Postmaster and the Shipping Magnate
as told by the postmaster

I went to Bangalore in 1969 and stayed with Swamiji at the ashram. The day before I was to leave to return home, I had Swamiji’s darshan along with several other devotees. Swamiji asked me, “So what is your plan?”

I told Swamiji, “I am leaving tomorrow.”

Swamiji gave me blessings and some vibhuti. Then he said, “What do you want?”

I said, “I want dhyan (meditation).” Again Swamiji asked me what I wanted. This time I said, “I want dhyan. I want bhakti (devotion), and I want vairagya (detachment).”

Again Swamiji asked me, “You tell me what you want.” I just repeated the same words. Swamiji laughed and hit me on the back. Then I came away.

A devotee with us came running after me. He stopped me and said, “Swamiji was asking you what you want and you didn’t tell him anything. When I first came here to Swamiji, I was running onto busses to sell beans and other snacks. Now I am a wealthy ship owner. My ships carry cargo overseas.”

I said, “I wasn’t thinking. I also could have asked Swamiji for some money. At that moment I could have asked him, but it didn’t enter my mind.”

The shipping magnate made fun of me. “You could have asked for anything. You could have owned ships.”

I didn’t know what to do. “Okay. Let me take the next chance to meet Swamiji and certainly I will ask for money. This time I lost the chance. It doesn’t matter.” So I returned to Dehradun.

The next time when Swamiji came to Dehradun, I told Swamiji, “Swamiji, this fellow is making fun of me. I don’t know what to do.”

“Don’t worry about it. That fellow is going to come here. When he comes here, I will tell you what to do. Just keep quiet about it.”

After that, the shipping magnate came to Dehradun on Swamiji’s invitation. One night as people were going to sleep, Swamiji called me aside and said, “Now, before that fellow goes to sleep, go to him and ask him how he sleeps. Ask whether he sleeps well or not. Then if he also asks you, you tell him.” I went to the hall where the men were sleeping on mats lined up on the floor. I went up to the businessman and asked him, “How do you sleep? Do you sleep well?”

“How do you expect me to sleep well? All the night I am thinking. I am worried. I know my ship has reached there and a telegram has to be sent, otherwise it will be just there. No one will take care of that. A phone call has to be made to them. I am totally worried. I cannot sleep at all.” Then he asked the me, “What about you? How do you sleep?”

I told him, “The minute I lie down on my bed, I am gone. In the morning I wake up. That’s all.”

In the morning when I went to Swamiji, he asked me, “What? Did you ask him?” When I told him, Swamiji had a good laugh about what all had happened. “See, in spite of acquiring all that wealth, he cannot sleep well. You think you don’t have anything, but you are having wonderful sleep. That is the difference.”