Great Indian meals: divinely delicious and supremely nourishing, part 9

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Gandhi passes his own examination1

Gandhi would never tell a lie. Once the inspector visited his school class and gave a few words of dictation. The third word was ‘kettle’. Gandhi’s friends were able to spell the word properly, but unfortunately Gandhi did not know how.

The inspector began going around to each and every student to check the papers. The teacher saw that Gandhi’s spelling was wrong, so with his foot he touched Gandhi’s leg to draw Gandhi’s attention. With his eyes he was telling Gandhi to look at somebody else’s paper. But Gandhi did not want to copy from anyone.

When the inspector came to Gandhi, he said, “Here I have found a mistake. This boy does not know how to spell ‘kettle’. He has written it ‘ketle’.”

The inspector didn’t get angry, but he was sad that one person did not know the answer. Finally, the inspector left.

The teacher was very angry with Gandhi. “I told you to look at your friend’s paper, but you didn’t listen to me. You are a disgrace to my class.”

Gandhi said, “I may be a disgrace, but I can’t tell a lie and I can’t say anything that is false.”

Gandhi was sad that he had made a mistake and had not been able to please his teacher, but he was happy that he had at least pleased himself by being honest.

The teacher was silent.

GIM 161. 14 February 1979

Gandhi's matchless sincerity2

A friend of Gandhi’s once needed money and asked Gandhi if he could help him. Gandhi first said, “I have no money.” Then he conceded, “All right, I will try my best.”

Gandhi stole a piece of gold from his brother and sold it. He then gave the money to his friend. Afterwards, he felt miserable that he had stolen something.

He used to always tell his father everything. He did not keep any secrets from him. Although his father was very sick and bedridden, Gandhi wrote him a note, saying, “I stole a piece of gold and I feel very sad and miserable. Please forgive me.”

As soon as his father read the note, he immediately got up from his bed. Gandhi was afraid he was going to strike him. But there were tears in his father’s eyes. Then Gandhi thought that his father was very sad that his son had stolen something from his own brother. So he felt even more miserable. Finally, his father tore up the note and there were more tears in his eyes.

Gandhi assured his father, “Father, I will never steal anymore. This is my first and last time. Please do not cry.”

His father was so moved that he cried and cried. “I am crying, son, not because you have stolen something but because of your sincerity. You are always so truthful. I have never seen anybody as sincere as you. I am crying because of your sincerity, not because you have committed a theft. I am so proud of your sincerity and honesty.”

GIM 162. 14 February 1979

Gandhi and the goat's meat3

When he was thirteen, Gandhi got married to a girl of the same age. The two were extremely fond of each other. When Gandhi was about eighteen, he wanted to go to Europe to continue his college studies. By that time, his father had died and his mother was in charge of his life. Gandhi’s relatives also wanted Gandhi to go to Europe and they requested his mother to send her son. But she was very worried. She said, “No, no. If I send him to Europe, he will be ruined. Now he is so close to me. There he will start drinking, eating meat and mixing with women.”

Gandhi promised his mother that he would not drink, eat meat or mix with women, and he did keep his promise. After getting his degree in law, he came home. On his return he found that his mother had died.

Gandhi had a Muslim friend who always tried to persuade him to eat meat. “No,” Gandhi would answer him, “Hindus don’t eat meat, especially my caste. My ancestors never ate meat.”

But the friend insisted. “If you don’t eat meat, you will remain weak. You have to eat meat if you want to be physically strong.”

Gandhi very much wanted to be physically strong. “Are you sure it will make me strong?” he asked.

“Yes,” replied his Muslim friend.

Since Gandhi was very weak, one evening he tried some goat’s meat. That night Gandhi saw that the goat was crying inside his stomach. The goat was so miserable.

Gandhi cried, “I can’t eat meat anymore! I have seen the goat crying inside me.” And he gave up eating meat forever.

But he was fond of goat’s milk, and he used to drink it. “One can take goat’s milk,” he used to say, “but not goat’s meat.”

GIM 163. 14 February 1979

The emperor's watermelon4

There was a great Muslim emperor who was very kind. He used to fulfil the desires of his subjects unconditionally. One day, while the emperor was walking along the street, he saw a mendicant singing a song. The song went thus: “Even if Allah does not give us anything, no harm; for our Emperor will give us everything.”

