NISARGADATTA’S VERSION OF RAMAYANA
There were many occasions when Maharaj demonstrated to me his unique, natural, inborn genius. I want to mention one of them. After an inspiring talk by Maharaj, a middle aged affluent looking American went up to Maharaj and offered $ 1000/- in cash as his offering. Maharaj smiled but politely refused to accept it. The American pleaded, “Maharaj! Please accept it! For the wisdom I received from you today I can’t but pay my homage. I am a wealthy man and to me these are but peanuts. Kindly do not decline.”
Maharaj answered, “I know, I know! You Americans are very rich and very prosperous. I will tell you an ancient story. It is from the epic, Ramayana. Lord Rama’s wife Sita was abducted by the demon, Ravana. Rama sought the help of the monkey king, Sugriva. Their leader, Hanuman, guided the monkeys to recognize the greatness of Lord Rama. All of them pledged their support to Rama. In due course, Lord Rama vanquished Ravana and was triumphantly returning to his capital Ayodhya in India along with his rescued wife Sita. The monkeys also wanted to accompany them to Ayodhya as they were eager to witness the coronation ceremony of Lord Rama.
When they reached Ayodhya, the monkeys as was their wont, made an enormous commotion. The coronation was successfully conducted. The next day, early in the morning, Lord Rama asked Hanuman, “Why is there such silence and stillness? What happened to all your clan?” Hanuman replied, “My Lord! When they pledged support to you, they also took a severe vow that they would not eat or sleep till you are crowned as King of Ayodhya. Yesterday, they witnessed the coronation. Their vow completed, they ate to their hearts’ content. They felt so exhausted from lack of sleep that they are now fast asleep.” Lord Rama was very moved by the sacrifice the monkeys had made of giving up of their pleasures of food and sleep.
Maharaj suddenly stopped his narration and said, “Till now the original story. Now, I am going to add my own version.”
“So, Lord Rama gave a boon to all the monkeys: “All the monkeys deserve great pleasure and prosperity. So, may they all be reborn as ‘humans’ in America, where they will enjoy all this in plenty!”
Maharaj turned to the American and the audience and added, “I know, you Americans revel in plenty and prosperity and are generous. You enjoy pleasures. Yet, I can’t accept your money. I am a grihastha [house-holder]. In our Hindu dharma, only brahmacharis [bachelors] and sannyasis [renunciates] are permitted to accept alms and donations. Grihasthas [active, house-holders] and vanaprasthas [retired, house-holders] are not permitted.”
Noticing the disappointment in the face of the American, Maharaj consolingly said, “You Americans will have material prosperity in great abundance in America, but if you want Lord Rama you will have to come to Bharat. You will have to come to India!”
- V. Ganesan, Meetings with Sages and Saints