Sheikh Raunqi Ram came to be recognized as an impressive orator. He would often receive invitations from far and near to deliver lectures on different occasions.
For a man of ordinary caliber, such recognition could have been a source of gratification bordering flattery. But not for Sheikh, for the motive of his orations was not fame or money, but propagation of what he believed in. So, unlike most of the public orators, he longed not for fame or money but for an audience, even one single person, who would appreciate and imbibe what he spoke. While his lectures were attended by huge crowds, he was always perturbed by a thought, – “Do my listeners really have an ear for what I actually want to say? Do they flock merely to enjoy the words I weave into a speech, or do they really come to imbibe the essence.”
Not able to overcome such troublesome thoughts, he decided to find it out directly.
So, on one of his lecture days, he began with a playfully cunning question.
“I hope that you know what I am going to talk about”.
“No!” yelled the audience.
“There is no fun talking to an audience which is not even aware of what I am going to talk about”, said Sheikh, while he got off the stage.
The public was disappointed. After some persuasion the Sheikh agreed to resume.
“Now”, began the Sheikh again, “I suppose you all know what I am going to speak about.”
“YES!” yelled a prepared audience.
“That’s it”, said Sheikh, as he again alighted from the stage. “There is no point speaking since you all know what I going to speak about.”
The audience had a mixed reaction this time. They were amused at the wit of their favorite speaker, yet disappointed for having fallen again to his tricky words.
They loved to hear him speak, and didn’t want to let go the opportunity of listening to his wonderful discourse. So they conferred amongst them for a while, and implored the Sheikh to be kind enough to accede to their humble wish. However, the Sheikh was in no mood to speak. Still, as per his pre determined plan, he agreed to resume yet again.
“I suppose you know what I am going to speak about.” This time the audience was prepared.
“No!” yelled some, and “Yes!” shouted others. They were sure that this time, Sheikh will not be able to find a way out.
However, Sheikh was not the one to be out done. “Very good”, said the Sheikh, as he again left the stage “I request all those who know it, to please share it with the others who don’t.”
Dumbstruck, the crowds walked away amused as well as disappointed.
The Sheikh was disappointed too. In such multitude of people, he could not find a single person who would have unlocked the treasure of esoteric wisdom within him, and becoming instrumental in divulgence of the bounty to some others too. Not a single seeker, among thousands of listeners!
As usual, Sheikh Raunqi Ram’s consternation led him to a flashback to the days when he too was one of the thousands of listeners, at a discourse.
The speaker, adorning the stage was shouting, loud and clear, “The lord God was allocating traits. The British got a large bundle of patriotism, the Americans got a huge boxful of efficiency, Russians a basket of power, Japanese a jar full of beauty and then came the turn of India”, the listeners were all ears, fully enjoying the lecture. “The Indians got a huge drum, bigger than the packets of all other. You know, what it was filled with? The drum was filled with……” he stopped for a while, deliberately, as if to arouse the curiosity of the crowd. “Corruption and dishonesty!” he thundered, inviting an equally thunderous applause and a rapturous laughter from the amused crowds. The speaker was extremely happy with the response he received, and his happiness was oozing upon his smiling face.
Perhaps Sheikh Raunqi Ram was the only one in that huge crowd not contributing to that mighty laughter and applause, though he was feeling the strokes of the claps, right on his heart.
“How low have we fallen!” the thought made a tear roll out of his eyes. “How degrading, how shameful it is to be amused by something we should be ashamed of. How can our own debasement be a source of entertainment to us!
All these huge gatherings, these satsangs, have been reduced to mere sources of cheap entertainment. They have become nothing but tools for inflating our fouled ego, believing ourselves to be gyanis (holders of divine knowledge) while we just churn out the disjointed information culled from here and there, and pass it off as gyana.
For a well meaning orator, even a single listener is enough, if he can make himself a personification of the quest for truth and be the key in opening the lock of experience guarding the esoteric secrets embedded in the orator’s heart.
Such a key did appear once, in the form of Arjuna, who became instrumental in the imparting of the divine nectar of gyana to the entire world, by opening the lock of Shri Krishna’s heart.
Let us visualize how the great gyana of Srimad Bhagwat Geeta was unlocked.
The terrifying battleground of Mahabharta! The two armies eager to devastate each other!
Arjuna, the great warrior, all sweats, scorched with a blaze of moha (attachment), his legs trembling, barely able to support his body!
In such a precarious state, he addresses Lord Krishna, “Totally ignorant though, I have sought refuge in you. I am your disciple. Guide me, I beseech.” These simple words became the key, which unraveled the Geeta gyana, causing it to flow out from the depths of Shri Krishna’s heart.
Even if the listener says “I am ignorant, speak what you wish”, the speaker will not have much to say unless the words of the listener are accompanied by the Quest, the urge, the anxiety to seek.
If the listener says, “I know what you should speak about. You should speak about, such and such topic (or person or principle),” still the speaker will not have much to say, being clouded by the “I” (ego) of the listener which makes him falsely believe that “he already knows”.
If the speaker says, “Please speak on such and such topic, about which we know, but we want to confirm, that we really know it”, then should the speaker speak merely to confirm and rubber stamp all what the listeners know?
Sheikh Raunqi Ram still attends gatherings and still gives discourses with a hope that some day he will find a listener who will emerge as the key to unlock and assimilate the esoteric treasure concealed in his heart.