Sep 24, 2013

"Every Grain Bears Its Eater's Name" from Sermons in the Stroms

During my wanderings in Saurashtra, late one day evening I reached a village and lodged myself in a temple which was in the outskirts. The priest of the temple who was just then leaving after his night-fall pooja, made casual enquiries and asked me if I needed anything to eat. I then required nothing, and so, I thankfully said 'no' and he left for the village.
Within an hour or so, the poojari brought hot milk for me and said that the landlord on whose behalf he did the pooja in the temple had sent the milk and that he (landlord) requests that I should lunch at his place on the next day. I accepted the invitation. In the meantime, the landlord himself came and personally expressed his desire. We talked for some time and at his request I agreed to stay in that village for some days. Before he left, he told me that he had to attend to some important work in his farm the next day and that in the event of his being unable to turn up in time, Harshad, his son, would be sent at 12 a.m. to take me to his house and that unmindful of his possible absence I should finish my meals.
On the next day, at about 11 a.m. or so though unusual, however, I had to go to the river-side to answer nature's call. That over, I bathed in the river and came back. On my reaching the temple I found a baggage-apparently of a sadhu-then lying there. A little later, a monk came and told me that he had come from a nearby town an hour back and that he was taken by someone from the village for meals. We talked little and true to the saying that "water is best flowing and saints are best moving”, he picked up his baggage and left.

When quite some time passed away and yet none came to call me, I looked up the sky and found the sun well past its mid-way course. It must have been nearing 2 p.m. then. The simple village folks don't rigidly believe that everything they do must necessarily keep pace with the arms of the clock. For them, a few hours here or there makes very little or no difference. At last, I sighted the landlord coming. After salutations, he asked me to pardon him for not being present at the time of my meals at his house and very lovingly enquired if the cooking at his place was to my liking. I immediately surmised the incidental error. (The other sadhu must have been taken home. and fed in my place). I felt that it wouldn't be proper to tell him anything at that time and bother his people to re-cook for me at that part of the day. So, instead of directly answering his question, I told him not to feel upset over his absence which was unavoidable and that everything verily went well. Shortly thereafter he went home promising to call on me again in the evening and added that since I did not take meals at nights, he would send me milk as he did the previous day.
While I was away on the riverside, as per his father's instructions, Harshadkumar came to call me. As he knew me not, and as also a Maharaj was then seated in the temple, he took him for the one invited by his father; going up to him, therefore, he told him “Please come for meals-Sir". It is almost customary with many in the villages to go to the temples before their meals to pay their obeisance to the gracious Giver of food and take home for feeding any stranger or sadhus who may be then halting there. As such, there was nothing Singular about the Maharaj having silently accompanied Harshad, taking his meals and coming away. In the evening, the landlord came to me with some of his friends for talks. We talked on with growing interest. By sunset Harshad-kumar came with a small jugful of milk and placing it before me he stepped back and seated himself in a corner. His father, by then asked him if he had served me suitably when I had gone,to their home for lunch. Though with a confused countenance, but yet with emphasis the boy rejoined, 'This Maharaj isn’t the one who came to our house'. Facing me with surprise lit large on his face, the land lord asked me if I had not gone to his house for meals. I had to tell him what I thought must have happened when I went to the river side. Whereupon, he said, 'You wronged, Sir why didn't you tell me the whole thing when I came to you in the afternoon? We are house-holders-our kitchens are ever at work, and that apart, where comes the question of inconvenience to cook for you and your like?" He looked pained. "In quarter of an hour the food will come to you from my house" said he to me finally, asked his son to carry back the jug of milk and they left. Half an hour later his other friends also left.
As I was without anything from the morning, I ought to have as a matter of course been asked to take the milk as a support before the full meal came. That did not strike them. Space and time being the principal fields of activities of we embodied beings, they play an auxiliary role in divine dispensations also and perhaps the time was not then ripe yet for me to get anything to eat.
As the landlord and his son were nearing the village, they were informed by someone that their six year old Yashoda, the only sister of Harshad, was stung by a scorpion and that unable to bear the agonizing pain she was screamingly sobbing. They ran home, sent her to the adjoining village on a horseback with the Police Patel of their village for hypnotic treatment by a fakir who was then staying there. They themselves anxiously followed on foot. The fakir was there and the little girl regained normalcy within a short time.
On that very evening, .there was some religious function and dinner party in the village where they had gone. Though the landlord under some pretexts excused himself when he was formally invited in the morning that day, he had to remain back with all the members of his family. The food and water destined for them, which they tried to avoid early that morning, dragged every one of them under peculiar circumstances. After the function and feast they returned to their home around 'midnight. From grief to glee is a pleasant change and in that gay mood they completely forgot me and were preparing to retire to bed.
As usual, before going to bed, Harshad's mother went into the kitchen to mix-up the day's remaining milk to make curds for the next morning. After that, as she stepped out her leg unawares hit a jug lying thereabout; the jug rolled over and all the milk therein spilt out. That was the milk which that evening was brought to me and taken back for being sent again' reheated with food. In the commotion which followed Yashoda being stung by the scorpion, Harshadkumar care-lessly left the jug in the kitchen and neither he nor his father told anyone anything about it. Naturally, therefore, Harshad's mother wanted to know as to wherefrom came that milk. She asked her son who told her everything connected with it. The landlord who was by then beneath his cozy quilt heard this all. He got up at once and made the females at home to embark upon quick cooking for me-he himself helping hurriedly.
After waiting for food quite long from night-fall, I dismissed outright the possibility of my getting anything at all to eat that night. Sleep wouldn't come and I began saying my rosary. A few hours passed that way and when I rose up to urinate, I saw someone coming towards the temple with a lantern. Harshad and his father were soon before me with food.
The landlord said, "Lord God's ways are odd indeed. From morning you have not taken anything. Please take the food first, we shall talk afterwards." Better late than never is a good old saying and without myself asking them anything about the delay, I hurried through the long-awaited meal. Thereafter, the landlord narrated to me the aforesaid chains of strange coincidents which that day kept me without food till midnight.
If we cared to search with a rational mind, we would be certainly convinced that every- thing here and in realms elsewhere belongs to the Lord and that it is He and His alone that sustains every one of us in a most wondrous way.
This incident at least adequately amplifies the axiomatic adage that “EVERY GRAIN BEARS ITS EATER'S NAME."