THIS ARTICLE is from From Experiences of a Truth Seeker, vol 1, part 1 by Sadhu Shantinatha, published by Shri Avedyanath, Gorakhnatha Temple, Gorakhpur, 1949 and printed in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. It is out of copyright.
There are some strange coincidences between this rare book and Dadaji’s account, published in Values magazine. As you will see by contrasting this one, on the shivashakti.com site, with Shantinatha’s version. ♣
Swami Siddharudha and Dadaji Dhuniwala
I reached Hubli station at sunset. Swamiji’s Ashram was about a mile from the station. I went direct to the Ashram and saw the Swami. He appeared. to be a venerable old saintly man, about 50 years old. I found him encircled by some two hundred admirers. He put to me a few questions, to which on account of my vow of silence I could give no reply. He found out that I was a mauni and without further questions .he asked me to take a seat. The old Sadhu presented plenty of sweet-meats before me and affectionately asked me to make use of them then and there. I complied.
I found there some Pandit explaining Yogavasishta to the assembly and Swamiji occasionally clearing the abstruse points. Next morning I found an attendance of about forty persons, the Pandit explaining Brahma-sutras and Swamiji supplementing. Swamiji had a systematic programme for giving lessons to his followers. The morning-class was for specially earnest students and the evening-congregation was for the people in general. Swamiji’s manners were very sweet and attractive, and his mode of explanation was very lucid and impressive.
I was attracted by his personality and erudition; I thought within myself that my vow of silence was taken for my benefit, and that if on any occasion by breaking the vow I could derive greater intellectual and spiritual benefit, I should not deprive myself of it for the sake of the vow. I made up my mind to talk with Swamiji and take lessons from him. I put down on a piece of paper that if Swamiji should grant me private interviews and allow me to talk with him alone, I would like to forgo the vow. He agreed. Some follower of Swamiji ushered me to his presence, when he was sitting alone, I put to him a few questions on Vedanta. He answered them to my satisfaction.
My programme had been to stop there for a day or two. Now I changed my mind. I wanted to stay longer and Swamiji approved of it. I attended the morning-class and raised problems which were very much liked by Swamiji and solved by him. Swamiji told me, ” Well, you should put such questions every day, and these people who do not know how to raise subtle problems will be profited by. them.” My questions would arouse his enthusiasm and he would answer them with great delight in his usual simple clear and lucid style. I would not speak to any one except Swamiji, and with him also my talk was confined to the morning-class.
I remember to have had on one occasion a controversy between Swamiji and myself. Swamiji asserted,— ” God’s grace should be recognised along with the Law of Karma. My point was,— “If you accept the Law of Karma, you cannot consistently believe in the Divine grace.” Swamiji replied “God’s grace is like air or fire. Air is present everywhere; some can make use of it in one way, and some in another way, some may contrive to get more of it and some may get less, Here they have to depend upon Karma. Fire is blazing somewhere; some may remain at a distance and may not enjoy its warmth; some may advance near it and be relieved from cold. Here air or fire is not the product of Karma; but to utilize it for one’s benefit, one has to rely on Karnza. That is also the case with Divine grace.”
I objected ” Swamiji, you have to prove the truth of the Divine Grace and what has to be proved cannot be taken for granted. We assume the Law of Karma. Here the question is—Is there a uniformity between actions and their fruits ? If the same actions are uniformly followed by the same consequences in accordance with the Law, there is no room for the grace of God or for any supernatural interference. If this uniformity be absent, whether due to the Divine Grace or to any kind of supernatural interference, the Law of Karma fails. In that case the Divine Will alone may be regarded as the sole cause of the enjoyments and sufferings of the creatures. But that would mean partiality and cruelty on the part of God. The examples of air and fire are of no avail. They are objects of our experience and they are what they are, having neither grace nor cruelty, having no concern with how the people profit by or suffer from them. Profiting or suffering follows uniformly from the actions of men. Here the Law of Karma alone is sufficient to account for their happiness and misery. How can Divine Grace be proved ? It is neither an object of our direct experience nor necessary for explaining the courses of our destiny.”
