Living with Baba

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Blood is Thicker than Water

Baba was a father-figure to His devotees. It is known that even as a boy, He would listen patiently to the problems of His friends and offer solutions for them. He was very popular among His friends, who would come to see Him for solutions to all their problems. When He started Ananda Marga, His early devotees would also come to Him with their problems. His advice was always benevolent, effective and highly sought-after. After the organization had expanded considerably, both within and outside India, His time was increasingly utilized for organizational work. Even His personal time was devoted to strengthening every aspect of the organization. Ananda Marga was the bedrock of His vision of a happy, spiritually-inclined modern society, one that is ready to operate on a higher evolutionary plane, serving society's needs, ensuring that the earth became a paradise for humanity's continuous struggle for liberation. He worked almost 22 hours a day to lay the foundation of that vision, resting only momentarily for his personal chores. Even then, He found time to attend to people's personal problems.

Mr L C Ananda was a wealthy businessman from Mumbai and a devotee of Baba. All his family members were devotees of Baba. He had three married sons, who stayed in the family house together with their families. They were also businessmen. It is customary for Indians to live in an extended family, with generations from grandparents to grandchildren living under one roof. Sometime in 1982, a problem erupted within the Ananda family. Mr Ananda was compelled to request one of his sons and his wife to look for alternative accommodation. But they refused to move out from the house. This caused much consternation to Mr Ananda. I later learnt that one of the sons was doing well in his business, while another son was not doing too well. The son who was not doing well in his business had a scheming wife. Perhaps out of jealously or for some other reason known only to her, she slowly but steadily moved into her father-in-law's confidence and then poisoned his mind against his other son.

In the meantime, this problem had disrupted the family peace and Mr Ananda's peace of mind. Mr Ananda and his wife decided to come to Calcutta for Baba's blessing to solve the problem. Everyday, he would wait twice a day with a garland waiting for Him to return from His field walk.

One day, Baba noticed Mr Ananda and his wife among the Margiis, standing with a garland in hand. On the following day, Baba again noticed him standing among the crowd. He asked the PA Dada why Mr Ananda was present. PA Dada replied that Mr Ananda had a family problem and that Dada Keshavananda, who was close to the family, was trying to solve it. Baba did not say anything, and went for the usual field walk. When He returned, Baba noticed Mr Ananda's son standing in the crowd, with a garland in hand. Baba went straight into His room, listened to the organizational reports, took His dinner, and then took some rest. It was almost 1.00 a.m. He called PA Dada and enquired whether Mr Ananda's family problem had been solved. PA Dada replied that it had not.

Baba then requested for me to come immediately. I was then staying at the Jodhpur Park office. He came over and informed me that Baba wanted to see me immediately. I got ready and went with him to Baba's residence. When I saw Baba, I prostrated in sastaunga pranam. Baba then asked me whether I knew anything about Mr Ananda's family problems. I replied that I had heard about the problem but I did not know the details. Baba then told me that He was officially giving me the responsibility of solving the problem within 24 hours.

It was a tall order. And how do I solve a difficult problem in 24 hours, especially when I knew so little about it? But Baba's instructions were clear. When a target was set, He expected results within the specified time-frame. No excuses.

I then left Baba's residence and returned to my room. I could not sleep that night, as I mulled over the solution to the problem. I just did not know where to start.

Next morning, I called the Ananda family to my office and informed them of Baba's instruction to me to resolve the family problems. I interviewed both Mr Ananda and his son to get a clearer picture. Both sides gave conflicting versions of the problem, which confused me even further. I was baffled and could not find a proper approach to resolving the problem.

In the evening, I went to Baba's residence. He was just about to go for field walk, when He noticed me. He requested me to join Him for the field walk. During the walk, He enquired whether I had been able to solve the problem. I replied that I was still trying, but that I could not find a clue to the problem's solution.

He then told me of a Bengali idiom, which meant that the attraction of one's own blood is much stronger than that of another's blood. He explained that family members with blood ties generally do not do anything to harm the other members of the family. But an outsider, not bound by any blood ties, will not hesitate to harm the family for personal gain. Baba then asked me whether I had understood His message.

I replied that I had understood everything. The solution to the difficult problem became crystal clear in my mind. When I returned to Baba's residence with Him, I immediately requested Mr Ananda and his family to meet me. When they arrived, I repeated what Baba had told me. I then instructed them to prostrate before Baba's alter and to promise to live as one happy family.

The problem had been resolved within the specified time-frame. Of course, I was only instrumental in solving the problem. It was really solved by His grace. It is really amazing how an acrimonious and protracted family problem can be solved within 24 hours with nothing but an idiom.