India and her miracle-feast: come and enjoy yourself, part 5 — Traditional Indian stories about Devadas Maharaj
Introduction by the AuthorI have decided to narrate a few traditional stories which are well-known in India. These stories are not my own creations; they are about spiritual Masters who used to show their occult power as easily and as often as we drink water. I am one of those who do not appreciate miracles, for quite often miracles only feed curiosity, and there is a yawning gulf between curiosity and aspiration. Again, there are some Masters who think that it is advisable for an individual to start his spiritual journey, even if he has to start with curiosity. Eventually the same person will enter into the world of true aspiration.
Sometimes occultists want to prove that modern science does not have the last word with regard to God’s creation. They want to show that the infinite wealth of the inner world can easily silence all the achievements of mankind in the outer world. To be sure, what we call a miracle is nothing but a common occurrence in the world beyond our senses. Inwardly we can learn from these great Masters, from their fascinating miracles, from their soul-stirring lives. That is why I am interested in telling these stories.
— Sri Chinmoy
This is my last warningWhen Ramdas was a young boy, one night he and his Guru, Devadas Maharaj, were meditating separately at different places. It was snowing heavily and the weather was extremely cold. Each one had an open fire in front of him to keep him warm. Ramdas meditated a few hours; then he fell asleep. When he woke up, he saw that the fire was totally extinguished. He was frightened to death, for he knew that his Master would be furious if he went to him to get a few burning coals. But at the same time he was unable to bear the cold weather. Finally he mustered courage and went to his Master for a few burning charcoals.
Devadas Maharaj came out of his trance and insulted Ramdas mercilessly. “Who asked you to leave your parents and your family if sleep is so important in your life?” he shouted. “This is my last warning. If you ever fall asleep again when you are supposed to be meditating, I shall not keep you as my disciple. You do not deserve to be my disciple.”
Commentary: Spirituality means discipline. Discipline means conscious progress. Conscious progress means the transcendence of nature. Man’s transcendence of his nature is his awareness of his immortal self for God-Satisfaction in God’s own Way.
Discipline is always indispensable, especially in the beginning of the seeker’s spiritual adventure. Today we call something discipline; tomorrow we call that very thing a natural and spontaneous habit. Today’s forward movement carries us to tomorrow’s door. Once we are at the door, we do not even have to knock at the door. The divine owner opens the door from inside and then takes us inside to introduce us to three most important friends: Eternity’s Beauty, Infinity’s Delight and Immortality’s Light.
To you my heart of infinite gratitudeOnce Guru Devadas Maharaj left his small ashram for a few days and asked his dear disciple Ramdas to remain seated at a particular place and continue meditating until he came back. For five or six days Ramdas meditated day and night until his Master returned. The Master immediately blessed Ramdas and said, “Today you have highly pleased me. You could have slept, you could have left the place, you could have deceived me in various ways. I clearly see that you have not deceived me in any way; therefore, my heart of infinite gratitude and my life of infinite pride I offer to you.”
Commentary: The command from the divine Master is never a command as such. His voice may sound very strict and stern, but inside him is the flow of his compassionate oneness. His compassionate oneness awakens the sleeping heart and illumines the doubting mind of the disciple even before the disciple is asked to do anything.
Divine obedience is not only soulful but fruitful. Divine obedience gets tremendous delight by virtue of its inner, spontaneous oneness with the Master’s will. Here it is not actually the oneness of the superior and the inferior; it is the oneness of one reality that has two heights. The first reality enters into the second reality to manifest God the Unmanifest. The second reality enters into the first to realise God the infinite and ever-transcending Vision.
This eternal slave is yoursOnce Ramdas made a mistake and his Master got furious. He struck the disciple severely and scolded him mercilessly. “You are a low-caste fellow! What can I expect from you? Spirituality is not meant for you. For God’s sake, leave me immediately!”
