Skip to Content

40. The Grace That Always Helps

About fifteen years ago I was seriously engaged in agriculture. Coconut and cashew were my chief crops. My coconut garden was near the seashore. The backwaters formed the borders of my garden on all sides, except to the West. People used to buy coconut husks in the backwaters and let them soak for four to five months. Then they would draw fibers out of them and make ropes. If such soaked-up husks are beaten with a stick, the non-fibrous parts  fall down as powder on the ground and make good manure. Such manure helps keep the moisture in the soil.

The distance between the rope-making units and my garden was three miles. I used to bring the coconut husks to my garden by bullock carts and lorries. Neither the lorry nor the cart could come into my garden as the backwaters formed a barrier. Therefore, the husks had to be brought into my garden only by head load for a distance of two furlongs. A few years passed in this fashion. Then some coir workers told me that right in my garden itself they could convert the husks into fibers and make ropes. They also told me that this was a very profitable industry. I had a few husks soaked and extracted the fibers to practically verify their proposition. It proved to be true. I thought this was a very good way to get a lot of manure.

One had to buy the husks from coconut merchants. The husks were in great demand, as the industry was very profitable. It was the custom to pay the coconut merchants as advance the price of a year's supply of husks. I decided to start this industry with an advance payment of Rs. 7,000. I approached the biggest coconut merchant in the town and shared my thoughts with him. He took my Rs. 7,000 as advance and gave me a promissory note. He agreed to supply coconut husks and said he had taken an advance of Rs. 7000 from the co-operative society.

That year it did not rain well. If it does not rain well for a year, the next year the coconut harvest gets reduced to a quarter of its size. Therefore, that coconut merchant could not sell enough husks to earn the money due to the co-operative society. The next year also it did not rain well. It became plain that the merchant could not supply the husks I needed. So I went and spoke to him. He said to me, "You know the nature of the coconut business. There is nothing anybody can do."

In the meanwhile I had arranged bank loan facilities for the villagers of Ramapuram and had started planting banana, jasmine and Crossandra flowers in the estates there. That kept me busy, so I had no time to visit my coconut garden. Hence, I decided to give up my coir business and spoke about it to the merchant. He also agreed and promised to return the advance.

He was a big merchant with houses and lands as assets. His properties were easily worth two lakhs. He also had a money-lending shop. As such, there was no difficulty for him to repay my advance. Naturally, I expected to get it back soon. However, the state of affairs was different. The response of the merchant was not convincing. It seemed as if he was not willing to give the money back. He delayed for six months. Then I personally went to his house and met him. Though he spoke politely, there seemed to be no truth in his words. He said his father-in-law had planted ten acres of sugar cane and he hoped to repay me through that cane harvest. Those cane fields were in Pondicherry and, he said, he would have to get my money from the Pondy sugar mill.

I felt a little confident, as I knew the owner of that sugar mill. I asked the merchant to give me a letter asking the mill owner to give me Rs. 7,000 of the money due to him from the cane harvest. I thought I could get the money in this way. The merchant hesitated and refused to give me the letter. He said he would anyhow give the money from the cane harvest.

I enquired about the man from people who knew him well. They all told me, "You can forget your money. That man has earned all his money only in this way. Why did you give your money to him?"

Though I had his promissory note with me, going to the court was not appealing.  I had decided to get the money without going to court. Then an acquaintance of his came and met me. He said, "You can go to court, but even then you won't get your money back. Before you take action please note the pros and cons of this problem."  What he said stirred my thinking seriously. I thought of all the advice I had given to friends in a similar situation and followed them myself. But nothing seemed to work.

I prayed to Mother to help me get my money back. My prayer was heart-felt and I felt free from worry. It seemed like there was no serious problem. Though all signs were positive, the merchant still kept giving negative replies.

A few more months passed. The problem did not get solved. If another few more months passed, the promissory note would become invalid. I had to take some action before that. I started thinking seriously. Soon a friend came and sat by me. He asked me what my problem was and I shared my feelings with him. He listened and kept quiet. I thought of asking for his views on this matter. I told him, "You know that prayers to Mother get answered quickly. But, with respect to this merchant, it has failed. What do you think can be wrong from my side?  I don't think there is anything wrong."  He said, "You are wrong in having given him the money."  I said, "Everybody gives him advance. He is a propertied man who has given me a promissory note. What can be wrong?"  His reply was, "This won't work for us, it will work for other merchants only."  When he said that, a simple thing which I had been unaware of suddenly dawned on me.

If I get a promissory note from people who are at my level, it will be honoured. If the merchant gives promissory notes to others at his level, they will also be honoured. As I did not have the resources to enforce his payment, I realised that what I had done was fundamentally wrong. With that realisation, I felt unburdened in my feelings. The problem seemed to be solved and a prayer seemed unnecessary. The first time I relied on my positive feelings, but it did not work. Why rely on them a second time. However, I placed my hopes on my positive feelings and decided to meet the merchant the next morning.

The next morning I left in my car for the estate in Ramapuram. On the way back I stopped to meet the merchant. My driver showed me a coconut garden and said, "The man dressed in a white shirt is the merchant."

I proceeded towards the garden and on seeing me, the merchant also began walking towards me. We met halfway and unusually he looked cheerful and spoke pleasantly. I opened the topic of money. He said, "The harvest is over. My men are threshing the paddy. I will give you the money this evening."  I did not believe him and even thought of sending a worker to the paddy-threshing place. He asked if I did not believe him and took a paper out of his pocket. He showed me the paper and said, "Look, this is a list of all the people I am going to give money to this evening. Please see the top of the list."  I saw that my name was on the top of the list with a figure of Rs. 7,000. He said he could not give the interest then and promised to give it to me at the next harvest. I expressed my wish to have my due in the form of paddy. He agreed. Accordingly, I sent my men and had Rs. 7,000 worth of paddy bags brought to my house. Just as he had promised, he paid the interest at the time of the next harvest.

If one is active, interested, and responsible and functions by basing himself on Mother, there is no need to pray. The Mother will help execute our tasks with ease. If obstacles arise, then prayer will move things. If things do not move, then it can only mean that something is wrong with our feelings, acts or way of life. If we find out that fault and feel sorry, then as usual the problems get solved.

book | by Dr. Radut