The mendicant did not know that it was the emperor who was walking by, since the emperor was wearing ordinary clothes. The emperor said to him, “You come to my palace tomorrow.”

“Palace?” asked the mendicant.

“Yes,” replied the emperor. “I am the Emperor. You come to my palace.”

The mendicant was moved and, at the same time, a little frightened, but he came to the palace the following day. The emperor said, “Yesterday you were singing a song. I am pleased with you. I am giving you this watermelon as a gift from me.”

Outwardly the man thanked him, but inwardly he said to himself, “I thought that he would make me very rich. Now he is only giving me a watermelon. All right, let me accept this gift, since he is giving it to me.”

On the way back to his house, somebody asked the mendicant if he was going to sell the watermelon. The mendicant thought, “The best thing is to get rid of this watermelon. Who wants to carry such a heavy thing anyway?”

So he sold it for a very nominal price. With that money he bought some cookies and ate them. O God. A few days later he was walking along the street and whom did he see? The emperor. The emperor said, “So, are you happy now?”

The mendicant confessed, “No, I am not. You were so kind to me and you invited me to come to your palace. But you gave me just a watermelon, instead of giving me something valuable. I feel that I have missed my chance.”

The emperor said, “You are such a fool! You should have examined the watermelon. Inside I had put a few gold coins. I had cut out a piece and put it back, adding four gold coins.”

On hearing this, the man started striking his forehead. “Now the man I sold the watermelon to — I am sure he has got these gold coins. I do not even know who the man was.”

The emperor said, “You deserve this fate. When I saw you the first time, you were flattering me to such an extent. It is impossible for me to be more kind-hearted to humanity than Allah Himself. Out of His Compassion, Allah has given me a little wealth and a little kindness. Yet you have to flatter me to such an extent, saying that I am more compassionate than God! Is it possible? Because of your unthinkable flattery, you deserve this punishment. How can a human being have more Compassion than Allah Himself? Be sincere. Then only will you be given everything. If you promise to me that you will be sincere, then I will give you a little money. I will give you ten gold coins, but from now on, be sincere. The world doesn’t need flattery. It needs sincerity. If you sincerely pray to God, God will give you everything.”

GIM 164. 20 February 1979

You have far surpassed me5

One day a little boy went to a great man and he bowed down to him with folded hands. The great man asked, “My boy, what is your name?”

When the boy told him, the great man immediately became annoyed. “My name? How do you dare to have my name?”

“I don’t know,” replied the boy. “My parents gave it to me.”

“Your parents?” said the man. “How did they dare to give you my name?”

“I do not know,” answered the little boy, “but my grandfather says one day I will become as great as you are. That’s why they gave me this name.”

The great man became furious. “How dare you say this to me? How dare your grandfather tell you this!”

The little boy said, “I do not know. Only my parents and grandfather have told me that I will be as great as you. That’s why they have sent me to you.”

“Have you come for my compassion and protection, or have you come to bless me?” the man asked.

“I have not come to bless you,” said the boy. “I am touching your feet. I have need for your blessings.”

“What kind of blessings do you want? Little candies, cookies or a few rupees? What is in the back of your mind?”

The boy said, “No, I have not come to get anything, only to be blessed by you. If you could only touch my head and say that you are blessing me.”

“Why do I have to touch your head with my hand? You can touch my feet with your head.”

So the little boy touched the great man’s feet with his head. The man had remained seated in a chair during the conversation, but at that moment he stood up and lifted the child on his shoulder and said, “My boy, you have far surpassed me. You don’t have to surpass me in the future; you have surpassed me already with your patience. I have become great, but I have not conquered anger and pride. You have conquered both anger and pride at such a young age. You deserve this name more than I do, so I am giving you a little money as my blessing.”

The man gave the little boy 500 rupees, and the young boy returned home to his family.

GIM 165. 20 February 1979

Gandhi's ashram6

After he left Africa and returned to India, Mahatma Gandhi opened up an ashram at the request of his close friends. The immediate members of his family and a few friends went to live in the ashram. There they led a very simple, pious life and they prayed and meditated.

The ashram was supported by rich merchants who used to come on many occasions. So the ashram was doing well, and everybody was happy that such a good ashram existed.