Swamiji, cited another example. He said “In the swayambarasabha (a congregation in which a girl is to choose her husband from among the suitors present) all the persons have assembled for the same object, and each of them desires to have the girl. Here their Karma are of the same nature. But only one person gets the girl, viz. he whom the girl chooses. Thus inspite of similar endeavours, success in life depends upon the Grace of God.” I retorted. “This appears to be a palpable violation of the Law of Karma. The conclusion from this analogy would be that SUCCESS or unsuccess is not the result of actions at all, but that of the arbitrary choice or will of God. Further, the Swayambara-girl has her likes and dislikes, which determine her choice. Some girls have a high admiration for heroism, some have a stronger attraction for beauty, some have a still stronger ambition for wealth, so on. A girl’s choice is influenced by her peculiar mentality as well as by the reports she gets about the acquisitions of the suitors present. But God cannot be supposed to be guided by such likes and dislikes, by His attraction for certain objects and abhorrence of others. The example is therefore not to the point. Moreover, if God acts according to the Karma of the creatures, His freedom is curtailed and his Grace becomes meaningless. If He be merely a dispenser of justice, i. e. an impartial executor of the law of karma, He cannot afford to be either merciful or cruel. He cannot be supposed to have the freedom of conferring any blessings upon anybody in excess of what he deserves by virtue of his own Karma, nor the freedom to deny to any person what he deserves. In that view of the case, the law of Karma alone may be accepted as sufficient for explaining the differences of our enjoyments and sufferings and the agency of God would be unnecessary. On the other hand if He showers His blessings upon particular creatures in disregard of their actions, the Law of Karma is defied and people cannot have faith in the merits or demerits of their virtuous or vicious deeds. The moral code would then be useless. Even if it be supposed that God in His mercy lessens the severity of the painful results of vicious actions and bestows blessings upon the virtuous people in excess of their merits, then also the Law of Karma is falsified. Thus the Divine Grace is inconsistent with Law of Karma.”
I got no satisfactory solution of this problem from him or from anybody else thereafter. However, charmed by Swamiji’s sweet behaviour, I stayed there for one month. On the eve of my departure, he affectionately touched my shoulders and gave me a piece of advice full of kindness and sympathy for the poor ignorant simple-minded well-meaning people of the country. He said “When you impart instruction to the people, please have a kind and sympathetic consideration for the poor souls not endowed with intelligence enough for understanding abstruse truths”. His words touched my heart. I could understand what led the religious teachers with deeply logical and philosophical insight to make compromises with popular thoughts, sentiments and practices and to participate in the rituals and observances of the lower orders of their countrymen. I could not however persuade myself in actual practice to accept his advice in toto. I thought that these high-minded
religious teachers were in many cases led astray by their wide sympathy and kindness into giving undue indulgence to the superstitious ideas and vitiated tastes of the ignorant people and thereby doing positive injury to them. The moral, spiritual and intellectual superiority of these teachers gave them power and authority to mould the life and thought and feeling of the piety-seeking saint-adoring soft-hearted simple-minded ordinary people of this great country. But unfortunately instead of exercising their influence for guiding these people in the direction of what they themselves knew to be really true and good and noble and to be permanently elevating to the country as a whole, they often pampered the crude thoughts and vitiated tastes of these people and gave these ignorant folks the false impression that they were moving in the right path. I found myself temperamentally unfit to follow the advice and example of these soft-hearted religious teachers. I never took the responsibility of a religious teacher. But when anybody came to seek my advice, I would always freely express my opinion without looking to their sentiments and pre-conceived ideas. Thereby I often wounded the feelings of many pious men, but I could not help it.