But Ramdas only said to his Master, “Lord, beat me as long as you want to, beat me as hard as you want to, insult me as mercilessly as you want to, but grant me only one boon and that boon is that you will keep this eternal slave of yours always at your feet.”
Commentary: The Master advocates oneness, conscious and constant oneness. The disciple tries to realise that oneness with the Master and with the rest of the world. Such being the case, scolding and insulting never indicate punishment. The Master is just adopting a method which will immediately awaken the disciple more fully to expedite the disciple’s progress. As outwardly he shouts and barks, inwardly he knows what he has for the disciple and what he is to the disciple. What he has for the disciple is oneness-delight. The Master feels it is his bounden duty to do the things that are necessary in order to accelerate the disciple’s progress, no matter how badly he is misunderstood by the world or even by the disciple himself. The Master always remembers the promise that he made to the disciple’s soul and to God that he would leave no stone unturned in order to make the disciple make the fastest progress in his spiritual adventure.
Not advisable: two tigers in one denOne day both the Master Maharaj and his disciple Ramdas were meditating separately in an open field. A young man came and bowed down before each one, and offered some money to Ramdas. Ramdas immediately protested and asked the young man to take the money away and place it at his Master’s feet instead. In spite of being repeatedly requested to do so, the young man did not comply with Ramdas’ request.
When the young man left, Ramdas went to his Master and offered him the money, only to be rebuked ruthlessly by the Master for accepting the money. Ramdas said that he had repeatedly asked the man not to give him the money, but to give it to his Master instead. But Devadas Maharaj’s anger still remained at the transcendental height. He said, “I am sure he saw greed in you; therefore, he gave the money to you and not to me.”
Ramdas felt sad. Then his Master said, “Don’t feel sad. Now I am telling you the truth. Like me, you have also become a tiger in the spiritual life; therefore, the young man felt that if he gave it to you, it was as good as offering it to me. The time has come for you to have disciples of your own and to move to a different place.”
Ramdas fell at the Master’s feet and said, “My eternal place is here and nowhere else.”
Commentary: Indeed, it is at times difficult, if not almost impossible, to know what the Master wants. If the disciple has a pure heart and if he has a sincere attitude, then he is bound to please the Master. Because of his purity’s striking luminosity and his sincerity’s spontaneous oneness, there is every possibility that he will do the right thing. Again, if the disciple does not do the right thing, but his mind is still searching and his heart is crying, then the Master does not blame the disciple for his mistakes, for he knows perfectly well that these so-called mistakes are the pathfinders of true truth.
Two tigers — the Master the tiger and the disciple the tiger — cannot live together. The Master thinks not in human terms — that if they stay together then each will not get full importance from the rest of the world; therefore, it is advisable to stay separately so that both can get due attention. If this is what the human mind thinks is the reason, then it is a deplorable mistake. When the Master says that the disciple has come up to his standard and asks the disciple to stay separately in the world, what the Master wants from the disciple is very simple: he wants the disciple to spread light as the Master is spreading light. If both of them do the same thing for the same people at the same time, then it is totally redundant. But if they share their achievements with the rest of the world, staying away from each other geographically and physically, then only the larger world will receive light from both God-realised souls. What the Master wants is not possession but the expansion of the God-reality in him and in his disciple. God’s creation is very vast. The more who can manifest God with the help of illumined, liberated and realised souls, the better; and the sooner God’s infinite Manifestation can take place here, there, everywhere.
The Master comes firstRamdas and his Master were both heavy smokers, and they often took arsenic to keep themselves warm. One night Devadas asked his disciples to go and buy two rupees’ worth of arsenic, but his disciples had no money and they were also a little bit hesitant to go to the town at that hour. Ramdas offered to go, but he had no money either. The Master said, “Don’t worry. You just go to the town. There will be somebody there to give you some money.”