One day, Gandhi received a letter from a schoolteacher. “I will be so glad and grateful if you allow me to stay at your ashram with my wife and child. I will do anything you want me to do.” At the end of the letter the teacher wrote, “Only one thing I hesitate to tell you, but I must be sincere with you. I am an untouchable.”

When Gandhi read this, he buried his head in his hands. “O God, I love the untouchables, for they are God’s children. But now my family will be furious. How can I allow this man at the ashram? On the other hand, how can I refuse him? He has written such a soulful letter. My heart breaks.”

Gandhi spoke to the members of his family about the matter. They were so nice. “If you want to have this man here, definitely invite him to join us,” they said.

Still Gandhi hesitated. “The merchants who support the ashram are very fanatic. They belong to society, and they will worry about what society will think of them.” Then Gandhi said, “No, I will allow this teacher to work and live here at the ashram.”

The untouchable came to the ashram. As soon as the merchants heard about this, they stopped giving money to Gandhi. They said, “You are ruining society. You come from a good family, a good caste. How can you do this kind of thing? We will not give you money in support of such an unthinkable thing.”

Gandhi told them, “All right, do not give us money. But if somebody sincerely and soulfully wants to serve this ashram, I will allow him. Untouchables are God’s children also.”

Soon Gandhi ran into financial difficulty. One day, while walking along the street, he saw a merchant with a carriage. The merchant approached him and said, “I am a rich merchant who used to help support your ashram. Since you let an untouchable into your ashram, I have been unable to help you, because I am afraid of what my friends might say. My heart is one with you, but I have to live in society. You are above society, so you can welcome an untouchable into your community. But I want to give you money secretly. Please promise me that you will not tell anyone about this.”

Gandhi promised him, “I won’t tell a soul about this.”

The merchant said, “Then tomorrow come here and I will give you a very large amount of money.”

Gandhi believed the merchant and the following day he returned to the same place. The merchant did come and he gave him a very large amount of money. Gandhi did not even know the man’s name, since many merchants had helped his ashram, and he did not know all of them personally. Gandhi asked him his name, but the merchant wouldn’t tell him. “Please,” the merchant said, “I can’t give you my name. Yours is a noble cause and I fully agree with you. But I have to live in society, so this must remain a secret. You are doing the right thing; therefore, I am supporting your cause. But it is not necessary for you to know my name.”

On that day, Gandhi’s fate changed.

GIM 166. 20 February 1979

You have proved to be my real wife7

Gandhi was returning to India from South Africa. Many friends and many lawyers came to his farewell party to say goodbye to him and his family. The family received very expensive gifts and Gandhi’s wife and sons were especially delighted.

Gandhi was always renouncing things, so he said, “Why are they giving me these things? They only bind me, and I want to be free. I really want to give away most of these things; I want to give away anything that I don’t need.”

The wife and sons said, “We do need some things. Please do not give away everything.”

Then Gandhi saw that someone had given some very expensive and beautiful jewellery to his wife. “I can’t keep this,” he told her.

“This jewellery was given to me,” she said, “not to you.”

But Gandhi said, “It is because of me that they know you. Otherwise, they would not have given you this.”

The wife said, “Why did I come into your life? There are so many people on earth, but it is I who was chosen to be your wife. This kind of argument will never end. I won’t give up this jewellery.”

The children took the side of their father. “Because of Father you got the jewellery. Now you have to give it up.”

The wife became furious. “I won’t give it away.”

But Gandhi said, “Tomorrow I will take this expensive jewellery and sell it, and put the money in the bank. The money will be only for those who love their country and serve their country. They will take money from that bank and spend it to liberate their country, but not for anything else.”

The children again took their father’s side. “It is an excellent idea, Father! Let us do it!”

The wife said, “You fools! You are siding with your father, but I need this jewellery for you, for your wives. Your father gives away everything. What are you going to have for your own families?”

The children laughed and laughed. “We don’t have to think of that right now. It is too early.”

Finally Gandhi’s wife said, “All right, I don’t need it either. Since your father has renounced everything, I do not need this either.”

Gandhi said, “At last you have proved to be my real wife.”

GIM 167. 20 February 1979

Your compassionate words have solved my problems8

There was a king who was very good, kind and just. Everybody admired him and loved him. One day, as the king was about to get up from his throne after having finished his day’s routine work, an old lady came up to him. “I have something to tell you, O King,” she said.

The king said, “Please, I am tired. Tomorrow please come and speak to me.”

