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PRABUDDHA BHARATAGlimpses of Holy Lifes| Sadhu Kishandas  





Glimpses of Holy Lives




Sadhu Kishandas



     In 1908 or 1909, Mahendranath Datta, writes, he was staying at Ramakrishna Mission Sevashrama, Vrindaban. The Sevashrama, which was then located on the banks of the Yamuna, consisted of a few small mud houses with tin roofing. Since it was a sevashrama, not just a hospital, special attention was given to making the patients feel at home. The idea was that more than the medical treatment it was the caring attitude of the nurses that restored patients to health. Here Mahendranath would sit by the patients beds and engage them in light talk in order to divert their minds away from their suffering.


     Most of the patients at the Sevashrama were simple-hearted Vaishnava sadhus and Mahendranath made acquaintance with a number of them. None of them, however, attracted him as much as a thin, dark-complexioned sadhu did. Every sentence that this sadhu spoke was so sweet and full of humility. It was as if the sadhus heart was brimming with love but he lacked the ability to express it fully - as if a lamp was burning brightly inside but did not show through adequately. Mahendranath would feel happy whenever he talked to this sadhu. Within a few days of his arrival a close bond was established between the sadhu and the Sevashrama workers - so much so that they almost forgot that he was a sadhu and began to treat him like a member of their own family.


     The sadhus name was Kishandasji; he belonged to the Ramanuja sect.




     A Strange Punishment



     Vaishnavas as a community are very fastidious in matters of food and drink, and the Ramanuja sect was doubly so. When Kishandasji returned to his ashrama after getting well he was obliged to go through a ritual of purification for having stayed at the Sevashrama, where he could not have been strict about what he ate and from whose hands! What was the penance? Poor Kishandasji had to give a feast to the sadhus of his ashrama. He had no choice but to accept the ruling handed down to him before he could return to his community.

But Kishandasji felt deeply hurt. The feast he gave was not an occasion for joy; it was a kind of punishment. If truth be told, Kishandasji himself was a strict Vaishnava sadhu. But he was a spiritually developed soul too. Probably he was just ripe for a major transformation in his attitude. During his month-long stay at the Sevashrama a palpable change had come over him. He had appreciated and enjoyed the liberal outlook of the people at the Sevashrama, and because of their loving service his own squeamishness about food and drink had dissolved. He now disliked fanaticism of any kind. In other words, he had outgrown the stage where rules and regulations are important.




     Kishandasjis Mite



     Kishandasji was a staunch devotee of Rama, but he now developed an equal devotion to Sri Ramakrishna also thanks to his stay in the Sevashrama. He began to visit the place regularly and offer flowers and garlands at the shrine. He had a secret desire to offer some sweets too but did not have the money.


     One day somebody gave him five paise as alms. Kishandasji went to the Sevashrama and, handing over the coin at the shrine, said that he wished to offer some sweets to Sri Ramakrishna. But five paise was a negligible amount of money. You dont have to pay us for the offering, he was told. Keep the money. We will offer something to Thakur in your name. Kishandasji was sad beyond words. With folded hands he uttered, I am such an unfortunate soul that Thakur will not accept my offering! Mahendranath and his colleagues came to their senses: Are we not all equal in Gods eyes? Does God distinguish between rich and poor? Indeed, that person who has devotion for His lotus feet is rich, and whoever lacks that is poor! Then they said: It is all right, Kishanji, your money is accepted. Now let us know what you want to offer. Kishandasji expressed his wish. All right, it will be offered to Thakur tomorrow evening, and you too will have your prasad here. Whatever else needs to go with your offering will be provided from the ashrama; you need have no compunctions about it.


     After this incident Kishandasji grew even more close to the Sevashrama and his visits increased in frequency.




     Patram, pushpam, phalam, toyam



     With the love of God will come, as a sure effect, the love of every one in the universe. The nearer we approach God, the more do we begin to see that all things are in Him. When the soul succeeds in appropriating the bliss of this supreme love, it also begins to see Him in everything. Our heart will thus become an eternal fountain of love. And when we reach even higher states of this love, all the little differences between the things of the world are entirely lost; man is seen no more as man, but only as God Evam sarveshu bhuteshu bhaktiravyabhicarini; Kartavya panditairjnatva sarvabhutamayam harim. - Knowing that Hari, the Lord, is in every being, the wise have thus to manifest unswerving love towards all beings.


     Kishandasjis life is an illustration of the above-quoted words of Swami Vivekananda.


     North India experiences blazing summers with hot winds blowing across the plains. Then places like Vrindaban become positively fiery. In those days drinking water was a problem during the season, especially along the Mathura-Vrindaban highway, since all the wells were situated well off the road inside villages. In order to relieve the thirst of pilgrims, well-to-do people of the area used to provide drinking water for them. Usually a young brahmin boy or a brahmin widow was entrusted with the job of dispensing cool water from a barrel placed outside the house by the roadside. This practice of providing cool drinking water to weary pilgrims was known as piya.


     One summer Kishandasji desired to keep a piya himself and serve the pilgrims. But where was he to get the money for a barrel? He was too poor to serve others! Moreover, his residence - if one could call it that - was quite a distance from the highway. But love surmounts all obstacles. Kishandasji would fetch water from a distant well in a jar and, sitting by the road, would call the passers-by affectionately and offer them cool, sweet water. Obviously, he had to make several trips to the well each day in the burning sun! So great was Kishandasjis humility and sincerity, so deep his feeling for others, that onlookers could feel that he was worshipping God Himself.


     Late one afternoon Mahendranath and a few of his friends were out for a walk. A little beyond the Govindji temple they spotted Kishandasji, who was very happy to give them a drink of water from his jar. Mahendranath felt blessed. After having his drink he sprinkled a few drops of that water on his head, as he would do with Ganga water!


     This may not be much of a story. Two short paragraphs is all it takes to describe Kishandasjis attitude of service. But as Swami Vivekananda says: If you cannot see God in the human face, how can you see him in the clouds, or in images made of dull, dead matter, or in mere fictitious stories of our brain? I shall call you religious from the day you begin to see God in men and women. It is significant that these words occur in his second lecture on Practical Vedanta.



     (To be continued)





International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015










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