Lord Mahavira (an enlightened Spiritual Master of India) always used to keep that disciple near him. Other inquisitive seekers used to think, “When will we be fortunate enough to get an opportunity to sit in the Lord's feet? We neither possess any virtuous qualities nor do we have any special qualifications! Will we be ever blessed with this kind of proximity of the Master in this lifetime or in our births to come?”
But, the reality is, as the patient needs to be in the proximity of the doctor to get healed and strong, so also a Guru gives his nearness to a disciple who needs to be treated. Just as a raw brick is put in the fire of the kiln with the sole purpose of converting it into a rock-solid, finished product, the enlightening presence of the Master works like a kiln for the disciple to evolve him and make him spiritually well-versed, strong, and unshakable.
This disciple of Lord Mahavira was also a patient from the spiritual perspective. To help him grow into a healthy yogi, Lord Mahavira instructed him and said, “Make it a point to spare some essential time in a day to introspect and recollect how things are going in your inner being. Contemplate and ponder- what were the good deeds done, and what all mistakes were committed in the whole day.” Though the seeker nodded his head in obedience, yet he made a blunder of not following the instructions in the way they were given. Instead of keeping a watch on his own thoughts and actions, he started keeping a watch on his Master. And while doing so, he started finding faults and loopholes in all the activities of the Guru, which were indeed a divine play.
Consequently, a heart which should have blossomed in the flowery aroma of devotion and surrender, it rather started accumulating the leafy dryness of doubts and non-commitment. As to a person standing upside down, everything upright appears topsy-turvy; so also to his tilted (doubting) mindset, every apt and wise statement of the Master appeared erroneous. His mind began to wrongly interpret the activities and discourses of Lord Mahavira.
Once, he was listening to the spiritual discourse of Lord Mahavira, who said, “The words of the Guru are like unfailing predictions, and are bound to come true. No power has the capacity to stall them, and even God cannot undo what the Guru says and desires to do.” The disciple could not digest the statement, which felt like thorns piercing him. That day when Lord Mahavira was on his usual stroll, he was also with Him. En-route, he pointed in the direction of a sapling and queried the Lord, “Gurudev, will this sapling ever grow into a giant tree, and will it ever bear flowers and fruits?” Being omniscient, Lord Mahavira knew what was going on in the disciple's mind. He said, “Oh, yes…why not? This sapling will grow into such a big tree that the travellers passing through this route will rest under its shade.” Saying thus, Lord Mahavira proceeded further. However, the disciple turned back and moved near the sapling. He decided to challenge the Lord, make fun of His prediction, and prove Him wrong. He immediately pulled out that little, tender sapling from the lap of Mother Earth, and while holding that sapling in his hand, he arrogantly laughed a bit and surmised, “How easily the fact has been established that it is not necessary that all predictions made by the Gurudev will prove right! For, now that this sapling has been pulled out of earth from its roots, how can it become a tree?”
With his ego pumped up, he began to sarcastically question the sapling– “Tell me, oh little sapling! Do you still dream of becoming a big tree?” Though the poor sapling had no power of speech and therefore could not verbally reply, but, it felt like saying, “Madcap, as far as I am concerned, I have been endowed with blessings of the Gurudev. For sure, I will grow into a big tree. But, why are you curbing the possibilities of your growth and development? While trying to pull out the roots of others, beware, lest your own roots are pulled out!” But, the disciple could neither hear anything, nor he paid any attention. He failed to understand the implications of his actions, and was rather very happy, as if he had won a great contest! The sapling that he had pulled out from the roots stood as a testimonial proof of his victory. Amidst the euphoria of his envisaged victory, he threw the damaged sapling there itself and moved further. The disciple became more and more arrogant as days rolled by. However, despite his worsening attitude, the Master did not ask him to quit the ashram. For, enlightened Masters never give up on their hope of seeing transformation in their disciples. Amidst this hope only, the Gurudev willingly allowed that disciple to continue to stay in the ashram. What an amazing divine grace it was! The Master knew for certain that the disciple did not have noble and respectable feelings towards Him; yet He continued to keep the disciple in His close proximity, and rather gave him 11 rasad from His own food! The disciple was still provided with all other amenities as earlier, and the Master's effort to reform him continued.
