Tuesday, November 03, 2015


It was a few days later: we were at the village hut. Someone brought some puffed rice and roasted ground-nuts, wrapped in an old newspaper, for Swamiji. After eating them, Balu was about to throw away the paper when I saw my picture on it. I took the paper from Balu and looked closer. Yes, it was my face alright; beneath it was a note advertised by my father: My name, age, occupation, physical description, and the offer of reward for anyone who could give information about my whereabouts; and in case I saw it, requesting my return as my mother lay heart-broken, worried about my welfare; and that he himself has mad with grief about the whole thing.

I sat staring blankly in front of me, holding the paper tightly my hand.

Swamiji looked at me. He too must have seen: The child being taken to school, kicking and screaming; a man and woman holding platefuls of fruit and sweets high out of his reach, but always in his sight. ‘No, I won’t, I don’t - you can keep the sweets,’ screeched the child with his eyes glued to the sweets. - ‘Nice boy go to school, nice boy eat sweets and mangoes and cashew nuts and cream-crackers and chocolate fudge.’ - ‘No, no,’ shouted the boy, ‘Bad boy, not go to school, sweet-shop owner’s son, Kittu, gobbles sweets all day, sells them too’ - ‘Kittu is a loafer, you horrible boy, you want to be a shop boy! Disgrace to dear Mum and Dad who get all these eats for you to grow up like grandpa who was minister and respected by thousands. Come, come, we mustn’t keep keep teacher waiting.’ - “Don't want to be like grandpa - don't want to be dead like him - you both be like grandpa - want to sell fruit and sweets and eat, too, why is not my teacher like grandpa - not minister not dead either - gets no sweets or fruits - horrible sour buttermilk and rice everyday in his lunch box - you cheats. Alright let me go to school, I will run away and won't come back.”

‘Nasty ungrateful brat! Just like your family’ the man said.

‘Anyway, we didn’t forge signatures and go to jail, like your uncle! Now, nice boy, go to school or you break mamma’s heart,’ the woman wailed.

‘Nothing good about this fellow - talks like that nut, your aunt who went to the asylum - must be in the blood,’ the man held his head tightly, ‘at least our family had no nuts in them, like some families I know - this fool is not from my stock. Alright go to the devil!’ he said and let the boy free.

Man and woman look at each other: anger and misery.

‘Alright, I go to school,’ the boy perplexed, father patting on the head, mother stuffing sweets into his pockets: and now mother's heart is breaking.

‘Nice boy go to school - Gangu got first-class first; no sweets; only tamarind water and rice; spits blood and he is seen no more. Kittu who never goes to school sits in his father’s sweet shop like a king, with yellow turban laced with silver filigree, sells and eats sweets fit to burst - uncle forged - what is forged - and went to jail - must have been something great and fierce - they only talk of grandpa - aunt is nuts - how can that be, she must have stuffed herself with nuts, must be careful - mother's heart breaks if I don't go to school - if I stay put at home I might jump on chairs and break them, but why she thinks I jump on her heart! - all lies! But they look so miserable; somebody must have died, maybe they think of grandpa who is dead.’

The boy trudges to school dragging his heels. Man and woman look at each other and shake their heads.

The boy is bigger, now, and goes to college. Man and woman look, not happy, not sad, only worried. Boy, too quiet, no missing college, no jumping on chairs, no asking for sweets or food or clothes or anything; eating when food is offered, wearing things given; not much laughter or college jokes; sometimes a ready answer, sometimes deaf as a tortoise:

‘Something wrong with the boy,’ the man said, ‘obeys like a machine, too quiet!

‘He gives no trouble and he is so helpful at home - too grown up. But I wish he at least goes to a picture or games or gets some friends home.’

All this they said to him, too. Woman praying to Ganesh, man goes to club. Sometimes both pray.

Then a bigger boy, almost a man himself.

“You will be a credit to us, a great doctor. You'll be great, son,” said the man.

“You are our treasure,” said the women, “you will help so many and they will bless you. We, too, need a doctor, and our medical bills are heavy!”

The boy heard, and the boy saw - sweets, school, nuts, bolts, forges, credits, treasures, medical bills and above all mamma’s heart that somehow would break if he didn't go to school, and the heart grew bigger and bigger and bigger and he was swallowed up in it, sinking, floating, suffocating - ‘let me free, let me go’ - and now mamma’s heart is broken - and apes stand around, grinning - One X-raying, another electrifying and a third picking the brain and yet another tasting her blood and the man stood haggard and watching; ‘leave her alone,’ ‘leave her alone,’ shouted the boy.

Swamiji was looking at me. “Well, son,” he said.

I handed him the piece of paper. He just glanced at the picture, and continued to look at me. “Well, son,” he prompted.

