36. The Greatness of Service
38. Calling The Mother and Her Response
It was the first time he met me and he was talking with great interest of many things. His manners were pleasant and his bearing cordial. His face was clear and calm. In the course of his talk he mentioned that he was employed as a car driver, which was difficult to reconcile with his poise, manners and appearance. Sensing my surprise, he explained, as if to clear my doubt, that his family had been a well-to-do one and later went bankrupt. They had owned lands, houses and two lorries. Now everything was lost, except the house where he and his elder brother lived with their families. I was sorry to learn of the family's misfortune and was contemplating whether I could offer any helpful suggestion to him that could restore him to prosperity. Unaware of my thoughts about his life, he continued to ramble on, in the course of which he said he had chosen to employ himself in a workshop of the Ashram, as it was a good place to work.
That clue gave me an idea. If he had been working for the Ashram as it was a good place to work, then it must be possible for him to regain his lost wealth. With this thought in mind, I began to scrutinise his conversations with me to discover what opinion he had of the Ashram, Mother, etc. To him, the Ashram was just an employer, nothing more. Maybe Mother and Sri Aurobindo are great, but I have nothing to do with all that, was the attitude he took. He had reverence for them as great people, but could not understand that his indirect service to them was collecting punya in his being. The punya was only collecting in his soul, but was not showing itself on the surface of his life as prosperity.
It is my personal observation that people who directly or indirectly serve Mother with or without conscious intention rise in their level of prosperity continuously. They may not even know that ultimately the work they had done for someone would reach Mother. Still Mother's Grace reaches them. The Ashram runs more than fifty departments and the inmates live in about 400 houses all over the town. Naturally, services of all descriptions are required from almost every profession. For several years in the beginning, I missed this aspect of Mother, the aspect of Her Grace reaching everyone indirectly related to Her. In later years when I began to see more of the Ashram activities, several phenomena explained themselves to me, of which this too was one.
I would like to refer to an observation from my own work. The villagers who came to our garden for work did not even know of the Ashram in Pondy, but if any man started working there, after a week his face acquired a shine. Constantly we heard of good news to his family. After a few years LUCK was thrust upon the village by the bank and overnight field incomes quadrupled.
An engineer bought a drilling machine and was hunting for customers. He drilled a well for us. After a year I happened to meet him with his bank agent and asked how he was doing. The agent answered on his behalf that in four months the engineer had paid ten monthly installments!
A contractor leased out the pressmud of a sugar factory to be sold to the farmers as manure. He sold us a great quantity over a year's time. He used to tell me that it was not a lucrative business, as he was compelled to sell his pressmud on credit to the farmers and they always left a good bit unpaid. He showed me once a bundle of almost 200 promissory notes due for the past 17 years. After his supply to us for the year was over, he came to settle his accounts with me and said, This is a lucky year for me. For one thing, I was able to collect all arrears outstanding for the last 17 years. During the latter part of this year, I sold only for cash. The era of credit is over for me. I purchased my own lorry for this year's work and after a few months added one more.
Another man was managing our gardens. He would never evince any curiosity as to what the Ashram was about. He would confine himself to the work in the garden. He had on his own a few acres of land and had dug a well there some years earlier. It turned out to be dry. There was no water spring inside. His was dry cultivation. His one ambition was to strike water, but that failed. After two years of working on the garden, one day he came with a beaming face and said, "Not being able to give up my well project, I once again tried to deepen the well this week. Fortunately I hit upon a big spring. It is a fulfillment of a lifetime's ambition for me. I wish you visit my fields once."
An agriculture income tax officer once levied Rs. 2,000 as tax on our lands. A sadhak went to his office to remit the amount. The officer said, "I know your institutions are working for the public. I was sorry to levy the tax, but it was my duty. Since I levied the tax, I was looking for some rule that speaks of exemption for people like you. Only yesterday I came upon that rule. Now I am happy. You do not have to remit this amount." A few months later someone who came from his office told me that that officer had been promoted as deputy collector and transferred. He added that as the officer was old, he had been expecting no further promotion in service.
A bank agent who took personal interest in our village schemes was given three promotions in three years, whereas normally one gets one promotion in three years.
To go back to my visitor now: I told him if he would try to regain his wealth, he would succeed. He replied that as soon as they had lost it, for several years they tried to regain the lorry service. Each time they tried, they failed and each subsequent time it became harder. He had lost hope once and for all. Without touching upon spiritual things, I spoke for ten minutes and said it was worth trying again. Towards the end, his interest seemed to have been sparked, but it was not supported by hope or experience.
