We were up in the mountains visiting with Maharaji at Kainchi. The eight-year-old VW bus was doing yeoman’s service each day, moving the Western devotees from Nainital down the mountain to Kainchi each morning and back up each evening. Soon there were too many for the VW and some had to go by public bus, but still twenty or so managed to squeeze into the VW or on the rack on top, and, as VWs do, it smiled gamely and did its thing. But one day, just at the town of Bhowali, the VW stopped. It wouldn’t start again. So we left it there and the next day told Maharaji. And he said, “Take it to Delhi.” All the way to Delhi, a hundred and ninety miles away? That seemed absurd to me. Couldn’t someone local fix it? All he would say was, “Take it to Delhi.”
That evening back in Nainital I spoke to the Sah family who owned the hotel. They knew of a mechanic, and I arranged for him to go and see the car. A day later he looked at it but could not start it. So again I told Maharaji and again he reiterated, “Take it to Delhi.” Then I told him that in Almora, thirty miles away, was a German economic project and they used VWs and had a service man. Maybe I could get him to come over. Maharaji said, “Take it to Delhi.”
I wrote to the people in Almora asking them to contact the German repair center, and after letters back and forth that took the better part of two weeks, it became clear that no incentive would get the mechanic to come to Bhowali and that they weren’t even interested in looking at it if I got it to Almora. I told Maharaji all this, and you can imagine his response: “Take it to Delhi.” So again I went back to the mechanic in Nainital and again he went to look. This time he got it running and drove it up to Nainital, but on the outskirts of town it stopped and he could not get it going again. Enthusiastically, I reported this progress to Maharaji, but his instructions had not changed.
It was now more than four weeks since the breakdown and it became evident that the Nainital mechanic just couldn’t fix the car. Since there was nothing else to do, it was decided to “take it to Delhi.” A truck was rented, complete with Sikh drivers, and the car was loaded aboard. With Krishna Das as passenger, they left for Delhi. Krishna Das told hair-raising tales of the journey – of the drinking and of moving the VW from one truck to another, and so forth – but finally it got to the repair man at Delhi. The VW was rolled off the truck and the repair man walked over, opened the engine compartment, took one look, connected one wire, and the car started and ran perfectly.
After that the term that came to be synonymous with my lack of surrender was, “Take it to Delhi.”
- Ram Dass (excerpt from Miracle of Love: Stories about Neem Karoli Baba)
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