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Again and again one can hear Mataji point out that most of the difficulties people experience throughout their lives and much of the chaos in the world today are due to lack of right education. If the first of the four ashramas, namely the brahma­charya ashrama, is observed as it should be, man can face life without the fear of being crushed by adversity, for the sublime purpose of human existence will have been firmly fixed in his mind.

If the growing child, the adolescent thoroughly understands that man’s true vocation is to find himself, if he realizes that all knowledge is only a preparation for Brahmavidya, the Knowledge of Reality; if at the same time he is taught how to control body and mind by living the simple, frugal. and disciplined life of a brahma­chari, so that all his energies may be available for the Quest, that alone is worthy of man, he will have learnt the art of living. Whether he chooses the shortcut, and renouncing all worldly attachment straight away, takes sannyãsa or whether he first passes through the stages of the householder (grihastha) and of the anchorite (vanaprastha) — the path to Self-realization and Immortality is open to him..

Just as we are bound to inhale the air about us, we constantly absorb the subtle influences from our surroundings. No man can remain entirely unaffected by the contacts he makes. A child is far more sensitive than an adult. It is therefore important that the young should be in the company of men and women who have dedicated their lives to the Supreme Quest, that their pliable minds should be moulded by books of wisdom rather than by cinemas and light novels. A boy or a girl who has once deeply felt the necessity of aspiring after Truth and Enlighten­ment, who has been made to feel how treacherous and comparatively unimportant are wealth, name, fame, brilliant career, etc. will come back to the ideals that in youth have been engrained in him or her even though he or she should deviate from them for a time.

A young boy asked Mataji, “If one speaks the truth one cannot get on in the world; if one tells lies one cannot find God. So what is one to do?“

“Always try to speak the truth and see what happens,” replied Mataji. “Will you listen to a story:

“A notorious thief sought the company of a sädhu. At first the holy man took no notice of him, but when the thief came day after day, begging to be given instruction the sãdhu finally responded. ‘First of all,’ he said, ‘you must give up stealing and telling lies. When you have succeeded in this for some days, you may come again.’ The thief fell at his feet and went home. After several days he returned, looking thin and miserable. ‘Well’, asked the sädhu, ‘how have you been faring?’ ‘Maharaj’ said the thief, ‘I have faithfully obeyed your orders, but I can’t go on like this much longer. My whole family is starving. I am well-known as a thief and no one will give me work. If I don’t steal, how are we to keep alive ?‘ ‘Very well,’ said the sãdhu, ‘you may steal again, but under no circumstances tell any lies, keep strictly to the truth !‘ The face of the thief lit up. He promised to abide by his Guru’s instructions. ‘After so much fasting,’ he thought, ‘we need to break into the treasury at the royal palace.’ “As fate would have it the King could not sleep that night. Hearing a strange noise, he put on the old clothes of a servant and went downstairs. When he found that a burglar was busy removing valuables, he pretended to be a thief himself and said, ‘Look here, brother, I am of your trade, only I am a beginner. Couldn’t I help
you and in return you might let me have a small share of the booty ?‘ ‘Not a bad idea, agreed the old thief, ‘breaking these heavy locks has been a tough job and it will soon be dawn. If you see whether the night-watch is coming this side, give me a sign in good time; I will let you have one fourth of what I get.’
‘That’s settled,’ assented the King, ‘but let me have your name and address.’ Mindful of his Guru’s bidding, the thief gave the correct information. With the help of the disguised King he succeeded in safely removing his loot, leaving one fourth for his accomplice.
“In the morning there was great commotion in the palace. The theft was reported to the King. Investigations were carried on, but no trace could be found of the culprit. The King did not disclose his secret, but when the case was to be discussed in his darbar, he sent for the thief. ‘Do you know anything about the theft ?“ the King asked straight out.
‘I do,’ replied the thief. ‘Let us have all the details,’ commanded the Monarch. The thief related with great precision what had happened. The King could hardly believe his ears. ‘How can one who is so truthful become guilty of stealing ?‘ he exclaimed.
The thief explained that he was acting in obedience to his Guru’s order and that it was only to save himself and his family from dire poverty that he was obliged to continue to steal. ‘How much a month do you require for the upkeep of your family ?‘ asked the King. The man stated a modest sum. ‘You won’t have to steal any longer’, said the King, ‘I shall provide for all of you for the rest of your lives.’

“You see,” commented Mataji, “by being strictly truthful the thief was enabled to lead an honest life. It is very important to speak the truth. God is Truth. By being truthful one draws nearer to Him. The other lesson this story illustrates is that carrying out the Guru’s orders to the letter without using one’s own judgement not only leads to the highest good, but also brings about the solution of one’s daily problems.”



