Story of the Leaf Plates
The inauguration of the temple was to be celebrated in the most fitting manner, with pujas, havans, and prasad for everyone.
The news spread over a very large part of that area and people started coming. Everyone worked with a missionary zeal, and was convinced that their preparations for the bhandara, which was soon to begin, were faultless.
There was a sense of jubilation in having managed a difficult task, and a few of them started speculating about the laurels that were awaiting them.
When Babaji arrived that evening, everyone joined in giving him an account of the work that had been completed. Every detail was given.
The prasad that had been prepared was enough to feed any unknown number of visitors. They then took Babaji around to see for himself all that had been described. Babaji was pleased, and sat and listened with great satisfaction as they talked about their arrangements for feeding people.
Then, as if to get a minor clarification, he wanted to know on what they were going to serve the food. It was as if people who had been going along, merrymaking on the road, suddenly got pushed into a ditch. Not one of them had remembered to get leaf plates! What could be done at this short notice? People had started gathering, and feeding was to start within a few hours. There was no market nearby. Haldwani and Bareilly were far away and the markets there would be closed for the night. It was hard to accept that a big engine could not start if even a small part of strategic importance was missing. Gone was the cheer and jubilation - everyone was motionless. One could imagine, on a much larger scale, how the monkeys had sat on the shore of the sea after losing all hope of success in their search for Sita.
Babaji sat silently with them. Seeing him like that, many became disturbed and started making all kinds of speculations about his silence. It was his bhandara. They had been pushed into it by him. They were there only because of him, but now that they were faced with such a crisis, he was sitting indifferently. They might be responsible, but why should they be punished when he could remove their crisis? Minutes passed, and the sun set in the horizon throwing everything and everyone into a gloom. No glimpse of light was forthcoming from any direction, so they sat silently giving up all hope. In the meantime, the moon was rising as if trying to make a dent in the gloom, but no one took any notice of it. Such was their despair.
The darkness was disappearing fast with the rising of the moon in its glory. Babaji was looking at something far away, which soon became noticeable to the people sitting with him. Pointing into the distance, he asked them what they saw. Scrutinizing carefully, someone said it was a caravan. The owners were carrying their loads to the market on the backs of donkeys. When they came nearer and the loads could be seen, someone shouted that they were leaf plates! Babaji directed a devotee to go purchase all their packages, thereby ending the crisis over the leaf plates. He told them not to haggle or bargain with the merchants, as they had been rescued from their deepest gloom.
The light came and removed the darkness. Everyone rushed about full of cheer; the problem had been solved. The packages of leaves were carried by the enthusiastic workers onto the ashram premises. Few took notice of the miracle that had been wrought before the eyes of everyone. Where did the leaf vendors come from? The timing and the route were so precise that one could not help but think that some unseen hand had manipulated everything to deliver the leaves to the temple at the critical hour.