5 Blankets to Warm the Divine Self
My seventh-year manifesting in form was significant, when I look back.
One day, when my entire family was basking the warmth of the winter sun on the terrace, an old man, a beggar with tattered clothes, came to our door asking for any help, food, warm clothes, maybe a blanket, a few rupees. Given who my Guru was, and his large heart, our home always served the destitute of our city. But that day, since all the grown-ups were either upstairs, or out and about (including Baba), It was left to me to do what I could. For some reason, it did not strike me to go fetch my mother from the terrace.
Seeing how cold he was, I fetched the man my blanket from my own bed. But when I came back, two more men, who looked exactly like the first (in tattered clothes) stood at the door. They blessed me, beseeching me for blankets for themselves, too. So, I pulled off my father’s and mother’s blankets this time, from their beds, for them. But now, there were two more old men waiting for me again, who looked exactly like the other three. I was so perplexed. But I had a plan. This time, I took my sister’s and aunt’s blankets, too. I knew they would understand, too, as they were both so kind, after all.
It was quite something, a seven-year old going back and forth through the different rooms and back to the front gate on the first floor, where the five old men stood shivering in the biting cold, huddled together, (And they looked exactly alike, but I was so busy, that I could not tease that puzzle apart just yet.) But it never struck me that I should ask permission (or ask for help, as I have always been a self-sufficient soul from very early on). Besides, ever since Baba had said (Atithi devo bhava), meaning The visitor is God, I could see no options.
At night, when everyone decided to retire after dinner, there was quite a commotion. Five blankets were missing in action. When I explained, my mom became quiet, not quite knowing how to respond. I suppose she was proud of me, as ‘acting from heartfelt generosity’ is called Dharma, meaning heart-based concern for other beings who are less fortunate than us. This was something Baba taught us from the Vedas, and role modeled for us day and night; and at the same time, my mother was speechless, because more blankets were present in our house, but sealed inside a big old iron trunk, upstairs in the attic. Who could go there at this hour, what with the giant rats and all? (Our house was 200 years old by then.) How would everyone sleep in the cold and foggy winter night? What should she do?
Just then, my grandfather, Baba, walked in from his road trip to the nearby big city of ‘Lucknow’, four hours away from our home town ‘Ayodhya’. In Lucknow, Baba had addressed a convention on Advaita, the nondual teachings from the Upanishads, on behalf of the ‘Swami Ram Tirtha mission’, where Baba had often been requested to lecture.
A few of Baba’s disciples returned with him, along with a new person who had come from Lucknow to stay at our home for a few weeks (and meditate and learn Self-knowledge, or atma jnanam, at the feet of Baba, as per our tradition). The new guest was holding onto some bundles packed in newspapers. He was an owner of a clothing mill in Delhi, and these were his humble gifts to his Guru’s family, who would kindly host him. He gifted us five woolen blankets, not one less, not one more.
Because we all looked shocked, he felt he needed to explain himself. He said he was going to bring fruits and sweets, but at the last moment, he felt he must take the blankets to us instead - he hoped we would accept them.
Everyone laughed out loud - my mother’s laughter was full of visible relief.
My eyes met Baba’s eyes. I knew and he knew, that Ishwara (all-pervading God presence) had paid a visit to our home as 'beggars' – asking for blankets. But God would never leave us out in the cold either!
That night, I slept in the all new blanket, extra protected, cocooned in divine protection of divine giving and receiving.
Acharya Shunya is a Vedic lineage holder and teacher of nondual wisdom from the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita, along with the Vedic sciences of Ayurveda and Yoga. She is the spiritual preceptor of a global community of truth seekers. She teaches out of her wisdom school, Vedika Global, based in Emeryville, California, USA and lectures worldwide. She is the award-winning author of Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom (Sounds True, 2017), voted among the Top 10 Books in Alternative Medicine by Health Line (2017). To find out more and to explore studying the ancient wisdom from Vedic seers with Acharya Shunya, visit her official website maintained by her students: https://www.acharyashunya.com/.