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27

 

12th to 17th August: We left Hardwar for Rishi Kesh in the morning and halted at the dak bungalow at Rishi Kesh till the 17th. The six days' stay was full of hardships as regards food and long walks in hot sun and rain. We traversed within a radius of 20 to 25 miles of Rishi Kesh amongst hills and dales of Laxman Zoola, Swarg Ashram and the entire vicinity of Rishi Kesh. Saint after Saint, Mast after Mast and Sadhu after Sadhu were contacted in strict pursuance of the daily programme. The intercepting river had to be waded through every time. The rolling stones and pebbles of the river bed were dangerous to life as they swept the labored feet off base. A trained elephant once afforded a timely crossing. The rising water of the river would have compelled our stay overnight on the wrong side of the river without shelter. The Mahawat's (elephant driver's) eyes beamed with reverence for being allowed to offer his services to Baba whom he recognized. He disliked Adi Sr.'s intervention not to touch Baba's feet, but when Baba signaled his disapproval, he quietly obeyed. In all, 500 good Sadhus and 67 Masts and Saints of high and low calibre were contacted, including Brahma Rishi and Jala Tapasvi, two very renowned saints.

 

Hearing once again that the breaches on the mountainous road leading to Uttar Kashi and Gangotri would be repaired making our trip practical, a great amount of labor and time was spent by Baidul and Eruch to arrange for food-stuffs, coolies and draw up itineraries. It was eventually reported that it was almost impossible to go over the road and so the excursion was abandoned. Had we gone, even if the breaches were mended, it would have been a trip involving great danger to life due to the hazards on the way and scarcity of food.

 

18th to 22nd August: Baidul and Eruch were sent out from Rishi Kesh to look for a bungalow somewhere. The roving Mast trips, without adequate rest and food, proved to be telling upon the health of all alike. Baba looked ever so fresh. Kaka was tired, Eruch over-worked, Baidul's feet ached and Adi Sr. grumbled for food. If a bungalow was found, life would be regular. The Masts searched and discovered would be brought over to the house that would save so much of physical labor to Baba. Luckily, the twin Mast workers, Baidul and Eruch, sought out a house between Hardwar and Jwalapur. A good garden and a sweet, cool water well bedecked the fairly old and uncared-for building. Baba approved it. But numerous bugs and insects swarmed over the house. Cobwebs canopied the roof. We began cleaning and white-washing the whole show. For two days life was more irregular and strenuous. Kaka walked furlongs for food. Eruch plodded miles for marketing, Baidul kept up tramping after Masts and Adi Sr. groaned over blowing tea fire. Soon Baba went on a fast as planned before. He took food once in 24 hours. The whole house was D.D.T.'d. But the bugs took refuge in 'Charpais' (wooden cots), the last bastion of their retreat and offered occasional pin-pricks for some time.

 

Early morning, Baidul and Eruch left for Saharanpur to arrange for the collection of selected, poor people on a certain day and also to look for Masts, if any. Baba slept very little at night. In the morning, as a sequel to his overnight's spiritual work at the cost of sleep, he continued his spiritual activity by keeping himself alone in a room for three hours. From that day, Kaka began cooking 'dal' and rice once daily at home. Adi Sr. did the marketing.

 

23rd August: At 10 — 0 o'clock at night, Baidul and Eruch brought a Mast heavily garmented in tattered clothing, by name Rahaman (Mohomedan), deeply revered by the local people. He belonged to the sixth plane of spiritual consciousness and was of genial and happy temperament and persisted in sleeping in open air. He touched Baba's feet. Baba did not like it, ever since he forbade such an obeisance for a long time past.

 

24th August: Early morning, the above Mast was found to have disappeared. He was however found, after a laborious search by all. Baba gave him contact and sent him back to Saharanpur with Baidul and Eruch.

 

Escorting a Mast up and down is one of the feats of human patience, understanding

 

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