Shravan got up around 4 am. He so loved his new lifestyle. How beautifully was his life touched, how happy and enlightened he was now!!
He proceeded to brush his teeth with a Neem twig and cleaned his tongue using a Mango leaf.This is what a man is supposed to do.Walk back in time.Shun the technology, shun the fast track life, attain the harmony with nature.
Shravan was a banker, the hectic work schedules and tiffs in personal life use to make his daily life a living hell.All his life he had suffered, he had fought with tooth and nail against the whole world, and had failed miserably.
But that was before he met Swamiji, before his wise teachings touched his soul.He had found his teacher, his mentor and sometimes he felt,a reflection of God himself.He had attained peace, inner calmness and a purpose for his life.He felt blessed!
After brushing he went out to the common bath area.Most of the inmates of the ashram were already assembeld around the well, patiently waiting for their turn.”Hari Om’ they wished each other with a smile.
The water was chilly and it felt as if the chill was biting into his bones.He felt a strange aura of calmness descending down his spine, like the cold water was washing off all his worries and problems.
After bathing, Shravan proceeded to the yoga hall. The cheif disciple of Swamiji had occupied the ‘padma sthal’, the usual stage where Swamiji gave Darshan.Next two hours would be spent engrossed in Yoga and meditation, which would be followed by Swamiji’s daily address.
Shravan was still deep in his meditation when he heard the deep voice of Swamiji echoing in the hall.”Hari Om Children”.He slowly looked up expectantly, what was his message today, what precious gem of words were going to slither down his lips today, enriching the listeners soul!!
“Children…you have to realize the power of Inner peace.Inner peace can be attained only if you let go of your past.You have to correct the mislead notions that you have carried forward from your yesterday. Material things are not important, they will give you no joy.What gives you joy is inner harmony.Your life is a pilgrimage to find your self.”
Ah…how aptly put…pearls of wisdom indeed they were….a pilgrimage to find the self….what a way to define the life…
After eating a banana and drinking a cup of Tulsi water, Shravan set off to do his share of work in the Ashram.This week he was supposed to work at the visitors counter.Everyday thousands of devotees flocked to visit Swamiji.A huge team of disciplines were deployed at the visitors entrance to guide these visitors.This was Shravan’s first time at the counter.He was supposed to inform the devotees about the greatness of Swamiji and offer them the pamphlets about Swamijis classes, books and mission.He was supposed to guide them to their appropriate destinations.His first step to aid Swamiji in his mission of sanctifying the world.He made a mental note to share his personal story with at least a few of them, his journey from the dirty pit of world to the happy heights of inner peace!
Shravan was still lost in his thoughts when he suddenly realised that he come the wrong way.The ashram was so huge and even though it was his second week there, he still had difficulty in finding his way around.He looked around and realized that he was behind the Swamiji’s personal meditation room. This part of the ashram was prohibited to most of the inmates, only Swamiji’s oldest and trustworthy disciplines were allowed here, the ones who had attained higher levels of enlightenment.
Shravan quickly turned to walk back when suddenly he collided with somebody and had to hold on to the railings to prevent himself from falling.
He got a grip on himself and turned to apologize to the other person.But then he was surprised to see a girl, around 15 or 16,looking disheveled and scared, standing opposite to him.She was looking around searching for something, and eyeing him with fear.
Women were not allowed in the Ashram.May be she was a disturbed soul who was brought to the ashram to be healed.He concluded.
“Hari Om,can I help you Sister” Shravan asked earnestly
The girl stared at him for a minute, debating inwardly whether to trust him or not.After a while she replied.
“Can..can you get me outside?They have trapped me in here and are trying to hurt me, I want to go home?” She started weeping,and folded her arms.
“Who hurt you?Who dared to do it in this pure ashram?I shall take you to Swamiji…” He felt betrayed.Who dared to go against ashram rules?
The girl literally shouted..”No..not to that moron.He..he is the one….”she continued sobbing..”I want to go home, I want to see my mother…please help me..please sir….”.
Shravan stood there with his mouth open.He couldn’t think of anything for a moment. Swamiji…what did he just hear….how could that be true!!
“There she is…” The three of the special disciples of Swamiji came running towards them. The girl tried to run away, but was grabbed by the taller of the lot. He gave her a tight slap and asked in his usual hoarse voice “How dare you hurt Swamiji..?” and started dragging her back towards the meditaion room.
Shravan inwardly cringed , but he stepped forward and shouted..”What is happening here brothers…why are you hurting this girl..?” The girl was screaming and holding on to this and that, resisting ,with the last ounce of energy she had , from being forced back.
“Hari Om brother.You have to return to your duties.The girl here is a possessed soul. Swamiji is going to purify her.You can now leave.You very well know that you are not allowed here”
Shravan nervously glanced at the girl, who was still twisting and turning shouting “Help me ..help me..they will kill me…”
He turned away to leave, but an unexplained force within him stopped him.He had to help that poor girl. God knows what they were going to do to her…..he did not want to regret his inaction later.
“Leave her…” he raised his voice a bit.
“This is not your business, brother…”said One of the men, pushing him back.Shravan tried to shove him away and replied.
“Well, I want to see Swamiji, I want to know the truth” That was when the man pushed him violently. Shravan fell down and hit his head against the wall.He was trying to get up when he was pushed again and kicked.A blinding pain erupted in his head, and he could feel blood slowly caressing his cheeks.
The girl was shrieking , her voice getting weaker and distant .
The man in orange robes, bend towards Shravan .He face loomed before Shravan’s face, the gap between his teeth, the redness of his tongue, the sandal wood paste on his forehead ,all appeared magnified. When Shravan tried to turn his face away ,the man held his head by grabbing his hair and hissed ,”Going forward, mind your business …Abide the rules of Ashram..don’t poke your dirty nose in matters that don’t concern you…You have not seen anything, keep quiet…else you know what will happen, don’t you!” and gave him an eerie smile.He then walked away, not even caring to pull Shravan up.
Shravan sat there, his whole world shattered, the holy images in his mind tarnished.He did not know what to do, or how to react.The mirage of self righteousness and inner peace, that he had fervently clang on to, vanished in a poof.
“Ignorance indeed is bliss”, he thought to himself, while he unsuccessfully tried to get up , wishing he had never seen the girl and had remained in his own false bubble of beliefs !