Sometimes my pen will not move at all. My pen and my thoughts often experience paralysis together, especially when I have had a run with U.G. What else can you expect when you return day after day for eight continuous years to spend your leisure time with a person who makes it clear that he does not give two hoots about you! It makes me question my noble intentions. It hurts my feelings not just in relation to U.G., but affects all my other relationships as well.
I have tried to wean myself away from his company. But it is
difficult. Sometimes when I am licking my own wounds and
thinking of putting some distance between myself and U.G. my
daughter would get sad for not seeing him for a few days. She
would not sing and would go around with a long face, not laughing
at any of the jokes which usually do not fail to amuse her. I
would invariably give in and ring U.G. if only to see a smile
return to my child's face. He is more in my thoughts when I am
trying to break away than when I just let it take its own course.
It is when I am most enjoying his company that he chooses to
impress upon me the uselessness and hopelessness of it all. The
truth of what he says simply cannot be denied, at least by me, no
matter how difficult it is to swallow. I must say there is
something about him which sets him apart from others and makes
him absolutely unique.
Sometimes his actions spoke louder than any words. For example, once Narayan Rao arrived for a visit. He and U.G. ascended the stairs to his `office' and I remained behind for a few minutes doing some quick chores. After a few minutes I decided to join them, and, as I reached the top of the stairs I found them both almost on their knees making funny gestures. I thought that perhaps they were searching for something, but soon realized what was going on. U.G. was doing his best to stop the pious old man from touching his feet. He said, "No, don't do that, Sir. Not only to me but to anyone else either. No one is worth that, believe me. How can I convince you that there is no power outside of you? I never touched anybody's feet, not even my own."
To no avail. Narayan Rao was convinced that U.G. was definitely more evolved, and as he didn't want anything from anybody, he was a legitimate object of worship. They then commenced their mutual praises, and mutual denial of the other's praises. The old man insisted that U.G. was a sthitaprajna, but U.G. exclaimed, "A sthitaprajna! I am more worldly and practical than anybody else. How can you call me a sthitaprajna?"
Narayan Rao then asked, "How is it that you have so much energy?"
"I have more energy because I am not wasting any of my energy trying to become something."
Later that day U.G. noticed that his Dutch friend Henk had not been around for a few days. He said he wanted to visit Henk's hotel to see if Henk's corpse might be lying there somewhere unclaimed and unidentified. When he arrived at the hotel he asked for Mr. Shoenville and was told that no such person was staying with them. He tried the name Henk, with the same result. The he said `European' and was immediately directed to Room Number Three. All this was narrated to Henk in detail in an attempt to convince him that he was known and popular at the hotel.
Henk said he was suffering from a headache. U.G. said that
he need not entertain any ideas that the pain was related to
enlightenment or higher states of consciousness, that his
headache was most likely related to indigestion or some such
problem. Satisfied that Henk was alive and kicking and in no
serious danger, U.G. wandered back to Poornakuti looking dazed.
When he arrived home and related all this to us, he added that he
had also found Henk's room was full of young Indian boys who had
assumed that he was a heroin dealer, if not worse. We all chose
to take this last bit of information with a very large grain of
Late in the afternoon Nagaraj felt quite hungry, and said
that we should all eat something to keep body and soul together.
U.G. pointed to his heel and said that it was the only `sole',
and that the other soul, if there was one, was fed to the point
of indigestion by all those holy men and so-called messiahs.
It was very early and my fingers dialed U.G.'s number without any help from the eyes. Suguna answered, and, from the sound of her voice I could tell she was suffering from one of her migraine headaches. U.G. came on the line and said, "Madam, your presence is in great demand." I remained unmoved, refusing to feel even the slightest feeling of elation. He is often overly kind with his generous words. He wanted me to hire a car and be at his door by 9:30. I protested that I hardly had time to make that distance. I told him that I sometimes wished that I was a man so I could be more independent and get around in public easier. U.G. responded, "Women are more independent than men, they just don't know how to exercise their independence. Come on, step on it, and make it snappy. You can make it in time. Nothing is impossible."
Happily, I did make it on time. U.G. took the seat next to the driver, and Adri and I ensconced ourselves in the rear seat. We sped along the broad roads of Basavannagudi. There was some mix-up about the address of our destination. U.G. took out a slip of paper with the address written on it. He read it aloud, then tore it up. He added that now that the address was stored in the "computer" it would remain there forever. We found Nagaraj and his brother waiting for us in front of the house and transported them to their newly-constructed house.
His family was quite pleased to receive us, and prepared some delicious idlis, chutney, and coffee. As Suguna was not well we all agreed that this repast would have to be our meal of the day. We all then marched dutifully from room to room, admiring the new rooms. U.G. was most interested and attentive to all the details of the construction, all the while giving helpful suggestions to Nagaraj about how best to utilize the available space.
Soon we were all back in the car headed to Brahmachariji's place. Brahmachariji had just arrived home in his own car and seemed very surprised and pleased that U.G. had come with such a large, agreeable crowd. He was more than hospitable, and in quite high spirits, as was usually the case when U.G. was around.
