Trouble .. Rammu Seth comes to rescue

Posted By Author on September 21, 2011

25/12/1968:

In the late evening brother of a Sindhi tailor of Paratwada called on me.  He told that Mangalsingh had come.  I got the clue that Haribandhu had arrived.  I rushed and met him.  We had a chat and I put him in a rickshaw and directed him to get his belongings from the motor stand to my home.  I returned to home.  Luckily Prabhakar was there.  I informed my parents that I had a guest from Bengal.  They said nothing.

Prabhakar and I awaited Haribandhu’s arrival keeping a watch on the road outside.  He arrived.  I gave him a room and made all arrangements. Shefali served him dinner.  He took rest while we came to see father and mother.  My sister and her husband were worrying about my affair.  Prabhakar bluffed them that the guest was under non-bailable warrant in Bengal and would spend a few days here.  He consoled them.  Yet they were suspicious but cooled down.  Prabhakar left.

Chatted with Haribandhu. He showed a letter dictated by Shri Baba in the name of Haribandhu and addressed to Shibnath Bose at Calcutta.  It mentioned that for five years Shri Baba would not come out in humanity etc.  There was another note dictated for me.  It directed me to sell my wristwatch and pay rupees hundred and seventy to Gondu and rupees thirty to servant Pandurang both from Ghatang and no loan would be repaid, etc. It was His usual frustration to which I was well accustomed.

Haribandhu disclosed that Shri Baba and Gita had friction frequently and lingering squabble continued.  That in order to straighten her He was punishing her by confining in loneliness. This torture was becoming unbearable to her.

I decided not to bother. I could not stand unwieldy and expanding expenditure, mounting loans and usual indefiniteness. I decided to remain reserved and reticent and also made a decision not to go on 29th Dec.

26/12/1968:

My father had severe heart trouble. Brother and his wife had gone to Aurangabad, Pune and Karad by car.  I had a hectic day with doctors.

27th, 28th, 29th Dec. 1968. Used to take Haribandhu around the town.  Introduced my mother’s uncle former Professor of Marathi in Banaras Hindu University Shri Balawantrao Khaparde.  He talked with Haribandhu in fluent Bengali.

My brother and sister-in-law Prabhavati arrived by our car from Goa.

30/12/1968:

I explained to Haribandhu that I was worried to raise minimum rupees six thousand to wash off loans taken for Shri Baba plus additional amount of loan incurred by Baba plus expenses to run the camp in the Melghat.

31/12/1968:

Entertained Haribandhu.  Wished all a happy new year.  A letter from Rajat Bhadra from Shaulmari Ashram reached today.

1/1/1969:

Today is New Year’s Day.  In the evening met Tarkatirtha Laxaman Shastri Joshi, a renowned scholar of Wai, and his wife at D.B.Ranade’s residence. He was Royist (M.N.Roy group) and political Guru of Y.B. Chavan who was Chief Minister of Maharashtra and Defence Minister of India. Baudi’s letter in Bengali from Ashram reached.

2/1/1968:

Tarkatirtha Laxman Shastri came for tea to our home.  I had discussion with him. At present he is preparing ‘Vishwa Kosh.’(Encyclopedia in Marathi)

3/1/1969:

Prabhakar came and we decided to call on Shri Baba on Sunday.  A letter from Shibnath Bose came.  He mentioned that the police from Calcutta were enquiring about whereabouts of Shri Baba.  They were not getting any clue of his whereabouts and hence baffled.

4/1/1969:

Haribandhu and I did marketing for Shri Baba.  Purchased fruits and vegetable of Rs.twenty, grocery of Rs. eighty-five, carton of Capstan cigarettes for Rs.thirty two. Stealthily kept purchases in Haribandhu’s room.  Mother was suspicious.  I told her that I was to go to hill station Chikaldara with students’ excursion next day and hence purchases for them were brought.

5/1/1969:

Along with Haribandhu in our car we reached Bus Station. Left luggage with Haribandhu and brought car back to home.  Walked down to stand. Prabhakar joined at 8 A.M. on scooter. His younger brother Krishna gave him a ride. He was feeling fishy about us.  He left by scooter.  Haribandhu returned home. Prabhakar and I caught Bhokarbardi bus.  Ate Tiffin at Paratwada.  Mr. Sambare, our college librarian, met accidentally and he was inquisitive.  Dodged him properly telling that we were going to Chikhaldara to join the excursion of the college.  He was convinced.  At 11 A.M. our bus pushed off.

