August 2019

A serene mind is a mountain of strength. – Chinmaya

The above quote is one among the millions of reasons why the mind should be kept serene.

When does the mind become serene?

When we realise that there is an Omniscient Lord at the helm of affairs, and that everything is taken care perfectly, then the mind becomes serene.

When Gandhiji was in prison in the Aga Khan’s palace at Pune in 1943, he went on a 21-day fast protesting against the British Government. As the days progressed, his condition began to deteriorate which caused considerable anxiety throughout the nation. He had collapsed twice and the team of doctors were worried. Surgeon General Candy suggested intravenous administration of glucose.

 Dr Susheela Nayyar, who knew the nature of Gandhiji very well, informed Dr Candy, “Sir! Gandhiji will not agree to take glucose. He will willingly die, but he will resist the administration of glucose.”

General Candy wanted to speak to Gandhiji in private. All others left the room.

He went and sat on a chair near Gandhiji. He could not bring himself to speak. In the end, he mustered courage and said, “Mr Gandhi, as a doctor I should tell you that you have crossed the limit of your strength. Your capacity to fast or to keep alive without some form of nourishment has been exhausted long back…”

General Candy could not speak further. He burst into tears.

Gandhiji consoled him, “Why are you nervous? I am in God’s hands. I have voluntarily put myself in His hands. If He wants to take me away, He will take me away. I am ready to go. If He feels that my work is not over, He will keep me here.”

General wiped his tears and gently walked out of the room.

As per the instructions of the British Government, a pile of sandalwood was kept ready on the campus to cremate Gandhiji’s body if he died. But the miracle happened. He survived the fast.

C.F. Andrews, a British social reformer wrote about Gandhiji thus: 

“There is a ruler of India here, Mahatma Gandhi, whose sway is greater than all imperial power. His name will be remembered and sung by the village people long after the names of the modern Governors in their palaces at New Delhi are forgotten. When all the Government buildings have crumbled into ruins, the name of Mahatma Gandhi will still be taught by mothers to their little children as one of the greatest of Indian saints and saviours.

“For, there is a spiritual palace which Gandhi has built up out of an eternal fabric. Its foundations are deeply and truly laid in the Kingdom of God. No oppression of the poor has gone to build it. Love and devotion and service to the poor are its golden decorations. No military pomp reigns within its borders, but only the peaceful harmony of human souls. No race or colour distinctions have any place in it. No clash of religious controversy mars its silence. Its empire is the heart.”

A heart ruled by God lacks nothing – be it courage, wisdom, peace or strength.

On the 15th of August, 1947, India became free. But Alas! The freedom of India meant partition of the country. At that time Sadhu Vaswani was in Sindh (now Pakistan). The Hindus of the Sindh, leaving their properties and possessions behind, bade farewell to the soil of their birth and sought new homes in India. Sadhu Vaswani continued to stay on. St. Meera Schools started by Vaswani continued to serve the children of those who had newly arrived in Sindh.

There were many God-fearing Muslims – men who loved God and aspired to live in His presence. But the country was over-run by another type of people. In that transition period, utter lawlessness prevailed. Cut-throats and assassins, murderers and mobsters were free to do what they liked.

St. Meera’s High School at that time was one of the few educational institutions which kept aglow the light of the ideals which give meaning and value to life – the ideals of unity and peace, of service and sacrifice, of harmony and brotherhood of all life. A storm of vilification was raised. At the meeting of about thirty thousand persons, the lie was spread, that at the time of Mr Jinnah’s death, halwa (a type of sweetmeat) was distributed at Sadhu Vaswani’s satsang. This incensed the feeling of the Muslim mob, who were not aware of the good work which was being done under Sadhu Vaswani’s leadership and guidance. One of those present at the meeting was reported to have declared, with a pistol in his hand, “Vaswani shall not live!”

The editor of a local daily paper came to the devotees of Vaswani the next day and narrated the whole incident. “It is for me to warn you,” he said, “it is for you to see that Sadhu Vaswani does not move out of the house for a few days.” The devotees were very much worried and became concerned for the safety and protection of their beloved Master.

