Gopal and Leela were a happily married couple with their four-year-old son, Hari. They had a farm in the same village where Sage Andra’s ashram was. They had developed closeness toward Anidra. They worked hard, especially Leela. She was the strength of the family and the whole village. She inspired people to work hard. She would tell them that working hard was the secret to being worry-free and that God had gifted them with bodies and minds which they must use sincerely and wisely; otherwise, they would be dishonoring God. She was very cheerful and would add playfulness to her work. She was the village’s pride, everyone from young to old adored her.
Gopal, like Leela, also inspired villagers to be self-sufficient and independent. He would tell them that there was nothing worse than a capable person becoming reliant on others and that without self-effort, believing in God was meaningless. He would inspire people to be proud of themselves but without becoming arrogant.
Gopal and Leela would often go to the ashram. Gopal liked being around Anidra, whereas Leela would spend more time with Anidra’s cow, Maan Bhagavati. She would bathe her, feed her, and sometimes even put some jewelry and makeup on her. She would then show her a mirror, and they both would have a good laughter. Maan would teach Leela singing. When they sang together, it sounded angelic and celestial.
One of their favorite songs was ‘Just Like Him.’
When I see you,
I perceive Divine
It’s my fortune
I feel you are mine
For sure, I know
you are just like Him
Whenever I see you
My heart sings you a hymn
You walk like Him
You talk like Him
Without a doubt
you are every inch like Him.
Nothing more I want
Nothing more I need
You are the complete gift
I have received.
Sadly, a few days ago, Gopal fell critically ill. Within a short period, his health began to deteriorate rapidly. Doctors couldn’t diagnose the cause of his sickness, and no medicine was working. He had become bedridden and very frail. The whole village was sorrowful. The villagers would gather around Gopal’s house and pray for his recovery. Many would fast all day, hoping that their sacrifices would help Gopal. But nothing helped. Leela would spend all day being with Gopal and looking after him. She stopped meeting people as she didn’t want to discuss Gopal’s condition anymore. She had even stopped going to the ashram. Hari didn’t understand what was happening, but he just wanted to be around his abba.
All eyes now turned to Anidra. They believed in him. Gopal’s parents and a few others would go to the ashram daily and request Anidra for his blessings for Gopal’s recovery. Anidra would remain compassionately silent. At times, Gopal’s parents would insist that Leela come along with them as they felt that Leela was very close to him and he would certainly bless her. But Leela would refuse to go. She would tell them,” Anidra knows Gopal is sick. He loves Gopal. I don’t need to ask him for anything.”
Leela remembered what Anidra had said once,” God is not partial that He blesses one and not another. Having more doesn’t mean one is more blessed. Having less means that your turn to have more will come again. The wheel continues. The rich will become poor again, and the poor will become rich again. Have compassion for those who have less. Someday you will need their compassion. Neither a long life is a blessing, nor a short life is a misfortune. See both as this is how it is. Have the courage to flow with life. Life is beautiful. So is death. It takes you back from the skin to Soul. Rise above the blessings. Instead, love God. Those who love do not seek blessings.”
Leela believed in love. Seeing God in all, she loved all. Anidra’s words and her love for all were her strength.
Earlier today, Anidra and Maan had come to see Gopal. The villagers became hopeful that their presence would heal Gopal. They prayed to them for their blessings. When Anidra went inside the house, Maan stood outside near a window to see Gopal. Gopal was unconscious, but it was apparent from some movement in his eyes and hands that he could feel their presence. Anidra sat on Gopal’s bed and held his hand. Anidra carried Hari in his lap. Looking down, Leela sat on the floor. There were tears in her eyes and sighs in her breath. She knew it was time for farewell.
Later that day, Gopal passed away. Anidra heard the loud cries. He asked people at the ashram to arrange for Gopal’s cremation. One corner of his ashram was used as the cremation ground for the village. Anidra would attend every funeral and ask people to meditate on the reality of life while the body was being burned.
Gopal’s body was brought there, and after a few rituals, it was set on fire. Soon the fire was in full blaze. Some people stood there crying. Some sat there meditating. Anidra sat on the ground, watching the flames. Maan asked Leela to follow her as she went around the fire a few times while chanting Om.
When the flames began to subside, Leela asked one of the villagers to bring Hari there. When Hari came there, seeing the fire and so many people there, some still crying, he got scared and cried loudly. Leela held him tightly close to her heart.
After a few minutes, Hari looked around and asked Leela where abba was? Leela pointed to his heart and then her heart and said, ” In our hearts.” She held him tightly, as closely as she could.
The next day Leela was back on the fields. In the evening, she and Hari came to the ashram. Seeing her, Anidra said to Maan, ” Leela is God’s dignity!”