It was a summer evening, and we were all sitting outside in the open space by the well. Suddenly one of the visitors started weeping bitterly.
'I am a horrible sinner. For a long time I have been coming to you, but there is no change in me. Can I become pure at last? How long am I to wait? When I am here near you, I am good for a time. But when I leave this place, I become a beast again. You cannot imagine how bad I can be -- hardly a human being. Am I to remain a sinner forever?'
'Why do you come to me? What have I to do with you?' demanded Bhagavan. 'What is there between us that you should come here and weep and cry in front of me?'
The man started moaning and crying even more, as if his heart were breaking.
'All my hopes of salvation are gone. You were my last refuge and you say you have nothing to do with me! To whom shall I turn now? What am I to do? To whom am I to go?'
Bhagavan watched him for some time and said, 'Am I your Guru that I should be responsible for your salvation? Have I ever said that I am your Master?'
'If you are not my Master, then who is? And who are you, if not my Master? You are my Guru. You are my guardian angel. You must take pity me and release me from my sins!'
He started sobbing and crying again.
We all sat silent, overcome with pity. Only Bhagavan looked alert and matter-of-fact.
'If I am your Guru, what are my fees? Surely you should pay me for my services.'
'But you won't take anything,' cried the visitor. 'What can I give you?'
'Did I ever say that I don't take anything? And did you ever ask me what you can give me?'
'If you would take, then ask me. There is nothing I would not give you.'
'All right. Now I am asking. Give me. What will you give me?'
'Take anything. Everything I have is yours.'
'Then give me all the good you have done in this world.'
'What good could I have done? I have not a single virtue to my credit.'
'You have promised to give. Now give. Don't talk of your credit. Just give away all the good you have done in your past.'
'Yes, I shall give. But how does one give? Tell me how the giving is done and I shall give.'
'Say like this: "All the good I have done in the past I am giving away entirely to my Guru. Henceforth I have no merit from it nor have I any concern with it." Say it with your whole heart.'
'All right, Swami. "I am giving away to you all the good I have done so far, if I have done any, and all its good effects. I am giving it to you gladly, for you are my Master and you are asking me to give it all away to you.'
'But this is not enough,' said Bhagavan sternly.
'I gave you all I have and all you asked me to give. I have nothing more to give.'
'No, you have. Give me all your sins.'
The man looked wildly at Bhagavan, terror stricken.
'You do not know, Swami, what you are asking for. If you knew, you would not ask me. If you take over my sins, your body will rot and burn. You do not know me, you do not know my sins. Please do not ask me for my sins.'
He wept bitterly.
'I shall look after myself. Don't you worry about me,' said Bhagavan. 'All I want from you is your sins.'
For a long time the bargain would not go through. The man refused to part with his sins. But Bhagavan was adamant.
'Either give me your sins along with your merits, or keep both and don't think of me as your Master."
In the end the visitor's scruples broke down and he declared, 'Whatever sins I have done, they are no longer mine. All of them and their results, too, belong to Ramana.'
Bhagavan seemed to be satisfied. 'From now on there is no good nor bad in you. You are just pure. Go and do nothing, either good or bad. Remain yourself. Remain what you are.'
A great peace fell over the man and over us all. No one knows what happened to the fortunate visitor, for he was never seen in the ashram again. He might have had no further need to come.
~ Krishna Bhikshu in: 'The Power of the Presence', Part Three, by David Godman