It was shocking and surprising for us to see Shri Baba walking along the road between 8th and 9th mile from Paratwada near hamlet Koholi just earlier to forest gate of Behali.  I stopped the bus and both of us alighted. He sat on His ‘Dalda’ tin.  One young passenger, M.A. in Sociology intervened and began to talk nonsense that he was Bajarang Bhakta etc.  I drove him out.

The bus was detained and hence I had to take a quick decision.  I talked with Shri Baba.  He told Prabhakar to proceed to the campsite with goods.  He boarded the bus and left.  I joined Shri Baba who was in his usual attire of all India sojourn.  He was exhausted and smoked Capstan cigarettes.  I was contemplating. My surmise was that because of want of money all were without food.

Shri Baba informed me that Chinu’s chain of gold presented by me was pawned for forty-five rupees with Gondu, the milkman of Ghatang. Gondu’s previous due was already Rs.175.  Anyhow they pulled on a week.  Shri Baba then in melancholy mood told that things were upset and for five years he would do nothing.  Then pessimistically he jutted out frustration that Ramanidada and Gita were left alone to the care of God and perhaps wild animals might eat them.  He dejectedly expressed that if they would die it would be good for the start of the work.   (This is the second time that he expressed the inner cause of frustration. See diary of 4th May 1966) No one ever did fulfill his directives and conditions and that he did not want to live in humanity.  Desperately he said that there was no possibility of refunding the loans, etc.  He narrated an incident in the Ashram in which He uprooted a big vegetable garden on seeing the selfishness of inmates.  I ventured to say that all of us were bound to commit mistakes but not consiously.  He retorted that corrective trend was not discerned in us and hence everything was useless. Then he charged me that I was lying with him by telling that I did not receive his letter written in his own hand from Amarkantak from his series of six letters. On oath I could convince him that I did not receive his two letters from the series.  In a very depressed mood he said, “ Nowadays, even truth I see from suspicious angle.”  He was rubbing his legs and told that yesterday lot of ants stung.  He intimated that he began his walk yesterday at midday and covered twelve miles of hilly road with lot of ups and down till the point where we met.  He briefed that he gave lot of pressure to start work and as a result his nerves gave away.  He was semi-paralytic a week ago. It was beyond my ken.  He foretold that unless and until he recovered his health he would do nothing.  He disclosed that  Gita was repenting but it was too late and of no use.  He reminded me that if I had not left Amarkantak on the 13th night and instead stayed in the Dharmshala then things could have been changed.  I kept mum all the while.  He enquired about Haribandhu and I apprised that he was staying in my house.  He was irritated and said that he warned Haribandhu not to stay with me and posed a question as to why did he violate the order.  I apologetically confessed that since I had no money I could not afford his stay in lodge hence I was responsible to keep him at my home.  Shri Baba maintained a convincing taciturnity.  He pointedly enquired whether I sent money order to Gondu at Ghatang.  I meekly admitted that the utensils brought by Haribandhu and my watch could not be sold, as there were no takers.  He blurted, “Don’t tell me of money.  I am fed up.”

It had started to rain. The weather was chilly. While taking leave Prabhakar was shivering in his shirt when he left for the camp.  I moved from tree to tree to take shelter from rain while Shri Baba had His umbrella opened.  I told Shri Baba that my colleagues from the college were coming from Chikaldara by the next bus.  Hearing sound of engine Shri Baba warned me to hide.  Unfortunately it proved to be a truck.  Then bus came and I tried to hide behind a tree.  (Later the librarian Sambare told that he saw me climbing a tree.)

Rain ceased.  I read out Rajat’s letter from the Ashram.  Then gave gist of Shibnath and Radhakant’s letters.  He cautioned me not to send any reply to Pandey brothers.  He expressed that Dinbandhu at the Ashram might face trouble for want of resources.  He was worried about him.

Shri Baba then disclosed that He would go to Lucknow.  Again he changed his mind and selected Haridwar.  He told me to give nearest route to Highway on a piece of paper.  I jotted approximate mileage via Paratwada, Akot, Shegaon, Khamgaon, Malkapur, and Bhusawal where Bombay-Agra road touches. However I informed that from our camp via Kolkhas, Harisal, Dharni to Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh would be shortest about forty-six miles.  He kept the sketch with Him.

I hesitatingly asked permission to leave for the camp as Prabhakar would be stranded and moreover I was required to return home by night as brother had gone to Bombay.  He agreed.

