Symbols of the world's religions



Eruch Jessawala

A farmer from near Meherabad came to Baba, very distraught and in a desperate state. He implored Baba to help him and poured out his story. It seems he had spent every penny he had in digging a well on his farm and there was no water. He was now penniless, his farm was mortgaged, and his situation seemed hopeless. So he had come to Baba seeking his divine intervention.

Baba, as usual, expressed himself as the most ignorant one. As I have said many times, ignorance was the weapon Baba used most in his battle to win the hearts of humanity. So, pretending not to know anything, he asked the farmer for all the details, how far had he dug, how much had he spent, what was the soil like where he was digging and so on. The farmer told the whole story and said that he had come because he had full faith in Baba, he knew that Baba would be able to help him get water in his well.

Baba listened and seemed to be moved by the man's plight and said, "Just dig another five feet and you'll get water." Now the man had been at his wits' end. He was exhausted, he was broke, he was going to lose everything, but when Baba said to dig another five feet and he would find water, he had renewed hope and he went home determined to dig another five feet.

As soon as the farmer left, Baba turned to the mandali and said, "Now why did I say that? I just made a bad mistake. Why did I tell that man he would get water if he dug another five feet? I don't know that he'll find water. I shouldn't have said that." And the mandali tried to reassure Baba that it was all right, that he had to say something, and now the man had renewed hope and would continue digging and after all, he might find water.

"But I didn't tell him he might find water," Baba objected, "I told him he would find water. I shouldn't have said that because I don't know whether he will find water or not. I don't know why I said that. I shouldn't have told him that."

Over the next few days, Baba kept worrying about what he had told the farmer. He seemed very upset. "What if he doesn't find water?" Baba would ask the mandali. "What then?"

"Then he will be in the same situation he is in now," the mandali replied.

"But I told him he would," Baba said. "If he doesn't find water he may turn the whole village against us. They may come here and drive us out. They may decide we are responsible for the drought, that we bring bad luck. We may have to leave here." And so it went. Baba kept bringing the subject up and the mandali did their best to reassure Baba that there was nothing to worry about, but nothing they said convinced Baba. Finally the mandali took to avoiding Baba because they knew if they were around him he would only start worrying about what he had told the farmer again.

After a few days of this the farmer reappeared. There was a large crowd accompanying him, but they had not come to drive Baba and the mandali out of Meherabad. They had come with garlands and sweets to express their gratitude for Baba's divine intervention. For the farmer, with the help of his family, had dug his well deeper, and even before they went five feet, they hit water, and a good supply of water at that. The man was overjoyed because now he and his family were saved.

Baba had the man retell his story before all the mandali and then revealed to the farmer that it was his faith which had made the water appear. Baba explained to all who had come that he did not perform miracles. It was not he who had brought the water, but the man's faith in him. He had merely said, "Go another five feet and you'll find water" but it was the man's faith in him that had produced the water. It was the man's faith which had worked this miracle. The God-Man, Baba explained, does not do miracles, he has no need to do them because he has already arranged everything in creation with such precision that there is no need for him to interfere with his own creation. In his original whim the entire universe was laid out in precise detail. Baba would tell us that he is the one with infinite leisure, because he has nothing more to do.

At any rate, the farmer and his friends and family and neighbors were overjoyed and they paid their obeisance to Baba and distributed the sweets and left singing Baba's praises. When they left Baba turned to the mandali and began expressing his wonder that the man had actually struck water. "It was his faith, and his faith alone that produced the water," Baba said. "I did nothing. I didn't know there was water there. Remember how worried I was. It was the man's faith in me which produced the water. It was his faith which made this miracle." And Baba went on to extoll the farmer's faith.

The more that Baba praised the farmer's faith, the more disgruntled the mandali felt. Meherabad also had water problems, even back then. At first, when there were only a few people living there, the well sufficed, but as the population expanded with the clinics and schools and dharamshalas that were built, the need for water became more and more acute. The mandali dug new wells but time after time these proved to be dry holes. So they pestered Baba to show them where they should dig to get water since none of their efforts to find water had succeeded. Finally, one day as they were walking across the fields at Meherabad, Baba pointed to a spot and said, "Dig here." The mandali took a stone and put on the spot to mark the place Baba had pointed out. But as they were all very busy, it wasn't for another day or two that they had the time to begin digging the well. When they went to the spot they found that someone had moved the stone in the meantime. Still they knew the general area, if not the exact spot, and they began digging a well.

Baba took great interest in their efforts and would ask them how it was going. As time went by, the well got deeper and deeper but still they didn't strike any water. Baba encouraged them to keep at it and eventually they ended up digging much further than the farmer had without ever striking water. Finally Baba told them to forget it. So this was the background to the incident with the farmer. And the more Baba praised the farmer's faith, the more irritated and upset the mandali got. Especially Rustom, Adi's brother. Rustom was in charge of Meherabad, he was the manager of the property and as such was also in charge of the well digging operations. Finally Baba's praise of the farmer became too much for him to take.

"What's this injustice?" he demanded before Baba. "What have we done to you that you don't give us water, yet you give it to that farmer?"

"I did not give water to that farmer," Baba replied. "It was his faith that gave him the water."

"Do you mean to say that we have no faith in you?" Rustom demanded. "What's the use of our living here with you if we have so little faith. We have given up everything to be with you. We put up with every hardship to be here and now you tell us we don't have faith in you? Then what's the point in our staying? We might as well pack up and leave!"

Baba smiled. "When that farmer came to me for water, I told him to go another five feet. It was as a man comforting another man that I told him that. I didn't know that he would actually find water, but his faith produced the miracle and he found water. But what would have happened had he not found water? His faith would have been destroyed. He would have denounced me to everyone in the village. He had faith in me, it is true, but only for water. When he found water his faith was strengthened, but if he hadn't found water, his faith would have been destroyed. With you, my mandali, I know fully well that whether you find water or not, your conviction in my divinity is such that nothing will shake that conviction.

"That farmer is blessed because of his faith. But you are far more blessed because even though you do not find water, you continue to do your best and remain convinced in me. Because you have come not for water but for me."

Baba continued, "There is a world of difference between those who have been blessed with conviction and those who have been blessed with faith. Those who have been blessed with conviction are doubly blessed. Faith carries you through to a certain extent, but faith falters; if circumstances go against you, your faith can weaken and even be lost entirely. Conviction is independent of circumstances, however. Conviction carries you through all situations until you find me as I am. Faith is the fruit of one's devotion to me, whereas conviction is my gift of grace to you. That man came for water, and he got water. But you have come for me, and you have me."

IS THAT SO?, ed. Bill Le Page, pp. 54-57
1985 © Bill Le Page


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