The Master’s Compassion – M.S. Srinivasan

Here is a heart-warming story from the Indian spiritual lore. Kanai was a disciple of a great Master and lived in the Ashram founded by the Master. Before he was awakened to the spiritual life, he was a debaucher. Even after joining the ashram, the old habits of his earlier life was still very strong in him. He was not able to control his passions. Whenever those lustful impulses became intense and irresistible he went outside by jumping over the walls of the Ashram at midnight to indulge in them and then returned back to the Ashram at early in the morning next day, in the same way, by jumping into the Ashram compound. One day when he jumped over the walls into the Ashram compound, he twisted his legs. When the Master asked him why he was limping he muttered some excuse. After a few days when he again jumped into the ashram compound he felt something soft under his legs. Since some construction work was going on in the ashram, Kanai thought it was possibly a cement or sand bag. After a few more days when he again flipped over the ashram walls he heard a moaning sound under his feet. He saw a human figure crouching in darkness. He caught hold of the man and pulled him towards the light. He was horrified to see it was his own master. Kanai said with tears in his eyes “Oh! Master, why are you doing this?” The Master said” My son, that day when you jumped over the wall, you hurt your legs. I thought I can give some support so that you don’t get hurt again”. The story says the Master’s words pierced Kanai’s heart and burned the very roots of the dark samskaras in him.

This story reminds me of what the Mother once said about the “inner Godhead” that “she never accuses, she neither judges nor curses, nor condemns, but works unceasingly to perfect without constrains, to mend without reproach, to encourage without impatience … that is why all, great and small, who want to be kings with her and gods in her become like her, not despots, but servitors among their brethren…. how beautiful is this humble role of a servant.” A true master who is united with the inner godhead will be like her, an embodiment of non-judgemental compassion.

However each master has his own unique way of dealing with each one of his disciples. Outer firmness or even severity in speech or behaviour with inner compassion can also be a way. As Sri Aurobindo and many wise teachers have pointed out, the outer behaviour or action of a true Master will be what is best spiritually for the disciple, taking into consideration his inner nature or temperament, present inner condition and evolutionary needs and the situation, not out of a mental analysis or synthesis, carefully and laboriously weighing these factors, but with an intuitive spontaneity and a moment to moment insight into the truth of the person or the situation.

Some masters never hesitate to use the rudra-energy to break a block or burn a dark spot in the nature of the disciple. Here is an interesting episode narrated by a foreign disciple of a modern Indian sage. Nisargadatta Maharaj. When he first met Nisargadatta he went on asking many questions. At a certain point, master became very angry and shouted at him with burning eyes and a menacing tone “You are an idiot, you can’t understand anything. Get out from here.” The disciple says that when the Master uttered those words, he felt something breaking inside his head and his mind stopped. A great peace and silence descended into his mind which remained with him for many days.

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