“Will I be ever free?” I asked.

“Free from what?” he asked.

“From chains, these chains,” I said.

“I don't see any, do you see them?” he asked.

“No, Swamiji, it is as if I'm in chains, bonds,” I said.

“Ah, so,” he said, enough trouble with things which one sees, son, no need to add as-ifs to them. What exactly do you see or know? Then, if I too have seen and known we may talk about it.”

My mother's heart is broken, my father’s brain is affected. This I see. I do not know what to do. When I was with them, my mother's heart was breaking and my father’s head was aching. I saw and felt myself a prisoner in mother's heart and father’s head. I felt that going away would be good for all of us; both would be cured once the troublesome object was removed. I see that my going away leaves them in the same state - me, too, perhaps,” I said. “This being a prisoner or slave - chained slave - slave rebels, master does not let go - and now, I see the chain getting longer, and longer, and the owner’s hand is getting chafed and tired, pulling, pulling - and I feel sad,too - I don't just know what to do.”

“Thank you, son,” he said, “That's better. You ask me what to do. What do we do with things that come to us, come to become known by us?”

“Oh, yes, I suppose, look at them, look after them, and care for them - at least that's what Thimmy and you said,” I said, somewhat, sulkily.

“But, you remember, how many things came to become known by you and jumped and made racket, and when you came to look at them, and care for them, and uncovered the face of kindness, all that - what happened?” he asked.

“Everything became quiet - but they keep on coming and jumping - why not leave me alone - now this - will it ever end,” I said.

“Everything became quiet; you did and do nothing; You simply let kindness show itself, all the things that came in became quiet, you said - did you not - what happened, then, to them - do you see them when you are quiet? After you cared for them and all that?” he asked.

“Don't know, Swamiji,” I said, “They just stopped making a racket, I felt, maybe, as before.”

“Just the same as before you met them, exactly the same? Did you feel worse?” he asked.

“No, Swamiji, come to talk of it, I felt so light and happy and even stronger, I should say,” I said.

“Ah, so, you might say that they merged with you, making you lighter, stronger and happier. So, son, things come to you to become known by you, and you look at them as you look at a welcome guest, and you let kindness show her face, they merge with you, become you, YOU. And you become a bigger and more wholesome house. Son, it is probably, only the human being that can hold so much within him without breaking to pieces. Your house is never too small if you only let kindness do the housekeeping. You say that more and more things keep coming. Why do anything different with them? They come to merge with you and become you, and they clamour and knock and scratch and bite if they are tied or chased away. Yes, that's it; they come to become you: your being is one continuous becoming, it seems; perhaps all being is becoming!

“And did you not say something about master and slave? That you are a slave and your parents, the master? Now tell me this - who came first, you or your parents,” he asked.

“Why, of course, my parents,” I said.

“How do you know that, or do you really know that?” he asked.

“Why, I was born after them,” I said.

“How do you know?” he asked.

“Well, I was told that I was born to them, everybody knows,” I said.

“Ah. You were told; everybody knows; but I am asking if you know that? Did you know your parents before you were born? he asked.

“How could I, Swamiji, certainly couldn’t or didn’t know them before I was born,” I said.

“Then how did you say they were there before you came, and that you know that you came after them; when, of your own you don't know whether they were there or not before you came!”

“It is puzzling, Swamiji. Yes - I can truly say only that I came to know them after I was born and grew up,” I said.

“Ah, so, you can only truly say that first you came, and then and thereafter only they came to be known by you, is it not. So, you are really the master, the first, almost the parent of your parents! Yet, you talk about being a slave! You are the master, the first, the foremost, the highest, and everything comes after, the big and small, the high and low, the ugly and the good, many things come to you, to become known by you, to merge with you, to become you, making you bigger and bigger and lighter and happier and stronger, more and more so.

“YOu talk of slaves. I don't know about them. But I know a master, and he is master because he looks after, and the things he looks after become him, leaving only master and no slave. What to do, you ask. Know yourself to be the first and free, the master. Nobody binds you - there is nothing binding, chaining and puzzling. Only things that come to merge and become. Take care, however, that you do not want to do anything with them, own them, or tame them or get rid of them, things like that. Then the trouble starts. That is why maybe you have become a jumping jack in your parent’s head, and they jump inside you!” said the Swamiji.

“Must we welcome everything, Swamiji,” I asked, “the good and the bad. How is that Swamiji, we are told not to keep bad company and so on,” I was already feeling quieter and somehow happier.

