Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Rag Picker - The Teacher

by Sri P.C. Lahiri

A few days back, on my way back home on foot after leaving my vehicle for servicing, I was struck by the highly joyful demeanor of a rag picker sitting under a tree with his huge HDPE yellow bag next to him on the dirty pavement of a very busy main road.  He was enjoying and seemed to be gleefully soaking in the all around cacophony, smoke and flying dust with a smiling face. The childlike innocence that he exuded was captivating and pulled me like a powerful magnet.  I was observing him from a distance till I reached in front of him and stopped.

He looked up curiously, saw me smiling at him, smiled back and waved me to sit next to him. Like a robot, in a flash I was on the ground seated next to him, simply allured by the purity of his smile. In one breath, in full throttle, he blurted a lot out in a language that was Greek to me. Since I do not know the local language, I got up to request those passing by to help me converse with the rag picker.  One good and helpful Samaritan agreed to be the interpreter, more out of sheer curiosity (I think) than anything else.

“I am relaxing and enjoying every moment here.  Have been rag picking since sunrise.  Police get after us if we earn our livelihood at night.  Night time earning of livelihood is their prerogative and you know who the others are”, said the rag picker smilingly.  It was not a snide remark, nor did it have any remorse attached to it.  It was plain fun blurted with a hearty laugh. Given his circumstances, how can this man be so joyful and playful?  I asked this question to myself. Bang came Master’s utterances in my mind that love and joy know no bounds and do not require a reason to explode; even the tiny ants are driven by ananda (bliss) in them. The simpler and uncluttered the mind, the more is the revelation of joy in it, irrespective of all other so called highly uncomfortable and demanding circumstances.  I continued with my probe; replies came pouring out spontaneously to the extent that the interpreter had to ask him to go slow.

“I am used to working from sunrise to sunset on a daily basis.  Yes, I do get tired.  Then I take rest like I am doing now.  On returning home, I give the day’s collection to my mother.  Father is an alcoholic.  I have two brothers, one older and the other younger to me.  The younger one is very interested in school and studies.  We are trying our best to see that he gets educated.  Yes, when he needs books, we reduce our expenses including those on food to buy him books.  Lot of resistance comes from father but mother handles him.  He sometimes tries to beat us for money but mother helps.  My mother takes care of the house and deals with the buyers.  She is great.  Elder brother is a rag picker in a different area.”

All these statements came out from him as if he was narrating a story. I found neither hatred nor malice towards his father in either his eyes or in his body language.  It seemed that life was fun for him.  Such flowing joy under the most challenging circumstances every minute of the day, was simply captivating.  How is this possible?  My ever curious, so-called educated mind was unable to accept the revelation of Sadguru/Divine Mother in and through him in the form of reasonless ananda.  Master said that in the exuberance of joy, Saccidanandamoyee Maa plays this world game of ‘sportful dramatic sameside game of Self-Consciousness’.  The worst expression as also the best is the same Divine Mother in this universe.  I had heard this statement in one form or the other so many times from Sadguru, but still cannot accept it in totality.  A prayer went out from within—“oh Lord, oh Sadguru, please bestow on me the light to see and experience your presence in each and everything in this universe.  You are self-revealing, self-perfect, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.  Please reveal Yourself through this body instrument.”  I am ashamed to call him a rag picker; he is Mr. Joy.

“Yes, we have a lot of competition.  We have to always struggle to be the first at a place for picking worthwhile goods. I try to avoid fights as much as possible.  I travel a lot to go to remote areas and places in search of goods.  I always try to find the best time to reach a place to get the first pick.  Sir, to tell you the truth I have been tempted and still get tempted to steal.  Many in my profession do, but I have never been happy after stealing. So I don’t steal any more. God is kind and helps me.  Why should I steal?  I do not know any other work.  Hence, I try to do this to the best of my ability.”

There was so much honesty and integrity in all that he expressed. He was doing to the best of his ability whatever he knew or was taught. Sadguru revealed the Supreme ‘Science of Oneness’ to us, beyond which there is no knowledge.  Have I tried to live in that or practice that in day-to-day life to the best of my ability, despite being under much better circumstances than Mr. Joy?  Can I say with the same honesty that I have tried?  No, definitely not.

“I fully rely on my mother. So I do not keep any track of how much money I earn.  I also do not know how much my elder brother brings in.  We are all together and live happily.  I am fine.  I do not have to marry.  If mother insists sometime, I will see.  I am about 27, my mom says so. Yes, my friends are mostly married.  I rarely fall sick.  I do not smoke or drink.  Almost every day someone or the other gives me food. I do go without food on some days, but have always got food from mother on return home.  I have to go now sir.”

He waved and humming some song danced away.  I kept on watching him till he was out of sight. He not only left an indelible mark, but inspired me no end.  Any time lethargy tries to overpower me, his face appears and I am charged.  Any time I get swayed to while away some time, his face appears and I get the courage and strength to extricate myself from the pitfall. If owing to work or some other reason a meal is delayed or missed, it no longer bothers me as soon as I think of him.  Any adversity of whatever intensity has no longer any affectivity. Sadguru Vani has become far more meaningful to me.  The world is becoming better and better with each passing day.

When, how and in what form will Sadguru appear, we do not know.  How through live demonstration our needs shall get fulfilled, we do not know.  Nor do we have to know - for as long as all our prayers, thoughts and actions are as intense and sincere as we possibly can make them to be (as is the case with Mr. Joy), we have nothing to worry.

Submitted at the lotus feet of Sadguru.      

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