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The Play of Samskara

Every human being has to cross the turbulent sea of samskara to reach the Supreme Consciousness, the ultimate purpose of human life. When a person's individual samskaras are expressed, it may be pleasant or painful, depending on the nature of his past actions. Good actions reap pleasant reactions, bad actions unpleasant ones. Human beings really have no control over the operational process of samskara; that is the role of prakrti, the operational aspect of the Supreme Consciousness. Only the Guru has the capacity to lift a spiritual aspirant out of the eternal wheel of samskara - action-reaction-action-reaction in a continuous vicious cycle - that keeps the soul in perpetual bondage. The spiritual aspirants, on their part, should face the pleasant or painful manifestation of their samskaras with a calm, even mind, allowing them to exhaust themselves without affecting their mental peace. When all samskaras are completely exhausted, the Guru grants the gift of liberation to such spiritual aspirants. This story is the story of a monk, Dada Girijananda, who had tried to cross the choppy sea of samskara, surrendering everything at the feet of his Guru - even his life.

It was in the year 1983. Dada Girijananda was then the General Secretary (GS) of the organization. He was stationed in Calcutta. One day, he decided to go to Ananda Nagar to inspect the progress of the Ananda Nagar Water Supply Project. He sought Baba's permission to go to Ananda Nagar. Baba permitted him to go, but instructed him to take the night train to Ananda Nagar.

Dada Girijananda, however, wanted to travel to Ananda Nagar by car. Somehow, he had a compelling fascination for cars. He liked cars and liked to travel in them. Perhaps, it was a deep-seated samskara, one among the final set of compulsive desires that blocked his golden path to liberation. He ordered one of the drivers to get ready for the long journey.

The driver was, however, reluctant to travel at night. He was not used to driving long distances at night. He pleaded with dada against traveling that night. His efforts at persuading dada were, however, futile and fell on deaf ears. Dada simply would not listen to his pleas. He was adamant that they should go immediately and ordered him to be ready. Besides the driver, two other persons accompanied Dada Girijananda. One was a Local Full Timer (LFT) who was dada's personal assistant, and the other was Dada Sunitananda. They set off at about 10.00 p.m.

It was a long and arduous journey. The monotonous, dry Indian trunk road made the driver drowsy. The occupants of the car had to keep up a conversation among them to keep the driver awake and alert.

At about 1.30 a.m., somewhere near the town of Baharagora, nestled in the border between Bihar and Bengal, the driver momentarily dosed off and crashed into a roadside tree. The car was completely smashed. The impact of the crash threw out the car's occupants, except for Dada Girijananda, who was pinned to his seat. The driver's side of the car absorbed the greatest impact. Dada Girijananda, who was seated behind the driver, was critically injured and unconscious. Dada Sunitananda, who sat next to Dada Girijananda on the back seat and the driver were also seriously injured and had lost consciousness. The LFT, who was on the left, front seat was the least injured and was conscious during the ordeal.

Some vehicles passed by, but none stopped to help. It could be just plain public apathy or the fear of decoits. We shall never know.

In the meantime, Dada Girijananda had momentarily regained consciousness and instructed the LFT, who was the only other conscious person, to retrieve his bag and to keep it safely with him. The bag contained a large amount of money - financial contributions for the Water Project in Ananda Nagar - and some important personal belongings of dada. Some time after that, he died.

At about 4.00 a.m., a police inspector, returning home from duty on motorcycle, passed by the site of the accident. He immediately stopped to offer his help. He then rushed to the police station in Baharagora to get a few more policemen to assist the accident victims. They returned in some jeeps. They carried the two critically-injured victims and the relatively less-injured LFT to the Midnapur Hospital, some two hours away from the accident site. The lifeless body of Dada Girijananda was taken back to the Baharagora Police Station for a post-mortem.

At the hospital in Midnapur, the critically-injured persons were given emergency treatment. The LFT was given out-patient treatment and discharged. The hospital authorities made arrangements to get a taxi to take the LFT back to Calcutta. When he reached Baba's residence in Calcutta at about 10 p.m., he reported the nasty accident and informed us of the death of Dada Girijananda.

