Sometimes during our nightly satsang. Babaji used to visit us in our room, where we were busy with our talk. One night, more than an hour had passed and we were still talking when Babaji entered the hall, sat down on Sukla’s bed and began counting the layers of bedding. Babaji said, “You are enjoying much luxury here.”
Everyone laughed at the joke, but Sukla was much moved and said with tears in his eyes, “This is my Didi’s house, so I have got them.” Babaji said, “Your Didi is good, but she is generous to you and gives you five layers for your bed, but only three layers for mine.” Our satsang was punctuated with many such visits and inimitable comments. Everybody would say after such an experience that this really was our Babaji, the one whom we all seek.
Days passed in quiet succession. All we wanted was that the ecstasy and excitement in which we were spending our days should not halt. But one night, after Babaji had gone to bed, the devotees finished their meals and assembled in the hall as usual. After some time, we noticed that there was no light in Babaji’s room. Taking him to be asleep and thinking we would have no visit from him that night, we all took to our beds. Before twelve, everyone was asleep and all the lights were switched off.
We were all in deep sleep when we heard Tularam shouting “Dada, Babaji has gone away. He is not here in the house.” Tularam caught me by the hand and started running for the gate. Siddhi was already there waiting for us. We had not even taken our slippers, when we started running on the road. We came across a rickshaw by the roadside, but the rickshaw-puller was asleep on it. Tularam actually pulled him down. We two took our seats and Siddhi jumped on the footboard and asked the rickshaw-puller to drive fast. He was not fully awake, and that there was no accident was only because there was no traffic on the road.
When we arrived at the railroad station, we saw Babaji sitting alone on a bench. The two devotees who had come with him had been sent for their tea, so Babaji was alone when we came before him. We were agitated and could not talk, so he started the talk in a very casual way. It was as if he was sitting on his bed, where we had left him earlier. He inquired how we came to be there. Tularam replied as Siddhi and I could not talk or even open our mouths, “We came in search of you. How was it possible for us to stay at home when we learned that you had gone away?”
Babaji behaved as if it was a very common and everyday affair and we had unnecessarily given so much importance to it. Then the usual questions began, as if cursorily directed to Tularam: how did he know, what did others think when they heard of it, and all such questions. Tularam could tell him only the little which he had heard from Siddhi when she came rushing down to wake us up.
Everybody had been sleeping in the house, but Siddhi and two other ladies who slept on the roof above, were sitting looking toward the road in front of the house. It was a full moon night, and they were sitting silently, as if in meditation, when they saw some movement going on there. Two rickshaws had come and were standing at the gate when someone came out carrying something in his arms. The gate was opened, and there were some others waiting there. They all sat on the rickshaws and started off. The ladies saw but did not understand what it was all about. The eyes had given all the snapshots to the mind, but it could not develop them immediately. What all the pantomime was about, they could not know.
Babaji said that the thing was so simple that it was a surprise for him that we could not understand it. He said that he had some important work at Mathura and his presence was necessary there. Moreover, Ram Prakash, who had come from Agra, was wasting his time here and his work was suffering, so he had to be taken home. He continued, “This was decided at night when I was going to bed. You were busy with your food. Kanhai Lal came to see me before leaving for home. I asked him to come with two rickshaws after two in the morning. I could not ask you for that because you were all busy with your food. When the rickshaws came, I was ready to start but you were all asleep. So I came out of my room alone and when I saw Ram Prakash sleeping on the verandah along with others, I lifted him and took him out of the gate. My problem was that he should not know it. If he woke up, he was sure to draw everyone from the house by his shouting. So the wise thing was not to wake him. For such a simple thing there was no sense in making a fuss like you people would have done. One must use one’s brain before anything. You people do not do that. That is the cause of all your trouble.”
The sermon was over. Then as consolation for our troubles, he said that his work was very urgent. It had not been in his plan to go now, so he did not talk to us about it. However, he would return soon. Ram Prakash and Kanhai Lal had returned and were standing nearby. It was almost time for the train to come, so Babaji said we should return home. It was then that Tularam asked him the question which had been itching at his mind for so long. He said his only request to Baba was that henceforth he should not leave the home without telling Dada about it; it was painful for Dada when he learned that Babaji had gone while he was sleeping. Babaji smiled, and granted his prayer outright, “All right, from now on I will let Dada know before leaving the house.” A promise, very precious, extracted by Tularam for the benefit of us all. Babaji honored his promise till the last day before taking his samadhi. Whenever Babaji informed me that he was leaving the house, I was reminded of Tularam and his love for me.
Babaji returned after five or six days. Many devotees had left for their homes, so Tularam and I had plenty of time to talk. He had much to say about Baba. He had spent many sleepless nights sitting or moving with Babaji in Nainital, Almora, Bhowali and Bhimtal. It was a life spent on the streets, sometimes inside a culvert on the roadside. For those who spend their lives in furnished houses and soft beds, it was a tough life and often painful. But no one would think of giving it up. They were caught like bees in honey, but not in the hive anymore.
From “The Near and the Dear” by Dada Mukerjee
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