In spite of all the work he had to do at Noakhali Bapu spend at least ten minutes everyday there teaching me the Gila.
In the Agakhan Palace I had the good fortune to learn from him various subjects
such as Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, Geography, History, Science, and
Sanskrit; but English he never taught me. Others in the Agakhan Palace
taught it to me. On account of want of time and Ba's illness, Bapu had to
drop instructing me in the other subjects, but he never gave up teaching me
Sanskrit. It was he who gave me my first lessons in the study of the Gita. I
have passed through the hands of many teachers in school, but though at
times I took a little help from others. Bapu has remained for me the only
instructor in the Gita.
In the Agakhan Palace, however, I could learn only to read the text of the Gita
correctly. In Noakhali on the day following our arrival Bapu said,
"Twenty-four hours have passed since you came here; now tell me how far you
have progressed in the study of the Gita. You are here not only to do my
work, I want you to pursue your studies a^ well." I replied, "I have at
times tried to study the Gita after I was released from jail. But I have not
wanted to learn pronunciation or meaning from anyone else. I didn't mind
having number of teachers for other subjects but in respect of the Gita. I
did not wish to have any other teacher than you. So without studying it
under anyone I went on pronouncing and interpreting on my own."
Bapu felt pained at this. He said, 'This is only your delusion. Why should we not
have innumerable teachers to learn a good thing? We should learn even from a
child. There is no shame in learning a good thing from another. But now let
us start afresh. Let us begin our Gita lessons from this very day. As
regards pronunciation, it matters little in your case, but it has always
been on my conscience that I have not explained the meaning to you
sufficiently. Daily you must write five couplets from it. You must dissolve
the sandhis (write every word separately) and give its meaning." I
did as I was told and Bapu used to correct what I had written and sign it,
in spite of heavy work. He added. "The third chapter is on sacrifice. The
study of the Gita is also a sacrifice. Let me explain to you in brief what
"The Lord says that he who eats without performing sacrifice, eats stolen food.
This is a statement of great import.
To take stolen food is like taking raw mercury - i.e. both are indigestible. He
is a thief who spends even a moment without sacrifice. We all must perform
this incessant sacrifice. For him who has, by good fortune, his heart in
the right place, sacrifice is an easy task. He requires neither wealth, nor
intelligence, nor education. Service rendered to anyone is a sacrifice. Only
those are not thieves, who have completely dedicated themselves to service;
and hence those who render service to a small extent are free from theft to
that extent. Thus we all are thieves in some measure at least. Only when we
give up all selfishness is our sacrifice complete. To wipe out the
consciousness of 'I' and 'mine' is what is really meant by giving up
selfishness. 'This is my brother or sister but that one is a stranger' -
such sentiments should be eradicated from one's heart. He only can do this
who can dedicate every little thing to the Lord, who can render service
knowing himself to be an instrument of the Lord. Such people are always
happy and calm. To them joy and sorrow are the same. They utilize their all,
body, mind and soul in the service of others. For most of us such sacrifice
is only an ideal. If we have the desire to serve the whole world what is the
type of work which could be suggested to a number of people for the benefit
of many? It is spinning. Spinning can be practised by numerous people as
service of others and so it can be considered as service of humanity.
Innumerable poor people can be maintained through it. Even the blind can
spin and Ramanama1
can be repeated with the drawing out of each length of yarn.
"This is the way in which I want to teach you the Gita, not merely grammatically.
I have given merely one instance to explain to you the meaning of sacrifice.
In spinning there is sacrifice and in sacrifice there is spinning."