Monday, 30 January 2012

When Two Thieves Returned the Goods and Begged for Pardon

A Collection of True Stories
When Two Thieves Returned the Goods and Begged for Pardon
(on being chased by a group of Monkeys!)    
By Vijay Khosla

Dear reader, in my last story on Baba Bajrangi, I had hinted about the present story. It is also an interesting incident happened years ago in the early months of 1971.

As told else where, Baba Bajrangi was a noted disciple and devotee of ‘Hanuman ji’. He lived in a simple hut located on the out skirts of a colony. The hut contained a villager’s bamboo cot with a flat-woven cotton rug known as ‘Durries’ and a few bed-sheets as his bedding, two or three dhotis and three to four aluminum utensils. People seldom saw him cooking the food. Most of the times, his neighbours offered him food and other necessities of living whenever they could spare or felt like.

There was no electrical connection to this hut. A crude oil lamp made out of an empty tin was all that the hut could muster to light his den and he never ever felt a need to improve upon the prevailing living condition. At no time he approached any body to ask for any thing. He had perfected the art of living with bare minimum. Gathering and collecting worldly objects was never his aim. He never wanted to amass a thing. Most of the times, he kept to himself and spoke less. If at all he spoke, he used to talk about ‘Hanuman ji’. Otherwise, he sang ‘Bhajans’. The doors of his hut were open to all and never locked. He was a perfect living ‘fakir’!

Those who knew Baba Bajrangi had very high regards for him. It was very common to find people approaching him, touching his knees or feet to show their regards and seeking his blessings. On every Tuesday, he used to observe fast through out the day and in the evening, he would walk down to the temple of ‘Hanuman ji’ at the Sangam. He was fond of breaking his fast with the temple’s ‘Prasad’, distributed after the ‘Aarti’ in the evening.

One fine day, he was away on his visit to ‘Hanuman ji’s temple at the Sangam. After having his ‘Prasad’ from the temple, he walked back and reached late in the night at his hut. It was dark inside as there was no light. He was tired too. Therefore, he lay down on his cot and slept.

In the morning, he heard people shouting and making a great noise out side his hut. He came out of his hut and enquired. At that he was asked to check the hut for his belongings, because people saw ‘two men hurriedly carrying a bundle of clothes and utensils on their head’! People tried to stop them but those thieves ran away.

On hearing that Baba Bajrangi checked his hut and was shocked for a moment at his findings. But, with out uttering a word, he closed his eyes and slowly took a few deep breath. The exercise calmed his nerves and he smiled. His face was serious but peaceful again.

Baba Bajrangi said: Listen my friends, do not create a scene. Do not bother about those two men. They were needy people, hence carried stuff from the hut. Their need was greater than mine and my Lord Hanuman ji saw it befitting to distribute the things in this way. Therefore, go back to your homes and forget about the whole issue!   

People tried to convince him about the theft and reporting the matter to police. But Baba Bajrangi did not agree to any thing. Instead, he asked the people to try to understand the ways of working of that Almighty!

He declared the whole thing as his litmus test by his lord to find whether his disciple could muster the inner strength to give up the love of having these small few worldly belongings! He persisted on his belief and announced that henceforth, he will live as his lord wishes! He has no complaints to make.

At this statement from Baba Bajrangi, people looked upon him in disbelief. Yet, they started dispersing as there was nothing better to do.

Two days passed with out any fresh developments. The news of the theft had spread like a jungle fire in the near by areas. Baba Bajrangi became more famous at this austerity on his life. Hordes of people were coming to see this living fakir and pay their homage.

Now hold your breath! Here comes the strange but joyful turn to the story!

Two rickshaws approached the hut of Baba Bajrangi in the evening. On one rickshaw, two large jute bags were loaded. One jute bag contained the new utensils made of brass and aluminum and the other bag contained clothes and other household goods. On the second rickshaw, there were two men holding the same bundle of clothes and utensils stolen from the hut of Baba Bajrangi. In fact, these two men were the very same two thieves, who had made their escape good the other day!

While these two thieves were approaching the hut, a great cacophony of hooting and gibbering sounds erupted from the surrounding trees. People were astonished at this and looked up at the trees. A large horde of monkeys was perched up on the trees and staring gravely at the two men alighting from the rickshaw.

Now, these two thieves carried all the bags up to the hut and fell straight away at the feet of Baba Bajrangi. The thieves were crying and openly asking for the mercy. They begged for his pardon for stealing the goods from a sage’s hut. The Baba patted their shoulders and asked them to arise.

The people had gathered by now and asked for their reason of returning the goods. At this, they pointed at the horde of monkeys. They claimed that the day they stole the household goods, they never knew a thing about the Baba. By the evening of the same day, they noticed that a few monkeys were following them everywhere and their intentions were gravely threatening. On the second day, the news of theft at the Baba’s house had reached them also and that’s how they came to know about the Baba Bajrangi, a devotee of lord Hanuman ji! 
In the mean while, the horde of monkeys kept increasing their numbers and surrounded the house of thieves. The monkeys were everywhere and it made the life of these two thieves uncomfortable. They understood that a mistake has been made and its time to amend it and seek the pardon of Baba Bajrangi. They gathered the stolen goods to return and purchased a few more to appease the anger of the Baba and his neighbours.

The story of the thieves greatly impressed every body. Many people felt that these thieves should be pardoned as they have learned their lesson from the book of life. At this, the Baba Bajrangi agreed to, but declared simultaneously that he will not accept anything brought by these two men. It will be better if these goods be distributed among the needy people. He will remain happy with the way his lord keeps him!

With great difficulty and persuasion the Baba agreed to take back his original belongings. But not an iota more!

During this story telling period, no body remembered to keep a watch on the monkeys, hanging outside on the trees. When the matter was solved amicably, the thieves were the first to remember the gravity of monkeys. They came out of the hut and looked at the trees. They were surprised and shouted with joy….. all the monkeys had vanished. There was no trace of monkeys any more on those trees. Everything was peaceful and beautiful once again!

The two thieves gave up the habit of stealing after that.


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