At 12.30 P.M., A truck of the forest department came.  I bowed before Shri Baba and left.  Some labourers got down and I climbed up.  The truck pushed off towards Ghatang.  At Behali more people joined us.  Amongst them was a person who told that he was brother of Kunjansingh of the Forest Department (ranger).  Two Korkus also joined him and they were ‘patels’, of respective villages.  All three were going to the campsite for Shri Baba’s ‘darshan’.  I disclosed to them that I was one of them.

The teacher told me that on the previous night Shri Baba slept under a tamarind tree near ‘lakkad Deo’ (carved wooden posts pegged below open hut are worshipped by the tribal Korkus) in the vicinity of Behali.  A looming sense of nervousness was constantly infecting us because of His callous and indifferent attitude about his own safety when alone. (Netaji never bothered about his own safety and many a times missed his death by whiskers.) In the morning the teacher requested Shri Baba for tea and breakfast.  Shri Baba refused to accept the offer and told him that he was proceeding to Amravati and could stay no more.  However Shri Baba promised him that after three days on his return journey he would make a brief halt to satisfy him.  The teacher told that all people were curious and none could get audience.

At 1.30 P.M., I approached the destination.  The teacher and two Korku patels also got down.  I gave a tip of one rupee to driver, which he reluctantly accepted.

I met Prabhakar and Ramanidada.  I informed him that although Shri Baba had warned not to accept anything that I would bring, Baba had waved off the ruling.  So Dada took possession of merchandise brought by us.

Snacks and tea were offered to guests as per usual custom.  I called upon Gitamasi.  She was cheerful.  She was least worried about Shri Baba’s departure.  She confidently told me that within a week Shri Baba would return and that he might go to Amravati to collect money.  I showed her photographs taken at Amarkantak and gave copies.  Then gave her letters from her mother and sister.  She was very happy and eagerly waiting since long for the same.

Prabhakar and I went to the stream for bath.  Two trucks belonging to the Forest department went up towards Dharani.  They misjudged our spot and returned soon.  We received eight persons from the Forest Department.  They were very curious and after a brief chat left.

We too had snacks.  Before leaving I had a parting dialogue with Gitamasi.  We heard the sound of a vehicle coming. Prabhakar and I without collecting our things rushed to the main road panting and puffing. A bus arrived and we were lucky to catch it by seconds.  The conductor of the bus was inquisitive and surprised to see us in the dense forest.  I bluffed him that we had been to a village Shirasban nearby and he kept mum.  We heaved a sigh of relief.  Prabhakar told that while getting down he forgot one parcel in the bus but fortunately bus stopped and on the next turning he relieved it. We arrived at Ghatang and then descended the steep slope of hairpin bends and landed in the plain area of Behali.  Both of us then became very cautious and watchful.  We sharpened our vigil to locate Shri Baba.  About four miles from Paratwada towards the mountain in the first village Mallhar, we saw a mad rush of people and Shri Baba was sitting nearby.  A car was parked; I often admired how his towering and lofty personality pulled crowds wherever he touched.  It was like gravitational pull.  I stopped the bus and both of us alighted.  The conductor was puzzled.

I rushed to Shri Baba.  He informed me that the people had arranged a car for him.  Shri Baba then took owner of the car aside and ordered him to sit before Him.  I turned to villagers. The crowd informed me that many drivers of buses and trucks offered a ride to Shri Baba but he refused outright.  Earlier to this destination Shri Baba was resting along the roadside in the forest.  There in front of him the radiator of the truck burst and the truck came to a dead halt.  Driver’s life was saved but he attributed it to occult power of Shri Baba.  The driver narrated the incident to his owner.  The owner was already on lookout for Shri Baba since a month as he heard about him from his truck drivers.  He was a known personality of Paratwada popularly known as Rammu Seth (Agrawal).  He was my brother’s client, a rich man with a petrol joint in Paratwada and plying his many trucks mostly to bring logs from the forest area.  His business of transport was roaring. He was also President of Municipality.  The moment he came to know about Shri Baba, he rushed there with car.  This was how the mystery of car was solved.  As per Shri Baba’s direction the rear seat of the car was rubbed with lemons, washed and readied.