But the old lady said, “No, you have to hear what I want to say today.”

“I am tired,” the king said again, “but all right, tell me.”

“If you don’t listen to me today, if you don’t give me fifteen minutes’ time without any interruptions, I will pray to God to give us another King. I thought you were very kind-hearted, but since you are proving yourself otherwise, I will pray to God to replace you.”

Everybody laughed and laughed, but the king said, “Don’t laugh at her. I am going to listen to her. It is not because I am afraid of her scolding or curse. God, out of His infinite Compassion, has made me King. Tomorrow He can easily replace me, not because of her request, but if in any way I am not being divine. He will do what He wants to do with me. If I am really compassionate, I can spend fifteen minutes listening to her, no matter how tired and exhausted I am. It is not because I may lose my throne, but because this is the compassionate thing to do. How many unimportant things I have done today! Who knows, this poor woman probably has serious problems. That’s why she has come to me. When I have problems, I know how I suffer. So let me listen and see if I can be of some help to her.”

The old lady said, “O King, your compassionate words have taken away all my worries and anxieties. You are really great. You are greater than any other king in God’s creation. Your compassionate words in silence have solved all my problems.”

GIM 168. 20 February 1979

You too can be free9

One day a young boy of twelve was playing all by himself under a tree. Suddenly he saw a policeman waving a revolver and chasing a young man. Since the young man was running very fast and the policeman could not keep up, he asked the boy, “Can you help me? If you run with me, I will definitely appreciate you and also I will give you some money.” The policeman was a little bit older than the young man who was running away.

The boy asked, “Why are you chasing him?”

The policeman replied, “Because I was asked by higher authorities to arrest him.”

“For what?” the boy asked.

“Because this young man belongs to a club that wants to overthrow the British rule.”

“But are you not an Indian?” asked the young boy.

“Yes,” answered the policeman, “I am an Indian.”

“Then why are you doing this? Are you not ashamed of your conduct? A young man wants to free his country. I am only twelve years old, but I know how good it is to be free.”

The policeman said, “A little boy has to teach me about freedom? I can shoot you, kill you.”

“Let me see you shoot me,” said the boy.

The policeman said, “I am very pleased with you. But I have to support my family, my children. Do you think I like my job? I have to arrest him so I will get a good reward. Then my children will be able to lead a comfortable life. Forget about comfort; even to give them basic, ordinary lessons I need this money. Otherwise, I also don’t like the British Government. I hate it, I hate it.”

“If you really don’t like the British, if you really want to work somewhere else, you don’t have to work under the British Government directly,” said the boy.

The policeman said, “Who will take care of me? Who will take care of my family?”

“God,” said the boy.

The policeman started laughing. “Oh, your philosophy! God will take care of everybody.” And the policeman mocked at him.

At this point the boy’s father appeared. The father had been looking for his son, who had gone out alone to play. “Come home, my boy,” he said, “it is time to eat.”

“Father,” said the boy, “the policeman was laughing at me because I said God will take care of him. He does not want to work for the British Government, but because of his wife and children he has to take this job. Now I am telling him that if he gives up this job, God will take care of him. He was chasing a young man who is trying to free his country and he asked me to help him arrest this man.”

The father said, “God spoke through you. I am ready to give this man a job in my office if he is really sincere.”

The policeman said, “Definitely I will work there.”

The gentleman said, “I have so many things to do at my office. I will promise to you a higher salary. I want to prove to you that my son was right when he said, ‘God takes care of us if we really want to do the right thing’. To liberate us from the British Government is absolutely the right thing. Not to help them in any way is the right thing. God spoke through my son’s mouth and now God is speaking again through my action. You come and work with me.”

GIM 169. 20 February 1979

The king's choice10

There was a time in India when kings used to honour poets. Once, many poets came to the palace for a poetry contest. The king was to select the best poet. Finally he selected two poets who had written extremely good poems: one young man and one old man.

The king said, “Now the time has come for me to make the final decision between these two. In both cases, the poems are so good that it is difficult for me to say which one is the better of the two.” The king said to the young man, “Please read your poem again.”

The young man read out his most soulful and spiritual poem. The aspiration of the poem moved everyone deeply. The king said, “I am so pleased,” and he gave the young man his own necklace. The young poet was so moved, and everybody gave him thunderous applause.