About ten or twelve days later, when I was just entering the Ashram, someone rushed towards me in great excitement, walking briskly on the pavement, as if he were going to physically prevent me from entering the Ashram. It was he. I was interested. Without going inside the Ashram, I moved to one side of the pavement to listen to what he had to tell me. He burst out, "You asked me to try last week. It all worked miraculously." He explained he had been trying to meet me and convey this news for a few days, but had missed me. After leaving me the other day, he had gone home and spoken to his elder brother about taking one more effort to revive the lorry service. The brother was equally dejected and would not agree. Two days later someone who wanted to sell a lorry approached them with a request to buy. The conditions of the sale were favourable, the party was known and reliable and, particularly, the terms of the sale were such that he took over a credit on the vehicle and had to pay very little cash. The deal was closed. The lorry was on the road in another week.
A year later they had regained their original position, put two lorries on the road, and added one more wholesale business for the family.
A good friend and a longtime devotee who is an agriculturist was waiting for me since morning outside my room, while I was engaged in a serious discussion with some Aurovillians. I had not known that my friend was waiting outside. I felt sorry and somewhat outraged that he should wait for me without informing me, as this was a meeting which would be prolonged for hours. Immediately I excused myself from the meeting and went outside to see my friend. I planned to be severe with him for not informing me and had a prepared sentence to deliver, "Why should you not come in and join the meeting?" On seeing him, I understood why he could not come in and join as usual. He was with two other people. One of them had come requesting a blessing packet from the Ashram, as he was going for an eye operation. He was a college student and a relative of my agriculturalist friend. I promised them to secure a blessing packet and asked all of them to meet me later. I had different ideas on his proposed operation than he had.
Later my friend and the student met me at the appointed time, and I gave them the blessing packet I had secured from the Ashram in the meantime. The student was not a devotee in the full sense of the word, but had accompanied my friend, who was his cousin, several times to the Ashram, Mother's Darshan, etc. as his native village was very near Pondicherry. He often visited my agriculturist friend as part of family work. As soon as I delivered the blessing packet, both were visibly pleased and were about to leave. Perhaps they were in a hurry or some other people were waiting for them elsewhere. On my enquiry they explained that neither was the case, but they were anxious to go to the Samadhi now that they had received the blessing packet.
Knowing their mind, I persuaded them to wait and explain to me the history of the eye disorder and gently hinted that the operation might not be necessary. My hint electrified them and they lost their hurry. The boy narrated, "From my early childhood I had no sight in one eye, but no second person could discern any defect in the formation of the eye. Over the years we went to several doctors. Each time I was advised to undergo an operation. Neither my family nor I approved of the idea of operation. Thus, it was going on ever since I was a child. I had never lost the hope of having my eye cured without an operation sometime or other. With that in mind, whenever I went to another town or heard of an expert eye doctor, I would contact him. Again and again I got the reply that it should be operated upon. Now that I am in this college and the volume of study causes strain to the sight, finally my parents advised me to have the operation. They took me to Madras, had me examined by an eye surgeon, fixed a date for the operation, and made arrangements to move to Madras for ten days. That was why I requested uncle to secure a blessing packet for me. I am very happy I have gotten one. Uncle tells me a lot about Mother and the power of the blessing packet. I have heard him narrate so many events to so many people about all this, but I do not fully understand it all. I too believe in Mother and have faith that Mother will bless me to have my operation successfully and restore my sight."
As soon as he finished, I clearly saw that his faith was pure, though simple-minded. It was obvious that my hint of avoiding the operation was of great interest to him, but his faith could not match it. As his explanation showed, his faith was there in Mother that She would help the operation to be successful. So I spoke as follows: "I see you have faith, but what the doctors have told you over the years has a strong hold on your mind. As your operation is not something urgently called for, I wish that you speak to your parents to have the operation postponed by a couple of weeks and try Mother's method. I will be happy if you agree to my suggestion and your parents endorse it, unmindful of the appointment fixed and arrangements made. Mother has a place here called "School of Perfect Eyesight". It is run by a devotee who is a famous doctor. He has borrowed some ideas from a New York doctor and developed a new method of curing illnesses of the eye. He bases himself on Mother's Force more than on his method. Please go to the school and let us know what they feel about your eye condition. Let us try and see. If anything cures you, it will be Mother's Force."
