Oath and Promise
Sunil Chakravarty was an eighteen-year-old boy who lived in the town of Lumding in the eastern part of India. He was a very good boy who was initiated into spiritual practice at a very early age. Both his parents had died. His mother died only recently. The only member of his immediate family left was his elder brother, who took care of all his needs. His brother was married and held a responsible government job.
At that time, a DMC function was arranged in that town. Several acaryas, including Sunil's acarya, came several days earlier to that town to organize the function. They informed him that many volunteers were needed to ensure that the program went smoothly. Sunil's acarya was responsible for the security arrangements for the DMC. He organized several groups of people for security duty. Sunil was put in charge of one such group.
The DMC was to last for three days. When Baba arrived, Sunil was put on duty outside His room. While on duty, he suddenly collapsed on the ground, falling against Baba's door with a thud. Baba was then alone in His room. On hearing the noise, He called for the PA Dada by pressing the bell. He wanted to know who made the noise.
The PA Dada was not anywhere nearby at that time. But the dada responsible for security happened to be there. He saw the boy collapsing on the ground and immediately made arrangements to find a replacement. After that he went in search of the PA Dada to inform him that Baba was calling him. The PA Dada was quickly found and brought into Baba's room. Baba was very angry at this delay. Baba then enquired about the source of the noise. The dada, of course, could not respond, as he did not see the incident. He quickly left Baba's room and asked the dada responsible for security about the noise. Dada explained the whole incident to him. The PA Dada then informed Baba that the boy had an epileptic attack and had collapsed while on duty. Baba then called up the dada in charge of security and demanded to know why he had assigned a duty to a person without first verifying whether he was fit for the job. Dada humbly replied that he had no prior knowledge of the boy's condition. Baba told him, "You must be very careful regarding your duty and responsibility."
After sometime, Sunil recovered from his epileptic fit. He returned to his post, intending to resume his previous duty as a guard. As he reached there, he saw that someone else had replaced him. He got into an argument with the new guard, demanding that he leave his post immediately and allow him to resume his duty. The argument caused quite a commotion. The dada responsible for security heard the commotion and quickly resolved the problem by locking Sunil in another room.
Baba too heard the commotion and enquired what had happened. PA Dada explained the situation to Him but Baba did not say anything.
Meanwhile, the boy became extremely violent inside the locked room, screaming and banging on the door. This condition continued into the next day, which was the second day of the DMC program. On the third day, however, the boy calmed down and cried. He wanted to see and talk to Baba. Baba was then getting ready to depart, as the DMC program had finished. Just as Baba was about to depart, He enquired about the boy. The PA Dada then explained the situation and said that the boy wanted to meet and talk to Him.
Baba agreed and requested PA Dada to fetch the boy. Before bringing him to Baba, dada explained the procedure of Personal Contact. The boy washed himself and entered Baba's room, fully prostrating before Him in sastaunga pranama. Baba then called him lovingly, and said to him, "Don't worry. Everything will be alright. Do more sadhana and social service." After that, Baba asked him to leave the room, as He had to leave the place shortly.
But the boy refused to leave and told Baba that he wanted to talk to Him. Baba got angry and immediately pressed the bell to summon the PA Dada. We were all waiting just outside the door. The moment dada entered His room, Baba snapped, "Take the boy out of the room." Dada tried to persuade the boy to leave the room, but he would not budge. Finally, after a few tense moments, Baba relented and agreed to his request. He ordered dada to leave the room.
Inside the room Baba instructed the boy to remove his clothes. He then took His cane and repeatedly struck the boy severely. Feeling a sharp pain, he wailed loudly. The boy did not understand why he was being punished. After the punishment, Baba asked him, "Do you want to know why you are being punished? Do you know the cause of your suffering? Do you know what you have done?"
The boy replied that he would. Baba then requested him to sit in the lotus position and concentrate on the ajina cakra. Baba touched him on the sahasrara cakra and said, "Now, take your mind back five years, twenty years, forty years, sixty years, and then one hundred years back in time."
His mind floated back into the past life. Baba then asked him, "What are you seeing?" The boy replied, "There is a very big green field." Baba then asked him to concentrate more deeply. All of a sudden the boy blurted, "It is my house!"
