21. Deceptive Appearances
One afternoon in 1944, when devotees were conversing about sundry matters in Bhagavan’s presence, the topic of deceptive appearances and talks came up for discussion. Addressing Bhagavan, a devotee said, “Some people put on all sorts of false appearances to deceive the world.”
Bhagavan said, “Yes. Not some, but many. What of that? If people put on false appearances, it is their own minds that get troubled ultimately. They begin to be afraid of what others would think of them and so their minds become their own enemies. If people think of deceiving others by putting on false appearances they themselves get deceived ultimately. They think, ‘We have planned and have deceived others and thereby have shown great cleverness.’ With pride they practise more and more deceptions. The consequences of their actions will be realised only when the deceptions are discovered. When the time comes, they will collapse as a result of their own deceits.”
While all were wondering whom Bhagavan had in mind, Rama Yogi said, ” Swami, this reminds me of an incident. I remember to have read somewhere that Bhagavan had once put on Panganamam (distinctive caste mark of a Vaishnavaite). Is it true?”
Bhagavan replied as follows: “Yes. That was during the early days of my life on the hill. At that time some Vaishnavaites used to come to me, and at their pressing request I used to put on the namam, having nothing to lose thereby. Not only that. Do you know what I did once?
Those were the days when a Kalyana Mandapam was constructed in Arunachaleswara temple. It was Navaratri time (Dasara Festival). A bhajana troupe had arranged in the temple a display of dolls for worship. They pressed me to go with them to see the display. As I was afraid that somebody might recognize me and start doing all sort of services, I put on a dhoti of Palaniswami and covered my body with another cloth, put on a namam like a Vaishnavaite and went with them. The administrators of the temple knew me well. I wanted to avoid them. They however, recognized me at the gate itself, and came after me saying, ‘ Swami! Swami! You also have come here to see the Swami? You yourself are a Swami, aren’t you?’ What to do? I felt I was deceiving myself. I somehow managed to evade them and get inside but I felt that everyone was looking at me only. I did not see theMandapam nor could I see anything else. I turned Backintending to return home unnoticed but the chief amongst the Archakas caught me again at the gate. “Swami! Swami! You have come in this dress? Aha! How nice it is, Swami! Please wait.” So saying he stopped me; and addressing his assistants, he said, ‘You fellow! Bring a garland of flowers. Bring sandal paste. Bringprasadam. Our Brahmanaswami has come here putting on the dress of Lord Sri Krishna. It is our great luck.’ So saying, they began to shower temple honours on me. I somehow managed to escape their attentions and went away. Later on, I tried a number of times to hoodwink them and somehow go to the temple but invariably they used to recognise me and give me all the temple honours. Thereupon I gave up all further attempts and stopped going to the temple altogether. It is the same with everything. You can stay anywhere without fear, if you are in your real form. If you put on a dress to deceive others, you will be afraid every minute that someone might catch you at your deception and so your mind becomes your own enemy and troubles you,” said Bhagavan.