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26. The Ghee-fed Lamp
Once, in Sevagram, on the occasion of Bapu's birthday, at the evening prayers Ba lighted a small earthen-lamp and fed it with ghee. Not only the Ashramites but also a large number of villagers were present at the time. They were all eagerly waiting to hear Bapu speak. Bapu, however, sat quiet, all the time intently looking at the lamp. Ba was sitting near him. Then, before he began his discourse, he just asked, "Who has brought this lamp here?"
Ba answered, "I."
Bapu inquired again, "From where?"
Ba rejoined, "From the village. For, today is your birthday."
Bapu remained silent for some time. Then he continued in a serious tone, "But nothing could have been worse on the present occasion than to have lighted a lamp and fed it with ghee. I see daily what kind of a miserable life the people in our neighbourhood live. They have not even a dry loaf to eat and yet in the Ashram, a lamp is being fed with ghee!"
Then he turned to Ba and said, "After all these years that we have lived together, is this all that you have learnt from me? What, if today is my birthday? The day should have been devoted to the doing of good deeds, and not, instead, a sin like this committed. How dare we misuse any article, which the poorest peasant in the land cannot afford?"