Symbols of the world's religions



Prof. Amiya K. Hazra

Scandal mongering and back-biting, with a great many of us, is the greatest malicious pleasure that perverted ego can derive. We not only ascribe the most devilish acts to persons we know, but do the same with people about whom we have no direct knowledge. We are prone to judge everyone else except ourselves and practice mental cruelty in the name of being judicious critics. To defile or destroy someone's image is perhaps as bad or unkind an act as destroying someone by shooting him down physically, but the subtle shade of this offence conceals the damage we do to others as compared with physical assault. Very few are there who have the courage to own their faults and allow others to know of these.

A staunch Baba lover who passed away in 1984 was one such courageous man, and when I approached him in the sixties to know about his experiences with Baba, he told me of a few episodes of which I mention the first one, not only because it revealed his fearlessness in laying bare his own rather murky side of life.

VY was a contractor. He was moving much with so-called spiritual people and he got addicted, as they were, to marijuana, the common intoxicating smoke of many self-deceiving seekers of God in India. His addiction, in the course of time, had become almost irremediable and in spite of strict excise laws and penalties, he had grown into the habit of carrying a lump of this stuff concealed in the folds of his clothes, in a box wherever he traveled.

It was during this phase that VY was traveling from one state to another by bus. Needless to say, he had concealed a lump of marijuana in a steel box which was, along with the boxes and other luggage of all passengers, atop the bus, tied with ropes as is common in India. Only a few weeks back had he heard from someone about Meher Baba and had seen some literature and one photograph of Baba. He had liked the books of Baba and His sayings, but as yet he had not forged any deep or tangible spiritual relationship with Baba. In a small handbag he was carrying these pamphlets and photographs of Baba and enjoying the bus ride.

Suddenly at an octroi post, some Excise Officials signaled the bus to stop. Soon, the atmosphere changed. These hardened men entered the bus and sternly demanded of the passengers if they were carrying anything not permitted (marijuana is on such a list) and if they were, it would be better that it should be revealed to them before the Officers found it themselves. They added that it would be both a penalty and a jail term for anyone found committing such an offense, according to the magnitude of the offense. VY turned pale and felt a lump rising in his throat. He was a respectable contractor and now his reputation was at stake if he was found carrying marijuana with him.

When no passenger said anything to the officers, they became angry. The lead officer told his companions that he would conduct a box-to-box search of all the goods on the roof of the bus, and would teach a hard lesson if he found anyone had lied to him. VY's heart sank as the officer and his companions took the conductor out and also ordered all the passengers to come out of the bus. No doubt, he meant business. No empty threats — there he was climbing the stairs to the roof of the bus. His followers called out the passengers one after another, seized the keys to their trunks from them one by one, and proceeded to search all boxes and bags for contraband.

As the boxes were being opened, searched and closed, and passenger after passenger was being called upon to surrender his or her key, VY was almost on the verge of a nervous collapse! Certainly, his turn would come and then the shame, the humiliation and the insult. His head swam. He would be arrested, fined, maybe even jailed! His picture and name would be in the newspapers and his friends and acquaintances would read about him and the scandalmongers would delightfully add many more shady activities to him thereafter. VY trembled.

Suddenly, he thought of Baba. His friend had told him that Baba was God in human form and God, VY thought, can forgive if a man sincerely repents and prays for forgiveness. "Well, Baba, if you rescue me this time, I shall never again carry marijuana or do anything illegal in my life. Pray, save my prestige for once."

As he was praying, the officer was calling out passenger after passenger, while relentlessly searching for a trophy that might get him credits from his department. No, not yet, but persist he must, and he did persist like duty personified. Almost all passengers' boxes had been examined, and only a few were left. VY was surprised that he had not been summoned as yet. But then, surely he was going to be in a short while.

He prayed with trembling voice to Baba. The last but one passenger had handed over his keys to the officer, and now the last passenger to be summoned was VY himself. What would happen? "Oh God, oh Baba, why have I done such a thing? What would the punishment be? Can't you save me for once? They say you are God, all knowing, all compassionate, and though you judge, yet you forgive us when we realize our mistake and try not to repeat it. Pray help! Pray help!"

And to the utter amazement of VY, suddenly the Excise Officer's face so long stern and inflexible, relaxed. He got up and said, "Well, nothing worth the labours! Let's get down. Maybe we shall be more lucky with the next bus." As he and his companions climbed down off the roof of the bus, VY saw with a shudder that the Officer had all the while been sitting on his box, and had failed to open it because he had thought of it as a seat, not a box.

As the bus continued on to its destination, VY wondered why the officer forgot to open his box, and further still, of all boxes why did he choose to sit on his box! Was it just a coincidence, just a chance, or was it because he had prayed to the God-man Meher Baba? Like an honest man, VY told me, "Well, I could not say with total conviction what it was — a chance or a situation created by Meher Baba to save me after hearing my prayers. I was not acquainted to any appreciable degree with Him at that time."

"Yes, you are right, VY. But now that you have been acquainted with Him for the last twenty years or more, what is your opinion about Him?"

VY laughed. "I have found it out during all these years that Meher Baba knows everything. I have also found out that if I went wrong anywhere, after I had begun to love Him, He had soon enough brought me to my shortcomings, but how great is He, do you know? The moment you repent and promise to try never to repeat the offence, He showers His forgiveness on you. Indeed, He is the Judge with a difference!"

octroi post: The octroi agents collect taxes on goods in transit   BACK

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