They both seemed happy. I could see in their faces some ray of hope that the operation can be avoided. On their part, both agreed to try, but had to consult the elders in the family. They returned after a few days to announce that their family consented, and they proceeded to the eye school. Later in the evening when they returned, they reported that the school had given them confidence and prescribed eye exercises for thirty days. The school asked the patient to stay in Pondicherry for the first seven days and said that if he learnt the exercises well, he could go home and practice. They ended saying that the school too emphasized that Mother's Force alone cured.
I could see that they were really satisfied, but the very routine fashion in which the twenty year old problem was handled somewhat mystified them. Fortunately, it had not shaken their faith.
My friend, who used to meet me often, was regularly reporting improvement by the treatment. After a week the boy felt a marked improvement. His confidence grew. He continued the exercises. Full eyesight was restored within one or two months.
My friend brought the boy to me when all was over. His face was full, his eyes were gleaming. After my friend finished speaking, I turned to the boy to listen to him. He looked at me with a full face and a dumb mouth. I could see his heart was too full for him to speak.
Mother often used to stop Her work and concentrate for a second. This She would do during her writing, eating, interviews and any other work. She once explained that often Her children (devotees) 'call' her for help, to which she responds by sending Her force. One night at 1 a.m. She heard someone calling her frantically and she concentrated, then sent her force and 'saw' who it was. It was a man getting up from his bed, going to the door, leaning on it and calling her intensely. It was not clear to her who it was. The next morning news came. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Prime Minister, had passed away in Tashkent. Shastri had been in correspondence with her and before going to Tashkent meeting he had asked for Mother's Blessings for the meeting. He was devoted to her and it was his dying call that She had heard at night.
When devotees call, Mother gives two kinds of responses. One goes out of her wider personality without her knowing. The other emanates from her individuality. For those who are personally known to her and intensely call, Her individuality responds with her knowledge.
A boy of five years got a broken porcelain piece stuck in his throat and was choking. The family became panicky and a turmoil issued. Luckily the father was at home at that moment. As good luck would have it, there was an ENT specialist down the street. As the child weighed more than what the father could easily carry on his shoulder up to the specialist's hospital and no time could be lost looking for a rickshaw, in his fright he tried to lift the child, holding him around the waist, and rushed out of the house. The child was hanging precariously, with the father's arm around his stomach, and was bent over. The father's one thought was that the doctor must be in and give immediate attention. It would be a great thing if the doctor was able to recover the obnoxious porcelain piece by some instrument that could reach down into the throat. Otherwise, an operation would be necessary. How long would it take? How much suffering was in store for the boy and on his account for the parents? These things haunted the father's mind. He was an ardent devotee. In his hour of trial, he deeply prayed to Mother to extend Her blessings to the suffering child. His mind refused to wean itself away from the possible consequences of availability of the doctor, instrument, operation, etc. and fix itself on the prayer. Being a devotee, one part of his mind said that after all if any help comes, it should come only from Mother with the doctor only as an instrument, and therefore it is best to pray to Mother. But the human part in him refused to be under control. In this dilemma, suddenly he thought of the power of calling 'Mother' and began to call Her intensely. Soon his wandering mind came under control and he was able to call Mother from his mind. In half a minute the call began to shift from his mind to the heart. Within seconds he noticed that he was not calling anymore. Something from inside took up the call. A smooth, sweet vibration of calling began welling up from inside his heart dissolving his panic, fright, helplessness and suffering at the thought of the child's plight. Already the father had crossed two thirds of the road and was only yards away from the hospital entrance. The child who was precariously hanging from his father's arm began to wriggle and shouted, "Appa, it has fallen." The malicious porcelain piece was rolling on the road before the unbelieving eyes of the devotee. Mother usually answers through the help of the doctor; but in this case Mother's help came before reaching the doctor.
"I am happy to inform you that I have gotten the appointment, after I met with a great disappointment when the list was published with my name missing. I don't know what happened after the publication of the list and how I have been awarded the post. Anyway, one thing is sure. This job does not come to me by the strength of my thirty years of service nor by all the influential contacts that tried on my behalf. Nor does it come by any desert of mind. It comes to me purely by Mother's Grace and I accept it as such," wrote a distinguished educationist of Tamil Nadu, when he was appointed professor emeritus after all his efforts had proven in vain and he had given up.
