Symbols of the world's religions

               

THE CARELESSNESS OF A SLAVE

Bhau Kalchuri

 
Another incident taught me an equally valuable lesson. Baba did not like any breeze in his room when he slept, so all the doors, windows, and ventilators would be closed, according to his specific instructions. Since there was no electricity at Meherazad at this time, two kerosene lanterns were placed outside the windows, and the light would shine through the glass into his room. Sometimes when Baba rested he would ask me to close the curtains so that very little light would enter the room, and it would be quite dark.

One evening, about midnight, Baba suddenly sat up and gestured, "I feel hungry. Give me something to eat." This was not unusual, and chocolate or something to nibble on was always kept in his room. I brought a tin of chocolates, opened the lid, and put it beside the tin on the edge of the bed. Then, as usual, I went to open the curtains so that some light would shine in.

Baba was seated on the bed and reached for the chocolates without looking at the tin. As he put his hand in the box, the lid was accidentally knocked off the bed, and fell on his shin. Baba became very upset. He grimaced and exclaimed, "Oh, how hard the lid landed on my foot! The pain is terrible!" and I felt very frightened.

"It struck me so hard," he continued as he rubbed his leg. "It's so painful! How careless you are! Have you come here to serve me or to cause me pain? It is unbearable, I tell you!"

On and on it went. "You are useless," Baba said. "How could you have done this? Useless and careless. I don't want to see your face."

I realized my mistake and felt very repentant.

"Here, take this chocolate; I can't eat it," Baba declared, and he continued to scold me.

"I really should have been more careful and not have placed the lid on the bed," I thought.

"I will not be able to rest tonight," Baba went on. "I won't be able to sleep now with so much pain. The pain is horrible. I can't bear it! Have you any idea what you've done? You are my enemy; you have come to kill me." I felt very sorry but dared not say a word.

"The pain is unbearable," Baba repeated. "I don't think I will be able to sleep, but I'll try." He lay down to rest, but after five minutes he sat up again saying, "The pain doesn't stop. Do you feel pleased to see me suffer like this? Why are you with me? Are you with me to make me suffer? You are really trying to kill me. You are killing me!" And he lay back down.

But five minutes later Baba sat up again and continued complaining: "It's terrible, I tell you, terrible! My leg is aching so much it is now unbearable. It's not possible for me to sleep. Don't you feel remorseful about my suffering? Don't you at least repent for your carelessness? Is your heart made of stone? Do you do nightwatch only to harass me? You are shameless." And he went on like this for about an hour.

I felt miserable, but I knew the lid was so thin that it couldn't possibly have hurt very much. I started thinking, "Baba always says he bears an infinite burden and suffers infinitely; how can he feel so much pain from such a small, practically insignificant injury? Even an ordinary man would hardly have felt it — it was nothing!"

Just then Baba gestured, "What do you gain by tormenting me? Just answer me. I suffer so much and you don't feel it at all. What a shameless man you are! Now I don't even feel like seeing your face. You have come to kill me!"

Baba lay down again and my mind continued working: "If he can't bear this much, how is he able to endure Universal suffering as he says he does? It's all just words, mere philosophy."

As I was thinking this, Baba sat up on the bed and looked at me intently. "What are you thinking?" he asked.

By this time I had become quite irritated by his constant scolding and abuse. I was upset by what I thought was an apparent exaggeration, but I replied, "Nothing."

Baba motioned, "Come here, come near me and sit down."

I was standing and said, "I'm all right here."

"Sit on the bed," Baba insisted, and I obeyed. I sat next to him and he put his arm around me and patted me. Then he said, "What do you take me to be? Tell me."

"You are my Master," I said quietly.

"And what are you?" he asked.

"Your slave."

"What is the duty of the slave?"

"To please the Master."

"And do you please me? If you are my slave it is your duty to serve me. Because you have accepted me as your Master and I have accepted you as my slave, it is the duty of the Master to see that the slave does his duty properly. And because I have accepted you as my slave, I am duty-bound to see that you serve and please me correctly."

I looked at him and replied, "Baba, I tell you, I did not do it on purpose — it was an accident."

Baba said, "Knowingly or unknowingly, that I don't know. But this much I do know — it is giving me pain. What about that? I am doing my duty honestly, but you are not doing your duty. When you saw me annoyed and upset, you should have felt full of regret. But instead of thinking that you had displeased me, you thought only, 'How can he bear infinite suffering?' Have you the least idea of my suffering? Your duty is to serve and please me at any cost, not to think about my infinite burden. It does not behoove you to think like this. By pondering such things you cannot really call yourself my slave.

"Had I not accepted you as my slave, I would not have cared. Even if the Himalayas fall on my head, I do not care. What would that be to me? Nothing! If someone threw a stone at me, it would not have hurt as much as what happened tonight. Why do I have this pain? Why am I suffering so terribly? Because of the carelessness of my slave. Because I have accepted you as my slave, I cannot bear the slightest carelessness on your part.

"I tell you honestly, the pain I am suffering from your carelessness is more than my suffering for the universe! Yes, more than my infinite suffering because I have accepted you as my slave."

I repented greatly for my thoughts. To make this lesson penetrate my heart, Beloved Baba had spent four hours over it. It was a lesson that I shall never forget.

 

WHILE THE WORLD SLEPT, pp. 48-50
1984 © Bhau Kalchuri

               

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