After 5-7 years of the incident of uprooting the sapling, one day, Lord Mahavira went with that disciple for a walk. The weather was very hot. Soon the heat of the sun became unbearable, and the disciple became restless. He thought of suggesting the Master to rest for a while under the shade of a tree. But, the Gurudev continued to walk with great speed. Moreover, the disciple was unable to find any tree that could provide proper shade. Suddenly, the Gurudev turned left, towards a road. A giant, shade-giving tree stood there at a distance of about 20-25 steps. The Master walked near the tree and sat under it. What a lush green tree it was, loaded with leaves and fruits! Not even a ray of sunlight could pierce through its thick bunch of leaves! The disciple's eyes fell on the juicy fruits hanging from the branches of that tree. Unable to control his feelings, he asked the Gurudev, “My Lord, I crave to eat the fruits of this tree. Will you also accept them?”
Lord Mahavira did not say anything and remained majestically calm. The disciple thought that perhaps the Lord did not hear his submissions. Hence, he repeated his request again. On this occasion also, the Lord remained silent and did not react. The disciple remained quiet for a while and after some time, once again tried to put forth his desire. But, without looking towards the disciple and staring at the vacant space above, the Master interrupted his submission and said, “I am reminded of a story.”
The Disciple: Which story, Gurudev?
Lord Mahavira: Once a man made an evil attempt to kill an innocent boy. Thinking that the boy was dead, he threw his body on the roadside and went away. But, due to divine grace, the boy was saved. Years rolled by and the boy stepped into his youth. As destiny unfolded, the boy happened to meet the same man who had attempted to kill him. But, the killer was unable to recognise the boy. The ironical design of destiny was such that a situation arose where the potential killer needed the help of that boy. Now, I want you to tell me whether that potential killer deserves to be helped by the boy? Exhibiting his principles, the disciple replied– “Not at all Gurudev! No question of helping such an individual! In fact, in my opinion, that murderer should be given a death sentence right there in the presence of that boy.” The Master listened to the answer and, turning to the disciple, said in an authoritarian voice, “Then, get ready for a death sentence… for, that murderer is none other than you.” On listening to the Master's commanding voice, the disciple was blown out of his wits. He said, “What? I? Buttt... whom have I attempted to murder? Where is that person who is accusing me falsely?”
The Master replied in a bold voice, “You ask me who that individual is? How can you forget it so soon? Make an effort to remember, my son! Look around and try to recognise this place. Perhaps you remember something and become aware of the footprints of your wrong steps.” The disciple was totally confused and, somewhat agitatedly, said– “Gurudev, what do you wish to convey to me? I cannot understand.”
Lord Mahavira: Then raise your head and look towards the tree under whose shade you are sitting…look at each branch of it. Every single leaf, its each and every branch wants to say something to you...
The disciple observed the tree with eyes wide open and felt as if each and every leaf was staring at him and taunting– “Hello! Do you recognise below which tree you are right now taking rest? Recall, I am the same sapling whose roots you pulled out from Mother Earth and threw on the roadside after killing. The same little sapling has grown into a full-fledged tree and you are resting in my shade.” Alas! The disciple stood stunned! He said, “But, I had …how then?”
Lord Mahavira: Yes, you had pulled out that sapling from the roots and had thrown it away. But, do you remember, I had told you that one day the sapling will become a big tree?
The Disciple: But how? How is it possible?
Lord Mahavira: It pains me a lot to see that even after spending such a long time in my association, you are unable to understand that Nature abides by my instructions. It is the dharma of Nature to honour the wishes of its Creator. So, when you threw that sapling on the roadside, the entire Nature came into action to make the forecasted words of its Master come true. Torrential rains followed and the mud that came along with the rain-water covered the sapling. And, thus, the sapling's root once again found the support of Mother Earth. Today, you can see the same sapling standing in front of you in the form of a robust, lofty tree. You are sitting under it, enjoying the shade provided by it and also have a desire to taste its fruits.
Having listened to the Master's words, the disciple felt as if the earth below his feet was sinking deep. He entreated, “Oh my Lord, what have I done? I have literally wasted all these years. While I should have been consuming the nectar of divinity in your company, I preferred to take in the poison of suspicion. I considered the pleasant drops of grace showering on me as acid rain. Alas! I myself killed my growth with my evil doings! I have ruined myself totally.”
The disciple was engulfed in self-hatred, and tears flowed down his eyes. He sat on the ground, with his head sunk in shame. He could not muster courage to raise his eyes and look at the divine countenance of his Gurudev. But, the Master was looking straight at him, with His expressive face conveying to him, “O my son, nothing has gone wrong that cannot be repaired. Begin the process of reformation for once. You have the same place in my heart as you used to have earlier.”
The noble and divine waves of the Gurudev reached the heart of the disciple. He held his Master's feet tightly, and an ardent appeal could be heard from his faltering tongue, “Pardon me Gurudev! Kindly pardon me!”