No Escape

Swami Kriyamurti Saraswati

Swami Ramdas had a fever which troubled him for many weeks. One evening when his temperature and pain were particularly acute, Maharaja Shivaji called to see him. At this, Swami Ramdas immediately 'took off' his fever and transferred it to the tiger skin on which he usually sat for meditation. They talked together for some time until Shivaji glanced at the tiger skin and saw that it was shivering as though in great pain. When he asked about this, Ramdas explained: 'I am troubled by a raging fever, but I kept it on the tiger skin so that it would not disturb you.'

Shivaji was astonished and asked why he did not get rid of it altogether.

'Such is the power of nature that no one can free himself from it', replied Swami Ramdas. 'I can remove my suffering for some time, but if I do not accept it in this lifetime, I shall have to take another body in order to experience the suffering. Everyone in this world has to suffer for the karma accumulated in previous births.' 'Then what is the difference between a gyani and an ordinary man?' asked Shivaji.

'The ordinary man is afraid to suffer, but the gyani, who is firmly established in his own equilibrium, bears it with indifference', said Swami Ramdas.

Paramahansa Ramakrishna expressed the same idea just before his death. He was in great pain, and his disciples asked why he did not pray to Mother Kali to alleviate it.

'No, my brothers', said Ramakrishna, ' I cannot pray to Mother for the protection of my body. If she protects my body in this life I will experience the pain in the next. I pray to her for moksha and nothing else. Understand clearly that when a man prays for the sake of his body, at that very moment he has fallen.'