At that moment, Baba was away for His evening field walk. After sometime, He returned. Usually, Baba goes straight into His room after field walk to listen to organizational reports. This time, however, He sat in the hall and asked His Personal Assistant whether there was any news for Him. PA Dada informed Baba that there was an accident in Baharagora and that He had instructed me to go there and take care of the injured person. He did not report anything else to Baba. Baba then exclaimed, "I told him to take the train!"

Baba, of course, fully realized the whole situation. This explains why He sat in the hall and asked the PA Dada for any news, instead of going straight into His room, as He usually does. He also hinted that He had earlier warned Dada Girijananda to avoid going by car and to take the train instead.

Baba then called me and asked me to go immediately to Midnapur with another dada. After that, He went straight into His room. After a short while, Baba called me into His room and asked me, "Do you understand what your duty and responsibility are?" He explained that I should be aware of four things. He said, "Take care of the persons who are still alive. For those who are not, you must promptly take possession of their dead bodies and cremate them in the proper manner, without any sentimental considerations. Take all the things you are supposed to take and deny those you are not supposed to take. And take immediate action for any urgent matter."

With these words and some money, I left for Midnapur Hospital with another dada. We took the same taxi that brought the LFT. Upon reaching the hospital, I assessed the situation and immediately formed two groups of Margiis, who had gathered there. One group was sent to Ananda Nagar to inform them of the fatal accident. The other group was sent to Baharagora to claim the dead body and personal belongings of Dada Girijananda.

It was almost morning by then. I went to a Margii's house to take a bath and freshen up and then returned to the hospital. When I returned, I learned that our driver had passed away. Remembering Baba's instructions, I immediately claimed his corpse and other personal documents, including the medical report and death certificate. In the meantime, Dada Girijananda's body and personal belongings were brought to Midnapur. I quickly made arrangements to cremate both bodies in the burning ghats of Midnapur and performed the final rites.

Baba's specific instructions to me proved extremely helpful in sorting these matters out smoothly and without incident.

It was unfortunate that Dada Girijananda, a close friend of mine, and the driver had to be sacrificed in the course of their duties. It was some consolation, however, that Dada Sunitananda and the LFT survived the ordeal. Dada Sunitananda remained in coma for 73 hours and survived. Perhaps, his time was not up. Perhaps, it was Baba's grace.

This incident gives us a glimpse of the mysterious play of samskara and the Guru's role in saving us from the fatal clutches of our samskaras. From the story, it is clear how Baba knew about the impending death of Dada Girijananda and the driver, when He instructed dada to take the night train to Ananda Nagar. Perhaps, due to samskaric implusion, Dada Girijananda drove there instead, despite the driver's pleas not to drive at night. Both died in the accident. Baba's statement, "I told him to take the train." is pertinent, again revealing that He had foreknowledge of the impending fatal accident. The fact that He sat in the hall after His field walk asking the PA Dada whether there was any news, instead of going straight into His room to take organizational reports, also points at His foreknowledge of the incident. In addition, His four clear and specific instructions to me regarding the accident showed His complete control of the situation.

What is important is not the fact that Baba had prior knowledge of this fatal accident. What is important is that He had tried to save Dada Girijananda and, by extension, the driver, from their destiny with death. But Dada Girijananda ignored the advice to travel by train and met his death, no doubt as dictated by his own samskara. The samskara of the driver somehow converged with that of Dada Girijananda, and he too met his fatal end in the same accident.

If only Dada Girijananda had listened to Baba's advice, he would have been alive today. He paid the price for his careless indifference to the Guru's instruction, which actually was a warning. He had a deep passion for cars and he died because of that passion. The Guru, who is free from the cycle of samskara, who transcends the mortal limitations of birth and death, pain and pleasure, and is above nature's laws, seldom interferes with nature's workings or the wheel of samskara. But when He gives even the slightest hint it must be followed like the law, because that hint is a blessing.