Please click here for part twenty-two

The road to Yajna Shala

On the second day of the Durga Puja, I noticed many small pointy pebbles on the road when I was walking down to the Yajna Shala. If you try to avoid them, walking is a bit challenging. Plus, the road was curvy and windy; the construction added more dirt and tiny pebbles scattered all over the road. To make it more difficult, water from the construction area would create mud. Very thoughtfully, Guruji and Ashram arranged car transportation to Yajna Shala for the elderly and whoever needed a ride. Everything was perfectly planned so that no devotee would face any inconvenience.

But then, I am thinking, what about my Guruji? He is walking on this same road every day for us. When he returns after Yajna, dark then, he doesn’t take the car ride. Wouldn’t this dust bother/trigger his asthma? These pebbles must be hurting him with every step he takes. He walks very fast, so I am sure he is not taking his sweet time to avoid stepping on every pebble, mud, or dirt. The pointy pebbles hurt, and smooth pebbles make you slip your step. Every devotee here always bows to their feet with immense gratitude. At the temple where he walks, we lay down the most comfortable and fluffy carpet for him to walk on. Everyone ensures that his delicate feet get no harm at the temple visit. But then, here? Why not here? He must be feeling discomfort; pebbles must be hurting his soft, gentle feet. That thought made me so sad, and tears started rushing down. My heart was in enormous pain. How did I not notice it yesterday? It must have hurt him yesterday when he came down, and when he left, it will hurt him today too. Now, I couldn’t hold my tears anymore.

Please pick it up! Could you collect them all?

The next day morning, when Ria Ji asked me where I was heading out to, I told her my plan. I was planning to pick all the pebbles on that road. She loved the idea and said she would like to join too. She couldn’t bear the thought of Guruji’s discomfort either.

That morning, we started picking all the sharp and smooth pebbles. In less than two-three hours, we could only finish one patch of the road. We were facing the sun directly, and Mr. Sun showed no mercy. We were sweating; we were thirsty and so hungry. We realized we needed a better plan. That evening, I asked Kirti Ji if we could get brooms, so it would be faster and easier for us to finish the work. Picking up every pebble took time; if we could use the broom, it would be faster. She assured us that there were hired workers to clean the road, and we didn’t have to do it, but she understood our love and devotion towards Guruji and agreed to give us the two brooms the following day. Gunngun Ji said she would join us in the morning as well. Our trio was ready now!

Please note that all three of us never did any hard work. I had never held any broom in my for that long in my hand before. I knew how to use it, as I had watched it in movies and seen our cleaning lady using it when I was at Pune home. Here in Dallas, I don’t have a broom. I have a lady who vacuums our house and keeps it clean. I have people who support our garden and lawn looking perfect. I don’t work in the Sun. Same story with Ria Ji and Gunngun Ji. But as everyone knows, love makes you do crazy things, and our love for Guruji was good enough for us to take the broom into our hands.

Now we had Gunngun Ji with us, plus we got two awesome brooms to help us make the road more than perfect. This time we thought we were more brilliant and decided not to face the sun (realization comes after enough sweat and pain!). Plus, we changed our time, and now we went right after aarti (around 7:30 am), so it was not too bright, not hot (smartness comes along with the realization!). After diligent work, we all agreed that the road looked very clean and had fewer pebbles on the road. Still, to our surprise, we didn’t finish the entire stretch as planned. We decided to come back again tomorrow. One thing was sure, at night, my tired body would fall asleep in a second, till now it was unaware of the complex works in this world. My hard bodywork was limited to the gym.

That evening, when I was heading down towards the Yajna Shala, I saw loads of water resting in a puddle on the road, which we worked hard with so much love. That patch on the street was muddy and dusty and laughing at me. Now Guruji has to go through the dirty spot, full of dust (but no pebbles). All that work for nothing? It wasn’t a perfect road for him to walk on.

I understand we were like those little squirrels, helping lord Rama build the bridge, but even one less pebble under our Guruji’s soft feet is worth working on the road.

Gunngun ji had a family emergency, so that she couldn’t make it the next day, but Ria and I didn’t give up and were ready again the next morning with our brooms.

This time, we started from the bottom, and it went well. Many devotees would see us, greet us, and would go off. None showed any interest in our activity, so it worked out well. I remember that day my broom fell apart. I didn’t know how to fix it, and Ria Ji couldn’t do it either. I got so sad, but precisely that same time, one of the devotees just came to us and started talking. Very generously, he helped us fix my broom. He praised us for our devotion to Guruji. For me, Sri Hari Ji sent me help; he is aware of short comes. I don’t even know this kind of helpful devotee’s name, but I thanked him from the bottom of my heart. Some others were curious and asked us why we bothered to do this work; some gave us valuable free advice, how we could do it better, etc.

Why bother?

One comment was interesting. One devotee said, “Om Swami Ji has lived in harsh weather situations in the Himalayas and walked on many difficult roads; this is nothing for him. These pebbles won’t give him pain”. I smiled and said, “It makes us happy; that’s why we are doing it.” Ria Ji was a bit upset and didn’t appreciate his comments. I love my Ria Ji, my baby girl in her early 20s; her heart is full of pure love and devotion for Guruji. She truly knows what surrender is.

My thought was simple; it didn’t matter how difficult roads Guruji had walked on prior; I wasn’t there that time with him. But now I am here; I will pick every pebble to offer him comfort. If I vacuum and make the carpet fluffier and softer in the temple, why can’t I make this walkway comfortable for him? Those same feet I bow to kiss with love and devotion shouldn’t go through harmful pebbles to come to Yadnya shala to meet all of us every day. Wasn’t he walking on that road to perform Yajna for us? And just because he stepped on harsh roads before doesn’t mean he should walk on them now. Some devotees show their love by cheering his name and shouting, “We love you, Swami Ji.” We preferred to show it by picking up little pebbles to make his walk comfortable. I believe in guruji’s words “Compassion is not a favor; it’s my duty.”

Please click here for part twenty-four.