True Master — Part 4

November 22, 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 Four

Early in the morning all the boys would wake up, wash themselves, and then do Yoga exercises. After resting for thirty minutes, they would recite prayers and then learn Sanskrit from the teacher. They all had their duties: cooking food, collecting food from villages, grazing cows, collecting grass and firewood, planting fruit trees, etc.

Sri Charan liked this life very much. He was feeling very free inside himself. He agreed to follow the rules, so the teacher gave him one red loin cloth to wear, one yellow cloth to cover his lower body down to the knees and one yellow cloth to cover his upper body. He said, "Sri Charan, now you are initiated into a Brahmacharya order, beginners' stage. You have seen all the rules, and you can live here happily."

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Sri Charan had some God-given abilities in Hatha Yoga. In doing asanas, he was the only one who could do them all, some even more perfectly than the teacher. After completing all his duties at the ashram (monastery), he would go to the river and perform some cleansing methods. No one had taught him these techniques, and he himself did not know what effect they might have Afterwards, he would sit under a tree and meditate. Not one of the boys, nor even the teacher knew about Sri Charan's meditation.

One day while he was doing his cleaning methods, he drank several glasses of water and then vomited it out. Again he drank several glasses of water and rolled his stomach around in different ways; he did a few asanas and pushed the water out through his lower intestinal tract. Then he went in the water waist deep; he rolled his stomach around and pulled water in through his anus, and then flushed it out.

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A saint was cooking his food on the other side of the river and was watching all of the activities of Sri Charan. As soon as Sri Charan had finished his meditation, the saint crossed the river and stood in front of him. The saint asked, "Who taught you all these methods?"

Sri Charan was surprised and said, "What methods?"

The saint said, "All that cleaning by water, and that meditation." Sri Charan said, "Nobody told me or taught me any of those things. I started doing these things by myself. I don't even know what they are for. But I feel very clean and pure inside afterwards, and when I sit in meditation I totally forget my body and see only a light in my forehead." He raised his head and looked into the eyes of the saint. His whole body began to feel as if an electric current were passing through it.

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The saint said, "My child, you are a very gifted person in Yoga. You did Yoga in your past birth and that learning pulled you to do the same in this birth. No one teaches anyone. We learn everything by ourselves. All the methods you are doing are perfect."

Sri Charan grabbed the saint's feet and began to weep with much love and devotion. He said, "Sir, I have a great desire to live with you and learn more from you."

The saint said, "My child, I have already accepted you. I'll tell you a few methods, but you have to live separately and do them by yourself. If you live with me, you will be dependent on me and your practice will not advance. But I give you my word that when I feel you need some change in your method, I'll meet you. A small tree can't flourish under a big tree. So do it by yourself and live freely wherever you want to live." The saint crossed the river and disappeared.

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It had become very late and it was Sri Charan's turn to cook food. He was afraid that the boys and the teacher would be very angry with him. Sri Charan rushed to the ashram and saw that the boys had already cooked and served the food. No one told Sri Charan to sit and take food. No one asked why he was late. No one asked where he had been.

As it happened, when it got late the boys had complained to the teacher that Sri Charan was not obeying the rules. They were jealous of him. The teacher loved Sri Charan, but he was uncomfortable having someone there who could do asanas better than he could. So, after taking food, the teacher stood up; without washing his mouth or hands, he said, "Sri Charan, I don't want you here any more. You can go anywhere you like."

Sri Charan had nothing to say in his own support. He bowed to his teacher and all the friends, and left.

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