"He excells whose understanding is the same, amidst the well-disposed, the friendly, the neutral arbiter and hostile, amidst enemies and allies, amidst the righteous and the sinful." - Bhagavad Gita VI.9














PRABUDDHA BHARATAGlimpses of Holy Lifes | Sadhu Mathuradas  





            Glimpses of Holy Lives

            Sadhu Mathuradas

           (Continued from the previous issue)



     'Let Everybody Become Like Me'


     It 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.

     Some 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 said simply.

     More 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.

     'So 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.

     Mahendranath 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 them.'

     This 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.'

     The 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.'


     'Please Don't Disturb'

     Facing 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.

     One 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.

     The 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.'

     Their plans ruined, the confused robbers melted away into the darkness, and Mathuradasji went back to sleep.


     'So I Got Rid of It'


     One 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.'

     Mathuradasji 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.

     Mahendranath 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!


     (To be concluded)





International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015









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