True Master — Part 3

November 15, 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.

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Part Three

He walked and walked and did not know what to do, where to go. Finally, when the sun was about to set, he saw a watermill. He went inside the small watermill, where an old man was grinding wheat. It was getting dark and the old man saw that the small boy was all alone. He asked, "Where are you going?" Sri Charan had no reply. He was so tired that he had forgotten about the earth and the sky making a box that choked his breath. The man said, "Are you hungry?" "Yes," the boy replied. So the miller gave him two small breads and a cup of water, and said, "If you want to stay here tonight, go sleep in the corner. There is an old sack you can cover yourself with. I am going to my house." And he left before it got too dark.

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Next morning, Sri Charan woke when the sun was quite high up in the sky. But he had slept like a dead and was completely relaxed. He came out of the watermill like a bird comes out of her nest in the morning. He washed his face and dusted off his clothes. He felt very good . . . like a bird out of a cage. He again continued his journey.

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Now he was in a vast plain. He could see very far in the distance as he went on walking. Sometimes, on the way, he would meet some villagers who would give him bread and fruit. Again the sun was about to set and it was getting dark. Sri Charan thought that he should try to find a place to sleep before it got too dark, but there were no houses, huts or any kind of shelter nearby. He was a little afraid, but all at once he saw a big rock suspended over two other rocks so that they made a small cave. He went inside and sat down, resting his back on the rock and stretching his feet forward. He fell asleep at once. When he woke up in the morning, he saw two men standing outside. They asked, "Why are you sleeping there? Don't you know this is a place famous for poisonous snakes? Are you running away from your house? Or are you a thief?"

Sri Charan said, "I am going somewhere. I don't know where yet. I am not a thief."

Both of the men felt very kindly to the little boy and said, "If you want to live in our village, then come with us. We will give you food. You'll have nothing to do except to watch the cows of the village while they graze in the pasture. If you don't want this, then you can go ten miles south where there is a trail going into the jungle. Inside the jungle you will see some huts. A few boys of your age are living there and they practice Yoga exercises with a teacher."

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Without thinking which plan was good or which plan was bad, Sri Charan replied, "I'll go to the huts where the boys are living."

One of the men said, "You are a tender little boy and the trail is very rough and full of snakes and wild animals. So go carefully and reach there before the sun sets." They gave him some roasted barley flour mixed with honey to eat. Sri Charan ate the food and picked up the trail to the south.

Now he was accustomed to walking, so he arrived at the huts early in the afternoon. He stood outside of a hut until a boy saw him. The boy at once told the others to come see the newcomer, who looked completely different from them. All of the boys surrounded him and asked him where he was going. Meanwhile the teacher came and asked his name and how he had reached there. The boy said, "My name is Sri Charan, and two men told me about this place so I decided to come here."

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The teacher replied, "If you want to live here, then you have to obey all the rules. And you can't wear the clothes you are wearing now. I'll give you a few days to decide. Meanwhile you can rest here, and if you feel you can do it then tell me."

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