The nature of a realized being is very difficult to understand. He breathes and eats and lives like all of us. He wears clothes, bathes, washes, cooks and enjoys his food. He makes jokes and laughs too. He shows great enjoyment of gifts offered to him and uses them with relish. We have our own preconceived notions about how a Sage or Guru should be. For some of us an ideal Sage or Guru should wear simple clothes and eat the bare minimum food. Others feel that a realized being should give up everything including his loin cloth and be naked. A few others feel that when Gods in the temples are decorated with rich silks and satin and costly gems and gold, why should the Gurus and Sages not wear them? For they too are realized and have become One with God. Yet many others feel that when they offer gifts of clothes or food or jewels to their beloved Master, their Master should wear them or enjoy their offerings.
All of us only look at the external appearance of the Guru or Master. We do not realize their inner being. The nature of a realized man is one of bliss. He is above pain and pleasure, heat and cold, rain and sunshine. He lives in the world like a lotus floating in dirty waters of a pond. He draws sustenance for his body from the world but is not of the world. Gold and mud are the same to him. Yet, the rest of mankind looks not at his reality but his clothes or daily routine and passes judgement on him. The story below teaches us the truth about the difference in the nature of a normal man and a realized being:
The King of a small kingdom used to enjoy the royal pastime of hunting. He would always pass by a Sage sitting in meditation under a particular tree. The face of the Sage glowed with light and the austerity of his tapas. He seemed unaffected by the rains or the heat of the sun or the cold wind. He was always at peace and his face was calm and serene. The King had observed him over a long period of time and was impressed. He felt he was a genuine Sage and hence invited him to stay with him as a royal guest in his palace for as long as the Sage wished to stay.
The Sage accepted the royal invitation and was escorted to the palace with pomp and splendor and given a luxurious room in the guest section of the palace. The Sage stayed there happily and enjoyed all the Kingly comforts. He wore silken robes and used exotic perfumes. He ate the most delicious dishes and each day a variety of them was served to him for breakfast, lunch and dinner. He relished the vast array of fruits and juices too. He read newspapers, books and magazines. He rarely discussed religion, philosophy or God. He did not perform any worship or meditation.
The King observed the behavior of the Sage for several months and was disturbed. He felt that he had made a mistake regarding the saintliness of the Sage. He went to the room of the Sage and found him reclining on silken cushions and satin sheets. He said to him: O Sage, I find that there is no difference between you and me in our lifestyle. In fact, I am better than you as I do some state work daily. You are idle all the time and are always wallowing in luxury. You are here since several months but have not even once wanted to go anywhere else or leave this place. Can you explain your behavior The Sage laughed and said: I will discuss with you and offer you an explanation for your queries. But in meantime, please come for a walk with me.
The King agreed and the Sage and the King set off for a walk. The Sage stopped by the Ganges river and filled a pot full of the sacred waters. It was afternoon and they walked at a brisk pace. Soon they entered the jungle and the Sage kept on walking. The sun had set and it was dark. They had no candlelight or matches.
The King was exhausted. He stopped walking and said: O Great One, I have never walked so much in my life. Let us return back to the palace and rest.
The Sage said: No, no, we are going to Rameshwaram. I wish to worship Sri Ramnath there. I carry the sacred Ganges for that. It may take a few months but I know the way. So let us keep walking.
The King was taken aback. He said: It is impossible. I have not informed my wife or ministers. I have not made any proper instructions for administration in my absence. We do not have money or provisions. Rameshwaram is in the other tip of India. I cannot walk several thousand miles. And for what are we doing this? Just for offering Ganges water to the Shiva there?
The Sage laughed and told the King: This is the answer to your questions. I can live like you in comfort and luxuries. I can also leave it in a moment. You are highly disturbed by the very thought of going to Rameshwaram. For me, it does not matter where I go and why. I require no purpose for my actions as I have no purpose to achieve in this world. I hope you understand now. I just wanted to test your faith and sincerity. Goodbye.
Having said that, the Sage walked away without a backward glance. And the King understood the true nature of a Sage.
The lives of great ones are above human logic or understanding. The role played by each Master is unique. Each Master or Guru is special and teaches us different things by the example of his life. Hence it is not possible or right to compare the life of one Guru with another. We should drop our preconceived notions and sit at the feet of the Guru with open mind, sincerity, faith and devotion. Then we can garner the treasures of his teachings. Let us stop judging others, specially our Guru. Let us follow the practices of SitaRam mantra, meditation, and the teachings of the Guru and find the light within us.