Baba confirmed that it was his house during his past life. He then said, "I will show you only one moment of your past life." As soon as Baba mentioned those words, the boy saw that he was killing somebody. The victim was lying face down on the ground. His hands and legs were tightly bound with rope in a cross-wise fashion. The boy saw that he was strangling the man with a piece of cloth, while sitting on his back.
Immediately after this episode, Baba brought back the boy's mind to his present life. Realizing that he had committed a heinous crime in his past life, and its implication in his present life, he caught hold of Baba's feet crying, "Baba, save me!" Baba tried to console him saying affectionately, "Don't cry, My son. Everything in your life will be alright. But it will take time. You have to do more sadhana and social service." By then, the boy was wailing uncontrollably, begging Baba, "You must remove my sins immediately." Baba again tried to console him, but with little success. The boy kept on begging Him to remove his sins.
Baba then told him, "It is only possible to do that if you adopt a new life and dedicate that life to serve the suffering humanity." The boy agreed to this proposition and took an oath before Baba that he would adopt a new life and serve the suffering humanity. Baba then instructed him to go to the next room and meditate.
After the boy left His room, Baba narrated to us the story of his past life. The boy was then a rich landlord. A very poor man lived on his land with his small family. In fact, the family was poverty-stricken. The man was unable to pay his land taxes for a number of years. To survive, he had taken a small loan to feed his family. He could not even repay that loan. To add to his misery, the poor man was unable to grow any crops on his land because the river that flowed near his plot of land very often burst its banks in the monsoon season, inundating his land. This went on for six years and similarly affected the other villagers. When there was work, the man would work as a daily laborer, earning a meager income to buy provisions for his family. When there was no work, he would just beg for food, not so much for himself, but more for his wife and two-year old daughter. There were times when he returned home empty-handed. Nobody really knew how many days a month the family starved, reeling from hunger pangs!
Meanwhile, the landlord's accountant had discovered the unpaid taxes and debt of this poor farmer and promptly informed the landlord. On learning this, the landlord flew into a rage and ordered his henchmen to bring the poor man before him. A group of mean-looking men then went to the poor farmer's house. It was not really a house. It was just a flimsy shack supported by a few bamboo sticks, with some palm leaves for a roof. The man was then feeding his young daughter with some rice-water, which he got from begging that day. The gang then set upon the poor farmer, beating him mercilessly on his back. Weak from prolonged starvation, the man collapsed like a piece of cloth on the floor. His wife desperately pleaded with the men to stop beating her husband. Angered by her pleas, the goons kicked her repeatedly, rendering her senseless.
After that, they pulled up the man, tied his skeletal hands behind his back and beat him all over again. Satisfied with the beating they inflicted, they brought the poor man to the landlord's house like an animal. Along the way, the man collapsed again. This time they tied a rope around him and dragged him to the landlord's house, as if dragging a dead body. When they reached the house, the man was already in a half-dead condition. The landlord thought that the man had already died, and thus ordered his body to be kept in another room, so that his wife could later claim it.
Sometime in the afternoon, however, the landlord heard some strange sounds from the room where the body was kept. He opened the door of the room and, to his surprise, found the man still alive, groaning in pain. Blood was streaming out from his mouth. He was in his last, painful moments before his death. On seeing the man alive, the landlord jumped on the dying man and strangled him to death. Baba demonstrated how the man was killed. Baba said that just before dying, the poor man thought, "O God, I don't know where you are. If I die, it is no problem. But because of my death, my daughter will now die, and perhaps, my wife will also be tortured to death by a bad man. Is this your justice, O God?"
Baba explained that the boy suffered from severe epilepsy in this life due to the pain and suffering he had inflicted on the poor man in his past life, when he was a landlord.
After he had finished his meditation, the boy told his acarya what Baba had told him, and the solemn promise he made to Baba. Then, dada asked him affectionately if he fully understood the oath he had taken before Baba. Dada explained to him that his promise actually meant that he should now dedicate his life to serve humanity as a whole-time worker of the mission, as a monk of Ananda Marga. The boy clearly understood the implications of his oath and informed the dada that he was ready to become a sannyasin.
