Friday, 29 June 2012

His son Hari Pundit

Eknath's reformist views brought him into conflict not only with orthodox pundits but also with his own family. His son Hari Pundit was annoyed at his father's habit of preaching in Marathi and of eating in low-caste homes.

He went away on a pilgrimage to Varanasi and didn't return. When Eknath followed him, Hari Pundit told him the reason for his exile. With a heavy heart, Eknath promised to give up his discourses and unorthodox ways. Hari Pundit returned and gave discourses in Sanskrit, while Eknath remained silent. The audience dwindled to near-zero while the people clamoured for Eknath's discourses and kirtans.

One day an old, low-caste widow came to invite Eknath for a meal at her place. She desired to feed a thousand Brahmins, but, being poor, could not do so. Since she considered Eknath to be worth a thousand Brahmins, she decided to feed him. Eknath turned to Hari Pundit, who was moved by her plight. But Hari Pundit made two conditions: one, that he would accompany Eknath; and two, that he himself would cook the food.

On the appointed day, the two of them went to the woman's house and settled down to eat. Hari Pundit noticed that the woman had slipped a dish that she had prepared onto Eknath's leaf plate. He resented this but kept quiet. After finishing the meal, Eknath told Hari Pundit to pick up the leaf plates, so as not to trouble the old woman.

Hari Pundit bent down to pick up Eknath's leaf plate. As he picked it up, he found another plate beneath it. Perhaps he had been served on two leaf plates. But below the second was a third. Eventually, Hari Pundit had to pick up a thousand leaf plates! A thunderstruck Hari Pundit realized his stupidity. His father was worth a thousand Brahmins and more. He fell at his feet begging forgiveness.

Eknath forgave him saying, "Hari, you have learnt the shastras, but not humility." Needless to say, after this Eknath resumed his preaching and other activities.

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