Farewell to a ‘dirty’ habit…

There goes a saying, “Old Habits Die Hard” meaning existing habits are hard to change. When Bhagawan is personally involved, the act becomes instantaneous. Read on how Prof Kasturi got rid off his dacades-long ‘vice’ companion. An episode from the Professor’s autobiographical account, Loving God.

On my first night at Rishikesh, the sacred spot on the Ganga, I gained a victory which had eluded me for over nine agonising years. I must admit that I had fallen a victim to snuff during my years at the Royal City of Mysore. The preparation of a dark variety of capsules which when pressed between thumb and index finger became flavourful snuff to be inhaled and enjoyed was an art known only to a few families there. It was an aristocratic aromatic acquisition. My friend Swami Siddeswarananda, the poet Puttapa and many others of that generation were devoted to that exciting device for mental arousal. For over three decades, that vice led me by the nose.

When I yielded to the impact of Baba, I decided, like Sindbad, to overthrow the old man who was riding on me. But he sat astride firmly. Baba often spoke sharply within my hearing on the habit. But luckily only in general terms. He spoke disparagingly about a few persons whom I knew, and condemned the weakness which prevented them from wriggling out of the dirty dusty snuff habit. I felt glad that he had not black-listed me, by name. When I joined the Rishikesh party I armed myself with a pound weight of the previous stuff bought at Madras, so that I could happily nose around the snuffless region.

That crucial night, Baba came over from the cottage in the Ashram complex which was allotted for His stay into the dormitory where I and five others were settling down for rest. I had prepared my bed and was enjoying the stretching of limbs, when Baba appeared, followed by Satchidananda and Sadananda. He came near my cot and turned the pillow over to expose the snuff-box cosily resting there. I shivered in remorse. I remembered the centuries old ritual, which Hindus observe when they reach pilgrim spots. They give up a habit that is dearly loved. Baba looked at me sternly. He said only one single Word, “Dirty”. I took the box and threw it far into the thick night. I clenched my teeth to lock my sobs in. I took an explosive vow, touching Baba’s Feet. ‘No more Swami! I am giving it up from this moment!”

Baba gave me a soft pat on the shoulder. I bent under the cot, dragged out my leather luggage box and took hold of the one pound tin of the disgusting stuff and was about to cast it into the bushy under-growth when two renunciants in ochre robes snatched it from my hands. They said (they were evidently, not a part of the Sivanandarsam) they were getting their supplies of the ‘Jnana Choornam” (the Powder that promotes the Intellect) from New Delhi, which was too far away.

Hearing the noise, Baba turned back and laughed. Satchidananda and Sadananda too laughed. I have not inhaled that rajasic poison since. It was indeed a pity that what I, a house-holder, threw to the winds was caught and treasured by those Sanyasins!

II Samasta Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu II