There once lived an ascetic in a forest just on the outskirts of a village. Living in a small hut in the forest, he underwent rigorous sadhana. He would leave his hut only for a short while every day, only to get some food from the villagers to meet the frugal needs of the body, his vehicle for performing sadhanas. He would visit a house today, and the next tomorrow, visiting a few houses turn by turn. Apart from these visits, he had very little contact with the outside world. No body knew what his name was, where he had come from, or what his sadhana was aimed at. All that the people knew about him was that he was a recluse living in the forest, always remaining in deep sadhana.
He would speak very little, but the serenity of his voice reflected the sweet calmness generated by his deep sadhana.
Once, a misguided virgin of the village got pregnant. It was matter of disgrace. Her parents were perturbed. Unable to bear the indignation, and in order to show that she was innocent, the girl decided to tell the village that some body had forced her into that sad state of affairs. For reasons best known to her, she named the innocent ascetic as the culprit. Her parents were furious. They rushed to his dwelling. The ascetic was pulled out of his hut, dragged to the village and was severely beaten. Some others too joined in. Many people were disturbed over the treatment being meted out to him. “Why is the poor ascetic being beaten? What has he done?”
However, the ascetic offered no resistance, not even a clarification. He bore all the insult, all the thrashing, quietly, without a word.
An old villager could not tolerate. “Stop it”, he shouted. “What are you doing? Have you lost your senses? How can you treat an ascetic like this?”
“You do not know what a heinous crime he has committed”, the girl’s father shouted back. “He is a devil, in the ascetic’s garb.”
“Impossible!” the old man was confident. “He can never ever do any such thing.” Almost every one around seemed to agree with the old man. Such a noble soul could not do anything so terrible.
The ascetic was still quiet. Not a sound from his mouth. But his face and his eyes did speak something; something beyond comprehension of most of those around, although the meaning of his silent expression did show itself in the surrounding air.
The initial frenzy of the girl’s parents being over, it was time to decide the next course of action. The girl’s parents were too ashamed to keep her in their home. After a lot of deliberation, it was decided that the ascetic will have to take care of the girl and the unborn child. The old man, who had been arguing for the ascetic, vouched for him.
The ascetic, consented, silently yet.
He returned to his hut, accompanied by the girl. Once in his hut, he kneeled in reverence to the god.
“My Lord, I am beginning to tread a difficult path.”, he submitted, tears flowing from his eyes. “I am passing through a hard terrain. Hold my hand my dear lord, lest I should fall, because impossible it is, without your benevolence, to complete my journey.”
The girl sat in a corner of the hut, guilty and terrified.
“Do not worry mother. These testing days will be over soon. Please make yourself comfortable inside the hut. Have no fear. I will arrange to sleep outside the hut.”
Leaving the hut entirely to the girl, the ascetic erected a small thatch, outside the hut, for himself.
The ascetic started his old routine again, but with a little difference. He would still go out to the village but would now visit more house every day, to get more food. In contrast to his ascetic living, he would now try to get some tastier foods to eat, some nice clothes etc. for the girl to wear. If needed, he would not hesitate to take up odd jobs here and there to make some money.
Although all looked plain and simple, the serenity of his voice and the depth of his looks bore reflection of some profound deliberations going on deep within his being.
Amazing are the laws of nature. Even after the confinement period was over, the girl wouldn’t deliver. She was in agonizing pain, but there seemed to be no respite. Even the best mid-wife could not help.
In terrible agony, the girl could hold herself no longer. Her heart filled with remorse and repentance, she cried aloud and asked someone to call her parents at once to the hut. Once they reached, she told them the truth.
“This great ascetic is innocent.” she burst into tears. “The real culprit is the Landlord’s son, who has deceived me.”
The parents were dumbstruck. The word spread to the village. Soon a crowd descended on to the hut. They fell to the ascetic’s feet. “Forgive us Maharaj. Please forgive our folly. Our anguish led us astray and we were so harsh towards you. Please forgive us.”
The ascetic was quiet as ever. Unmindful of the imploring crowds, at his feet, he was gazing at sky far above; his eyelids still, an incessant stream of tears pouring out of his eyes; every bit of his being thanking his beloved lord, singing his praise.
The ascetic was a traveler of the path the journey on which could transform even the most lethal poison into ‘amrita’ – the nectar of life.
This path is the path of complete submission, in the love of the lord who himself is the manifestation of love itself.
This path, however, is not for all to tread. It can be walked upon only by the one who has a sight clear enough to decipher the image of the dear Lord even behind the fiercest of faces.
This path is the path of divine love; of agony of compassion.
This path is the path of transformation- of a human into a super human; a path of manifestation of Bhagwati, the superlative energy in this gross material world.
The road leading to this super-human sadhana is the dharna, dhyan & Samadhi of such a sadhaka, whose heart cries in compassion seeing any one in distress- any one, be it a friend or a foe, supporter or opponent, noble or evil, whatever. This is a sadhana of embodying the Satayuga right in the Kaliyuga.
This is the path the ascetic was on.
As he proceeded on his avowed path, the whole village was shaken up. The misguided lady became his follower. An outline of satyuga began to show in the forest.