Mother constantly performs miracles in the life and faith of devotees without making them seem like miracles. "My gazetted government job is a fairly well-placed one and gives me Rs.650 a month in all (in 1969); but I know I have greater talents which if well-employed can give me Rs.1,000 in private industry. I was itching to get into a better job and intently prayed to Mother for a long time. I finally gave up seeking another job than this one. The very next day when I was on tour, an officer spoke to me of a public sector company needing the services of someone like me. While he was speaking, the man who gave that news walked in and was introduced. He said his establishment had interviewed 80 highly qualified persons and rejected all of them, as they did not have the one particular qualification they needed. I possessed it. I dashed to the company, where I had a warm welcome. After the whole interview was over, they expressed full satisfaction and asked me to choose my salary. I asked for Rs. 2,000 and they readily agreed," said a highly qualified scientist devotee of the Mother.
Mother gives whatever we ask for and often more. In 1982 a mother commented, "My son secured M.A., M.Ed, and is now doing M.Sc. He would rather take up a job than acquire a degree. These are hard days and life is full of cut-throat competition. Even those well-wishers who genuinely want to help the boy secure a job find it difficult. Finally I fixed my central reliance on Mother and did whatever we could to get him a job. Life turned around and every unhelpful situation slightly altered. All the people who had been giving an empty promise sounded sympathetic. On our part we shifted our reliance slowly from men and matters to Mother. At last, the boy got a good job, and the pay is over Rs. 1,000. In the circle of our relations and friends this is great news. We are unable to answer this question they ask: 'Who got you this post?' Not only for them, but for us also, it is a standing wonder."
A young engineer, after five years of service, rose to a position of earning Rs. 1,600 in a private company in 1974. He was ambitious and applied for a Chief Engineer's position in Goa carrying a salary of Rs. 3,000. Though he was qualified and talented, his experience for the post was too short. Before going for the interview, he came to me for Mother's Blessing packet. I got him one. He was not satisfied and wanted me to pronounce the outcome of his interview the following month! Obviously, I could not. He was insistent. Thereupon, I spoke generally of some practices connected with employment as follows: "You are young and this is a senior post. Of course, they have called you for the interview because you are fully qualified and talented. What Mother would do I can't say. I can say that whatever happens will be very good for you." He wanted me to be more explicit and asked whether he could do anything special, such as repeating a mantra or making a big offering in order to secure the job. I explained that though an offering is essential, a token is enough. If one wants to give more to Mother, it is to serve Her and Her cause. It is not necessary as an offering. Long-standing devotees whose children take up fresh jobs offer Mother the first month's salary," I added and left it at that. He appeared for the interview. Two weeks later he wrote to me that they had not selected him for the position, but added that he received by the same post an appointment order from another company for the job of Chief Engineer at a salary of Rs. 2,600.
I told all of this to a young man whose father brought him to me when he was seeking a job. This young man was an apprentice under an auditor. He didn't like it because there was not much scope to learn accounting under that auditor, as he was located in a small town and had small traders as clients. The boy's family had a lot of landed property, houses, a trade, etc. and he was seeking a job as he needed a career. In the early 70s when jobs had become scarce, I could not give him any idea or help in the matter. However, I said that if he had faith in Mother and related to Her or Her work in some token fashion, it would do him good. As he was not living in Pondicherry I could not easily suggest any service to Mother or to the Ashram. After some hard thinking, I asked him if he would come forward to sell some copies of a Tamil journal of the Ashram which was being published at that time. When he readily agreed, I made myself bold and said he would secure a job, if he could sell ten copies of it.
The young man went about ardently selling the journal and soon found out that not many people were interested in spirituality. But he was persistent and maintained his efforts. In the meantime, he was surprised to be called for interviews from many places, whereas up until then he had not been called. One interview was for an accountant's post in the Food Corporation. He appeared for the interview, did well and returned very satisfied. He was selected for the job and posted in the same town! He was touched and moved by Mother's Grace and Love, and exclaimed that he had till then sold only three copies of the journal. His enthusiasm did not flag; rather, it increased. One day he declared he was going to sell copies of the journal by going house to house. He sold and sold, up to 100 subscriptions and went beyond that too.
Mother's ways are many. One can never anticipate. The son of a Tahsildar was frequently visiting me ever since he completed B.A. in 1970. He continued and took his M.A. degree. He used to come to Darshans. One day he came asking me to get him a job. I asked him to accompany me to the Samadhi, which he did. I told him he could try for any job and he would get it.
After a month he came to announce that he got a Lecturer's job. He explained that they had advertised for one post. Several people appeared and a Ph.D. holder was selected. Impressed by the boy's performance in the interview, the interviewing professor recommended a temporary post could be created and he be selected!