A Lifelong Penance
One evening in May, Baba was sitting in a chair on the lawn at Church Lane. Some families of the judges of Allahabad's High Court were sitting around him on the ground.
I was sitting alone on the other side of the lawn. Some time passed, and two men came and stood near me. One of them was dressed in a black coat, like a lawyer, and the other was in the traditional Indian dress of dhoti and kurta.
Both of them bowed to Baba in salutation, but he did not look at them. Baba continued to sit with his head bent, talking to the devotees near him.
The newcomers waited for some time in the hope that Baba would turn his eyes towards them, and eventually they sat down quietly.
The man wearing the black coat seemed to be impatient. He was signalling to the man in the dhoti-kurta to leave.
Seeing him so restless, his friend got up to attract Baba's attention and said, "Maharaj, I have come with a friend of mine. He is in trouble and wants your blessing."
Seeing his friend standing, the man in the black coat also stood up. Baba said to the man wearing the dhoti-kurta, "You are a lawyer."
The man agreed. Then baba said to the man wearing the black coat, "You are not a lawyer." He nodded. Everyone stared at Baba in fascination. Baba asked the man directly, "What is your trouble?"
Being nervous, the man did not reply. His lawyer friend said on his behalf, "Maharaj, he has been involved in a murder case, and the police are after him." Baba asked the man in the black coat, "Have you not murdered?" He then told the truth saying, "Yes, Maharaj."
Though no details of the murder were given, Baba knew it all. He said, "The man who you murdered was very gentle. Why did you do this?"
The man humbly replied, "Maharaj, he was a stumbling block on my way." With grief and anger, Baba burst out saying, "His children are still young. How will they be brought up?" Filled with remorse, the man felt mortified and could not give Baba any reply.
Baba told the man that he must do a lifelong penance by taking full responsibility for the family and ensuring that the wife and children were looked after. Baba told him to take a vow that he would do so. Weeping, the man promised to do what Baba commanded. Baba asked the lawyer, "Whose court is the case to be tried in?" The lawyer gave the name of a Muslim judge. Baba said, "All will be well."
By acquitting the man from the justice of the law, Maharaj ensured that the family would be looked after. Instead of just a jail sentence, the man did lifelong penance by serving the family. He realised the enormity of his crime and suffered great remorse throughout his life.