Ramdas believed his Master and left without any money. When he reached the town, it was quite late and everything was dark. He saw a light in only one house, so he went there and knocked at the door. When the owner opened the door, he was so happy to see a sadhu standing there. He said, “All day I have been thinking of offering two rupees to a sadhu, and now you have come. I am so grateful to you. Please take these two rupees.”
Then Ramdas took the money and bought two rupees’ worth of arsenic. On his way back to the ashram he thought that since he had such a large quantity, he would take a very small portion and his Master would not notice it.
Ramdas was so happy to bring the arsenic and offer it to his Master, but Devadas Maharaj showed him a sad face. Ramdas said, “At this hour I went all the way to town and got you arsenic. How is it that you are sad?”
The Master replied, “I am sad because you come first in your life, and not me. You should have given me the full quantity; then I would have given some to you. Always think of me first. Only then shall I be pleased with you, and I shall give you not only much more than you need, but much more than you deserve.”
Commentary: The Master’s faith in the disciple and the disciple’s faith in the Master are of equal importance. But sometimes the Master does not reveal to the disciple all aspects of the reality-tree, for it may confuse the seeker’s unripe mind. If he does not tell the story of the reality-life all at once, that does not mean that the Master is mean or not generous. But the Master feels that like a child the disciple has to receive things little by little so that he can assimilate everything.
When the disciple has to deal with the Master, the story has to be different, for no matter what he has or what he is, it will not confuse the Master’s illumined mind. The Master gives to the disciple according to the disciple’s limited receptivity and easily measured capacity, whereas if the disciple wants to give something to the Master, he can do so unreservedly, for the Master’s receptivity and capacity is immeasurable. Again, if the disciple does not give his whole existence to the Master, the Master does not become the loser — far from it. But the disciple weakens his capacity, shortens his vision of the Master and falls down from the reality-oneness with the Master. Finally, insincerity-dragon and ingratitude-insect threaten his aspiring existence.
So give to the Master unreservedly what you have and what you are. The Master will give you according to your need and according to God’s Need. The fulfilment of your need entirely depends on God’s Will.
The Hindu-Muslim compromiseOnce Devadas went to live and meditate in a Muslim area. In the middle of the night he would blow a conch and ring a bell. The Muslims are dead against using conches and bells, and they warned the Hindu sadhu that they would punish him severely if he did not stop doing this. The following night he blew the conch and rang the bell louder than ever. The Muslim soldiers came to arrest him, but when they entered his room, to their wide surprise they saw that his head had been severed from his body and was lying on a chair, and his limbs were all scattered around the room. But there was no blood. The soldiers did not want to touch the body, so they left.
In a few minutes’ time they heard the same bell and the sound of the conch, so they rushed back, only to see the same scene again. Again they left, only to hear the conch and the bell once more. This time they were furious. When they returned to the room, Devadas was there in his normal human form.
“What can you do to me?” he said. “You have just seen twice what I can do. Before you arrest me, I shall disassemble myself.”
When the soldiers went to report the matter to the Muslim chief, the chief said to them, “It is not advisable to fight with a man who has such extraordinary spiritual power. The best thing is to surrender to him and ask him if he would like to have a temple built. I shall pay for it. Let him peacefully pray and meditate there and do whatever he wants to do.”
Devadas was extremely pleased with the Muslim chief’s offer. The Muslim chief erected a beautiful temple for him, and Devadas in deep gratitude stopped blowing the conch and ringing the bell.
Commentary: The Hindu and the Muslim are like two powerful branches of the reality-tree, which is all oneness-freedom. But the outer life of the human beings is so complicated that no matter what other persons do, they will get irritated or feel insecure or inferior.
The Master showed on the one hand that he had the body-reality of the Supreme to manifest the Supreme. On the other hand, he showed that he had the soul-reality of the Supreme to realise the Supreme. The Master disassembled and assembled his body in order to show to the naked eyes of human beings that medical science does not have the last word on God’s creation and man’s life and death. It is only the inscrutable Will of the Supreme that operates in and through the spiritual Master.