The train slowly departed from the station. Placing my luggage, a traveling bag, underneath the seat, I sat. I had boarded a Rajdhani express to go to Gaya from Kolkata. I was in search of a real sadhu.
Coming across a sadhu was one of the many reasons for me to visit Gaya. Gaya is a small town and quite outdated in terms of fastpaced city life. Glamorous malls bore me. Multiplexes are so not my thing. When I try to break the monotony of the rigorous schedule by visiting the banks of Ganga in Outram Ghat. I feel disturbed by disturbing the peace of lovebirds.
Gaya is so my place. The peace and serenity fill me with eternal bliss. Holding the book of mysticism in my hand, I feel elated. Finally, I am on my way to achieve Nirvana. Lost in my thought, suddenly my eyes fell on the guy sitting opposite me.
He looked at the book in my hand with an indecipherable expression on his face. His appearance piqued my interest in him. His hair was tied up in a thick bun. The guy looked extremely handsome despite the fact that half of his face was concealed by a thick beard. Trust me, bearded men are far sexier than clean-shaven ones. Well, bearded men are my personal choice.
“Traveling to Gaya?” the stranger asked me with a friendly smile.
“Yes. You?” I asked.
“Ditto,” I felt happy. Journey with a congenial traveler is always a treat. I was trying to strike a friendly conversation but being an ambivert, I am a real pain sometimes. Thank god, it was him who broke the awkward silence.
“Do you mind answering a question?” he asked.
“Not at all,” I was feeling bright. This trip to Gaya was something I have been pining for a long time.
“Why are you traveling to Gaya?” his question charged me marginally.
“City life bores me. I am not meant for a routine lifestyle. Malls, parties, shopping, and laughing foolishly are so not my thing. I prefer being humane than a mere human. This trip to Gaya will transform me. It will help me achieve Nirvana,” I was unstoppable.
“And how do you plan to achieve Nirvana?” he asked me with a smiling face.
“Buddhism preaches the four noble truths of life. Buddha spoke of the suffering, its origin, cessation and the path that will help eliminate sufferings,” I told him excitedly.
“And?” he encouraged me to say some more.
“The Nobel Eightfold path that will help eliminate all the sufferings. Only after walking on the noble eightfold path, one can achieve nirvana,” I explained everything to him in detail.
“What is Nirvana?” he asked me solemnly.
“Well, it is the cessation of all suffering. You can also call it freedom or liberation,” I enthused.
“This means you are religious,” it was more of a statement than a question.
“Of course I am,” I confirmed.
“Sigh! Wish you were a spiritualist,” I had a feeling he was mocking me.
“Of course, I am a spiritualist,” I was defensive.
“How can a religious person be a spiritualist?” he asked.
“Why not?” my retaliation was prompt.
“A religious person is a business person. Always involved in some trade with God. I have often seen religious people:
- It is for heaven the religious people practice their religion. Many at times they say, “Oh God! I want to meet you in heaven.”
- They bargain. They often say, “Help me achieve my goal, I will do such and such thing.”
- Riding on a carpet, creating noise pollution, air contamination, useless extravaganze, and riff-raff interactions appear oh so religious.
Now, what will you call yourself, a religious person, a spiritualist or a believer?” Looking at me intently, he asked.
This time, I was really at loss of words. Until now, I considered all the three to be the same. His question revealed to me that all the three were different.
Thinking very hard, I came to a conclusion. “I am a believer. You don’t seem like one to me. Who do you think you are?” I asked him.
Looking out of the window, far away somewhere in the distant land, he said, “I am yet to realize who am I? You can call me a tiny speck of sand in this wide universe.”
Then, he turned towards me, “If you are a believer, then tell me. Do you believe that God is an entity,” taking a small pause, he asked, “Or is God a concept?”
This time I had no idea what to say. Feeling incredulous, I objected, “How can God be a concept. He is the Supreme Entity. He is omnipresent, benevolent, almighty and most powerful.”
“Wow! Superhero, you mean,” he mocked again.
His nonchalance infuriated me. “How dare you?!”
“Well, that’s what you said just now. You described your God. Don’t you think, by calling your God an entity. Or attributing your entity with so many qualities. You are actually putting on restrictions.
Don’t put any attributes. No need to define or describe. If you consider the being that you prefer to call God, a concept, then you are actually doing more justice.
Tell me something, when you take antibiotics. Will a bacteria cry over a virus that gets killed by your medicine?”
Shaking my head I asked in a not so confident tone, “What do you mean?”
“Your body might be an entire universe to so many beings existing inside it. Despite the fact that they are thriving inside your system. Do you keep a note of it all? Now, think about the real universe. Or the multiverse for that matter.
Who do you wish to become?
Do you want to be the unnoticed bacteria? Or you wish to be the eyes that see, ears that hear or the body that feels?”
Mesmerized, I looked at the man who must have been way too young in chronological order. But as far as his wisdom was concerned. He was an archaic soul.
A smile flashed across his face when I asked, “Are you a sadhu?”
The smile that lit up his face reminded me of the image of Lord Krishna. The same smile that is full of answers and unasked questions. The smile that is soothing and mischevious. But his eyes made me feel otherwise.
Those were the eyes that were full of aggression. It had a luminous aura about it. His eyes were filled with wisdom. Although enlightenment oozed from his every pore. He preferred to remain undercover.
The sadhu had answered many of my questions. He also showed me the path. Now, it was upon me, whether I followed it or not.
The rendezvous with sadhu opened new doors to my consciousness. He may not approve of the term sadhu to address him. When you are in the company of wise people, the journey becomes more interesting than the destination.
Let me conclude with a quote from Rumi, “Why do you stay in prison, when the door is so wide open?”
We are all nothing more than mere travelers. My journey did not end in Gaya. It was only the beginning.