Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Dera got miles and miles of land?

Some truths can’t be delivered directly. They have to be twisted, painted, polished or at times – retold in an entire different way. This short story is an effort to tell a truth that can’t be presented in its original form.

Like all other stories, this one too begins as...

Once upon a time there was a godman. A godman of different kind. Not the usual ones with just devoted following of crores, but the one who got caught up in an imbroglio. An embarrassing situation coupled with accusations of heinous crimes uncalled for a godman.

He lived in a huge house with his disciples, including men, women and children. This huge house had lawns spread in miles and miles of land and he named this entire set up as dera.

As his followers and preachers grew, his people approached him one day.
“Babaji, we need more land to augment our dera. What should be done?”
“Don’t worry. God will grant us what we desire,” he said and closed his eyes, as if murmuring a short prayer.

Now his dera used to hold religious congregations. These congregations were an attempt to bring a common man closer to Almighty. Unlike all other such organizations, his was a much disciplined one. To look after the arrangements of entire sea of humanity, Babaji assigned tasks to different people, while another set of devotees were asked to monitor them.
Witnessing a footfall in lakhs, his dera brimmed with people. Hither – thither lay men, women and children. Older ones waited under temporary sheds. All waited for Babaji to take over the stage and show them way to salvation. These lectures continued for days together and everybody usually stayed for a day or two in dera itself.

At night, people lay under open sky. Those living in bungalows with scores of servants to attend them lay on ground. After all this was Babaji’s dera, where everybody was equal. Others managed to squeeze at the roof tops but the immediate need for more space for devotees was felt.

At morning, the neighboring fields were flocked by an unusual number of visitors. Already short of space, the dera authorities have asked people to attend their nature’s call in nearby fields. Around 20 devotees were assigned task to keep these people away from Babaji’s fields.

“Mai jara agge hoke. E Babaji da khet e” (Mother please move ahead for your ablutions. This is Babaji’s fields).

Ripe wheat crop standing in neighboring fields got crumpled under the weight of last night’s langar. One irate neighboring farmer, who had been bearing this brunt for last many years, had come up with novel idea. He had built a Wall of China around his farm.

For the first season, his farms were spared, but soon after devotees started scaling walls or using walls as a barrier to hide from public view and ease themselves.

The farmer then hired handful of migrant laborers to shoo away devotees. Perched on top of wall, these laborers performed their task to fullest, but failed to put across their message to Gujaratis, Bengalis and others alien to their language.

Finally, the farmers around decided to approach Babaji and seek help for saving their crops. They appeared before Him during one of preaching session. With folded hands they requested Babaji to stop his devotees from wreaking havoc on their crops.

“But I cant stop every individual,” reasoned Babaji.
“Then what should we do? Its been years. We are losing our money to ablutions,” they pleaded.

Babaji thought over and said, “We will solve this problem ourselves. You sell the land to us and then it becomes our problem.”

So the poor farmers ended up selling off their farms at half the original price.

The next congregation…

“Mai jara agge hoke. E Babaji da khet e” (Mother please move ahead for your ablutions. This is Babaji’s fields).
“Tu tana picchli vari kehda si ki picchle khet ne?” (Last time you said that the front fields are of Babaji?”

“Babaji ne e khet khareed laye ne,” (He has bought these fields).

And Baba keeps on including miles and miles of land under his dera.