I am serialising my novel, Black Hole, from today. The novel is divided into parts with different titles. The Original Sin is the title of Part 1.
I The Original Sin
The steel magnate looked contented and relieved as he sat in the opulently furnished visiting room of Nityananda Baba. He had turned eighty that day and the ailments that the hectic schedule of an affluent corporate leader imposed on his wiry body demanded with some understandable urgency a last will and testament.
Kailash Public School was one of the two schools that Sitaram Rana established simultaneously as soon as his steel industry had started earning dollars after the tentacles of the License Raj were chopped by the liberalisation of the Indian economy. An exclusive residential school for boys, read the appendage on the enormous nameplate affixed to the sky-blue wall of the school. A stickler for perfection and symmetry, Sitaram Rana was tormented by a mysterious restlessness until he deciphered the tremulous voice of his agitated conscience urging him to establish a similar exclusive school for girls too. The voice of his conscience soon took material shape in his own home state of Haryana. Saraswati Public School, an exclusive residential school for girls, lay sprawled on what was the classical battlefield of the Kurukshetra War.
Sitaramji, as he liked to be called by anyone from the Prime Minister to the humble sweeper, was proud of the two temples of wisdom that he had established with the noble goal of moulding young minds into paragons of virtues. Never had he imagined even in the weirdest of his most sublime anxieties that Kailash would become his Kurukshetra.
Vinashaya Cha Dushkritam
Vinashaya Cha Dushkritam
Sitaramji was reciting his favourite verses from the most sacred Gita as Nityananda Baba came robed in his milky white loose kurta-pyjama and sat down on the sofa nearest to his beloved devotee. A weary smile played on the thin lips of the Baba.
“Has the time come for me to incarnate as the annihilator of evil?” asked the Baba.
“Yes, indeed,” said Sitaramji with characteristic self-assurance. “I’m donating Kailash to you entirely. No conditions attached. Do whatever you wish with it.”
“Finally.” The Baba’s response was more terse than Sitaramji had expected.
“I have tried my best to retain it as a school. And failed.” The agony of his soul appeared as manifold wrinkles on his broad forehead. Failure was something that he was never used to.
“I understand,” the Baba commiserated.
“Perhaps, you don’t understand what this means to me. I’m parting with a portion of my soul.”
“Amputation becomes necessary at times.”
“It won’t be an easy surgery,” Sitaramji continued the metaphor suggested by the Baba. “Shutting down a school in Delhi is next to impossible. Moreover, there are some veterans on the staff. A whole bunch of immoral louts who are a disgrace to the noblest profession espoused by our ancient acharyas.”
“We will handle the surgery with all the care it requires,” assured the Baba. “It won’t be quick. Give me two years. In the place of Kailash will rise an elegant complex of buildings meant for my devotees, especially the foreigners.”
The Baba had been asking Sitaramji for years to sell him the twenty acres on which the school stood. He had offered to pay whatever Sitaramji wanted. Money was never a problem for the Devlok Ashram Trust. In the heart of his heart the Baba knew that Sitaramji would not accept any money from him. He was too devoted to the Baba for that. Every genuine devotee is blessed with generosity to a fault. Genuine devotion is like the ocean. An endless flow. It touches infinity. The Baba used to repeat his views on devotion in every sermon he delivered at the monthly conventions of his devotees. Thousands of devotees flowed to the conventions from near and far. They came flowing, one vehicle following another, vehicles of all types and shapes carrying the rich and the poor, souls hungry for salvation. The Baba fed them with eternal wisdom.
In the case of Sitaramji, it was not merely devotion. He was closely associated with the ashram. His father was a founding member of Devlok.