As soon as the old man came up to read his poem, some people giggled, others laughed; everything went on. The king said, “Stop, stop! I am also an old man, almost this poet’s age. Do not make fun of him because of his age.”

The old man read out his poem. It was about the passing of Dasharatha, the father of Ramachandra, in the absence of his son. The king cried, “Oh, it is a most pathetic story. This is also most beautiful. I am giving you my golden ring. Even now I won’t be able to make the choice. The young man’s poem is more spiritual and full of dedication, and your poem is about the passing of Sri Ramachandra’s father.”

Most of the people in the court said the young man’s poem was nicer than the other poet’s, but the king said, “You are prejudiced because all of you are young. One day all of you will become old. I may not appear old, but I am almost the same age as this poet. I wish to tell you, do not mock at old age. Your time also will come. Always be nice and kind to people. You see that I am having real difficulty in making the choice. For me, both are equal. Both are supremely great. Even though I am unable to make the choice, I am so happy that I am able to appreciate their merits. They deserve all my appreciation and admiration, in addition to the humble little gifts I have given them.”

GIM 170. 20 February 1979

My Motherland comes first11

There was a great political leader named Vallabh Bhai Patel. He was one of the right-hand men of Gandhi and everybody admired him. He had tremendous will and was known as the iron man of India. He encouraged and inspired millions of people to fight against the British rule.

Once he was giving a talk about the freedom of India. He spoke of how India could have freedom and liberate itself from the British. In the middle of the talk a mailman came to Vallabh Bhai Patel and gave him a telegram. He opened it only to learn of the quite unexpected death of his wife. But Vallabh Bhai Patel didn’t say a word to anyone. He continued lecturing for an hour or so. Then he answered everyone’s questions with utmost calm and quiet.

Afterwards, tears were flowing from his eyes. Everybody came up to him, asking, “What happened? What is the matter?”

He showed them the telegram.

“How could you answer questions so calmly and quietly, and how could you finish such an inspiring lecture?”

The great political leader replied, “Duty comes first. My Motherland comes first. My wife was dear to me, but my Motherland is infinitely dearer. Therefore, I have done my duty to my Motherland first. This is infinitely more important than to think of one’s wife. I have done my first and foremost duty. Now I am performing my next duty: I am crying for my wife.”

GIM 171. 20 February 1979

The wise villager12

There was a very old villager whom everybody appreciated and admired. She had tremendous wisdom, and many people, even from other villages, used to come to her for advice. She was quite poor, but she was very reluctant to take money from people.

One day it was raining very heavily. About ten guests were at her house. She felt that if her guests, plus her own children and grandchildren, stayed inside her one room, they would all suffocate. So she asked her relatives to remain outside the house. “I beg of you to go outside in the rain,” she said.

They listened to her and went outside, where they got totally drenched.

Then she saw that her one-room house was not big enough even for the guests. She asked them, “Would you kindly remain standing while I give you food.”

After she served her guests she said, “I have to be one with everyone. I am one with you because you are my guests. Guests are like gods. I have to honour, worship and adore you. The members of my family, I asked to remain outside. Now I am going outside to feed them. I have to be one with everybody. This is how God wants me to live on earth — to be one with everybody. You deserve one treatment and they deserve another treatment. Their suffering is my suffering. Again, I don’t want you to go outside in the rain because you will suffer. It is I who should serve my family in this way.”

Everybody was deeply moved by the old woman’s words, and they appreciated and admired her great wisdom.

GIM 172. 20 February 1979

The prince's illumination13

There was a prince who was very handsome. He was extremely proud of his beauty. Everybody appreciated his beauty, and he himself used to admire his own beauty. One day, when he was walking along the street, he saw a religious mendicant carrying a skull. The prince said, “What are you doing? Such an ugly thing you are carrying!”

The mendicant said, “Ugly? In my life, I have never seen anything so beautiful as this skull. Therefore, I am carrying it and I keep it with me twenty-four hours a day.”

“That is beautiful?” mocked the prince. “It is so ugly!”

“No,” said the mendicant, “it is beautiful. Only I want to know whose skull it is — whether it was a king’s or prince’s. I am trying to find out, but if I don’t get the answer, no harm.”

The prince asked, “You can’t see any beauty in me?”

“You are beautiful?” laughed the mendicant. “You are nothing in comparison to my skull.”