A lady from Australia, who was feeling rather bewildered at the very great difference between the Hindu conception of purity and that of the West, begged an explanation from Mataji.

The following is the gist of what Mataji said :

“Purity is an attitude of mind. Some people think if everything is spotlessly clean, looks clean, it is also pure. But take for instance germs. ‘A place may look perfectly clean and yet be full of germs. Germs, although invisible to the naked eye, cause illness. Qualities cannot be seen, yet it is a man’s qualities that make him pure or impure. I was told of a mother who had a violent quarrel with someone, which deeply upset her. The quarrel occurred just before her baby’s feeding time. The child drank his mother’s milk and died on the spot. The doctor who was consulted declared that by her excessive anger the woman’s whole system had been affected, so that her milk became poisonous.

Whatever a man touches takes on some of his characteristics. The ancient Rishis devised the caste system, in order that each of the four castes might develop certain special qualities and capacities. The members of the different castes were therefore required to observe strict rules when mixing with anyone belonging to another caste. A thing is called pure when it is without mixture, without alloy, entirely true to itself; when mixed with another substance it is said to be impure. Suppose someone brings you water from the tap in a perfectly clean vessel. Although the water is itself clean, it carries something of the quality of the person who fetched it. Brahmins were asked not to drink water touched by anyone belonging to another caste. A Brahmin’s duty is to seek Brahmavidya, the knowledge of the Absolute. For this reason he should not mix with those who are engaged in other pursuits. This is how the question of untouchability arose.

Now concerning service. If you serve human beings or animals as such, it is not pure service. But if you serve them with the thought that there is only the ONE, that by serving whomsoever, you are serving God in that particular guise, then and then only does it become real service. Since nothing exists really but the Supreme Being, one should serve THAT alone. Purity means Truth, that which IS. Essentially, whatever aids towards the realization of Truth may be called pure and whatever is apt to retard it, impure.

A very learned professor, who had traveled widely in India and Europe, remarked “The Ganges is said to be pure, but on visiting Varanasi I found the drains emptying themselves into the river, and a few yards away someone drinking the water; I was disgusted. I can’t bathe in the Ganges, it makes me feel sick.”

The very nature of the Ganges is to purify. Whatever is immersed in the Ganges becomes absorbed by its purity, just as fire purifies. No matter what you throw into it, it will be burnt to ashes. You think tap-water is cleaner than Ganges-water, but tap-water at Varanasi also comes from the Ganges. It is a matter of point of view. From your angle of vision you are right. Yet, fundamentally purity and impurity are of the mind. There is only one Atmã. Filth and sandalpaste are both the ONE, there is neither purity nor impurity. The pure food you eat today will by tomorrow have turned into excrement, into filth. Nevertheless, some creatures feed on it. A dead body which is putrid floats on the Ganges. Vultures swoop down and eat.of its flesh. It is the vulture’s natural food, the bird thrives on it. Life is one. What is dirt to one creature, may be sustenance to another We must reach the state where we know the ONE alone and everything as His forms. There is only One Brahman, without a second.

A lady from Australia came last summer to Almora to see Mataii. One of the questions she asked was, since illnesses are the results of our actions in this or in former lives, was it advisable to consult doctors and take medicines ? Rather was it not more appropriate to bear whatever came to us without interfering with its natural course ? Mataji replied that it was right to do everything in our power to keep our bodies fit and healthy, for an ailing person could hardly expect to engage in sãdhanã.. All the same it was certainly necessary to learn how to endure pain, since suffering cannot always be avoided. In such cases, we should accept it as one of the ways in which He manifests.

Several months later, the same lady badly fractured her ankle. This happened in the mountains, miles away from a doctor. To make things worse, heavy rain set in and she had to wait for three days till she could be carried down in a dandy. The pain was acute. The lady kept awake all night, but remembering what Mataji had told her, she concentrated on Divine Love in the form of Christ and of Mataji. To her own amazement she forgot all about her pain and felt well and refreshed the next morning. She remained in a state of bliss throughout those three days. Shi later declared that she would not have missed this experience for anything in the world. Was this what Mataji meant, when She said we had to learn to endure suffering when it came?

Since then, whenever she felt any pain, the lady tried to concentrate in a similar manner, but she was never able to get again into that elevated state of mind. On meeting Mataji this year, she wanted the cause of her failure explained. “Your pain was not severe enough,” said Mataji with a smile.