Shri Baba told the crowd that he was waiting for His men (Prabhakar and I) who were coming by ‘baans’, a typical Bengali pronunciation for ‘bus’.  In the local language ‘baans’ meant bamboos, which are profuse in the Melghat forest and hence people thought that we were coming on a bullock cart laden with bamboos.  When they were surprised to see us alighting from bus they understood the meaning of ‘baans gadi’.  It was a great fun. During my adventure I learnt lot of blunders and wonders of languages. It was funny.  Bengali ‘Bara’ is phallus and ‘Baro’ is twelve. In Hindi ‘Bal’ is hair on head but in Bengali it means pubic hair and ‘chul’ means hair of head. In Bengali ‘zata’ mean broom but in Hindi it means pubic hair. In Hindi ‘Mang’ is parting line of hair on head of woman. In Bengali it is female private part.  If called ‘Beta’ to kid, it is offending in U.P. To wag thumb for no room is taken as most obscene in Bihar. My friend in Bengali said motor was five rupees per kilo and I wondered whether cars were sold as per weight. Later I knew that he meant peas (matar). In Kerala abuses are based on coconut while in Russia on ginger.  I learnt all this by mistakes, experience and bewilderment.

We were about to move in the car.  I appealed to Shri Baba that when he was in so acute stringency and short of money he should have had sent a word to me and I would have brought some people from Amravati.  Shri Baba refused and expressed that ‘Mother (Goddess) had sent that ‘seth’ (rich man) and that he had decided not to return to the camp without rupees one thousand as the provision for two and half months.  When he told about it to Rammu Seth, he readily agreed.

Our journey by car started. Prabhakar and myself were in the front seat and Rammu Seth was driving. Shri Baba sat alone on the rear seat.  I informed Shri Baba that for the formation of Agricultural University there was great agitation and the frenzied mob put the Forest Depot of timber and trucks afire. The government accused Rammu Seth that in order to ply his trucks he instigated mob and criminal cases were going on. My brother was his lawyer. Shri Baba expressed that it was immoral on the part of the Government to prepare false cases against political rivals.  There was a rumour that Rammu Seth had transport service and trucks and hence he was interested in burning the Forest Department’s trucks to help his own business?

It was decided that we would go to Rammu Seth’s farm on road to Akola.  An umbrella of marble monument was built in the memory of Rammu Seth’s father.  Shri Baba ensconced there and told to get Capstan cigarettes immediately.

Prabhakar sat near Baba and discussed Yoga Vasishta, Patanjali Yoga Sutra and Das Capital of Karl Marx.

Rammu Seth’s brother brought three packets of Capstan and he was aghast to see Shri Baba’s personality.  Leaving Shri Baba with Prabhakar I accompanied Rammu Seth in his car to Paratwada.  On way he confided that he had purchased four passenger buses of Bhausaheb Kaloti (my friend’s father) for rupees one lakh and that he was spending rupees twenty thousand on renovation of a ‘Sri Ram temple’, which he showed me later.  He further told me that he belonged to Dhawakal Seth’s party and that for six months he was President of the Municipality.  He seemed sober, simple, pious type but full of vices probably.

We went to Dhawakal Seth.  He was there.  We went inside.  I told both of them as to who was Babaji.  Dhawakal Seth was not impressed.  He seemed to be a hard nut to crack. He told me that he knew Anantlal Dammani and had discussion about the Shaulmari Ashram and the founder i.e. Shri Baba.  He was bargaining and was willing to shell only rupees two hundred and fifty.  The rest he suggested to collect from Rammu Seth.  He tersely said that when Rammu could afford to spend money in gambling (cards), he could easily pay the whole sum.  This he confided when Rammu Seth had gone out.  Dhawakal Seth refused to see Shri Baba.  Rammu Seth had been to four persons.  Two were out of town, one refused and one offered rupees fifty-one only.

We left Dhawakal Seth.  I felt I committed a blunder in directly revealing Shri Baba’s identity.  It was absolutely foolish on my part to bestow confidence in them.  Rammu Seth told that Dhawakal was the richest man of the town and from agriculture alone he earned two lakh rupees per annum.  Rammu Seth decided to pay rupees five hundred just then and remaining five hundred the next week on Sunday.  We arrived at his garden.

Shri Baba and Rammu Seth had a talk in privacy.  Then I asked Shri Baba as to what was to be done in case of Haribandhu who was stationed at my home.  Shri Baba was displeased with him for his talk with Gita charging that Shri Baba was biased towards Ratan Maheshwari and did not bother about his family.  In that context Haribandhu quoted an incident.  Shri Baba then gave a note of instructions to me which is misplaced but it’s meaning was that if Haribandhu genuinely felt repentant then he should reach the camp.  To copy down the note I left blank space in the diary.

Rammu Seth put about five ‘papitas’ i.e. papaya for Baba and all of us went to his petrol pump.  There I had discussion with Baba and then we bade him ‘Pronams’ and left.  Shri Baba with Rammu Seth left for marketing.  We reached home at Amravati at 8.30 P.M. Dined with Haribandhu.

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