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Sasi and the Three Sapphires
you and my son think so highly of Swami Sri Yukteswar, I will take
a look at him." The tone of voice used by Dr. Narayan Chunder
Roy implied that he was humoring the whim of half-wits. I concealed
my indignation, in the best traditions of the proselyter.
a veterinary surgeon, was a confirmed agnostic. His young son Santosh
had implored me to take an interest in his father. So far my invaluable
aid had been a bit on the invisible side.
Dr. Roy accompanied
me the following day to the Serampore hermitage. After Master had
granted him a brief interview, marked for the most part by stoic
silence on both sides, the visitor brusquely departed.
a dead man to the ashram?" Sri Yukteswar looked at me inquiringly
as soon as the door had closed on the Calcutta skeptic.
doctor is very much alive!"
a short time he will be dead."
I was shocked.
"Sir, this will be a terrible blow to his son. Santosh yet
hopes for time to change his father's materialistic views. I beseech
you, Master, to help the man."
for your sake." My guru's face was impassive. "The proud
horse doctor is far gone in diabetes, although he does not know
it. In fifteen days he will take to his bed. The physicians will
give him up for lost; his natural time to leave this earth is six
weeks from today. Due to your intercession, however, on that date
he will recover. But there is one condition. You must get him to
wear an astrological bangle; he will doubtless object as violently
as one of his horses before an operation!" Master chuckled.
After a silence,
during which I wondered how Santosh and I could best employ the
arts of cajolery on the recalcitrant doctor, Sri Yukteswar made
as the man gets well, advise him not to eat meat. He will not heed
this counsel, however, and in six months, just as he is feeling
at his best, he will drop dead. Even that six-month extension of
life is granted him only because of your plea."
day I suggested to Santosh that he order an armlet at the jeweler's.
It was ready in a week, but Dr. Roy refused to put it on.
"I am in
the best of health. You will never impress me with these astrological
superstitions." The doctor glanced at me belligerently.
I recalled with
amusement that Master had justifiably compared the man to a balky
horse. Another seven days passed; the doctor, suddenly ill, meekly
consented to wear the bangle. Two weeks later the physician in attendance
told me that his patient's case was hopeless. He supplied harrowing
details of the ravages inflicted by diabetes.
I shook my head.
"My guru has said that, after a sickness lasting one month,
Dr. Roy will be well."
stared at me incredulously. But he sought me out a fortnight later,
with an apologetic air.
has made a complete recovery!" he exclaimed. "It is the
most amazing case in my experience. Never before have I seen a dying
man show such an inexplicable comeback. Your guru must indeed be
a healing prophet!"
After one interview
with Dr. Roy, during which I repeated Sri Yukteswar's advice about
a meatless diet, I did not see the man again for six months. He
stopped for a chat one evening as I sat on the piazza of my family
home on Gurpar Road.
teacher that by eating meat frequently, I have wholly regained my
strength. His unscientific ideas on diet have not influenced me."
It was true that Dr. Roy looked a picture of health.
But the next
day Santosh came running to me from his home on the next block.
"This morning Father dropped dead!"
This case was
one of my strangest experiences with Master. He healed the rebellious
veterinary surgeon in spite of his disbelief, and extended the man's
natural term on earth by six months, just because of my earnest
supplication. Sri Yukteswar was boundless in his kindness when confronted
by the urgent prayer of a devotee.
It was my proudest
privilege to bring college friends to meet my guru. Many of them
would lay aside --- at least in the ashram! --- their fashionable academic
cloak of religious skepticism.
One of my friends,
Sasi, spent a number of happy week ends in Serampore. Master became
immensely fond of the boy, and lamented that his private life was
wild and disorderly.
unless you reform, one year hence you will be dangerously ill."
Sri Yukteswar gazed at my friend with affectionate exasperation.
"Mukunda is the witness: don't say later that I didn't warn
"Master, I will leave it to you to interest a sweet charity
of cosmos in my own sad case! My spirit is willing but my will is
weak. You are my only savior on earth; I believe in nothing else."
you should wear a two-carat blue sapphire. It will help you."
afford one. Anyhow, dear guruji, if trouble comes, I fully believe
you will protect me."
"In a year
you will bring three sapphires," Sri Yukteswar replied cryptically.
"They will be of no use then."
this conversation took place regularly. "I can't reform!"
Sasi would say in comical despair. "And my trust in you, Master,
is more precious to me than any stone!"
A year later
I was visiting my guru at the Calcutta home of his disciple, Naren
Babu. About ten o'clock in the morning, as Sri Yukteswar and I were
sitting quietly in the second-floor parlor, I heard the front door
open. Master straightened stiffly.
that Sasi," he remarked gravely. "The year is now up;
both his lungs are gone. He has ignored my counsel; tell him I don't
want to see him."
by Sri Yukteswar's sternness, I raced down the stairway. Sasi was
I do hope Master is here; I had a hunch he might be."
he doesn't wish to be disturbed."
