The river flowed wide and deep. As the Guru and his young disciple wondered at the best way to cross it, they were approached by a young girl who asked for help.
Having just taken his vows of celibacy, the disciple was alarmed. The more looks he stole at the young girl the more beautiful he found her. He could not help noticing the way her Pallu just partially covered her blooming youth. Hormones raging, he shouted at the young girl to get away from them, admonishing her for the way she was dressed. That even to talk to her was Sin. And then proudly looked to the Guru for approval.
The girl burst into tears. She now approached the Guru. Apologising, that she was a poor girl and could not afford any more clothing. The Guru walked up to the young girl and with strength that belied his age, lifted her on to his shoulders and calmly walked into the river.
The young disciple was horrified.
As the river water lapped up to their chins, all the disciple could think of was the sinful way the young girls now bare legs were astride the naked upper torso of his Guru. How her young body clung on to the Guru’s in what he could see was almost an embrace. His mind reeled with the consequences as he struggled to fight the undertow of currents of the river as well as his own.
Emerging from the turbulent waters at the other end, the Guru calmly put the girl down and walked away. The young disciple’s turmoil now turned to anger. Mile after mile they walked in the hot afternoon sun, the disciple waiting for some words, some explanation, some apology from the Guru. But nothing. Just hot silence.
“How dare you ! How dare you us preach celibacy and do what you just did ” the disciple could not control himself any more “How dare you not feel any shame ?”
The Guru just walked. In silence. Not a word.
” I will not walk with you anymore !” Shouted the disciple
The Guru stopped. Turned back and walked and looked the disciple in the eye.
” I left the young girl on the bank of the river, you are still carrying her” He said “Go back to the banks of the river, and when you finally unburdened yourself,, search for me and you will walk with me again”.
57 years later the disciple still sits at the banks of the river contemplating the words of his Guru. His hormones do not rule him anymore, but he carries other burdens. Till he truly unburdens himself he cannot cross the turbulent river. He cannot be truly free.
And 57 years later, our nation still carries the burden of colonization. We still look to the West for acknowledgement. Till we drop that we cannot be truly free.
For freedom comes not from ‘without’ but from within.