The Case of the Missing Key

Swami Swayambodhananda Saraswati

It all happened within the four walls of the ashram. I was the Sherlock Holmes of the case and with the skill of a trained detective, managed to trace the culprit ultimately.

Four swamis A,B,C and myself were supposed to clean rooms no. 4 to no. 10 and do other odd jobs in these rooms. I had all the keys in my custody and supervised all the jobs. I gave the keys to the swamis as required and after finishing their jobs they locked the rooms and handed back the keys to me.

'Where is key number 10?' I asked swami C as he prepared to depart for lunch.

'I think I kept it on the railing of the staircase,' he replied with a doubtful look in his eyes.

'A strange place to keep the keys,' I remarked, as I started investigating the workings of my friend's mind. Swami C ran upstairs and was back in two minutes with key no. 10 in his hand. As the other swamis left for lunch, I kept key no. 10 in the keyboard but found that key no. 6 was missing. I ran after swami C and said, 'You locked room number 6. Surely you have misplaced that key also.'

'You seem to have a tendency to misplace keys,' swami B remarked.

'I am certain I gave you back key number 6,' said swami C trying to muster up as much self-confidence as possible. 'You must have misplaced the key.'

Maybe swami C is misleading me, I thought and searched all the rooms to which swami C had been. I searched the window sills, top of almirahs etc. but the key was to be seen nowhere. I was at the end of my road of investigation and reported the matter to a sannyasin.

'Examine the keyboard again,' he said dryly. I obeyed and found that key no. 6 was hung in an inverted position on hook no. 9. Key no. 9 was actually missing. Suddenly I remembered that I had given key no. 9 to another person for some job to be done there. The case was closed and I began to analyse myself.

An inherent assumption that I could not go wrong led to an error in observation of the keyboard. Consequentially I made the offence of accusing another person without proof of his offence, because circumstances seemed to point towards another person as the culprit (with my conditioning). My desire to find the key even at the cost of facing criticism was the real detective of the case.

Lastly 'the case of the missing key' also points out as to how yogic methods of self-analysis can help real detectives in correcting errors in observation and judgement by knowing the conditioning of their own minds.