Sasi burst into
tears and brushed past me. He threw himself at Sri Yukteswar's feet,
placing there three beautiful sapphires.
guru, the doctors say I have galloping tuberculosis! They give me
no longer than three more months! I humbly implore your aid; I know
you can heal me!"
it a bit late now to be worrying over your life? Depart with your
jewels; their time of usefulness is past." Master then sat
sphinxlike in an unrelenting silence, punctuated by the boy's sobs
conviction came to me that Sri Yukteswar was merely testing the
depth of Sasi's faith in the divine healing power. I was not surprised
a tense hour later when Master turned a sympathetic gaze on my prostrate
Sasi; what a commotion you make in other people's houses! Return
your sapphires to the jeweler's; they are an unnecessary expense
now. But get an astrological bangle and wear it. Fear not; in a
few weeks you shall be well."
illumined his tear-marred face like sudden sun over a sodden landscape.
"Beloved guru, shall I take the medicines prescribed by the
glance was longanimous. "Just as you wish --- drink them or discard
them; it does not matter. It is more possible for the sun and moon
to interchange their positions than for you to die of tuberculosis."
He added abruptly, "Go now, before I change my mind!"
With an agitated
bow, my friend hastily departed. I visited him several times during
the next few weeks, and was aghast to find his condition increasingly
last through the night." These words from his physician, and
the spectacle of my friend, now reduced almost to a skeleton, sent
me posthaste to Serampore. My guru listened coldly to my tearful
you come here to bother me? You have already heard me assure Sasi
of his recovery."
I bowed before
him in great awe, and retreated to the door. Sri Yukteswar said
no parting word, but sank into silence, his unwinking eyes half-open,
their vision fled to another world.
I returned at
once to Sasi's home in Calcutta. With astonishment I found my friend
sitting up, drinking milk.
Mukunda! What a miracle! Four hours ago I felt Master's presence
in the room; my terrible symptoms immediately disappeared. I feel
that through his grace I am entirely well."
a few weeks Sasi was stouter and in better health than ever before.1 But his singular
reaction to his healing had an ungrateful tinge: he seldom visited
Sri Yukteswar again! My friend told me one day that he so deeply
regretted his previous mode of life that he was ashamed to face
I could only
conclude that Sasi's illness had had the contrasting effect of stiffening
his will and impairing his manners.
The first two
years of my course at Scottish Church College were drawing to a
close. My classroom attendance had been very spasmodic; what little
studying I did was only to keep peace with my family. My two private
tutors came regularly to my house; I was regularly absent: I can
discern at least this one regularity in my scholastic career!
In India two
successful years of college bring an Intermediate Arts diploma;
the student may then look forward to another two years and his A.B.
Arts final examinations loomed ominously ahead. I fled to Puri,
where my guru was spending a few weeks. Vaguely hoping that he would
sanction my nonappearance at the finals, I related my embarrassing
But Master smiled
consolingly. "You have wholeheartedly pursued your spiritual
duties, and could not help neglecting your college work. Apply yourself
diligently to your books for the next week: you shall get through
your ordeal without failure."
I returned to
Calcutta, firmly suppressing all reasonable doubts that occasionally
arose with unnerving ridicule. Surveying the mountain of books on
my table, I felt like a traveler lost in a wilderness. A long period
of meditation brought me a labor-saving inspiration. Opening each
book at random, I studied only those pages which lay thus exposed.
Pursuing this course during eighteen hours a day for a week, I considered
myself entitled to advise all succeeding generations on the art
days in the examination halls were a justification of my seemingly
haphazard procedure. I passed all the tests, though by a hairbreadth.
The congratulations of my friends and family were ludicrously mixed
with ejaculations betraying their astonishment.
On his return
from Puri, Sri Yukteswar gave me a pleasant surprise. "Your
Calcutta studies are now over. I will see that you pursue your last
two years of university work right here in Serampore."
I was puzzled.
"Sir, there is no Bachelor of Arts course in this town."
Serampore College, the sole institution of higher learning, offered
only a two-year course in Intermediate Arts.
mischievously. "I am too old to go about collecting donations
to establish an A.B. college for you. I guess I shall have to arrange
the matter through someone else."
Two months later
Professor Howells, president of Serampore College, publicly announced
that he had succeeded in raising sufficient funds to offer a four-year
course. Serampore College became a branch affiliation of the University
of Calcutta. I was one of the first students to enroll in Serampore
as an A.B. candidate.
how kind you are to me! I have been longing to leave Calcutta and
be near you every day in Serampore. Professor Howells does not dream
how much he owes to your silent help!"
gazed at me with mock severity. "Now you won't have to spend
so many hours on trains; what a lot of free time for your studies!
Perhaps you will become less of a last-minute crammer and more of
a scholar." But somehow his tone lacked conviction.
In 1936 I heard from a friend that Sasi was still in excellent health.
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