Anandamath (Dawn over India)/Part 2/Chapter 7

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Mahendra bowed low at Mahatma Satya's feet. After receiving the Master's blessings, he departed for Padachina. Then came the other disciple who was initiated with Mahendra. Mahatma Satya welcomed him cordially, and asked him to sit on the black deer-skin.

After politely talking for sometime the Mahatma said: 'Are you really deeply devoted to Mother India?'

'How can I say that?' the disciple replied. 'What I call devotion may be mere hypocrisy or self-deception.'

'Well said,' the Mahatma responded approvingly. 'Please reflect such thoughts and do such deeds that may daily deepen your devotion to the Mother. I bless you. Your efforts will be successful, for you are very young. My child, please tell me what should I call you?'

'Whatever you like, Master. I am only a servant of your servants.'

'You are so young! So I shall call you Nabin. Accept this as your name. But please tell me what was your name before? Tell me, even if you have objection to telling it to me. No one else will ever know what you tell me. The duties of the Children demand that even unmentionable things should be;told to the guru. And no harm arises from that.'

'My own name was Shantiram Devasharma.'

'Villainous woman, your name was Shanti!' And the Mahatma pulled at the long black beard of the disciple. The false beard came off.

'Shame on you, little mother!' the Mahatma cried. 'You were trying to deceive me. If you meant deception, then why such a long beard for such a young face? Even if you had a short beard, you could not hide your voice nor the look of your eyes. If I were as stupid as that, do you think I would have undertaken this great work for the Mother?'

For a moment Shanti covered her face with her hands in shame; she then looked straight into the eyes of her Master, and said: 'Master, what wrong have I done after all? Do you think that a woman can never have strength in her arms?'

'That can be compared only with the amount of water contained in the footprint of a cow!'

'Do you ever test the strength of your disciples?'

'Yes, indeed. Here, here is an iron bow, and here is a short iron wire. Attach this string to the bow. He who can do this is strong indeed!'

'Has every Child passed this test?' Shanti asked, as she examined the bow and the wire.

'No, by this we have only tested their strength.'

'Has no one passed this test?'

'Yes, but only four.'

'May I ask who they are?'

'There is no objection to that, I am one of them.'

'Who are the rest?'

'Jiban, Bhavan and Jnan.'

Shanti at once, and with little effort, attached the wire to the bow and threw the stringed bow at the Mahatma's feet.

Mahatma Satya was at once astonished, awe-struck and speechless.

After a while he said: 'What! are you a woman or goddess in disguise?'

'I am a humble woman and I am chaste.'

'Why so? Are you a widow? No, even a widow cannot acquire so much strength, for they eat only one meal a day.'

'My husband is alive.'

'Has he deserted you?'

'No, he has not, Master. I have come here in his quest.'

Suddenly, as light emerges from behind a cloud, Mahatma Satya's memory flashed and he said: 'Yes, I do remember, the name of Jiban's wife was Shanti. Are you Jiban's wife?'

Shanti covered her face with the braids of her hair. Her face looked as if vines had fallen on a full-blown lotus blossom.

'Why are you bent upon doing such a sinful deed here?' the Mahatma asked.

'A sinful deed! What do you mean?' Shanti spoke proudly, as she threw the braids on her back. 'Is it a sin for a wife to join her husband in order to help him in his national duties? If the Children call this a sin, then their conception of sin is defective indeed! I am his helpmate and I am here to aid him. This is my religion and this is my duty!'

Mahatma Satya was pleased with Shanti's proud demeanor as she stood with her head high, neck curved and eyes glistening with rage.

'You are certainly a saintly woman,' the Mahatma said. 'But a wife is her husband's helpmate only in household duties and not in heroic deeds.'

'Which hero ever became a hero without the cooperation of his wife?'

'Ordinary people arc disturbed by a woman's love and attention. And this harms the pursuit of their duties. Hence the rule for the Children is never even to sit close to a woman. Jiban is my right arm! And you are here to cut off my right arm!'

'I am here to strengthen your right arm. I observe strictest continence. And I mean to remain a brahmacharini though living near my husband. I am here to perform the duties of the Children; and not to perform my duties of wifehood. I am not afflicted by the pain of separation from my husband. Then why should I not share his new duties with him? Hence I am here, Master, and I am here to stay.'

'Well, my child, let me put you on probation for a few days.'