As usual, Vaswani got ready for his usual evening walk. The devotees gathered around him and related to him the recent developments. “We pray Dada, that you keep indoors for a few days.” they entreated. “The man may be prowling somewhere near, looking for a chance to use his pistol.”

Sadhu Vaswani appeared unconcerned. He smiled and said, “My children! Remember one thing. Life is a gift of God. What He has given, only He can take away. When it is His will, this body will mingle with dust. And when that moment arrives, no power on earth can keep me back. Until the hour has come, no pistol-shot can touch a single hair of my head. Blessed be His name!” So saying, he moved out for his evening walk.

On the way, he said, “If we are awake, we may realise that both birth and death are beautiful, as both day and night are beautiful. The day has the beauty of sunrise and the night has the beauty of the stars. Krishna’s flute is beautiful, but also, the cross of the Christ. Buddha’s meditation is beautiful, so also, the death of Socrates.”

The intuitive feeling of the presence of God makes everything beautiful. He guides; He corrects; He protects; He consoles; He inspires; He enlightens. The one who is tuned to His presence undoubtedly becomes fearless.

Rabia Basri, who was a great and renowned saint, was very beautiful when she was a young girl. Because of her beauty, she was at one time abducted by thieves who sold her to the owner of a house of prostitution.

On the first night in her new surrounding, a man was brought to her room, and she immediately entered into conversation with him.

“It is good to see such a nice young man,” she said. “Please make yourself comfortable in that chair while I pray a little. If you like you may also pray with me.”

The young man was surprised, but he knelt down the floor beside Rabia, and both of them prayed for some time.

After her prayers, Rabia got up and said, “I am sure you will not mind if I remind you that you must die one day. And to be fair to you, it is only right that I tell you that the sin you have in mind will lead you into the fires of hell. Please, for your own sake, consider if you wish to commit the sin and thus jump into the flaming inferno, or if you would prefer to avoid this fate.”

“O good and pious lady, you have opened my eyes,” said the surprised young man, “which always before were closed to the meaning of this sin. I promise earnestly never to visit a house such as this again.”

As the days passed by, many other men were brought to Rabia’s room, and one and all were changed, as she had changed the first.

It was only natural that the ruffian who owned the house soon began to wonder.

“How is it that whoever visits this girl once, never returns?” said the puzzled owner of the brothel to himself. “She is so young and beautiful that the men should hover around her like moths around a flame.”

In order to solve the mystery, the wife of the brothel owner one night hid herself in a place where she could see into Rabia’s apartment and discover how she treated those who were taken into it.

“Good evening friend and welcome!” began Rabia as soon as the man was shown to her room. “Here in this evil house always remember that God is omnipresent. It is an excellent idea. Don’t you agree?”

The man, utterly surprised, was forced to agree with her. “Yes, we are taught that by the priests,” he had to say.

“Here, surrounded by the evil, I never forget that He sees all the evil done and metes out even justice. Oh, how many, who enter this house for a moment of so-called pleasure, go through indescribable agony and suffering in God’s hell because of it. You too may do the same, if you wish to. But friend, the human form was bestowed on us to enable us to meditate and realise God, and not to waste the precious gift in acting even lower than the animals.”

This man, as had so many others, saw at once the truth of Rabia’s words. Realising for the first time the enormity of the sin that he had in mind, he fell prostrate at Rabia’s feet and weeping bitterly, begged for her forgiveness.

Rabia’s words were so sincere and persuasive that even the hardened brothel owner’s wife came out of her hiding place and began to weep for the many sins she had committed.

“O pure and pious girl!” she said, kneeling at Rabia’s feet. “What a harm we had sought to do you! You are truly a saint. Go, and leave this evil house this very moment. As for us, we can now see that we have done a dreadful thing. Our eyes are opened, and our lives will change.”

Our strength is our peace within; and this peace has the strength to transform even the rank criminals and sensualists. Hence let us attempt to bring peace within, before attempting to bring peace without.

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Posted in: Chintana

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