Sages of the New Covenant
“ and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire A STILL SMALL VOICE, so it was, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And suddenly a voice came to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
– 1 Kings 19: 12 & 13
" ... seek, and you will find ..."
- Matthew 7:7
“Will I be late for the airport?”
“Will I miss the flight?”
“If I miss the flight, how would I manage to reach Madras?”
Swami Sthevananda’s mind was full of questions, as there were no traces of the cab that he had booked through the hotel for his airport drop.
It was 16th June 1996; swamiji’s last day in Bhubaneswar. He was restless sitting at the hotel lobby of The Kenilworth, where he had been attending the residential Professional Development Program on Individual and Organizational Assessment of IOAC (a body of Academy of Human Resources Development, and an arm of the National HRD Network) from 10th June 1996 to 15th June 1996.
When the car finally reached the hotel to collect swamiji, he was half an hour behind the schedule. The morning ride showed that Odisha wakes-up late and the road was almost deserted, which facilitated the taxi to move fast. When he reached the airport, he was happy to see the counter open and checked-in his luggage. While collecting the boarding pass the lady in the counter informed him that the flight was delayed.
Swamiji came and sat in one of the chairs in the airport lounge. Several thoughts ran in his mind. His heart was full of gratitude for Mr V K Kakkar, who nominated him for this training. He was delighted, that he had been certified to run an Assessment Center. In addition, among all the earthly heroes, he had great admiration for the Emperor Ashoka and he had been longing to see the place where the great war of Kalinga was fought, right from his school days. His stay in Bhubaneswar facilitated him to visit Dhauli - the place where Emperor Ashoka had a mental transformation, after meeting the Buddhist monk. Looking from the hillock of Dhauligiri, swamiji assumed to be the Zoroastrian Emperor Ashoka and he looked at the valley, where the Kalinga war must have been fought. He sunk in his thoughts of his history classes during his school days.
The crowd started swelling in the airport with white kurta clad men, indicating that they were all politicians. Swamiji was told that Mr Janaki Ballabh Patnaik, the then Chief Minister of Odisha was travelling in the same flight. The people sitting near swamiji were talking that the flight would be delayed still further; hence he decided to do some window shopping at the shopping arcades.
In one of the shops swamiji saw lot of canned sweets of various kinds. Though the pictures of the content inside the tins were similar, it had different names. Few cans had ‘Rasgulla’ written on them; while some had ‘Rasmalai’ and others had the title "Kheer Sagar". This made him curious to start a conversation with the shopkeeper. He wanted to know the difference between the Rasgulla and Kheersagar. The shopkeeper explained that Cuttack was famous for Chhena (cheese) sweets and Kheersagar was one of its kinds. Then he questioned swamiji, how could he leave Odisha without packing a Kheersagar?
His question made swamiji to understand the reason, why his fellow participants were crazy to buy milk sweets at Cuttack the previous day, when their bus was caught in a traffic jam there, while they were on a post training sight-seeing trip to Konark, Puri and Gopalpur Beach, arranged by the IOAC.
The itinerary of swamiji from Madras to Bhubaneswar was via Hyderabad and Kolkata. Wherever swamiji goes, he buys the delicacies that are exclusive to that particular place. Hence, after making the factory visits to all the three manufacturing plants of GEC Alsthom, he bought a tin of Rasgulla - a sweet famous in Kolkata.
Swamiji mistook that the sweets that were sold in Cuttack was nothing but Rasgulla and he did not buy the sweets, which his fellow participants were buying there. The shopkeeper’s explanation excited swamiji and he asked the shopkeeper to pack four tins of Kheersagar for him.
While swamiji was taking money from his wallet, the shopkeeper had noticed his boarding pass and cautioned him to book the tin as cabin luggage as tinned ones were not permitted as hand luggage (for security reasons). Though the luggage that he had booked earlier was far below the permitted level, he didn't want to go through the process of booking the cans as a separate luggage. So He returned the tins and the shopkeeper too did not hesitate to give him back the money.
Later swamiji took a corner seat in the lounge and closed his eye and must have gone into sleep slumber, as he had returned to the hotel very late, the previous night after the sight-seeing trip, only to wake up early in the morning to go to the airport.
Sudden surge of people and the noise they were making made swamiji to wake up and also indicated the call for the security check-up had already been announced. . No sooner than he put his hand on the pocket to search for the wallet to pull out the boarding pass, he was puzzled to notice that his pockets in the trousers were empty.
“What had happened to my wallet?”
“Did I leave it at the shop?”
“Was it stolen by anyone, while I was sleeping?”
“What would I do?” ...no Boarding Pass to get into the aircraft, no credit card or money to purchase another ticket! ....
Painful moments…. and these were the questions that surfaced again and again in the mind of swamiji.
Swamiji just said a salient prayer to God. As he was praying, he heard a whisper-like Inner Voice saying: "... seek and you will find .... ".
Swamiji was reminded of the parable of the Lost Coin. He just went straight to the shopkeeper and asked him: "Did I leave my boarding pass by any chance?"
He replied: "No".
Swamiji realized that these were the moments that challenge our FAITH and he flexed his faith muscles by saying: "I cannot afford to lose it. I will not lose it".
As Swamiji walked towards the lounge, looking all around ….
found his wallet at the centre of the lobby. What he wanted was not the fifteen thousand rupees that he had in the wallet, not the credit card, but the boarding pass.
It was not easy for swamiji to reach the place, where his wallet had been lying. He had to sneak through the crowd of politicians. Many might have been cursing him, as he was rushing towards his wallet, pushing many people ahead of him. He neither understood Oriya (language spoken in Odisha) nor was he interested to know what they were saying about him. What he wanted was the boarding pass.
When swamiji picked up his wallet he was overflowing with joy, as he saw the portion of the boarding pass protruding from the wallet. As he opened the wallet, he was surprised to see that not only the boarding pass, but also his money, his credit card and all that he had kept inside were intact.
It was disbelief to the old lady who was sitting in the opposite side row at the aisle, observing swamiji right from the time he started rushing to the shop, As she could not talk to him, she expressed her happiness by putting her hand on her chest (a gesture to indicate relief).
When you trust in God, you have nothing to lose.
Many of us, always wish to see the God outside of us and expect Him to talk to us with cinematographic effect, accompanied by thunder and lightning. When, God lives in you, how could you afford to neglect the God, who lives within you? God would talk to you in a mild voice, if you are in tune with him.
Listen to the Inner Voice, when you are in trouble. The God, who spoke to Elijah, softly is interested to talk to you as well.
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’ "- Luke 15: 8 & 9
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Sages of the New Covenant