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782. Orthodoxy

During the pre-Independence days there were princely states. They were ruled by Indian kings. A British Resident held the effective power. The Raja was a figurehead. Many of those kings were noble men circumscribed by circumstances. Some were snobbish, had no self-respect. The Maharaja of Travancore was pious and humble. He would be punctual in his visits to the temple. The temple had strict rules. At 8 am the door would be closed. The Maharaja submitted humbly to that discipline. The Mysore Maharaja, at the time of Independence, was troubled in mind. He sought the darshan of Sri Aurobindo. He was asked to come on August 15th. Coming here, the Maharaja understood he was to go in the queue as other devotees. He protested. Sri Aurobindo asked him to come at the head of the queue. About the Maharaja of Baroda, Sri Aurobindo said he could rule the whole of India.

To dine with the Viceroy and Vicereine was the ultimate accomplishment of most of these Princes. All well-to-do Princes lived in London and educated their children there. Those who could not afford a house there periodically visited London. One such Prince lived in the third storey of a hotel. He believed in cow darshan on getting up. He ordered a cow to be lifted to his window in a crane so that on getting up he could have the cow darshan. The bleating of the cow rendered the animal unfit to give him darshan. When a man gets up and goes out, if he chances upon a cow, it is the cow giving him darshan. It is auspicious. If he goes to the cowshed to have the darshan, it won't be the sacred cow but a poor quadruped - a mere animal. This Prince had the inspiration to have the cow lifted to the third floor by a crane! It takes all sorts to make a world.

A Prince was invited by the Viceroy to dine with him and his wife. It was a rare occasion. After dinner, the Prince spoke to the host about his sacred lineage, the value of his rare possessions and explained the significance of his diamond ring. The Vicereine asked for the ring, examined it, admired it, put it on her finger and returned it. She did not always return such valuable objects taken for scrutiny. The Maharaja asked for a finger bowl of water, washed the ring in the water to dissolve the pollution by the touch of the Vicereine and put it on his finger. Particularly this Prince was one of no high mettle of character, though he could not be classified as a lackey. He established the purity of his orthodoxy by washing off the polluted touch of an Englishwoman, a nichan, in his opinion. He overlooked the fact that he ate the food supplied by her, shook hands with them and was proud of the Royal handshake. Perhaps the Royal handshake lingered in his fingers for a long while. The Princes were not really respected by the Englishmen who were polite to them. The keen sense of having no real respect in his country or respect from the Viceroy, made the Prince subconsciously assert his inverted inferiority complex. It would be good manners not to offend his hosts subtly. The Vicereine did not understand what the Prince had done. Had she known, it might be a different story.

story | by Dr. Radut