India. They wanted freedom so badly that their lives were nothing for them, absolutely nothing. In 1928, patriots marched in Lahore in a big procession under the leadership of Lala Lajpat Rai, an old patriot of supreme height who was adored by all India.
The police charged the procession with big sticks, and Lala Lajpat Rai was beaten and killed. The whole nation became extremely angry, and everyone wanted to kill the person who was responsible for his death. They came to know that the British police officer, Mr. Scott, was the culprit.
Someone made an attempt on Scott’s life. Alas, this person killed the wrong police officer, a Mr. Saunders, instead. As a result, many patriots were arrested, for the British didn’t know who the actual culprit was.
In 1929 one of the great patriots, Jatin Das, was arrested. He was deeply shocked that a leader such as Lala Lajpat Rai had been killed, so he took a vow that he would not eat unless the British asked for forgiveness. “Something has to be done,” he said. “I shall fast unto death unless they apologize. They have to apologize!”
At first the British mocked at Jatin Das, but then they became afraid that if he died, the Indian patriots would become more furious. So they tried in so many ways to get him to eat. At first they were kind and polite; then they became rude and threatening and tried to force him to eat.
He kept on saying, “I will not eat!”
After sixty-three days he died, and the members of his family and his fellow patriots were thrown into a sea of tears. They were so sad that such a great hero had passed away. Then they became infinitely more determined to throw off the British rule in India.
The members of Jatin Das’s family received a telegram from Ireland. It was from the family of Terence MacSwiney, a young man who had died while fighting for the freedom of Ireland. His wife sent a telegram to the parents of Jatin Das saying, “We the members of MacSwiney’s family are deeply grieved at your loss. At the same time we are extremely proud of your son’s death. You will get your independence without fail.”
The fire of freedom — where it burns! It burns everywhere. Where is Calcutta and where is Ireland? Here this letter shows the oneness-song that is sung all over the world where freedom is denied. Freedom is of paramount importance. Every country should be independent, each soul should be free. Then only nations and individuals will make the fastest progress.
GIM 79. 21 January 1979↩
Only to please you, Mother1Raja Rammohan Ray was one who had indomitable faith in his own will power. Everywhere he was hailed as a hero supreme. He always used his heroic qualities in a divine way; he never misused his heroic qualities.
One day, when he was a young boy, something most significant happened in his life. His family, which was very, very rich, was having a Durga Puja. India’s Durga Puja is a most inspiring time when devotees worship Mother Durga most soulfully.
It happened that Rammohan saw a man making the Durga idol out of straw and clay, and he helped the man build it. In a few days’ time, the idol was placed inside the temple and everyone came to worship it as the supreme goddess, Mother Durga. Everybody was bowing down to the Mother Durga, but this little boy wouldn’t bow down.
The priest could not believe his eyes: “Why are you not bowing down, my boy?” he asked.
Rammohan replied, “Why do I have to bow down to an idol made of straw and clay?”
This was nothing short of blasphemy! The boy’s father was so furious: “I have this kind of son! He is an atheist!”
Rammohan’s mother was afraid that some serious calamity would take place in the family if the boy did not bow to the idol. She ran to her son, pleading, “For God’s sake, bow down! Otherwise, something will happen to us.”
But Rammohan only said, “I know this idol is made of straw, clay and mud. I can’t bow down before mud and clay.”
Then the mother started crying helplessly before her son. “If you don’t bow down to the statue, then I will stay here and cry all day and night,” she said.
Rammohan said, “Mother, I can tolerate anything, but I will not be able to take your tears. Since you are begging me, I will bow down to the statue of Durga. But remember, I am bowing down to your goddess, since you see something in this idol. I am doing this only to please you, but not with the hope that I will get something from it. I am bowing down only to please you.”
Rammohan soulfully bowed down to Mother Durga, and his family left the temple extremely moved by the young boy’s words.
GIM 80. 21 January 1979↩
Editor's preface to the first editionMost of the stories in this and other books in this series are Sri Chinmoy’s retelling of traditional Indian tales. On rare occasions the Master has modified a story to make it more acceptable to the Western palate. And a few of the stories are Sri Chinmoy’s own.
These tales are not only delicious and nourishing, but also encouraging and illumining. Some are quite entertaining. Others are surcharged with morality-flames and spirituality-fire, which easily enlighten the Western mind, strengthen the vital and quicken the journey of the body-consciousness. Together they represent two trees standing side by side: entertainment-tree and enlightenment-tree. Both trees are at your disposal. Appreciate their flowers and fruits to your heart’s content.