“Are you telling me the truth?” the prince said. “I am the prince.”

“If you want to know the truth,” said the religious man, “I am telling you the truth. But if you want to hear flattery, I will say that you are more beautiful than my skull.”

“Are you saying that everybody is flattering me?” asked the prince.

“That I don’t know,” said the mendicant, “but I want to say that my skull is infinitely more beautiful than any part of your body.”

The prince was still bewildered. “How?”

The mendicant explained, “Beauty we see with our inner heart. You may see beauty in something, and I may see beauty in something else. It is our own inner development that determines what we consider beautiful. I can clearly see from my yogic practice, from my spiritual experience, that this skull belonged to a person who practised spirituality. To me, whoever practises spirituality is beautiful. You do not practise spirituality, so you are ugly according to my inner understanding. Whoever practises spirituality is beautiful and whoever does not practise spirituality is ugly.”

The prince was at once humiliated and illumined.

GIM 173. 20 February 1979

God will take care of us14

There was a very spiritual man who was also extremely interested in reading. He used to read voraciously. He had a wife and two sons. Since he did not work at a regular job, it was difficult for him to meet with the expenses of his family. He had only a small plot of land, which his sons used to plough and grow rice on. This was their main source of income.

The spiritual seeker used to buy books like anything. His wife was dead against it. She would say to him, “You buy books, and we can’t even eat properly.”

On one particular day he bought a book for twenty rupees. His wife was furious. “Now we won’t be able to eat for two days!”

Her husband said, “No, God will take care of us. Since he has given us mouths, he will bring us food also.”

His wife was very skeptical. “This is your spirituality! You read and you talk.”

On the following day the seeker received a registered letter. He opened it to find that somebody had sent him forty rupees. The letter said, “Here are forty rupees. Last night I had a dream. I don’t know who you are, but in my dream a most luminous person came and told me to send you forty rupees. The luminous being gave me your name and address and said that you were close to him. Since you are very spiritual, he wanted me to send you this money right away. I am sending it registered, in case my dream was not true.”

The seeker accepted the letter and his son said, “See, my father is right.”

“Your father is right?” said the wife. “It is my worries which made everything all right.”

The husband said, “At least there should be something to keep everything all right. It may be your worries, or my prayers, or God’s Compassion for us, or my children’s luck. But as for me, I feel I know who is responsible and who alone will always be responsible, and that is my Beloved Lord.”

GIM 174. 20 February 1979

The unconditional gift15

Once a spiritual Master was enjoying his morning walk. It was a very, very cold winter day. One of his disciples came running up to him and gave him an expensive, beautiful shawl. Then he went back inside and left the Master. The Master was walking in a meditative mood when he saw a poor old man near him. The old man was also in a meditative mood, so the Master asked him, “Can I interrupt you?”

The spiritual man said, “Yes, certainly, you can. You are a spiritual Master. You have every right to speak to me. How I wish to become as great as you are.”

“Yes, I am a spiritual Master,” he replied, “but I have a little more money-power than you do. How I wish you would take this shawl from me.”

“I need only God,” the old man said.

“Yes,” said the Master, “but God is speaking through me. If you have this shawl, you will be able to meditate better.”

“Is it so?” asked the man.

“Yes,” the Master said, “if you don’t suffer from cold so much, you will be able to meditate better. I have finished my meditation and I am going home. Please take this shawl.”

The poor man finally accepted the shawl and thanked the spiritual Master. He continued praying and meditating.

When the Master returned home, the disciple asked, “Where is the shawl? Such an expensive, beautiful shawl I gave to you!”

The Master said, “Make up your mind. Did you give it to me to carry for you or to have as my own?”

The disciple said, “I gave it to you to have as your own.”

“Then, if you give me something as a gift,” said the Master, “how do you dare to ask me for it?”

“I am not asking for it for myself,” said the disciple, “but for you, so the next time you go out you will be able to use it.”

“Did you give me this to please me or to please yourself? If it was to please yourself, I have the money. I am sending someone to get a more expensive, beautiful shawl and I will give it to you. But if you did it just to please me, for my sake, then keep silent.”

The disciple got the point. “ I gave it to please you, Master.”

The Master blessed the disciple. “Whenever you give something to the Master, you can’t ask the Master to use it in your own way. He will always use it in his own way. That is the right way.”

