Maniklal Pyarelal’s irritation had mounted day by day until it reached a crescendo and metamorphosed into indignation. The cause of the fury was his young wife Chandramati’s refusal to be happy in the opulence of her husband’s house.
“What is it that you lack here?” Maniklal Pyarelal questioned her. “Tell me one thing you lack here and it will reach here in seconds.” A fleet of cars waited outside ready to bring anything from anywhere at the order of the master.
It was not lack of anything that caused Chandramati’s mounting melancholy; it was surfeit. There was too much of everything: food and clothes, servants and entertainments. She longed to lack something. She longed to long for something.
Maniklal Pyarelal, entrepreneur and industrialist, beacon of India’s rising economy, the man who could forge or topple the government at the centre, could not understand his wife’s longing for longing. He thought it was a kind of insanity that only the spiritual gurus could handle. Thus it was that His Excellency Harshananda Baba made his holy presence in the Lal Mahal.
The Baba looked into the eyes of the young woman. He saw a deep spiritual longing in them. It was the kind of longing that worldly possessions and positions could not satisfy. It was the kind of longing that only a divine intervention could satiate. Her eyes were like a bottomless pond of clear water. The Baba longed to be a swan swimming in the mystery of the longing. Each time the Baba met Chandramati to offer her the blessings of his spiritual gifts, the swan in the Baba’s heart fluttered its wings more and more vigorously. The pool was getting less and less clear as the Baba looked into it more and more deeply.
Days passed. Chandramati’s melancholy did not pass. The swan in the Baba’s heart had crossed the Rubicon that separates the mundane from the mystical.
He arranged a private rendezvous with his melancholy disciple in a private place far away from both her residence and his ashram.
Chandramati came to the farm house in the rural backyard of the city in obedience to the Baba’s commandment. The Baba was waiting for her. An expensive western suit complete with the necktie had replaced his saffron robe and shawl. Two flight tickets to Amsterdam lay on the table.
The very sight of Chandramati made the swan in the Baba’s heart dip its head into the waters in shame. She came wearing the saffron robe of a nun. She wanted to join the Baba’s ashram. As a nun who forsook the pleasures of the world.
The Baba felt something burning in his heart. The flame had the shape of an amorphous longing.