Symbols of the world's religions


Part 1


Najoo Kotwal

Although she had married for love and almost immediately conceived a child, Mummy soon found her happiness in the match fading. Only three months after the wedding, Father suddenly became more interested in seeking God than spending time with his new wife....

Around this time Father thought of seeking a guru in order to find God, so he started running after sadhus at Chowpatty Beach, Bombay. He was a novice on this path, so he didn't know how to tell a true sadhu from a false one. He went from one to another of these so-called seekers of God, asking them if he could feed them, hoping to come across a true guru whom he could follow. One day Father went to visit Sadguru Upasani Maharaj at Walkeshwar, Bombay, where about two hundred people had gathered to take Maharaj's darshan.

Maharaj had that day given orders that no one should touch his feet, but nobody mentioned this order to my father before he went in. When Father's turn for darshan came, he garlanded Upasani Maharaj, then laid his head on Maharaj's feet. At this, Maharaj became very angry, and he slapped Father's face in front of all, saying, "You are spoiling my work and your work too."

Father, a novice in spiritual practices, was terribly embarrassed. He didn't feel that he was to blame for what he had done, so he quietly went out, vowing he would never again come for Upasani Maharaj's darshan. After he had walked some distance, however, a man came running after him with a message. "Maharaj said to tell you that because of His specific working, He gave you that slap. He said you should not feel disturbed over it."

Once Father's embarrassment subsided, he thought about going again for Maharaj's darshan. The next time he met Upasani Maharaj, this time at Sakori, the Sadguru again slapped him, but now Father knew that the slap was for his spiritual benefit. He was actually quite happy to receive it, as he had read that Upasani's slap was given to wipe out sanskaras like greed, lust and anger.

Needless to say, with Father's entire focus on reading books about spirituality and finding a guru, his attitude toward Mummy changed. On walks along the seashore at Churchgate, occasions that should have been pleasant and romantic for a newly married couple, Father would bring Mummy to tears, telling her that all of life was a big zero, that nothing — not wife, nor child, nor the world — was of any importance. Or he would make her sit until midnight listening to Kabirvani, a book of stanzas in Gujarati by the Sadguru Kabir.

She began to fear that Father might leave her and the world behind and go live in a forest in the Himalayas. Father never inquired about her health or asked about their coming child. It was beginning to seem to her as though her family might have been right to oppose the marriage. Mummy had absolutely no one to confide in, and she became increasingly nervous and frightened.

Mummy's father, seeing his daughter's plight, was angry with his son-in-law and often told Nergis she should divorce him, saying, "Leave this good-for-nothing fellow and I will get you married to a decent man befitting our status, and you will have a happy life."

"How could I divorce Savak, Father?" Mummy would reply. "He is not running after other women. He is not taking alcohol and then beating me up. He is in love with God and he is seeking God." Even though she was miserable because of his neglect, she refused to divorce Savak, for she was a good and dutiful wife. She stuck to him because, despite the way he was treating her, something in her heart responded to his spiritual search.


2006 © Meherwan Kotwal


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