Laxmit was verily a typical family man. His life revolved around his home and office. Like clockwork he would attend office from 9 am to 5 pm. He would come straight home and spend time with his parents, wife and children. Such was his routine for years and years. The children grew up and went away to work. Laxmit was old now. He had never developed the habit of prayer.
One day a friend invited him to a congregation where a Saint was to address the crowd. Laxmit made the same old excuse that he had been making for years, “Sorry my friend, I don’t have time.” But this time his friend was adamant and did not take ‘No’ for an answer. He pestered him till finally he agreed to come, though very reluctantly.
Surprising he found the saint to be very impressive. He said that on Deepawali night we diligently light oil lamps. The following morning, we throw the same lamps into the waste bin. Why? Because their light is over! What is left behind is just mud. It is of no value. Till there is oil in the lamp, till the lamp shines bright, it is of value. Thereafter it is useless. The human body too is like that. Till the soul is present we are human. Thereafter we are only ‘body’. And it’s the ‘nears and dears’ that carry the ‘body’ to the crematorium and perform the funeral rites. No one wants to keep a lifeless body in the house.
One of the people in the gathering asked him, “Tell us about the time when the soul has to leave the body. It is said that it’s a very painful experience because the body does not want to let go.”
The Saint smiled. He said, “There was a village woman who had beautiful long hair. She was working in the kitchen. One strand of hair fell into a bowl of malai (cream of milk) lying on the kitchen shelf.
Later, while she was clearing the cowshed of cow dung and making cow dung cakes, a few strands of hair fell into the dung while she did this.
The following day when she was putting away the dried cow dung cakes, she noticed a stray strand of hair sticking out of it. In advertently she tried to pull it out. It was stuck in the muck. She tugged at it a bit harder. It broke but it didn’t come out fully. After her evening chores in the kitchen she was setting aside the bowl of malai and noticed a strand of hair in it. She plucked it out and cast it away. That transition was smooth as silk.”
The Saint concluded his discourse. Everyone dispersed. Laxmit could not sleep all night. He was seventy five now. Sooner or later it would be time to leave the world. What would it be like when his soul had to leave the body? Would it be stuck in the muck, like the hair in the dung? Or would it slip out smooth as silk, like the hair in the malai? Stuck or smooth? Smooth? Stuck? Muck? Oh my God! What a mess I am in! I have never turned Godwards. Time to wake up!
Well, it’s never too soon or too late to wake up …
The time is ‘now’ for each one of us. Connecting with God is a legacy that is our privilege as well as our duty.
Baba tells us that we should not wait till old age to take to the path of spirituality. If we start early and drive slowly then we shall reach safely. We should practice detachment from now on; practice it little by little, for a day will come sooner or later when we will have to give up all that we hold dear.