Then Nagaraj said that U.G. seemed to be at his best when riding around in the car. He added that someone was sure to `get it' from U.G. that day. Surprisingly Brahmachariji added, "Yes, the lucky one will get it." U.G. smiled at him, winked, and said, "Nagaraj, did you hear that?"
On the half hour return trip to Poornakuti U.G. made many
humourous and interesting remarks, and I scribbled them down as
fast as I could. He said that a friend in Mysore, Dr.
Ramakrishna Rao had said that it was surprising that U.G. never
used the complex terms of either Eastern or Western philosophy,
but certainly possessed a wide and deep knowledge of both. U.G.
said that all thought had been thrown out of his system
altogether, and that all he really needed to communicate was a
simple and limited vocabulary to say what he needed to say.
He went on to say that he did not want to ever imply that anything was going to happen to anybody. "Like that fellow from Jhansi who was convinced that his thymus gland was being reactivated. I told him to just forget it and catch the first train back to hell, or wherever he came from." Then, as if to punctuate this statement, he said, "They are not going to get anything from me, you may be sure." His face turned red as he spoke with great force and certainty.
By then Henk the Dutchman had joined us, and U.G.'s rage was turned upon him: "They say that I always talk of money, but the way the Dutch cling to their pennies and pounds is just disgusting. If they refuse to part with a few pennies, how could they seriously talk of brushing aside their entire past. If they were unable to give up such trifles, how could they ever even think about liberation?"
At some point in the conversation U.G. quipped, "Hope for the best and be prepared for the worst." When Nagaraj excitedly applauded this witticism, U.G. admitted that they were originally the words of Jinnah addressed to the Muslim League during the partition of India.
Nagaraj then asked U.G. what he would do if he were staying in a five-star hotel and nobody came to visit him. U.G. almost never answers suppositional questions of any kind, but this time he did: "I am not against people visiting me. I don't call or miss anyone if they don't come. It must happen naturally."
U.G. said that one famous philosopher admitted that he was unable to put him in any pigeon hole, had finally given up, and his parting words were, "We must let this strange bird fly free." U.G. added that as soon as they succeeded in fitting him into some framework it would be the end of him.
Nagaraj then told U.G. that he was such a difficult person that his wife must have had a terrible time with him. U.G. countered that she never thought so, so how could anybody else hold such an opinion? She was loyal to him till the end, he said, and would get furious if anyone said a word against him. He said that only a filthy country like India which produce Sita, Anasuya, and Damayanti could produce a loyal wife like her.
Then the topic switched to Ramayana. As usual U.G. praised
Ravana to the skies and said that by the time Valmiki reached the
end of writing his epic poem he must have been of two minds about
who was to be the hero.
U.G. and I went to the airport to meet Mahesh Bhatt. His
plane was to arrive late by at least an hour and a half, so we
decided to take a seat in the bustling airport and wait it out.
The books in the store were visible from where we sat, and U.G.
would read title after title aloud, an activity interrupted by
the passing movements of people. I watched him intently and
smiled to myself. "Every movement there is a movement here.
This like an empty screen--now see this man, now this title, now
this poster, now this porter, now this woman. That is all. Do
you really want this? You talk of bliss and beatitudes, but the
movement of that man's foot there is all there is for me. I am
that, that movement of the foot, and there is no other meaning to
that phrase." As he talked his head and eyes moved with every
passerby, and when the traffic stopped, he would immediately
resume reading and reciting aloud the titles of books. I found
the whole thing most interesting, and I watched him intently.
Next he pointed to a lady buying some chocolates in the shop. As she counted her change he watched her every movement. "In that simple activity there is the real wonder of wonders, not your wondrous nature with its trees and all that romantic stuff." He explained that that was why he was never bored: there was always something going there which demanded his complete and total attention. It is only when we feel that there must be something more interesting or meaningful that boredom sets in.
Well, I must admit that I certainly function differently than U.G. As we sat on the bench waiting for Mahesh to arrive I could not refrain from thinking--perhaps worrying is a better word--about my son's upcoming exams. How could he be ready with thirty four lessons the next day? I related my fretful thoughts to U.G. and he said, "How can you sit there and worry about something which you are doing absolutely nothing about? Either you should help him with his lessons or get somebody who would. The last thing you should do is sit there worrying about it."
I did not, as often happens when I am with U.G., notice the
passage of time. Soon the plane arrived. Greeting us in his
usual dramatic style, Mahesh said, "Look, we are going to build a
foundation around you, U.G., whether you like it or not. I will
be the video tape man, Shanta the receptionist, and Nagaraj will
be the secretary." U.G., ignoring his little joke, asked
matter-of-factly, "How much money do you have on you Mahesh? We
have to pay for the car, and the one who pays gets to sit in
front." Mahesh offered at once to pay, but insisted that U.G.
take the front seat. So, with Mahesh making the crowd all the
more merry, we made our way to Poornakuti. They dropped me tired
and dazed at my door, promising to meet me the following day.