Bhagat Namadev Ji – Praise and Slander
Bhagat (Saint) Namdev Ji had a renunciatory nature, an attitude of non-attachment with the world. So he decided to give good and pure education to children. He decided to impart spiritual education to children because it is the best education. Therefore, at a young age, children were sent to him for receiving education.
A seth (rich man) decided to send his son to him for education, thinking that if the child remained with the holy men in the early years, he would be saved from falling a prey to sinful sensual pleasures. He (the rich man) thought that on growing up, the child would no doubt become a business man like him, but it would be good for him to gain spiritual knowledge and understanding in the company of the holy man. So he took the child to Saint Namdev but to show off the family’s superior status and wealth, his wife made the child put on neckalce, bracelets and other ornaments.
He said to the saint, “Sir, take charge of the child. Accept him in your service and give him some knowledge and understanding.” Saint Namedev Ji said, “Rich man, don’t worry. Leave him here. There are other children also. Seeing them, he too will be influenced.”
In the evening, when Saint Namdev Ji told the children to go home, he observed and thought, “The richman’s son is rather small, but he is wearing so many ornaments. If some thief happens to kidnap him for the ornaments, he will strangulate him. The rich man does not seem to appreciate this. But I don’t have any arrangements to send an escort with him.” So he thought it better to remove his ornaments. He removed the ornaments and kept them tied in a small bundle and the child went home.
When he reached home, and his mother saw his ornaments missing, she asked him, “Where are your ornaments?” He said that the saint had removed them. At this she observed, “Such an evil saint? Now he won’t return the ornaments.” She was of a hasty and impatient nature. If she were thoughtful, she would have said, “There must be something behind the saint’s action, because holy men are not of this type.” But she immediately jumped to the conclusion that since the saint had removed the ornaments, he would not return them. She thought that the saint’s nature was like hers, because we often try to judge others with our own spectacles. So, her nature was such that she got agitated at once when she found the ornaments missing. She did not wait, and went to her neighbour, and said —
“Look sister! People talk so much about Namdev; they call him a saint, a devotee of God : but he is a cheat, nothing else.”
“What has happened to you?”
“Nothing has happened. But I have seen the reality. I sent my child decked with ornaments. Look here, he has left not a single ornament on the child. He has removed even the ring from his (child’s) little finger.”
“Don’t worry. Inquire about it tomorrow in the morning.”
“Now he is not going to return. One, who has removed the oranaments, will not return them now. He will say that somebody must have removed them on the way.”
The neighbouring woman too was of an impatient and rash nature. She talked about it to another neighbour. So in this manner, the news travelled everywhere in the town by the time it was evening.
In the meantime, the rich man returned home. She said to him —
“What good — you have sent the child to Namdev for getting education! He has removed all his ornaments.”
“It is not possible. Namdev Ji is a saint, a holy man.”
“You may continue considering him a holy man, but I am telling you what I have seen with my own eyes.”
“Then why are you feeling impatient?
We shall talk about it in the morning.” “No; he is not going to return them? You are a fool, a simpleton.”
Next day, the richman went to Namdev Ji. After greeting him, he sat down — the child was with him. Namdev Ji observed, “Richman, don’t send the child wearing ornaments. You should know that money and ornaments spell danger to the child’s life. They are enemies of his life. Somebody may kidnap him and strangulate him. Here is the bundle containing ornaments.” The rich man was very much pleased, but he also felt sad that his wife had defamed the holy man all over the town. The news will ultimately reach the holy man too and he will certainly take it ill. Hurriedly, he came home and said to his wife.
“You have done a very wrong thing. He has, in fact, saved the child’s life by removing his ornaments.”
Instantly, thinking that her neighbour might not have conveyed her observations (about the holy man) to others, she went to her and said, “He (Saint Namdev) is a very noble person. He has, in fact, saved the life of my son. I needlessly got angry and acted in a hurry.”
The other woman went to her neighbour and conveyed this thing. Soon it came to be talked all over the town — Namdev Ji is a very good and noble person. He had removed the ornaments of the rich man’s son in order to save his life from possible kidnappers and killers.
Next day, an attendant or devotee of Namdev Ji said to him — “O holy man! I am surprised; the world has a double face.” “What is the matter?” “Day before yesterday, you were badly caluminated. There was not a single person who did not speak ill of you. We felt very much pained and unhappy. But today, you are being praised everywhere.” “Why?” “You might have removed a child’s ornaments lest they should be stolen by thieves. Everywhere people said that the holy man had removed all the ornaments of a child.” If there is anything against holy men, it spreads in a moment like wildfire; it seems as if the people are always on the look out for such an opportunity. Even if it is a minor thing, you do not need any advertisement to propagate it. It spreads far and wide. The news or rumour spreads without feet or wings and without having been witnessed. A good thing does not go round that fast.
So he said, “Today, you are being praised. Those who had slandered you are today saying with their own tongue – Namdev Ji is a very noble person and he had removed the child’s ornaments for his own safety.”
Namdev Ji was sitting in a carefree mood. Before him was lying ash. He took it in his two hands. One handful he threw on one side saying — let it fall on the heads of slanderers; the other, he threw on the other side saying — let it fall on the heads of those who are praising me. His attendant said — But they are showering praises on you? The holy man said,
“None in the world praises truly. If they were to praise, why did they slander? This whole world is double-faced.”
Therefore, Guru Sahib says, “Neither be delighted at praise, nor be annoyed at calumny(slander/defamation). Rather, be delighted at calumny, and not at praise, because, the Guru’s edict is —
‘He who caluminates me is my friend’. (Guru Granth Sahib. 339)
He who speaks ill of us is our wellwisher, but not the one who praises us. He who showers praises on us spoils us or harms us, and makes us self-conceited or egoistic. Then, if someone doesn’t show full respect and honour, we become annoyed. So Guru Sahib says :
‘Who indifferently receives praise and calumny, And seeks alone the state sublime of transcendence, Saith Nanak, servant of God: Hard is this way of life — Only by the holy Preceptor’s guidance may its secret be mastered.’
‘He, who is above praise and calumny, and to whom gold and iron are alike.
Says Nanak, hearken thou, O man, deem thou him to be emancipated’
(Guru Granth Sahib. 1426)
‘He, who is free from joy and sorrow, call him, thou, a true Yogi.’ (Guru Granth Sahib. 685)