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The Formidable Gulf Of Slight Difference

Swami SivanandaGovindasmawiji’s heart ached to see Siva clad in an overcoat worn out with age! It was once upon a time a good woollen coat. It had served its master well. Now, it looks like a gunny-bag. Suns and moons adorn its face, revealing the inner garments here and there. Yet, it was proud of the love that Siva bore towards it: and on Siva’s back it laughed—perhaps at a newer coat lying unused.

‘Swamiji, this coat is torn all over the back. It looks ugly also. Please wear the other, new coat.’ Siva looked up and smiled. ‘Achcha? It is torn? Very well: but it keeps the warmth all right.’

People are prone to imitate a saint when he enjoys certain creature comforts: they misunderstand the saint’s behaviour when they see that ‘he also wears good, nice clothes: he also takes sweetmeats.’ But they hardly understand the inner difference, the vital difference that there is between the saint’s attitude towards these and their own. The saint cares not if Prarabdha brings him silk gowns or dirty rags. He greets both with a happy smile. The dull-witted aspirant rejoices in fashionable dress and new clothes, and thinks that he is right in doing so—does not the saint wear these. He would preach to others that equanimity is the secret and that the costly wearing apparel does not taint him. But, ask him to wear a torn coat or a dirty dhoti: the old Abhiman will raise its head from within. That is the difference. It is very subtle. It is like the deep chasm that separates the mountain-peaks very close to each other. From a distance the gulf appears to be very slight: and you think you can walk over it. When you approach it, you discover that the very sight of it makes your head reel. That is why Lord Krishna warned Sadhakas to obey His words and not to imitate His actions.

~ INSPIRING TALKS OF GURUDEV SIVANANDA

Chronicler: Swami Venkatesananda

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