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Humility

Ma Gurupriya

05 January 2022

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Maharaj Ji kept quiet for a while and then spoke in Hindi very softly with a distinct note of suffering: “Vidya (knowledge) should grace one with humility. Mahādev, did you not speak to him with enough humility?”

Those days, Swami Harihar Tirtha Maharaj Ji used to sit in the satsang hall of his kutiya three times a day for giving darshan. Devotees – some local and some from outside – used to come and go, but we would be constantly sitting there as long as the hall remained open. The mind had no other craving except to be in the blissful and enlightening company of Maharaj Ji, to listen to his words, observe his behaviour with different devotees and learn many a subtle lesson of purity and wisdom.

We had heard that Maharaj Ji, apart from being Vedantic wisdom personified, was a great Sanskrit scholar and a storehouse of scriptural knowledge. We saw many brahmachārins coming to him for learning Sanskrit grammar. How painstaking and ever-ready he was in teaching these brahmachārins! He used to make tireless efforts to make them learn the lessons properly and with correct Sanskrit pronunciation; yet, he would never get irritated and was never harsh or unkind to the students.

Two kinds of brahmachārins we saw there. One, shaven-headed with a shikha (a tuft of hair at the back) wearing white clothes. They were free to go back home and marry after completing their studies. The second kind, with shikha but wearing gerua (ochre clothes), was called naishthikas; they were supposed to take up sannyāsa directly from brahmacharya. Looking at these young brahmachārins, I used to wonder what had made these boys leave home at such an early age? What had been the driving force behind? In our country, how many generations must have fostered spiritual thoughts, values and ideals at heart before the society could bequeath such widespread spiritual heredity and compulsion!

Maharaj Ji had a loving way of addressing and referring to everybody – humans as well as animals – as ‘Mahādev’. It was most nourishing to watch how sweetly and affectionately he used to suggest corrections, in lessons as well as behaviour, to the brahmachārins, addressing them as ‘Mahādev’.

One day, during the early morning darshan, a brahmachārin came and prostrated at his feet. Apparently, he was one of the most intelligent students learning Sanskrit from Maharaj Ji. The brahmachārin mentioned that he had been listening to the Ramayana Katha of the famous exponent, held in the Ashram premises. Maharaj Ji asked about the welfare of the exponent and then wanted to know how the discourse was.

The brahmachārin replied: “He narrates well, no doubt, but his knowledge of Sanskrit is poor. I have advised him to learn Sanskrit keeping a pundit.” Obviously, there was lack of humility in the brahmachārin’s voice. Maharaj Ji kept quiet for a while and then spoke in Hindi very softly with a distinct note of suffering:

आप के वचन से उन्हें चोट तो नहीं पहुँची ?
Āp ke vachan se unhen chot to nahin pahuncī?

“I hope he was not hurt by your words!”

Vidya (knowledge) should grace one with humility. Mahādev, did you not speak to him with enough humility?”

The tone was neither critical nor admonishing. It was a sweet and touching expression of deep concern and suffering.

Not only to the brahmachārins, to the other devotees also, he used to suggest corrections in a very loving but detached manner, without any trace of criticism, blame, annoyance or displeasure. The tone of all his statements, remarks and observations was as if he was addressing himself, musing over the situations. There was no assertiveness, but enough of clarity and corrections for a keen seeker to imbibe.

– From the book-“In the Company of My Lord”

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“The tone was neither critical nor admonishing. It was a sweet and touching expression of deep concern and suffering. ”

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