GIM 175. 20 February 1979

Gandhi's tie16

Gandhi was once working as a lawyer in South Africa. He wanted to be economical, since everything was very expensive there. Since the washermen used to charge very high amounts, Gandhi thought of washing his clothes himself. He read a few books about how to wash clothes properly, how to iron and so forth.

One day, while he was washing his clothes, he used too much starch on a particular tie. Then he did not press it properly. That day, when he went to court, his friends noticed something funny about his tie and began laughing.

“What is wrong with you?” they asked. “Why is starch falling from your tie?”

Gandhi said, “You are making fun of me. I am giving you joy. It is not an easy task to give people joy. Right now I am learning to wash clothes. I badly want to save money and washermen are charging very high prices. Soon I will become an expert, but now I am giving you joy, so I am very happy. It is a difficult thing to give others joy, but I am doing it. Therefore, I am proud of myself.”

GIM 176. 20 February 1979

Gandhi's self-sufficiency17

One day Gandhi went to an English barber to have his hair cut. But the barber said to him, “You black man, I won’t cut your hair! Go away.”

Gandhi was unhappy, but he was, as always, forgiving. So he said, “He is right. If he cuts my hair, who knows what will happen. We are all the time fighting against the British. They feel we are inferior people. Perhaps his boss will fire him if he cuts my hair. After all, our barbers will not cut the hair of someone of a low caste. According to the British, we are inferior. That’s why the British barber is not cutting my hair. What can I do? I shall not go to another barber for more insults.”

So Gandhi cut his own hair. He stood in front of a mirror and started with the front. The front came out well, but the back was not so good.

The next day, when Gandhi came to court, everybody laughed and laughed. “Why didn’t you go to a barber?” they asked.

“One barber has already insulted me,” Gandhi said. “He is absolutely right. Why should he cut my hair? All right, make fun of me. One day I will learn to cut hair and wash things also. I want to be self-sufficient. When I am self-sufficient, I will be really happy. I am sure you are happy now because you are making fun of me and I am happy that I can give you joy. But a day will come when you will be proud of me. I will learn how to cut hair by myself. I want to be self-sufficient in all ways. Today my incapacity is making you happy. Some day my capacity will make you happy.

GIM 177. 20 February 1979

Greed pays the penalty18

There was once a seeker living in an ashram who developed leprosy. Nobody with that kind of disease was allowed to remain in the ashram, so the head of the ashram asked him to leave. His wife and children were allowed to stay, but he was told that he had to leave. Poor fellow, what could he do?

So he bought a ticket and got on the train which would take him back to his home town. In the compartment he was sitting in there happened to be a few other passengers and also a huge trunk which was locked very tightly.

All the other passengers got off the train at their respective stops, but nobody took the trunk. This man was the only person left in the compartment, and still the trunk remained. Since he was all alone, a brilliant idea struck his mind. “Since nobody has claimed that box, let me take it home. Perhaps there will be something precious inside.”

He could not carry the box, so he asked the taxi driver to help him take the box home. His house was empty, since his wife was in the ashram with his children. He was very excited and curious and he broke open the locks. When he opened the box he practically fainted. Inside was a dead body which was cut into four or five pieces. To see a dead body is bad enough. But what could he do with a dead body in his house? How could he bury it or cremate it all by himself? And if he asked anybody to help him, he would be arrested.

He decided to ask some of his relatives, but his relatives were frightened to death, and they refused to help him dispose of the body. “This is what you learn at the ashram — to steal somebody else’s possession? Now you pay the penalty,” they said, and they would not help him.

The man locked the box again and hired two strong men to take it to a nearby river. But the two men wanted to know what was inside. He said, “Just some rubbish, which I don’t want to keep. These are all my wife’s belongings. I want to get rid of them. She was so evil.” Then he made up a story about how bad his wife was.

The two strong men were about to throw the box into the river when, O God, a policeman happened to pass by. The man told the same story about his wife, but the policeman was curious or perhaps he was just tempted to get the things which were in the box. So he ordered the man to open it. As a result, this man who had been in the ashram was arrested and put in jail. Even today, still he has not been released. So, for his greed he is paying the penalty!

This kind of story is instructive. If you have greed, you pay the penalty. And if you are not cautious, also you pay the penalty.

GIM 178. 12 May 1979

Editor's preface to the first edition

Most 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.

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