Swami likes to play. He has this capacity to enthuse you with something that you found insignificant before. He creates role-plays and throws himself into them for the pleasure of living and playing. Afterwards, everyone learns a personal lesson from the event. That is what is happening on this earth: We are here to learn how to live and love from every possible and imaginable situation.
Swami is very indulgent and has amazing patience. One evening, he invited a man to his apartment in Mauritius. This man had aggressively thrown endless catechist sentences and canonical rules at us. I was enraged to hear this fanatic. When would he stop? I was ostentatiously looking at my watch. Swami, unlike me, kept smiling and had taken his notepad out to take notes! Through this event, I was vaccinated against any dogmatism and had received a lesson in patience.
Fanatics exist in every religion. God is one, man creates the differences. Every religion can lead to God. It is a boat on the ocean of our lives. In one life we are Christian, once Muslim, once Hindu, another time Jewish, another time Sufi another Muslim, and then we are born again to become Hindu, Jewish and Sufi thus the soul learns to practice different religions without becoming dogmatic.
Swami plays in everyday communication. He doesn’t show even a thousandth of his knowledge. Many times I have realised how I automatically judge people whom I hardly even know. Swami never judges, he just loves.
With him, we often don’t know what to think during everyday communication. He can say a banality with a very serious face, as if it were an important revelation or give you an important message in a very casual way. He knows our prejudices and everyone’s fixed ideas.
Because I am afraid to make a mistake, say something wrong and be laughed at, I once spoke without thinking and supported Swami’s viewpoint in a conversation, instead of offering my own opinion. Two sentences later, Swami went in the opposite direction, and I found myself entangled in my remark, facing my own hypocrisy.
A guru is someone who removes ignorance and makes you self-realise. Swami does it while having fun. Life is not sad with him. Yes, we laugh a lot!
Once, Pierre got lost while driving Swami. Swami burst into laughter in the back of the car as Pierre drove around the same roundabout for the third time. By the time Pierre found the right way, rain was pouring downand all the restaurants were closed apart from a diabolical pizzeria, decorated with plastic ghosts and witches as if it was Halloween. What a delicious pizza!
Swami likes to sing bhajans, and God’s name in whatever form it takes. He knows every tone, half tone, quarter tone… He tells me about my bhajan singing, “Pritala, you are always half a beat too late!”
Swami had just received a magnificent robe made of orange silk. It was shining like no other in his wardrobe. He decided to take it with him to the retreat and Easter darshan of Lörrach, in April 2006 in Germany. On Easter Monday, about 150 people were present for darshan. Swami gave me the robe to iron. In the corridor, I set up the ironing board and plugged the iron in, while Swami was preparing himself for the ceremony. I was ironing and some people were still walking through the corridor. Swami opened the door and called me,
– “Pritala, come here. Have you finished?” He asked.
– “Not yet, but I have finished the trouser, It is hanging over there. If you want me to, I can give it to you”, I replied. I went towards the trouser but Swami shouted,
– “Pritallllaaaaaa!!!! It’s burning! Look! Ahhhhh!!!”
I ran towards the iron that I had forgotten on the beautiful orange robe, but it was too late, the robe was burnt. The mark of the iron was very visible, like a dark red trace on the orange material. I went into Swami’s bedroom to take a better look, but there was nothing to do, it was very noticeable. I was in dismay.
– “I am sorry…” I said.
– “It’s spoilt, I can’t wear it anymore now”, said Swami, raising his arms.
– “It’s the back of the robe, so when you are sitting, perhaps the people will not see it”, I suggested.
– “But when I walk, they will see the mark of an iron on my back!” He said.
– “Do you have another robe?” I asked.
– “No, I only have that one, and the others are dirty”, he said.
– “We could cut it above the burn”, I said hopefully.
– “You will sew it by hand now? And one cannot wear a robe like that. It’s not proper”, he said.
– “I am really sorry, what do we do?” I asked.
– “Finish ironing the top of the robe”, he said.
Feeling miserable, I ironed the top. In my mind I went over how it had all happened. I had just destroyed his robe. The first thing my mind usually does is to blame others: Why did he call me while I was ironing? He should have seen that I was busy and that he shouldn’t bother me! My second thought is generally blaming myself: I should have been more careful, and put the iron to the side. This was immediately followed by a way to stop me from feeling guilty: I did what he asked me to do, he told me to come and I obeyed. I obeyed so it’s his fault if I left the iron on the robe! The third thought was a bit better: No, I should have moved the iron. Even if he called me, it’s not a reason to forget. I should have finished what I was doing and then seen what he wanted.
I then brought the ironed robe to Swami’s bedroom. Brother Jyotirananda arrived.
– “You know what? He burnt my robe”, said Swami.
– “What? Your brand new robe?” Brother Jyotirananda asked.
– “Yes, look there”, said Swami pointing to it.
I held the robe up in front of the window to show the damage.
– “Where? I don’t see anything,” said Brother Jyotirananda.
He walked closer to the robe while I looked closely as well and turned the robe in all directions.
– “Where do you see it’s burnt? I can’t see anything”, said Brother Jyotirananda.
– “Yes, it was burnt, in the back. There was the mark of the iron, all red”, said Swami.
– “There is nothing, not even a little trace”, replied Brother Jyotirananda.
There was no longer any trace of the mark on the robe. I couldn’t believe it. I was both relieved and perplexed. I looked at Swami who asked me:
– “How did you do that?”
– “What do you mean how I did that? You just repaired it and ask me how I did it? I burnt it and you repaired it. Thank you anyway, I feel much better”, I said.
– “OK. Leave me alone now, I have to get dressed”, he said.
We left the room and I hurried to prepare myself for the ceremony that was going to start in ten minutes. Hot stuff, this ironing story!
Pritalananda – France