PLEASE SHOW ME MAYA
A few days passed and it so happened that Buddha and Ananda were traveling through a hot, dry part of India. After walking several miles, the Buddha sat on a rock under the shade of a tree and said, "Ananda, I am thirsty. Can you fetch some water for me?" Ananda went at once to try and find water.
He walked quite a ways and came upon a small farm. He thought the farmer might have a well and went up to the house to ask permission to draw some water. He knocked at the door, and it was opened by the most beautiful woman Ananda had ever seen in his life.
Instantly he was spellbound. He just stood there and stared at her, speechless. He had completely forgotten why he had knocked at the door; all thought of water was gone. The woman, for her part, was equally struck with Ananda, for he was a handsome man and his love and devotion to the Buddha had changed him so that all who came into contact with him were struck by his presence.
So the two of them just stood there staring at each other, without saying a word. After a while the farmer returned home and asked Ananda what he wanted. "I was wondering if you had any work that I could do for you," Ananda answered spontaneously, for his only thought was that he had to spend more time near this beautiful woman he had just met. Of course, farmers always have work that needs doing, so the farmer agreed to hire Ananda to help him in the fields.
And so the days passed, and Ananda's love for the woman did not lessen in the least. If anything, it increased, and the only thing Ananda knew was that he wanted to stay near her. He also wanted to please her father so he would not be sent away, and he worked hard every day and came home exhausted, but content that for an hour or two, before bed, he could sit near the daughter.
After a while, Ananda got his courage up and asked the farmer if he could marry the daughter. The farmer was happy because Ananda was a good worker and he knew he would look after his daughter well. And, of course, the daughter and Ananda were happy and so the marriage took place.
The years passed and Ananda and the woman had three children. Ananda continued to work very hard and the farm prospered. After a while, the father-in-law died and Ananda inherited the farm. There was more work to do now, but Ananda was happy. His life seemed perfect. He loved his wife and his children, and there was enough to eat because the farmland was fertile and it seemed that there was nothing else Ananda could wish for.
Then, after twelve years of contented married life, there came a flood. Overnight the river rose and overflowed its banks and came rushing towards the farm. There was no time to save anything. Ananda put one child on his back and held his wife with one hand and the other two children in his other hand and was swept away by the current.
Ananda started swimming hard so as not to go under, and as they were pushed along by the flood they saw animals drowning in the torrent. Ananda felt his only hope was to try and swim across the current to the other side because there was a hill there which was not submerged, and if he could make it there they could be safe. But a flood means what? The current is not like that of an ordinary river, and Ananda had not gone very far at all when the child on his back was swept away by the current. His head was seen briefly above the raging waters but then disappeared from sight and was never seen again.
Ananda cried out in despair but kept on swimming. But the current was too strong and before long his two other children could not hold on any longer and were also swept away before their parents' eyes. Now Ananda only had his wife left, and he was determined to hold on to her. They had almost made it to the high land where they would be safe when the flood tore them apart. Ananda desperately reached out for his wife, touched her for a second, but the current drove her under and she too was lost. With his last strength, Ananda kicked and managed to throw himself on the dry land, where he lay exhausted and weeping bitterly about the loss of his family. His heart was broken.
Behind him came a gentle voice, "My child, have you brought the water?" Ananda looked up and there was the Buddha, sitting on a stone, looking at him with great compassion.
"The water?" Ananda repeated, unable to take it all in.
"Yes," Buddha replied. "You left at least half an hour ago to fetch water, and now that you have returned I was wondering whether you had brought any."
"Half an hour!" Ananda exclaimed. "But that can't be. I..." and now he lowered his head in shame, for he remembered how he had forgotten his Lord. "But what about my wife? I was married. I had children. Twelve years have gone by!"
The Buddha smiled and shook his head. All of Ananda's twelve years of married life had taken place in less than half and hour. "That is Maya," said the Lord.
THAT'S HOW IT WAS, pp. 400-403
1995 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust