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Swami Visuddhananda was a genuine Sannyasi who was living under a tree in some forest beyond Kasi. Come winter or rains he used to stay and sleep at night under the tree. To avoid his body being soaked in the rainy water he used to put a few bricks under him and sleep over them.
He lived on whatever a passerby deigned to give him for eating. The then king of a place from Bihar, who used to come to the forest on hunting expeditions was highly impressed by the vairagya, the indifferent demeanour and the stoic and austere life led by the Swamiji.
Every time he came to the forest he used to bring some items of need for the saint and sit with him for hours in silence. During one of his trips, the king requested the Swamiji to accompany him to his palace and spend a few days with him. The Swamiji readily agreed and
started with a small bag in his hand. The king was a little disappointed at his readiness as he expected such a saint with a high vairagya to protest accepting his invitation. When they reached the palace, a palatial suite of rooms with all comforts, air-conditioned
and with a bathroom with hot water facilities and beds and furniture equipped with cushions was allotted for the sole use of the saint. Everyday, morning milk, breakfast, an excellent lunch with many courses, afternoon tea and snacks, vegetable soups and fruit juices in between
& dinner were all being served & the saint ate them with full relish. 3 months passed and the saint did not broach the subject of his departure at all. The king felt that there was no difference between d king and d saint at all except for d former’s grihasta life with his wives.
The saint was enjoying all the royal luxuries with evident relish and idling all the day while the king was at least engaged in the affairs of his kingdom and was toiling hard during the day. He began to think that the past vairagya of the saint was all perhaps a matter of
compulsion due to lack of resources and not a culture of his mind. The king could not stand this situation any longer and one evening he put this question to the saint – ‘‘You are now enjoying all the luxurious hospitality of the palace with relish.
Can you tell me whether there is any difference in life between you and me at this moment?’’
The saint said: ‘‘Let us discuss this matter tomorrow, but now let us go for a walk. We will go alone.’’
The king agreed and both of them went out for a walk by a forest path.
They had already walked for three hours and it was night and pitch dark. The king was anxious to return as it would take three hours more to return to the palace. He suggested to the saint that it was late and time to go back. The saint said: ‘‘No, no. Let us go.
We are now proceeding by foot to Rameshwaram in South India.’’ The king was aghast and protested: ‘‘What are you talking? Where is Bihar and where is Rameswaram? The latter is more than two thousand kilometers away. We do not have any clothes, money and other equipment.
I have not told my wives, ministers or anybody else. They will all be distraught with anxiety & worry. I have not made arrangements for looking after the affairs of the State during my absence.There are wild animals in this forest and we have not taken even a match box with us.
Let us turn back immediately.’’
Now the saint laughed and told the king: “Do you see the difference now between yourself and myself.”
I can leave off all the comforts and walk out in second at any time. You cannot. You remain tied by bondages of imagined duty and
attachment to ur family, State affairs, comforts etc. I remain free at all times and nothing binds me. You are afraid of travel at night. I am not attached to my body and have no fears. I shall escort u upto ur city, leave u and then go on my way. May God’s blessings be with u.’’
I felt wonderful while trying to understand the nature of the Sadhus. 🙏
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