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An ordeal for carelessness
In Noakhali, Gandhiji was travelling on foot to pacify the communal violence. He would reach from one village to the other the next morning at 7 O’ clock. Then, he would finish some writing and have his bath. He would use no soap for bathing, but a rough stone was used; this was given to him by Miraben many years ago.
After reaching a particular village, as she was preparing for Gandhiji’s bath, Manuben found that the stone was missing. She informed Bapu, that it must have been left in the weaver’s house where they had stayed yesterday. Now what was to be done?
Bapu just pondered for a while, and then said: “You should yourself go and find and get that stone back. You should go alone. Once you will do like this, you will not make mistake again.”
Manuben: “Shall I take some volunteer with me?”
Bapu questioned: “Why?”
In Noakhali, all that area was filled with forests of coconut and betel nut trees. A stranger would get lost almost certainly. Also, how could one go alone through such a lonely road? And what one would do, if some hooligans created trouble on the way? Many such thoughts quickly passed through little Manu’s mind who was hardly fifteen or sixteen at the time. She did not stop to answer the ‘Why’ asked by Bapu, and just left in anger. She merely followed the foot marks, which were made earlier when they came here and she managed to reach that village.
She found even that weaver’s house. There was an old lady in the house. She had not preserved that valuable stone, but had thrown it away, considering it as some useless stone. Manu searched it out with great trouble. Her joy knew no bounds.
She had started at half past six in the morning and finally returned at one o’clock in the afternoon. The distance was some fifteen miles. She was terribly hungry also. Her anger still had not subsided. She went to Bapu straight, threw the stone in his lap and broke down.
Bapu’s affectionate voice was heard: “It was your ordeal on the pretext of the stone. I am happy that you have passed through it. The stone has been my companion and friend for last twenty five years. Whether I go to the jail or in the palace, it has always remained and moved with me. Any carelessness in the form that many such stones will be found, is not good.
There was a true utterance that came out of today’s experience, from Manuben’s heart: “Bapuji, it was for the first time today that I recited the Rama Nama with a true heart and strong fervour.
Bapuji told: “I want to make the women fearless. Actually speaking, it was not only your ordeal, but even mine.
Perhaps, the real ordeal was that of the God that day. Hardly any devotee would have put God on such a big trial. Truly, the reputation of the Almighty was saved that day.