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196. Pilgrimage

Laws are eternal. They are to be obeyed, never to be disregarded on the score of courtesy, friendship or anything else. When you are on a pleasure tour, you can entertain friends, take them at your expense, but not on a pilgrimage. Going to a sacred place where God lives, one cannot do so at someone else's expense, as it is believed that the punya will go to him who spends on your behalf.

There was a lorry owner who was a confirmed bachelor at the age of 40. He was devoted to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and was the secretary of the local branch. A regular visitor to the Mutt was an elderly learned man who was also regularly visiting another spiritual centre. At this centre was a young admirer of this learned man who arranged for his stay, board and transport while he was at the centre. Being a young man and an admirer, he did so with reverence and affection, but he had the clear unequivocal knowledge that it was not right. Once the lorry owner evinced interest in visiting that centre and brought the elderly man in his car.

The young man was at dilemma whether to extend the usual courtesy that he gave to his learned mentor to his guest also. He saw that both of them expected it! It was readily arranged and paid for by the affectionate young man. As usual, the young man was all attention to his guests. His courtesy extended to his paying for the few books and photographs the lorry owner bought. The lorry owner expanded so much inwardly that he began to speak of his next visit. The elderly man was very impressed by his guest's spiritual expansiveness.

When he met his young friend alone, he said, "The lorry owner will return here very soon as he has become an ardent devotee". The young man had an enigmatic reply. He said cryptically, "He won't be able to visit here again". The intrigued listener pressed for a reply in vain. For years, the lorry owner never visited the place. After four years came a M.O. of Rs. 41/-, exactly the expenses he had incurred during his visit. The confirmed bachelor had married. With his wife, he visited again. The confirmed bachelor's deep wish had been, perhaps, marriage. The learned man who visited the place seven times a year forgot the centre forever.

story | by Dr. Radut