True Master — Part 1

November 01, 2018 • Baba Hari Dass

True Master

A short story by Baba Hari Dass, Illustrated by Arpan Connor Maxon. Originally published in Sweeper to Saint (1980), available from Sri Ram Publishing.

Part One

In a valley of the Himalayan Mountains, there was a family that had been living there for several years. The father, whose name was Sudarshan, had left his home town of Nainital when he was ten or twelve years old. He began to live with a few holy men who were traveling by foot to different sacred places in the Himalayas.

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After visiting several places, the group of saints returned to their meeting place, the holy town of Haridwar. From there they all separated and went to their own places. Sudarshan had no special place to go because he was not yet initiated into any sect. He really had no idea of what a saint was, what a sect was, or what was the meaning of traveling to all the different places. He had left home only because he did not want to go to school and take responsibility.

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For a few days, Sudarshan wandered in different places around Haridwar; then fortunately he met an old man who was kind and very learned in Sanskrit. The man saw that Sudarshan had a good mind and that he could be a good scholar. He told Sudarshan to live with him and that he would give him food and would teach him Sanskrit. Sudarshan was very tired of traveling and he was eager to find some place where he could live happily. So he agreed to the old man's suggestions.

Sudarshan lived for eight years with the old man. He learned Sanskrit and read all the scriptures. Gradually the learned people around Haridwar began to appreciate Sudarshan's ability in explaining the meaning of the scriptures. Sudarshan was happy and he almost forgot about his parents and birthplace.

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One day the old man said, "Sudarshan, listen. Now you have two possible paths: either take the vows of sannyasa (renunciation) or get married to a girl and do your household duties while you continue searching for God."

Sudarshan was very intelligent. He knew perfectly well how difficult it was to take the vows of sannyasa and fight against desires. He did not want to cheat himself, so he replied:

"Sir, I learned all the scriptures from you, and I understand perfectly that to crush the desires by force is not an easy job. On the other hand, the householder's life is full of attachment and desires that create pleasure and pain; and also it confuses the mind when you try to understand yourself. But if I get married to a girl and practice seeing that the same God is in her and in myself, and if I separate the physical attachments from real love, then it will be easier to realize the truth."

Hearing this answer, the old man became very happy and said, "Sudarshan, you have understood the reality of life. Now I am going to give you my youngest daughter, who also is very intelligent and pious in nature. I'll arrange for the marriage, and then you can choose your own place to live."

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Sudarshan got married to the daughter of his teacher. Her name was Sunanda. She was very beautiful and just seventeen years old. Still, she was fully acquainted with the duties of a wife.

After their wedding, Sudarshan and Sunanda left Haridwar and went north to live in the Pauri Mountains. A few years passed, and Sunanda gave birth to a boy. She named him Sri Charan. Sudarshan would write poems, stories, books on the scriptures, and in this way he would earn enough money to keep his family.

Continue to Part Two -->