Srila Gurudeva became renowned in Mathura and North India as a stalwart sannyasi, a scholar of Bhaktivedanta, and a powerful sadhu with pure devotion for Bhagavan Krsna. People came to him for advice on how to practically advance in spiritual life; of course people addressed him with personal issues as well.
Late one night, Srila Gurudeva was in repose in his room when his rest was stirred by clamorous banging on the metal gate at the entrance to the temple. After rising an making his way downstairs, he saw a distraught woman and her sons huddled anxiously around a man at the front gate. Mumbling incoherently while shaking in violent spasms on the ground, the unfortunate man seemed neurotic. Seeing Srila Gurudeva at the gate, a boy pleaded, “Help! Please open the gate and help us!”
“A ghost has possessed my father! Please, please protect us. My father will die if you don’t help him. We’ve heard your glories and know you can save him.”
“Yes, I will help. “Srila Gurudeva opened the gate and carried the father to the inner chambers.
“Tell me how this happened,” Gurudeva told the son.
“Previously, a brahmana priest came to our house,” the boy said. “My father was his disciple. The priest brought money and gave it to my father, requesting him, ‘I must go abroad for six months on important work. Please safeguard this for the maintenance of my family. A thief may steal it and harm my family if I leave it with my wife and young children in the house. My wife will come to you when she needs to buy food or medicine.’
“The brahmana priest deposited his wealth with my father and departed. After a few weeks, his family came. The lady said, ‘My husband deposited his money with you. Now my child is sick. Please give us money to buy medicine and food.’
My father claimed to know nothing of the matter: ‘Your husband? Who is that? No one gave me anything. You just want to bribe me into giving you money. Get out before I send for the police!”
“The lady returned home with her children. They had no relatives or kind neighbors, and the priest had not informed anyone about the transaction; thus they could not file a complaint in court. The rainy season came, and the children’s health diminished. The wife had no money to buy food, and she did not know the address of her husband nor any means to contact him. She was malnourished and weak. Her children died, and shortly after she died, sick and in grief over her loss.”
“That was very dishonorable of your father,” Gurudeva said.
“Yes,” the son said miserably. “When the brahmana come back to Mathura, he was devastated upon finding out his family was deceased. Enraged, he confronted my father, ‘Greedy wretch! I gave you money, but you hoarded it, not giving a penny to my wife in her need. Now my family has perished! I will have my vengeance!’
We heard that he went and bought a goat. At midnight, he went to the bank of the Yamuna, cut the goat’s belly, lifted it over his head and bathed in its blood “murdered!’ he shouted. ‘You were the death of my family and the destruction of my life –now I will destroy yours!’ Saying thus, he entered the Yamuna and drowned himself.
The son paused.
‘Then he became a brahma-raksasa and attacked you father,” Srila Gurudeva said.
Yes,” the son said. “My father performed heinous sin. The cpossessed my father and drove him mad. His eyes and tongue would stick out of his face, and he screamed piercing curses. The ghost did not kill him, taking pleasure in his torture. Now the spirit has been haunting us for many days. We have come to you for shelter. We have heard of your glories-that you are a powerful sannyasi. O Maharaja, how can we be liberated for this torment? Please give us your mercy.”
It is not possible to steal another’s wealth without suffering negative reactions,” Srila Gurudeva said. “Such a man will suffer for many lives as punishment. Rather than dying quickly, he will remain wounded, full of diseases, and won’t be able to eat without vomiting.”
How can we be freed of this sin?” the wife asked.
“You must repent and perform the prescribed atonement’s,” Srila Gurudeva said. “Go to Visnu Padodaka in Gaya, where Lord Visnu’s footprints are worshiped daily. Bring with your four times the wealth that the brahmana gave your husband. There perform a sraddha ceremony for the deceased family. Fast and repent. After performing a yajna, bathe in the holy Ganga, feed the brahmanas, and distribute all the wealth to them. Openly tell everyone, ’We are great sinners,’ and beg for the mercy of the sadhus and brahmanas. Then you should take harinama and diksa, and perform serious bhajana.
The family followed Srila Gurudeva’s advice and afterwards the father recovered. Later, the whole family took diksa and harinama from Acarya Kesari and occasionally visited the Mathura temple. However, Providence did not smile on them. Although relieved of eh effect of past sins, the father’s cheating nature did not change, just as an elephant throws dirt on itself right after bathing in a river or lake. A few years later, he got in a heated quarrel over property with his brother the argument turned to blows. In the midst of the struggle the father was pushed down a flight of stairs. His wife screamed in fear for her husband’s life, she ran down the stairs and fell to the ground in grief, seeing her husband lying dead. She gradually lost her mind and began wandering around Mathura senselessly. In time her sons got married, but they were mysteriously impotent, and their wives soon ran off with other men.
Srila Gurudeva warned the brahmacaris in the temple, “If anyone gives a single coin for the service of Sri Guru or Bhagavan, this is never to be used for personal needs. Donations used for personal enjoyment act as a fearsome poison. It is like drinking another’s blood. When you collect alms, take only a little flour, rice, dal, or vegetables. Do not be greedy for rich foodstuffs, wealth, or expensive possessions. Offer everything you collect to the deities, then distribute to Vaisnavas and take the last portion without greed. Don’t think, ‘This is good. I will hide this and enjoy it myself.’ Share everything openly. Then you can save your lives. Never try to cheat anyone. Don’t steal another’s wealth or speak lies, or else your life will be ruined.”
Srila Gurudeva ki jaya! (excerpted from “Sri Guru Darsana”, please order this wonderful book from www.bhaktabandhav.org)