Christmas was celebrated on the 25th. (1938), and that night they took a boat ride on the Narmada River. Baba dipped his hands in the water and posed as Rano took a photograph of him. Gaimai wistfully observed, “How long the Narmada has awaited you, Baba.” Baba just smiled.
After their return from the river, Baba said, “While we were on the boat I remembered a story about a Perfect Master.” All the women eagerly requested him to tell it and so he began to spell out the tale:
There was once a Sadguru staying in a certain place with a few of his disciples. One night his mandali were conversing among themselves, saying that though they had stayed with the Master for the past so many years, still they had gained nothing. A Sadguru is all-knowing, and he of course knew what his disciples were talking about. But he did not say anything and appeared innocently unmindful of them.
The next day, all took their seats before the Master. He noticed they seemed to be in a sad mood. The Master inquired the reason, and they told him what was on their minds. He laughingly told them to be patient and, in a short time, had completely changed their remorseful mood into one of gaiety. All forgot their dejection.
Some days later the Sadguru told his disciples, “Don’t do any work today and enjoy yourselves for a change. You have the whole day to yourselves, so eat, drink and be merry.” This made them jubilant, and they spent the day happily playing cards, listening to music, reminiscing and joking with one another.
In the evening the Sadguru said, “We will go out in the boat tonight.” This made his disciples even more happy and they said, “Master, it would be grand if you allowed us to take a little wine this evening.” The Master readily agreed, and all drank and ate to their heart’s content. They took their seats in the boat and continued playing cards, listening to music and enjoying themselves thoroughly. The Master told them to take turns rowing the boat by twos. And so it went.
They were overjoyed to be allowed so much freedom, and after a few hours the Sadguru observed, “We have come a long distance and we won’t be able to return before dawn.”
The disciples said with bravado, as they were slightly tipsy by now, “However far we have proceeded, we will surely return home by morning; we will row even harder!” The Master did not say a word.
It was a moonlit night, and all got very drunk. Dawn began breaking over the horizon and the Master said, “Oh, it is morning now and we still have not returned home!” The intoxicating effects of the wine were wearing off by now, and they thought that they had come a long distance. But then, carefully observing their surroundings, they saw to their astonishment that they were where they had boarded the boat the night before! In their intoxication, instead of rowing the boat, they had stayed right where they had started from!
The Sadguru then commented, “The whole night you were rowing and rowing and I was also seated with you. But the boat did not move at all; you are where you were and have not gone a step further. What is the reason for this?”
One replied, “We were drunk and thought we were rowing the boat; in fact, it was tied to the dock all the time!”
The Master explained, “Because of your remaining absorbed in worldly enjoyment, you are exactly where you were. Although I was with you, what could I do when you were merged in material pleasures? In the same way, despite your being with me for years, instead of coming closer to me, you remain drowned in temporal pleasures. What do you expect to gain? How will you benefit by my contact? You will remain as you are!
“Therefore, don’t be a slave to material happiness. Be my slaves and see what you gain without even asking!”
This made all remember their mood of dejection and they trusted and believed what their Master was saying was true.
Baba then explained to the women, “I am showing you beautiful sights, boat riding with you and taking you here and there. All this is to free you from material bondage. Doing all this, all the while I am attentive of whose mind is where, and when I interrupt you in your reveries with a view to free you, you take it ill and your mood is upset.
“If I do not behave like this, of what use would it be your remaining with me for years together? Remember to focus your attention always on me, even while enjoying things. Don’t remain drowned in material pleasures. Don’t give rein to your desires.
“Only love me! When you love me only, then in the intoxication of that love, you will find all physical pleasures lifeless.”
Baba then teased them, “Those disciples believed faithfully in the word of their Master, but you are such types that in spite of my telling you this, you are eagerly waiting for me to finish so you can all go and eat!” Everyone laughed.
Lord Meher, Original Publication, Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 7, pp. 2348 – 2352.