“I’ve come all the way just to see you,” the man said.

“All the way” was significant because, at the time, I was parked at Rudranath. At an altitude of circa 12,000 ft, he had come to this sacred spot after an arduous trek of 24 kilometers from Gopeshwar (5,000 ft). I had been here to do my sadhana in complete solitude for forty days. It was not to be, however, because people hear about you, they find you and they want to see you. Whether my door was closed or open, it wouldn’t matter and someone or the other would knock on it everyday. Today, though, this man came with two other people at a time when I had just finished my morning meditation. At Rudranath, my morning session of meditation was a straight stretch of nine hours starting at 3 am and finishing at midday. 

“I’ve heard a lot about you, Maharaj ji,” he said to me. “I own a hotel in Gopeshwar. Thousands of sadhus pass through our town every year but it is the first time that I have trekked all the way here to take darshan of a sadhu. I couldn’t resist after hearing about you and it’s only due to the blessings of saints that I am where I am today.”

I just smiled and internally I was not in the best frame of mind to see anyone. I had gone to Rudranath in Aug 2011 with a very specific purpose. After the intense sadhana in the preceding 12 months, I was training my mind now to absorb the incessant bliss of samadhi and yet be able to function in the normal world. I have never been drunk or drugged so I can’t perhaps give you any analogy. But imagine consuming a lot of medication, say anti-allergy (the only kind I’ve experienced) that makes you extremely drowsy and then having to thread a thousand needles after that. Now, multiply the challenge with a large number. This was my state.

“They say you don’t accept any donation,” he said, “but please accept this humble offering from me. I’ve carried it this far from Gopeshwar.” And he took out a bag of fruits, two packets of milk, paneer, some money and put it in front of me. I thanked him profusely and urged him to either take them back as blessings or offer them at the temple instead. 

Since the door to my shack, if not shanty, was open, two more pilgrims came and sat there and the man continued talking. Nothing about his words or chatter I found interesting other than his firm conviction that whatever he had to say was worth everyone’s time. As it turned out, he did have a beautiful story. So much so that in my 40 days there, some 100+ people paid me a visit. I only remember four. He’s one of them.

“So, Maharaj ji,” he said, “I was telling you that it is only with the blessings of you saints that I am doing well in my life today.” And he went onto narrate the following:

“Nearly 25 years ago when I was a young man, a friend of mine in the department of tourism told me about a block of land that was coming up for a 99-year lease. The land was going to be offered at a very nominal rate with the understanding that the lessee would build a hotel to promote tourism. My father-in-law and my father lent me the money for the deposit and I borrowed the rest from the bank. I was only 23 years old with zero savings. The bank also approved a loan for building the hotel on the condition that the construction was to start within three months from the date of approval of the lease. I got the lease approval without a hitch. All this was great, but there was one major problem.

“Call me young and stupid or simply overconfident, I chose to ignore the fact that a giant rock, almost a rocky hillock, was blocking the entrance of the land for the hotel. It was the reason that no experienced hotelier or builder even bid for that site and it ended up with me. I’d naively assumed that I would get the rock blasted and cleaned in a jiffy. When the time came, however, I was denied permission for blasting because the building of the municipal corporation was joined at the hip. I even tried to see if I could do it unofficially, but I was told that anyone who undertook the job would go to jail, including me. 

“One day completely distraught, I was sitting at a tea stall with my head hung low when a wandering sadhu asked me if I was worried about something and why I looked so down. I tried to shrug him off but when he persisted, I shared my ordeal with him. ‘That’s all?’ he said. ‘Don’t worry, you will meet someone within the next five days who will solve it for you.’ I fell at his feet right there, he blessed me and went his way.

“And you won’t believe, Maharaj ji, barely half an hour later, a Nepalese man, who was a porter, came to me and asked the same question. Upon hearing what I’d been going through, he told me that I was stressing over a non-issue and that he could break the rock for me. I asked him to not joke with me about this sensitive issue but he insisted that he was serious and so I showed him the site.

“He took one look at the hillock and guaranteed that in a matter of days, he could get the job done without using any explosive provided it did not rain. I couldn’t believe my ears. ‘Just get me as many used car and truck tires as you can, he said to me. ‘And source three water tankers from the municipal corporation and keep them on standby. Also get me two large cans of kerosene oil and at least seventy-five sheets of tin to cover the rocks. Meanwhile, I will fetch some men to give me a hand.’

“So, Maharaj ji, for the next three days, they dug around and beneath the rock and laid hundreds of used tires there. They covered the entire hillock with tin. Sprinkling the kerosene on the tires, they set them to fire. ‘Go home and sleep in peace,’ the Nepalese man said to me. ‘Come back tomorrow morning at 3 to see the magic show.’ For a moment, I did worry what if his method failed. I would have made a fool of myself. Not to mention wasting my parents’ and in-laws’ money. 

“The next day, in the wee hours of the morning, he came with his men wearing jute garments, masks and heavy jute gloves, and they started taking the tin-sheets off the rocky mound at an astonishing pace while the tires were still smoldering underneath the hillock. You could feel the rock radiating heat from several meters away. Without wasting a moment, they hosed down the giant rock with water from the tankers. Right in front of my eyes, Maharaj ji, the hillock first cracked in many places and then split open at four or five different points. What a sight it was. 

“They took the next few days breaking the smaller ones and cleaned the site like a rock never even existed there. You know how ants demolish and devour a nugget of jaggery, they did the same to that hillock. The Nepalese man was brilliant and his team just as competent. The stones from the breakage were enough to fill the foundation of the entire hotel. Since that day, Maharaj ji, I’ve always tried to seek blessings from holy men.”

I thought the story carried a beautiful message. For, so it is in knocking the curveballs life flings at you out of the park. All you need is the right person to step in at the right time. One specialist with the right view can make all the difference. Some of that, on certain occasions, becomes possible wholly by a serendipitous stroke of luck (or pure randomness). And other times, we just have to grind and toil and not give up. Even the advent of luck in any endeavor is often made possible because you choose to persist and not quit. Great things happen then. Most of all, you gain a new perspective.

It didn’t matter to the wandering sadhu what other builders saw as an impossible obstacle through the lens of experience. The sadhu’s conviction was independent of the challenge at hand, he wasn’t even looking at any specific problem. He just had faith in the wisdom of the Universe, he must have felt that the distressed young man’s problem would meet its right solution. The nitty gritty of the challenge was immaterial as far as he was concerned.

If the young man didn’t have the naivety that he did, he would have sat out like the other seasoned builders. A lack of experience was exactly what was required to have the perspective that he did. The Nepalese man, on the other hand, was a specialist who looked at the rocky hillock and figured it was a no-brainer. Only because of his experience. Where knowledge was a hurdle for one person, it was an aid for another. An artisan might have carved out a magnificent sculpture from the same rock. It boils down to what we know versus what we don’t. And sometimes, if not often, what we don’t know is exactly what’s required to make a giant leap. As Einstein said, “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there will be no hope for it.”

All is possible for the naive who doesn’t give up. After all, who knows when on your journey a wise man might come along who will take one look at the hillock and say, “It’s not a problem.” To be afraid of the absurdities of life or the irrationality of a preposterous idea is to deprive yourself of the priceless treasure of self-discovery. 

For, it’s only in walking the unknown that we know more about ourselves.

Keep walking.



There were four members in a household. Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. A bill was overdue. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it.
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