He then went to the training center in Varanasi, and remained there for almost three months. One afternoon, he requested the trainer for permission to go for a walk by the Ganges River. He explained to dada that he had a sudden urge to walk by the river. Dada was a little suspicious of his request but agreed to it. He, however, quietly asked another trainee to follow the boy discretely, just to see what he was up to.
The boy went to the riverside for a walk, not knowing that he was being followed. While strolling by the banks of the river, he had a strange vision of his dead mother. He saw that his mother was crying for him. This vision shook him to the marrow and perturbed him very much. Tearfully, he ran back to the training center and told the trainer that he must return home immediately, as his dead mother was calling him back.
Dada tried to reason with the boy, but with no success. He just refused to listen to anything and demanded that he be allowed to go home. Finally, with great reluctance, dada released the boy from the training center and arranged for him to return home.
During the boy's three-month absence, his elder brother made every effort to trace him. Upon his return, his brother was naturally very glad to see him. He asked him why he had gone off without telling anybody where he had gone. The boy did not tell him the truth. He replied that he accompanied his friends to visit the Taj Mahal and other tourist sites. He was so convincing that his elder brother believed him. The brother then asked the boy what he intended to do. He replied that he wanted to continue with his studies. The brother was happy with the response and reminded him that his final examination was just five months away, and that he should now study seriously.
The boy went back to his room and laid down. He recollected the whole drama - how he got initiated, how he met Baba, his oath before Baba, his brief experience in the training center, the vision of his dead mother by the Ganges River, and his return home - but could not make anything out of it. He was totally confused. He, however, realized that he had just returned to a life he had left behind just three months ago. He realized that he had broken his promise to Baba and forsaken his oath to live the life of a sannyasin.
Discarding these troubling thoughts of the past, he tried to bury himself by preparing for his forthcoming examination. As his examination drew near, his brother arranged for him to stay with a friend who lived close to the examination center. The friend was employed in the Railway Department. He lived in the government quarters, together with his wife. They had no children. The boy was warmly welcomed and was given a separate room to stay in. The couple looked after the boy with love and affection. As is customary in India, guests are treated with great respect.
After his examination was over, the boy wanted to return home. But the man's wife persuaded him to stay back for a few days, as she wanted to prepare a delicious meal for him. Just to please his host, he agreed to stay another day.
The next day, he went to take his bath just before lunch time. The water supply in that area was infrequent, only coming at specific times during the day. When he entered the bathroom, the water tank was already full. The tank was almost three feet high and nearly three meters long. Instead of taking his bath in the usual way, scooping water from the tank, he decided to immerse himself in it. Most probably, he could not resist the temptation of jumping into the tank, as this was probably the first time during his stay there that he took a proper bath. Perhaps, he was simply too busy preparing for his examinations to take a proper bath. While bathing in the water tank, he suffered an attack of epilepsy and drowned.
The boy must have been in the bathroom for quite sometime. The lady of the house waited for a long time for him to come out of the bathroom, as she too wanted to take a bath. She knocked on the door to signal him to come out. But there was no response. She knocked again and again, but there was no response. At first she thought that the boy was playing a joke on her. After a while, she became nervous and sensed that something had gone amiss. She immediately informed her husband and the boy's elder brother of the situation. Both of them rushed down to the house. They broke down the door of the bathroom, and to their surprise, found the bathroom empty. The boy's clothes, soap, and oil were there, but the boy himself was missing. They simply could not understand how he could have left the locked bathroom, without anyone noticing him. The water was still flowing from the tap into the tank as they entered, creating ripples in the water, thus clouding the vision of anyone who peered into the tank.
The brother of the boy was distraught and broke down. After a while, however, a thought suddenly struck him. He went back into the bathroom and peered into the water tank. By then, the tap had run dry, and the water in the tank was as clear as glass.There, he saw the drowned body of his brother.
This story is grim - but is very relevant for spiritual aspirants traversing the thorny path of spirituality. It underlines the great importance of keeping one's eyes fixed on the goal and taking the Guru as the only shelter in one's life. Only when a sadhaka accepts the Guru whole-heartedly as his guide and goal, only then can he fully benefit from the Guru's perennial grace. Only then can he cross the turbulent sea of samskara.