Ram Lila Story
At certain times of the year the Ramayana (the story of Ram, Sita and Hanuman) is performed as a play in every part of India. In the hills, it is performed in most of the villages and towns. In some places it is performed for nine days.
During this time, Maharaji took me to a town called Bareilly. We went straight to the house of Mr. Joshi, the superintendent of the juvenile jail.
Mr. Joshi said, "Maharaji, the prisoners have been performing the Ram Lila for three or four days. Tonight we have made a special arrangement for you to go to the jail and see them."
At first Maharaji said, "No, no. I am not going to take [the story-teller] there."
I said if Maharaji didn't want to go, then I didn't want to go.
Mr. Joshi then said, "Maharaji, I have made the arrangements, and the boys will be disappointed. So I must bring Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman to you."
In the night, all the boys who were playing those roles came in their costumes and make-up looking just like Ram, Lakshman, Hanuman, etc. They were brought before Maharaji who was sitting on a cot.
Mr. Joshi introduced them saying, "This boy has been in prison for
3 years, this one for 4 years," telling their crimes, etc. Not like gods, but like imprisoned persons.
Maharaji became a bit serious. He then asked the boys to sit down on chairs, and he said to Mr. Joshi, "These boys are in the dress of gods. You shouldn't be speaking about them like this."
I thought he must have hurt the feelings of the superintendent.
Then Maharaji said to Mr. Joshi, "Call your father."
His father was quite an old person, a great devotee of Maharaji. In India elders are respected, and no one is more respected than one's parents.
Mr. Joshi called his father, and Maharaji asked the father to prepare an arti ceremony, (worship), with the red vermilion tilak, and told the father to put tilak on
every boy's face and worship them and perform arti to them.
Maharaji asked him to give them money, and to touch the boys' feet. Then Mr. Joshi, the jail superintendent also performed this puja to the boys.
Maharaji didn't want to hurt Mr. Joshi's feelings, by asking him to perform this puja first, nor did he want to hurt the feelings of these prisoners who had never been paid any respect before. Everyone did it because Maharaji asked him to. This was a teaching. So many teachings in this one incident.
A saint is not supposed to hurt the feelings of anyone, so he didn't want to hurt the feelings of the jail superintendent. At the same time, he wanted to teach him that these boys were essentially divine and worthy of respect. It was his father who was called to perform the puja first, because parents are the most respected of all relatives.
It must have brought about a change in the lives of the boys. I could see their faces. They had never been treated like that. A person like their boss doing puja to them. They were so overwhelmed by Maharaji's words and by what had happened that they were crying.
* – This
is an expandable set of pages. If you've been to see any of my listees
and would like to tell your story, send it in (Feedback)
and i'll be happy to put it up. Pages can be attributed or not,
according to the author's wishes, though
i will want to have some sense personally of where s/he is coming from.
See also Satsang Reports,
a related series of impressions of satsang
providers on tour, ie in a more "formal" setting.