It had been my programme to go to Benares from Hubli. But at the time of departure it struck me that when I proceeded so far southward, I should not take a northern turn without paying a visit to Rameshwara. I reached Rameshwara — a mauni, without a single pice in my pocket. There I had to suffer immense trouble, particularly in the matter of food. I went to one place in expectation of some thing to eat. The people there merrily asked me to pass on to some other place. Therefrom I was forcibly driven out to seek refuge at another. From this place also I was turned out. Thus for a morsel of bread I had to run like a dog from door to door, to be cruelly hunted out from each door by the religion-loving inhabitants of the sacred tirtha. I saw Rameshwara, —the Lord mythologically said to have been worshipped by Ramachandra. The Lord. did not reveal Himself to my eyes as any thing more than a small black piece of stone. As I had no feeling of Bhakti, (devotion ) for the piece of stone, I could not persuade myself to bow down before it. I only viewed it from a distance.
From Rameshwara I turned back to Madras and stopped for a week at the Rama Krishna Mission. There I felt inclined to go to Nasik and plunge myself again into meditation at the Tapobana. Accordingly I reached Nasik, only to find that Kumbha mela had assembled. there and that Tapobana, which I had expected to be a place of solitude, was densely populated by Sadhus of various denominations. I was disappointed. Next day I left Nasik and started for Benares. In all these travels I could buy no ticket, because I was penniless. When the train was about to pass by Gudurwada (near Jubbalpore) one Sadhu travelling in the same compartment with me told me that about fourteen miles from the nearest station on the bank of the Narmada lived an extraordinary Siddha Mahapurusa, whose equal could be scarcely found in the whole of India. Immediately I felt an inquisitiveness to have a sight of the great Mahatma and alighted at the Gudurvada Station. The Sadhu also followed me. We two walked on foot to the Mahatma’s place. He was known by the name of Dadaji Dhuniwala. He had no Ashrama of his own. I found Dadaji surrounded by many persons who used to assemble there every day. Dadaji was stark naked. He sat by the side of a fireplace (dhuni). Three of his disciples including one Mahomedan, were also naked and sat near him. I joined the party. I was also naked, though I covered my body with a blanket. Sometimes Dadaji used to feed me affectionately with his own hand along with Chota-dada, the Mahomedan disciple and another Bengali disciple. I saw him some times singing, sometimes dancing, sometimes beating people nearby and sometimes making obscene gestures. Never did I find him sitting calmly or meditating. When anybody put any question to him, he would not generally answer, or if, he happened to give any answer at all, he would utter something which was unintelligible or which had no connection with the topic. The special features which I noticed in his behaviour were that he did not care for the feelings or opinions of anybody, rich or poor, influential or uninfluential, that ha had no attraction for money and did not keep a single penny with him, and that he attached little value to the things which are ordinarily regarded as very precious, such as high-priced clothes which he sometiines burnt in the Dhuni. When he began to beat the people, he did not discriminate between men of high position and men of no position, between his admirers and those who occasionally came to see him. I did not find any occult power in him.
I marked some points of difference between Dadaji and Swami Sidharudha, both of whom were very highly respected by their admirers and both of whom were regarded as Siddha Mahatmas. Swamiji amasses money, while Dadaji has no concern about money; so Swamiji cannot behave with the rich and the poor in the same manner, while Dadaji makes no distinction between them. Swamiji collects rich clothes, while Dadaji burns them to ashes. Swamiji carefully answers the questions put to him, Dadaji does not. Swarniji seems to have a desire for name and fame, while Dadaji seems not to care a fig for it. Swarniji sits calm and quiet and has a meditative mood, while Dadaji appears to be restless. Swamiji’s manners are very sweet and enchanting, while Dadaji’s manners are rough and sometimes revolting to our sense of decency. Swamiji is surrounded by people who are interested in religious discourses and devotional practices which continue in his Ashram almost continually from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.; while Dadaji is generally surrounded by people who expect from the merciful exercise of his supposed supernatural powers such worldly gains as wealth, children, recovery from disease, success in litigation etc.