Testing the Guru
“Come inside,” said Hari Puri Baba, standing up. He led me to room in the ashram and sat down on a wooden bed with a cotton mattress. He had me sit on the floor on an old burlap sack at his feet. One of the babas brought in a container of hot milk. Hari Puri Baba poured us each a cup. He pulled a gaily decorated box off the shelf behind him, and put three rich sweetmeats on a plate for me.
“It’s too much for me, Baba Ji,” I said.
“Eat them all. You’re much too skinny. I can see you haven’t been eating well,” he said frowning and showing a mother’s concern. “Health is good? Happy, blissful? Good.”
I searched him for signs. Was this wisdom, was this enlightenment that I saw in Hari Puri Baba’s eye? I wasn’t sure. He sits with a very straight back, I thought, almost like a statue. His feet were calloused and cracked from many journeys. My eyes darted quickly around the room. The wall had an old rusty saber hanging on it, crooked. Why a sword? Maybe a symbol of knowledge?
“What’s the sword for, Baba Ji?” I asked.
“Chopping off British heads!” he said on the beat, raising his hand and then slicing the air with cruel authority. “We are simple babas but even simple babas can be dangerous,” he said, twisting the end of his moustache, his eyes wide. “We don’t play by the rules.”
I thought I would be able to recognize a realized being, I thought I would have that sudden moment of recognition, as if from a past life or of a father one has never seen. I thought he might have a long white beard and hold a lotus flower in his hand.
“We could spend a lot of time getting to know each other and, in the process, we could test each other. I could test you to determine whether or not you might become a fruitful disciple and you in your clumsy way could test me as a competent guru. I’m not interested in all that,” he said.
Amar Puri Baba entered the room and sat on the bed next to Hari Puri Baba. He examined every inch of me and then fastened his stare on me like a cat, reacting to my every movement.