Vanity thought #248. Vamshidas Babaji Part 4.

Yesterday I finished with the story of Vamshidasa’s deities giving away cooking pots to thieves and getting punished, I forgot the ending – after forcing first Nitai and then Gauranga to make the thieves bring the pots back Vamshidasa felt very sorry. He told his deities: “I don’t want to punish you but you are so naughty and you like to tease me and now I’m so old and tired, what can I do?”

When people told him about locking the house instead he said that he did, he had three keys and he gave them to Nitai, Gaura, and Gadadhara. If they wanted to let everyone inside it was their decision, not his.

He ran into stealing problems many many times and his reaction was always the same – his deities were responsible, they were little thieves themselves and they loved the Nadiyavasis and they liked giving things away.

People used to bring him lots of fruit, usually he left it in the pile outside for the local cow to come and eat it but sometimes he kept the bananas and if they weren’t ripe he used to hang them on the rafters. Rats also wanted the bananas and they were devising the ways to get them but Vamshidasa never said a word. Once he pointed at a rat and said “Look, a thief!” he then pointed at Krishna and said “He is also a thief!”

Once someone wanted to donate twenty-five paisa to Vamshidasa’s servant and that was a lot of money at that time so the guy changed his mind on the spot and demanded change. Vamshidasa, who was just standing there quietly, suddenly got very angry: “You cannot do that! If you give money to Mahaprabhu you cannot ask for change, once you give it to Him you cannot take it back.”

I should say here that the way Vamshidasa collected donations was simply standing outside the house and calling “Gaura Nitai, Gaura Nitai”, people then would come out and offer rice, fruit of vegetables. therefore giving any change back meant taking money from Gauranga Himself and that was unthinkable. He also avoided houses of people who didn’t have any respect for Gaura-Nitai, he didn’t take anything from non-devotees.

So, back to the twenty-five paisa story. After fighting off the change challenge they returned to the kutir but later in the day they discovered that someone still managed to steal the money. Vamshidasa’s servant was very upset about it but the babaji took a philosophical approach. “Money is like hair, it grows, you cut it, and then it grows again.” Then he ended with his usual “Gauranga wanted to give this money to someone else, it’s his decision”.

At other times he got angry, though. If a cow entered the kutir and turned everything upside down he pinned it on his deities and chastised them heavily using very harsh words. In the end he would say “Okay, up to you, you love your Nadiyavasis, Vamshi has no right to be angry – Vamshi is just an outsider here.”

Once the deities got into real trouble. Someone donated a golden necklace for Gauranga and it got stolen. Vamshidasa was really upset about it, he was talking and complaining about it for hours until he forced the deities to confess who they were given it to. Immediately he went to the house of that person and demanded the necklace back. This is where there are two very different endings. According to one ending people heard the commotion and gathered outside, the thief denied any wrongdoing but under the pressure of Vamshidasa and the crowd who supported the sadhu he was forced to return the gold. In another version there were no onlookers and the thief angrily pushed Vamshidasa off his verandah and Vamshidasa was really hurt. He returned home empty handed but Gaura couldn’t tolerate mistreatment of His devotee and the thief and all his family soon died.

Let me offer a speculation on what exactly had happened there. I think Gauranga wanted the guy to have the necklace, somehow he deserved it, but when Vamshidasa started pressing Him He didn’t want to disclose that person’s identity because He knew that it won’t end well, that the guy wasn’t going to return the gold peacefully. He didn’t want the fight, he didn’t want to push that soul into vaishnava aparadha but he couldn’t refuse Vamshidasa either, and that’s why this story didn’t have a happy ending.

I guess Krishna knows our capacities very well and protects us from walking into a trap of maya, saving us form making offenses out of our immaturity, ignorance and greed. One more reason to leave all planning to Him and be very skeptical about our own desires.

