Once a sadhu asked a devotee, a trader, who had come to see him, ‘How long do you want to live and how long do you want your name to live?’
The trader was quite clear in his mind. He said, ‘Sadhu Maharaj, I want to live for hundred years.’
‘And how long do you want your name to live?’ The Sadhu repeated his question.
‘I’m rich and powerful so don’t worry about that, for my name will live through my shops in various cities and through my children.’
Upon hearing this the Sadhu kept quiet and started meditating. After a little while he opened his eyes and said. ‘Tathasthu! May you live a long life but let me give you a word of caution. Build a serai and dig a well on the highway that goes to the north, where pilgrims can rest and have water from the well. And remember to name the serai in your own name.’
The trader upon hearing all the cheerful things felt very happy and left for his house in a merry mood but only after doling out a handsome donation to the ashram. On his way back he thought about the Sadhu’s suggestion, of constructing a serai and a well, to promote his name, but discarded the same, as he was confident that his children and his business will take care of that angle of his life. After reaching home the trader got on with his ostentatious lifestyle, and so did the Sadhu with his austere living. Of course the trader did tell his wife that he can hope for a long and happy life, and that his name, shall keep shining through his children and shops as visualised by the Sadhu. But the sadhu had one worthless, expensive suggestion and that was to construct a serai and a well on the highway that goes up north.
The wife took the suggestion of the serai and the well rather seriously, for she knew, enlightened people, make measured statements. With great difficulty she coaxed her husband to construct a serai and a well for the welfare of the pilgrims passing the highway, in his name. And after it was constructed, it was inaugurated by the trader and his family. But then, over a period of time it was left at its own mercy without the care of the family.
A decade had passed after that. One day when the Sadhu was meditating in his ashram he saw a familiar looking person with a lady perhaps his wife approaching him in his ashram. He looked very unhappy and he introduced himself as the trader. The Sadhu recognised him almost immediately and asked after his business and his children.
The trader replied, ‘Business is doing well and so are the children.’
‘Then why are you looking so despondent?’
The trader hesitated for a few moments and then said, ‘Because, as predicted by you I do have a long life but I don’t have a tall name.’
‘But why? If I remember correctly, you had told me years back that you have your children and shops to look after you and take your name forward.’
‘Yes I did, but when my children grew up they divided the business among themselves and renamed the shops and left we two on the lurch. So now we neither have their loving company nor do I have my name on the shops.
‘But I had asked you to do something else also.’ The Sadhu tried to remember.
‘Yes, you had told me to construct a serai and a well on the highway in my own name, which my wife coaxed me to do and now it is always filled with pilgrims.’
‘So then you’ve not lost your name. Your name is as tall as it should be because of that serai which is in your name where hundreds of pilgrims come and stay and carry your name to the length and breadth of the country. So rejoice dear friend.’ Said the Sadhu.
‘No I can’t, because that is not all. I don’t have a place of my choice to stay.’
‘But you have. The ashram is open for you and moreover you have been sending your donation every year without fail to feed these needy people that you see here.’
‘Strange, I never sent any donation barring the one that I gave personally when I came here.’
‘No but I’ve received your donation every year. So welcome to the ashram.’ Said the Sadhu.
The trader was surprised at what the Sadhu was saying, for he had not sent a penny to the ashram. Suddenly, he glanced at his wife and saw her smiling after ages and realised that she was the one was sending the donation to the ashram year after year.
The story conveys a real life situation that we all face when we grow old and retire. Children get busy with their own lives. This is the time when one becomes frail. He is through with his position and power and what is left of his or her are only the dividends of his noble deeds. So, be ethically and morally savvy. Invest in things that will give you a name even after you’re gone.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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