“Who said about everything. I only said of the things that come to you - come to become known by you. The things that need you, need to become known by you, come to you. You, the master, do nothing, masters do nothing, only let kindness do things. Then you remain free, the master, and they merge and become. That you have seen. There are no good or bad things - only the things that need to come to you. But if you want something with anything, to own, tame, fight or even help, the chain comes and there is master, slave and good and bad. It too comes to become known by you have see. Son, even your body comes only after you have come, let alone others. It too comes to become known by you, to be looked after, to merge and become one with the master - only the trouble starts when you want! All the master does is let kindness act. Letting kindness act you remain the master: Letting wanting act, you become the slave.”

“Swamiji, you say, letting kindness act or letting desire act. Desire, like kindness also comes to us, is it not. It comes to become known by us, to be looked after; yet, you say, we should not or desire,” I puzzled.

“There you have me, son;” said the Swamiji. “I should say, yes, son. Desire also comes to you, to become known, to be cared for, to merge, to become - then you remain free. But if you do anything else with it, then, well, you know;”

“Then we must yield to all our desires, Swamiji,” I asked.

“Did I say so? I said you must come to know it and let kindness show its face,” he answered.

“Is it not the same thing?” I asked.

“Whether it is the same thing or not? Knowing a desire is one thing; yielding to it is another thing; you should know, is it not? Let me say this, son. Many things come and knock at our doors, some even enter without leave, in fact, many do. They clamour to become known. When the master knows them there is peace and merging, growing and becoming. If there is clamour and a sense of bondage in you, then you can be certain, they are there, but still not brought to the notice of the master. Same with desire. It comes and it clamours to become known. If it is gripped, resisted or fought bondage comes and you or a great part of you is troubled and unfree. When you feel that way, you know that there is a troublesome guest within wanting to be known. You look at it closely, with a smile, you let kindness look at it, it becomes you and there is quiet. Quite right, son, desire also comes from somewhere. But you see that knowing is different from yielding. Knowing is peace, growth, strength and becoming - Knowing transforms: Peace, strength and growing is knowing. Everything else is ignorance.

“So many things, Swamiji,” I asked,” where do they come from?”

“I do not know, son, said Swamiji. His face was aglow with a stranger light. “All I know is that I am the master, the First and Free, and then comes the rest, my Empire! Knowing is my right eye; Kindness is my left eye.

“There is nothing I know to which I am not kind, for everything I know is mine, my own kind so to say. My self, and how can I be unkind to my kind. Myself!

“I, the Master have a prime minister; a servant called ‘i’ which reports things to me: i see, I hear, I feel, i touch, I taste, i suffer, i love, after me, before me, i am a slave, i am free, i am unhappy and so on. I, the Master nothing, but the prime minister is nothing without Me.

“But, often, the prime minister does not report to Me; maybe even forgets Me or feels he does not need to bother Me; more often he thinks he is the master, for the Master does not bother to interfere or make himself known; maybe many other reasons; then this prime minister, this i, with its dates of birth, period of office and retirement, and death goes about, happy or unhappy; the headaches of the empire are his as long as he thinks it is his empire, and that he is the master, the king.

“But when things become difficult, as they do - there is rebellion and rumpus , he says, ‘weary is the head that wears a crown,’ and so puts it aside; he is forced to see that nothing really belongs to him, nothing really obeys him - only that things are there, things happen, things come to him to change and grow, not to remain as museum pieces for his wants; all this, and he observes that he is getting old and is to die, that he is temporary, and since nothing belongs to him or obeys him; not even his body; after all this, he feels that something else is the master, and he goes from door to door searching for the Master within. And I, the Master let him go his way, because like me he, too, is free to go his way! Free to carry the burden of empires and have headaches with the crown.

“Someday, somewhere he looks at himself, at me, comes to know Me, and he becomes Me and free, really free, for I hold no slaves and no chains and all is Me.

“Since he fully sees that he is not the master, he may come to know that he is only an agent, a reporter; and all he has to do is to clearly report to Me, the things that come to him. But when he disobeys, keeping things to himself, keeping them from the Change and growth for which they have come, then his servants follow his example - eyes, ears, hands all go their way; lose their clarity, deceive and distort, and he moans further at the chaos of which he is the author. But the moment he realises, this ‘i’, that he is a servant - all his burdens and bothers cease and he becomes one with the Master.

“So, son, your freedom comes the moment you see you are a servant, this you, that sees, feels, hears, that is troubled and so on is the servant, and that its first duty is to correctly report to the Master within, the ever-present Over-seer, the Witness, the Lord of All to grow and change and merge into Him, and you, the agent.

“This I know! He smiled at me.

“Now, what do I do?” I asked him.

Swamiji got up and walk down to the lake. Balu and I followed. Thimmy scampered behind. The cool water was inviting and we bathed. Thimmy was given a bath, too, and he seemed to like it.

I felt fresh, strong and free - I the First, the Ever-Free.

No comments: