The Saints Came Marching – Dev Vrat Sharma, Rajasthan

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They came in a likeness of a pageant, marching. Huge figures, tall, short, middle statured: almost of all humanly possible dimensions; pot bellied, with bursting butts, some lean and thin with protruding ribcages. Some with long waist length matted hair, matted beards of all hues-black, grey, ochre, some with shaven heads with painted V marks or a trident on the foreheads. Some were absolutely naked with ash-smeared bodies and huge rudraksha garlands round their necks and on the arms, some even had snakes wrapped up in a garland like fashion. Some with huge earrings in widely torn ears some had ear beads of tulsi, some with nose buds and dressed up like a woman. Some carrying actual tridents in their hands some armed with spears, lathis and huge chimtaas. Some neatly dressed in robes of white or saffron or in long black cloaks. They were men of all age from young teen-agers to middle aged, to old and very old with grey whiskers and eyebrows. Some with horror inducing blood-shot eyes, some with human skulls in hand, all with angry gazes and frowning faces, turned towards me. It appeared to be a motley army of sorts. They all cried loud and clear… “Stop him.”…. it came again, louder and hoarser than the previous call… “Stop him.”
“Stop who? And from what?” I shouted in total unawares, to this sundry crowd.
“Stop him”, was the final cry, and I got up terrified all soaked in sweat.
Oh …just a dream…I console myself….
Stop who? ……….From what? … And ……Why me?
There are no connections. I look aside in desperation and my wandering eyes fall upon the smiling face of Awasthi Sahab in a deep carefree slumber with not even an iota of fret on the face.
“Does he dream as well …and such horrendous dreams …..”
I try to settle down and try to recall the interrupted sleep.

Not a word I spoke to anybody about it, even it stayed in my thoughts for a while and smothered away, not even a remembrance of any kind……until it came again the following night: the same procession the same angry faces and worried too; for I could clearly notice a concern in their faces.
“Stop him….stop him”, is the reverberating cry.
“Who should I stop?” I shout back.
“Him…..your husband……..yes him…..”
“From what …?” awestruck I ask.
“From the blasphemy…” As if all voices seem to merge into one single voice.
“Blasphemy….against who….what…how…..” My mind paces up and down with heart throb accelerating every moment.
“Against our sect, our faith, our practices, our values, our believes…” pat comes the ready answer.
Again the same abrupt discontinuation and waking up with the body soaked in sweat, and the same smiling face of Awasthi Sahab seemingly mocking at my misadventure.
“I must ask him …Now…what has he done….what crime…..that so many saintly beings come charging upon me …….Not now……”
I must ask him, I think waveringly …I must….what has he done….what horrendous crime that these saintly beings are all pouncing upon me……I must ….but….may be… later…… later….in the day when he gets up……I detest from the feat of disrupting so sweet a smile. But the day is like all other days heavily loaded, this is a different world more concrete, and perhaps more real…I cannot say for sure. There are issues to settle, instructions for the cook, the driver, the maid, and addressing to a whole bunch of people who come to meet Awasthi sahib every day, so much to be done in so little time, so much to be arranged…how do I find time for this disarray dream.
These saints have enough time, I think they wait the whole day for me to sleep and then pounce upon my dream….Yes they are back, and it does not appear to be a repeated footage of a visual that I have been seeing for the past two nights…yes it is like a live show as I can clearly see that the faces are angrier than before, their voices louder:
“Why don’t you do it yourself?” I have the courage to ask.
“No …No … you have to do it ….you alone can do it…you alone.” The repetition is much more forceful.”
“And what is the offense.” I plead.
“He has been lecturing against our peeth, our cult, against our doctrines; our philosophies…Our faith by which we have continued to exist for thousands of years.”
I get up this time more determined than ever to disrupt that enchanting smile. But lo…as my eyes slide to that joyful countenance of his, I am lost again; how infectious a smile of a sleeping man can be…I need nobody to tell me.
This is seemingly another day like any other day but with an exception that I am keenly observing him; his moves, his gestures, his addresses, the people he is meeting, the ones he is lecturing to. I, with the dream sequence in the mind is almost following him like a detective to see, ‘wherein lies the rub’.
“So you are coming for today’s deliberations.” He shocks me.
“Oh yes I wanted to, just to have a feel how do people respond to what you tell them….” I utter trying to hide the discomfiture. And why should I not for it is not his sleep that is being detonated each night thus.
“Come come certainly but not with an agitated mind.”
“Oh when will you stop reading my mind?”
“Not reading the mind, absolutely not, it comes out clearly off your being.”
I decide not to go, but I must have a record of the contents of his delivery, and will certainly talk to him tonight before he goes to sleep.
His dresses are perhaps the only thing which is a mismatch to his personality, to his inner being. The colors are too bright and the combinations the strangest in the world. He walks in to the room dressed in a crimson colored night suit with yellow frills round the shoulders, but as always, I choose not to intervene; as he has a very individualistic frame of mind and out of world justifications for his acts. The same disarming smile radiating just not from the countenance but perhaps his whole being, with not even an iota of the trace of any tiredness after a very hectic day.
“So how was the day?”
“Very good”
“And what did you talk about? I mean the content…”
“Simple, Just about life, as it is.”
“Then why would anybody find offense in it?”
He pauses, the eyes closes for a while and then the smile broadens still further.
“So herein lays the crux; my criticism has affected the subtle-physical world. I get it full, no… no you don’t have to tell me, I know full well what is passing through.”
“What is this subtle-physical world?”
“Almost the same as this world we are living in at the moment minus our physical bodies which turn subtle, as does all other things in that dimension.”
“How can that be possible? Can we see it with open eyes?”
“No these human eyes have their limitations, open or close- would not matter…it comes only with the transporting of the self into that dimension, or even some can have a co-existence in this one and the other, call it ‘worlds’ if you will…for me they all are one.”
“Very fascinating ….tell me more…”
“Well it is a world where life goes on as a continuation in this slightly altered form, people who had wanted to be together in the earthly life may continue to do so endlessly, here you have the same congregations same groups, meetings, discussions- people living in groups, in sects and any other way they would want to….there is much more freedom of movement space and all the other limitations which this physical body imposes.”
“So why do you do it?”
“Do what! I do nothing but relate to my own experiences, which unfortunately for these sadhus go a little awry to the established conventions and belief systems.”
“I fail to understand…why would this whole battery of saints come charging down and in such anger.”
“Because the revelations of my experiences, or let me call them discoveries to be more scientific, do not relate to what they have imbibed as a pre-ordained doctrine.”
“What is wrong in following the traditions of a system, or even sets of systems which are almost as old as the human race.”
“No, that is not the question. Belief is usually about something which has been experienced and thereafter documented and used as a literal guide or role model, but which may have nothing to do with your own subjective reality. Moreover, the documentation is terribly marred by the insufficiency of the language to transmute the living experience. One’s own experiential existence is of value and is bound to vary with the experiences of everybody else; therefore your experiences may not be of much value to me in this frame of existence”
“Yes…Yes…. But then there is something like a collective sensibility…a pool of knowledge…”
“Yes there is but it has nothing to do with a pre-ordained set of objectives.”
“Then…”
“Why do people get overtly conscious that there is a reality to be explored, to be found out come what may. These operational menus are the biggest culprits; above everything else they destroy all possibility of the joy of discovery by pre-suppositions. To have a set of objectives before hand is virtually capping the infinite possibilities which are available to us all; it is a never ending spectacle with no frontiers.”
“Then what should one do…Maharajje” I ask amusingly.
“Do nothing …absolutely nothing…let it happen all by itself.”
“And what would I say to the whole army who is desperately waiting for me to sleep.”
“Tell them not to worry, that it is very unbecoming of such magnanimous beings to be perturbed over such trivial issues.”
His smile has broadened still further, and now it seems to cover the entire face, nevertheless much more enchanting. I wish if my dream be transferred to him, I know this would not happen for he has eliminated all possibilities of any infringement, is immune to such tribulations and in his designs unstoppable. The only course that these saintly beings have thought of to stop him was through me, to exploit this emotional quotient; this too would work I am not sure, all I know for the while is that I would never use it. I am thoroughly convinced that the path to the natural state is no path at all; it is here, in this given moment, which alone is expressive of my truth and the truth of the universe simultaneously. All given wisdom is like a dead duck as it comes from a time frame which has ceased to exist. I have switched off the lights and fully prepared to go to sleep, and I am doubly sure that these saints will not come tonight to my dream; yes the saints will not come marching to me tonight.

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