When Ram Kumar hurried through breakfast and got ready to go out on Sunday, Mandira knew where he would be going. Nevertheless she asked, “Shivam and Shivangi have a lot of homework. Projects and FA assignments. They need help.”
“You help them; I have duty at Bhagwan’s gate.”
Bhagwan was a godman who gave darsan every weekend to devotees. Thousands of devotees would come seeking the godman’s blessings. They would squat on the ground in an enormous hall and listen to Bhagwan’s speech. And then they would render some voluntary service like cleaning up, cooking or serving the meals to the devotees or doing the dishes. Ram Kumar always opted to render his services at the gate. Frisking the devotees to make sure that they were not carrying any mobile phones or cameras or intoxicants. The job gave him a strange sense of power. “Jai Bhagwan!” he returned the greeting of each devotee with due solemnity.
I have so much work to do, mumbled Mandira to herself. Cooking, washing the clothes, cleaning the house… and then help children with their endless projects and assignments. Why does he think that voluntary service at Bhagwan’s ashram is holier than service to one’s wife and children?
“Prajapati had three kinds of children,” Bhagwan began his sermon. “Gods, men and demons. They all lived with their father Prajapati as students of sacred knowledge. Having completed their studies, they asked for the final message. And Prajapati said, ‘Da’.” Da was Prajapati’s answer to all the three, gods, men and demons. And what did they understand?”
After a dramatic pause, Bhagwan continued. “Da meant damyata to the gods. Self-control is what the gods learnt. Datta, generosity, is what the men understood. And the demons took Da to mean dayadhvam, compassion. The gods and the demons are all within ourselves.” Bhagwan went on teach the importance of self-control, generosity and compassion in the life of every devotee.
“Why the hell do teachers give so much work to children?” fulminated Mandira when Shivam and Shivangi pestered her with questions like why there more white elephants in Thailand than in India or whether Australia would appear in the East or West to a person standing on the moon and looking at the earth.
Since all the devotees were already seated, Ram Kumar sat down with the other volunteers at the gate and discussed why Mr Narendra Modi chose to visit Bhutan first. The discussion slipped to the need to remove all the Congress-appointed governors from the various states. Since their knowledge of the issues could not outlast Bhagwan’s speech on the education of Prajapati’s offspring, the discussion came home and revolved on the latest acquisitions by their neighbours in the respective colonies or colleagues in the respective workplaces.
It was then that Ram Kumar’s eyes wandered into the enormous hall where the devotees sat listening to the merits of self-control, generosity and compassion. One boy was trying to capture the picture of Bhagwan on his mobile phone. How did the boy enter the gate with a mobile phone in the first place, wondered Ram Kumar. Serious lapse of security. He rushed and brought the boy red handed to the gate.
They showered a volley of questions on the boy while Bhagwan continued his holy sermon blissfully. They threatened to beat the hell out of him if he didn’t speak the truth. They thought of calling the police and gave up since that would draw unnecessary attention of the media.
“My mother wanted to see Bhagwan,” the boy had explained. She could never attend the sermons since she was always busy at home.
“How can anyone receive Bhagwan’s darsan on a stupid phone?” The devout gate keepers were scandalised. The matter was too theological to be solved at their level. They decided to take it to the Core Committee in the evening.
As the boy stood like a condemned criminal, Ram Kumar felt a surge of power rising in his soul.