of Holy Lives
from the previous issue)
Everybody Become Like Me'
was winter in Hardwar. Icy winds swept down from the mountains
and the town reeled under the biting cold. To make matters
worse, it rained every now and then until it all became quite
unbearable. Mahendranath and the Sevashrama workers were worried
about Mathuradasji. It had been quite a few days since the
sadhu had come to the Sevashrama. That was something unusual
for a regular visitor.
more days passed before Mathuradasji turned up again. The
reason for his long absence was this: A Ramavat sadhu had
recently arrived at Satikund. He was a run-of-the-mill wandering
mendicant, except that he was burdened with too many belongings
- which included a tambourine and a pair of cymbals, both
of which he put to good use! And was he garrulous! If he stopped
singing, he would start talking, and when he was doing neither,
he would be snoring heavily! In fact he had all but taken
over poor Mathuradasji's hut. 'I just could not put up with
all that noise, so I ran away from Satikund,' Mathuradasji
than his guileless innocence, Mahendranath was struck by Mathuradasji's
uncomplaining acceptance of such a difficult and unpleasant
situation. Mathuradasji could very well have ordered the insensitive
sadhu to clear out; he had lived in that hut for so many years
after all. Yet, rather than inconvenience a guest, though
uninvited, he had himself moved out. And it had taken him
no time to forget his hut.
where are you staying now?' probed Mahendranath. 'In Bilwakeswar.'
What!' cried Mahendranath in disbelief. 'You have started
living in Bilwakeswar?' The forbidding forest lay far outside
Hardwar town. No wonder Mathuradasji was unable to come to
the Sevashrama as usual. 'You mean you spend the nights in
Bilwakeswar?' asked Mahendranath once again, doubting if he
had heard right. 'Yes,' replied Mathuradasji, 'there is a
large, smooth slab of rock on which I can sleep comfortably.'
'But how can you possibly sleep on cold stone out in the open
- in this weather? It was pouring all through last night.'
'So what if it rained?' Mathuradasji said. 'It was enjoyable,
most enjoyable; I was delighted.' Mahendranath's jaw dropped;
he did not know what to say. There he was, wrapped in a quilted
blanket, drinking hot tea sitting by the fireside, and still
feeling cold. Mathuradasji was thirty years older.
continued: 'But Bilwakeswar forest must be a treacherous place.
They say tigers and elephants roam about even during the day.
Are you not afraid of them?' Mathuradasji did not know what
fear was. 'Why should I be afraid?' he said, looking puzzled.
'There is no reason why they should hurt me when I don't hurt
was an object lesson to Mahendranath. All enmities cease in
the presence of a yogi who is established in ahimsa, so say
the scriptures. Mahendranath had also heard the sannyasin
disciples of Sri Ramakrishna say: 'We see the world as we
are. What we have inside, we see outside.'
examples of saints like Mathuradasji indeed hold great lessons
for us. The Great War was then raging in Europe. Mathuradasji
was at the Sevashrama listening to the monks discussing the
war's monstrosities. 'How many people are dying, how many
women are losing their husbands and sons, how many children
are becoming orphans! When will this ever end?' Swami Atulanandaji
sadly observed. 'Well, Mathuradasji, what do you say?' 'There
is a solution,' Mathuradasji said quietly. 'Let everybody
become like me. Until people give up hypocrisy, pride
and arrogance, wars are bound to happen.'
death is no laughing matter. None but the person who has completely
conquered the body-idea can face death with equanimity. A
sadhu once told Mahendranath how Mathuradasji had actually
laughed in the face of death. The story itself was funny,
but it left no doubt in Mahendranath's mind that Mathuradasji
was a jivanmukta.
night Mathuradasji was sleeping under a tree in a farm when
some robbers scaled the fence and came in. They had planned
to rob the farmhouse and were armed with staves and spears.
Before setting about their business, however, they wanted
to make sure that everything was all right. As they surveyed
the area silently, their eyes fell on a sleeping figure under
a tree. In the pale moonlight it was difficult to make out
who it was. Seasoned criminals that they were, they approached
the sleeping person cautiously, arms at the ready. Giving
him a quick look, they concluded that it was the nightwatchman
and decided to kill him without more ado.
leader of the robbers gripped his spear and aimed it at the
heart of the sleeping man. But their whispers had broken Mathuradasji's
sleep. He had heard - and was seeing - everything, but did
not care to save his own life! Just when the robber was about
to strike, he cleared his throat and turned on his side. The
robbers froze! The voice sounded familiar. 'Who is it?' the
leader gasped in horror. 'Nanga Baba?' 'Ha! Ha! Who else?'
Mathuradasji laughed out loud. 'But … Babaji, do you realize
how close you had come to losing your life?' remonstrated
the robber. 'Never mind my life, why can't you people let
a man sleep?' retorted Mathuradasji. 'Go away, don't disturb
me now, please.'
plans ruined, the confused robbers melted away into the darkness,
and Mathuradasji went back to sleep.
I Got Rid of It'
hot summer morning Mathuradasji appeared at the Sevashrama
- stark naked! It was about eleven o'clock. He found himself
an easy chair and settled down with a hookah. 'What is the
matter, Mathuradasji? Where is your kaupina?' people
asked him. 'I could not help it,' said Mathuradasji in a somewhat
irritated tone of voice. 'Help what?' they persisted. 'Losing
my kaupina. I was walking down the road when all of
a sudden a group of Punjabi women blocked my way. They wanted
to make pranams and take the dust of my feet. I don't like
these things, but today I was completely trapped. I tried
to elbow my way out, but somebody - a man, mercifully, because
there were one or two men in the group - caught hold of my
kaupina from behind in order to stop me. What else
could I do? I got rid of the kaupina and ran away,
and they were left holding the rag.'
narrated his adventure like a boy of seven or eight. People
had a hearty laugh over the story but were also amazed at
the sadhu's simplicity. Nischayanandaji wanted to make him
a kaupina from a new length of cloth. 'See that it
is not more than three inches wide,' Mathuradasji told him.
Nischayanandaji made the kaupina as told and himself
tied it round Mathuradasji's waist.
had once seen with his own eyes how much Mathuradasji loathed
honour and veneration. On that occasion Mathuradasji, in order
to avoid a crowd of enthusiastic devotees, had vaulted over
a crumbling wall knowing very well that the ground on the
other side was bristling with thorny bushes!