Balji Heda's Dream of Wealth
There were always devotees who made great efforts to stay as close as possible to Mahaprabhuji in order to serve him. One of these was a poor merchant named Balji Heda, who had a burning desire to be rich. He served Mahaprabhuji with great enthusiasm. He made use of himself wherever he could, sweeping the ashram, washing the dishes, fetching wood. He didn't move from Mahaprabhuji's side.
One day Mahaprabhuji asked him his greatest wish, though he knew the answer very well.
"Balji, do you have a wish?"
Balji, who had only been waiting for this very moment, replied without hesitation.
"Master, you see into the hearts of all and nothing is hidden from you, but if you want to hear my greatest wish then I will tell you about it. I want to be a rich man and if you grant me this wish I will build a guest house near the railway station of Khatu so that all pilgrims who come to visit you here may lodge with me in free accommodation. Gurudeva, I firmly believe in your grace, you will not disappoint me."
And with this Balji worked himself into a state of wishful thinking and made great plans, talking about the facilities he would offer pilgrims who came to visit the Master.
On hearing Balji Heda speak in this way, Mahaprabhuji sadly shook his head.
"Even if by Gurudeva's grace you possessed all the money in the world, still you would not perform this selfless work," he said with a smile. "I know you well. Your mind is filled with greed and stinginess. A man like you couldn't make this sacrifice any more than a goat could swallow a watermelon whole."
Balji was offended by these words and tears filled his eyes.
"You are gracious and helpful towards all, so why not to me? Give me a chance. All I need is the opportunity to earn more and then I will prove to you that I can keep my promise. Let me try just once!"
Mahaprabhuji became serious.
"Balji, I gave you chances in several lives already and every time you failed. I know you and know things of which you are not even aware."
But Balji didn’t relent.
"Ocean of Grace, try me just once more, I beg you. This time I will not disappoint you. Please fulfil my wish."
Finally Mahaprabhuji granted his request and directed him to Bombay and to try his luck. Immediately Balji travelled there and by speculating on the stock exchange, won three million rupees in just one week. Everyone admired his extraordinary luck and the news of his sudden wealth spread like wildfire, finally reaching his home village of Khatu.
He arrived home with many precious objects and was warmly welcomed. In reality, it was not he who was praised but his money and soon he had many new friends who longed to be in his company.
Balji had not forgotten Mahaprabhuji. He had brought him a valuable cashmere shawl and some fruits. Mahaprabhuji accepted the gifts and distributed the fruit as prasad among the disciples. He handed the shawl to a poor farmer who sat nearby. In his merciful nature, Mahaprabhuji always passed on precious gifts to the beggars and poor.
"Lord!" Balji protested, "this valuable shawl is intended for you. You ought to keep it."
With a smile Mahaprabhuji replied, "At all times in this world, fear lurks hidden beneath precious things. If I were to keep every valuable gift, I would soon have need to build a storehouse and lock it to protect my belongings. Humans very easily become attached to their possessions and then the fear of losing them begins."
"Balji, there is another good reason why this particular man should have your shawl," he continued. "It is a beautiful shawl and the man is very poor. How often in his life will the opportunity come to possess something so expensive? It is so good to share a joy! You have taken pleasure in giving me this shawl, so do not rob me of the pleasure of passing it on."
Balji's limited mind just could not grasp these words, nevertheless he accepted Gurudeva's decision.
Mahaprabhuji's disciples often expressed that he should keep the gifts for his own use, but he believed otherwise.
"If I don't give these to the poor, how should I otherwise take pleasure in such gifts? Just as the lake doesn't drink its own water and the tree doesn't eat its own fruit, so the Saint only ever lives for the benefit of others."
Mahaprabhuji lived very simply. He wore handwoven garments made of cotton and even mended his old clothes himself.
"Gurudeva, you could dress in the finest silk or velvet and still pass on rich presents to the poor," his disciples frequently said. "Why do you wear such old, patched garments?"
Mahaprabhuji would answer, "Verily, nobody becomes great just by wearing splendid clothes, but only through their inner qualities."
After some time, Balji Heda started to think about the guest house which he had promised to build. He was ready to order the first load of bricks when his stinginess began to take hold.
"Why should I do this?" he thought. "When I come to think of it, my wealth is the result of my own luck. What had Mahaprabhuji to do with it? If he really had the power to make people rich, why doesn't he do so for all disciples? It's foolish of me to waste my money on this guest house."
Mahaprabhuji knew about Balji Heda’s change of heart.
"Balji, I would like to remind you of your promise," he warned. "If you break your word, you will not only lose all your money but your dharma as well. Like a beggar you will wander from door to door. You are mistaken if you think that wealth is your destiny. You will then see what course this supposed luck will take you."
However, Balji was blinded by his love for money and after some time, he went to Jodhpur to gamble on the stock exchange again. But this time luck abandoned him and he lost his wealth as fast as he had won it. Hoping to regain his money, he continued to gamble but only lost more and more. He even borrowed money, hoping his luck would change, but still he lost.
Thus Balji fell into misery and really was compelled to wander from door to door to beg for help. In this time of distress Balji remembered Mahaprabhuji's words and recognised his mistake. He realized that his mind had been blinded by greed and that he had to suffer punishment.
A true picture of misery, Balji sought the help of Mahaprabhuji.
Crying and filled with repentance, he threw himself at Gurudeva's feet. Seeing him in this sad condition Mahaprabhuji spoke softly.
"Balji, you were very proud of your wealth. Wealth is Goddess Lakshmi and it operates according to her nature — unstable. It is not in your power to control Lakshmi. You thought that your own luck had made you a millionaire, but what has become of your luck? Where is the money which you so ostensibly earned? You pressed me to give you a chance and this I did, but unfortunately you failed. You only have yourself to blame for this miserable situation because you didn't keep your word. Whoever breaks his word will suffer the consequences, this is the law of karma."
Balji realized that his own efforts couldn't free him from his miserable plight and so he stayed in Mahaprabhuji's ashram for three months. He resumed his former services and cleaned the ashram daily.
One day Mahaprabhuji spoke to him.
"Now you must go home again. In future you will be able to earn enough to repay your debts, but you will never be rich."
Balji obeyed and left the ashram. He did not lack anything and he no longer dreamed of wealth. For some years more he lived in thoughts of repentance and in memory of his days of wealth and then he left this world.
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