Last time I mentioned that Vamshidasa didn’t follow any schedule in his deity worship, he would spend half a day collecting food and flowers and another half cleaning and preparing it. Once, however, his servant saw him cooking at nine o’clock in the morning. “Why don’t you offer them food for breakfast everyday?” he asked. “I’m not their father’s servant,” Vamshidasa answered, “I don’t know morning from evening and I’m not going to cook on their schedule. If they want it they can make their own arrangements”. Then he described how it could be done – let Gadadhara cook for Gauranga, Nitai is an avadhuta, he doesn’t care for time and he can eat anywhere. Gopala will survive, too – everyday we have a cow visiting the kutir, Gopal can get milk from her, but it’s Radha and Krishna that need to be fed otherwise they’d go to Vrindavan to do madhukari. This way Vamshidas figured it all out.

There were a lot of “pastimes” involving food. I put pastimes in quotes because it looks like games to us but for Vamshidasa it was a way of life. Once he refused to feed Krishna arguing that he already had his desert out of turn and so didn’t deserve a proper meal. Devotees from Gaydiya Math decided to check Vamshidasa’s story and wrote a letter to Radha Ramana temple in Vrindavan and got a reply that Krishna was indeed offered sweet rice with gur on that particular day at that particular time.

Sometimes cooking took him so long time that his deities became restless. He then shouted at them to get out of the house and wait outside. On another occasion he was outside himself but suddenly declared that the “boys” were hungry. He collected some unripe eggplants and ran home where he put them in a coconut hust, added some water and tulasi and offered to his deities. He then relished this uncooked food himself.

Once he turned to his servant and asked – “Did you hear what Gaura had just said?” Of course the servant didn’t hear anything, only Vamshidasa himself could hear what his deities were telling him. “Gauranga told me not to go outside for three days because I’m old and that He would bring food for me instead. Did you hear that? He wants to serve me! I swear I will break his legs if he tries to do that.” That threat worked, apparently.

On another occasion, on Janmashtami, Vamshidasa was telling Gopal about his special treat for his birthday. “Last year you had palm fruit and this year you will get mango! Just be patient, mango is coming.” Krishna was born at midnight, remember, where was he going to get the mango at that time? In ten minutes, however, a local brahmana arrived and told everyone about a dream he just had – some sadhu wanted a mango and so he had to wake up and get it for him.

I’m probably missing some sweet stories here but that is all I got for today. I’m preparing myself for some really controversial stuff tomorrow, God willing.

Last Sunday burglars broke into our neighbors’ house and stole some stuff. The part that really bothers me is that during the break in I was less than twenty meters away and the backdoor of our house was open, I think I even heard the noise but I though it was neighbors themselves, it wasn’t any louder than the usual sound of their door. Those guys cut through two locks and a bolt and I didn’t suspect a thing. I couldn’t see them from where I was but but if I moved just a few meters away or went to the kitchen I would have definitely seen them. They were so bold and precise that they earned my respect. I can’t say the same about me, I still can’t explain how I was so close yet so useless. We count on each other to look out for things like that and I failed.

This is not the first burglary in our neighborhood and I have all the reasons to believe that our house is next in line. What should I do about it? Take Vamshidasa’s advice and leave it to Krishna? The family won’t like that. Finally I decided to put a notice on the door saying that there’s nothing of value inside, no gold, no money, nothing of interest. They can’t carry out big things like TVs, they’d need a car for that and they’d need to pass the security gate. The only thing they can take is the notebook and I decided to drastically reduce its resale value by putting in a lock that they can’t remove without breaking off a chunk of plastic, and by engraving our phone and e-mail address on the lid – removing it would result in serious visual damage. I’m planning to explain all that in the note I’m going to pin on the door, and also an advice to break in via side entrance where it would be easier and also cheaper for us to repair. I also decided to invest $10 into a cheap webcam and set it as a motion detector that would shoot out e-mails if it sees anything, we just need to leave the computer on, which is no big deal.

This compromise sounds satisfactory to all but I myself can’t stop thinking of Vamshidasa and his unique understanding that thieves actually have the rights to “my” stuff. I’m starting to realize that Krishna really IS in charge of everything and I can’t possibly override His will and protect myself from Him. If he wants to steal something from me it’s as good as gone already.

Now I just walk around trying to guess what exactly it is that he wants to take away. It’s a negotiation phase for me, apparently…

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