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9. Coconut Garden

One day on my way to Pondicherry I reached the bus stand where I happened to see a friend standing with another man. I stopped for a moment and enquired why he was waiting near the bus stand, more to make conversation than to elicit any information. My friend introduced the other man and said they were on their way to the Ashram. I happily invited them to join me. The other man tried to be very friendly and started a conversation. He said it would be his first visit to the Ashram. In reply I said it would be good if he remembered this date one year later and took stock of his position, as anyone who came to Mother would not remain in the same position after a year.

 After about a year these two people called on me at my house. I was very happy to see them. The man explained that it was the same day the previous year we had met and reminded me of my earlier statement. He said he had a shop, a good extent of lands, a business in Singapore, a coconut garden and some shares in a few other businesses. He was happy and said that my statement the previous year about Mother's devotees not remaining in the same station of life for more than a year was true. He summarised his position saying, "Every establishment of mine is doing twice as well. Now I see the truth of what you said. Only in the coconut garden it doesn't work."

 His coconut garden was situated at the junction of three rural roads and surrounded by paddy fields. As it was a one acre garden, it was not economical to employ a full-time watchman to live there day and night. As long as his father was alive, things were different. Coconut harvests were regular and plentiful. Since his father's death a few years before, he had expanded his activities to more than one field, and there was no one who could fill the place left vacant by his father. Since then, he had not had a single harvest of nuts, as all the nuts were stolen. He started harvesting them as tender coconuts with a view to salvaging as much as he could. I explained to him that apart from his father's prestige it must be true that now attention to the coconut garden must be less. He agreed. He was in a difficult situation. He could neither appoint a full-time watchman with his family living in the garden, nor was it possible to prevent pilferage in view of its location. As the pilferage now reached 100% of the harvest, apart from the loss, it was not nice to have one's produce stolen like that month after month. There was no advice I could offer him in terms of farm management, as he seemed to be more experienced in these matters than I.

Besides all this, I said, trees love attention. Now his attention was diverted to many other establishments. The thieves were constantly thinking of the trees and nuts. Therefore the coconut plants responded to their ‘attention' by yielding their nuts to these rogues. I asked him to pay a visit to the garden at least once a week for an hour and evince keen interest in their upkeep. Also I suggested that he should remember the garden as often as possible wherever he was. If he could do both these things and pray to Mother that the pilferage should stop, it would be good, I said. About a month later he came to me bringing some coconuts. He said that it was the very first harvest after many years. The theft had stopped suddenly and mysteriously. One day after he had started the prayer, two men came to him and requested an appointment in his fields. They were apologetic. He could not understand their behaviour until they disclosed the full story. They had been part of a gang of four that was stealing his coconuts month after month. Recently their chief had suffered an electric shock, while climbing an electric post, and his fingers were so mutilated that he could not climb coconut trees anymore. Another one of them was caught by his own villagers and beaten for being a shame to the hamlet. They threatened to hand him over to the police, if he resorted to stealing anymore. Now that the gang had broken up, the other two, being camp followers, were on the lookout for jobs.

 The story made me happy. I said Mother is great and Her ways are infinite. Also, I added, his remembrance of the garden and weekly visits were a more powerful medium for Mother's Grace as it was the attention of an owner and hence superior in quality to the ‘attention' of vile men.

book | by Dr. Radut