It was a working day. Even so the crowd at the camp was not thin.
Right then, a swanking new car sailed in. From it emerged a couple whose prosperity was so apparent despite their best efforts to appear ordinary and appropriate for the occasion.
The man in spotlessly white clothes and the lady carrying in her hand a small bagful of fruits and flowers, were readily ushered in to the Aacharya’s presence by a sishya.
For a moment, they were awestruck by the Aacharya’s radiance. As they bowed down, the sishya introduced him as a prominent merchant in the town operating a chain of stores selling saree’s. Now he was planning to set up hand and automatic looms to make his own branded products.
Thereupon the lady without a fuss quickly laid the fruits and flowers on a plate and the man, a thick envelope, offering it to the Aacharya. And the couple stepped back and did saashtanga namaskaram’s (prostrated in obeisance).
The sishya opened the envelope. Announcing ‘a check for Rs 50,000/ he dropped it into a sealed box kept for the purpose – the practice of making the contribution public was followed to avoid any unsavory imputation by anyone.
The Aachaarya, advanced in age, sat erect ignoring his mild indisposition and blessed them with akshathai’s (rice grains mingled in turmeric paste sprinkled on devotees). He called the man near and made solicitous inquiries at length about the family, his poorvaja’s (who were his forefathers, where did they hail from…) and his business, and wished them both well. Along with a few words of wisdom and advice, he said he would pray for their continued happiness, health and success of their business.
Finally the couple took leave much pleased with the special attention and grace bestowed on them by the Aacharya.
Thereafter there was a steady stream of devotees with humble offerings – they too received the kind Aacharya’s blessings and were offered fruits as prasadam’s. But none was spoken to like it was with the merchant couple.
At a point, the sishya could see the Aacharya had tired out. He brought the session to a close and helped the Aacharya retire to his place – a small room with a cot.
On the way, the Aacharya making an effort said to the sishya: ‘You don’t look your usual self – something on your mind?’
The sishya shook his head in polite negation.
‘I can read it – you’re bothered by my attention to the rich merchant couple? I’ve been observing you since morning.’
The sishya looked on silently averting the eyes of his Aacharya.
Lying down slowly on his rope cot, the Aacharya continued: ‘Yes, Rs 50,000 is a generous contribution. While neither you nor I, sanyasi’s (renounced normal worldly life), are interested personally, it’s certainly a happy situation to be in – you probably saw me perking up on hearing it – gives us, as instruments of the almighty, a little more elbow-room in helping the needy. Needless to tell you money to us per se is like dew drops on a lotus leaf, ready to be rolled off any moment.’
‘Now, coming to the part of my praying for their well-being – this probably bothers you the most…’ the Aacharya paused to catch his breath: ‘He’s probably employing a hundred or more employees in his stores. And is likely to employ more in his new venture, especially the poor weavers rendered redundant by machines. His success means livelihood to so many of these people. When I pray for his success as promised, actually I pray for the well-being of a hundred and more of his employees. I’m sure you’ve no problems with that…’
Turning on his side, away from the sishya, he muffled a weak yawn: ‘Also, perhaps, you did not hear me advising him to treat his employees fairly and generally be charitable with his wealth…I could’ve done more with them, you thought…or, may be less?’
Silence…punctuated only by his labored breathing.
It was clear there wasn’t much more to be said. The sishya stepped out noiselessly closing the door behind him.
Source: A snap from TheHindu.com of the venerable late 45th Azhagiyasingar of Ahobila Mutt used here as a real-life Aacharya’s and is in no other way linked to the post.