Saturday, 1 February 2014

Harijan Child

Late in age, he picked up the child of a Harijan woman who had been to the river to fetch water and had forgotten the infant playing in the sands. The cries of the child attracted Eknath and out of pity, he lifted it gently and carried it home to its mother.

The small episode had the effect of enraging the local pundits who cried: “Horror! The sacred lineage of Bhanudas has been made impure by this descendant of his!” This time they wanted to make sure of Eknath taking steps for a full purification.

Eknath went wearily down the ghats to the river to start a penance in order to please them, when a brahmin suffering from leprosy suddenly dashed forward causing much consternation as he made his way towards Eknath and prostrated himself full length before him.

“It is 12 years since I suffer from this terrible disease,” he told Eknath and the crowd that had collected around them. “I did penance at Tryambak-eshwar where I was told in a dream that if Paithana’s saint Eknath was willing to part with the merit he obtained in restoring a Harijan child to its mother, I would be cured.” Eknath, modest and humble as ever, answered:

“I know neither sin nor merit. But if you think it will help you, by all means, receive in your hands whatever merit I might have earned this way.”

He placed his hand over that of the brahmin and lo! the stricken one rose a cured man. All the other tempestuous brahmins turned about shameĂfacedly and without a word retired to their homes.

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