Namdeo was one of the greatest saints of medieval Maharashtra. His entire family including his maid-servant Janabai were all celebrated saints. Namdeo travelled to Punjab, stayed there for few years, learnt the Punjabi language and composed a number of devotional songs. Some of such songs are incorporated in Guru Grantha Saheb, the holy book of Sikhs.
Once in a certain village Namdeo was performing holy sankirtana for a week. His words had a divine touch. A huge crowd had come to listen to him.
Among the audiences there was a middle aged person named Jiwaji who was a regular listener. He was highly influenced by Namdeo'snarration.
The last programme of the week was over. All the people had dispersed. But Jiwaji sat firmly near the feet of Namdeo.
?What is it that keeps you waiting?? asked Namdeo.
?Sir, I liked your discourses. But I am bit puzzled. I would like to ask you a question,? said Jiwaji.
?Do ask the question. One should never keep the doubt suppressed. Especially so in the matters related to devotion,? said Namdeo.
?Sir, during the past week, in the course of your discourses, you have uttered thousands of sentences by way of advice to a common man. It is extremely impossible to act according to so many words of advices. I am fumbled and I do not know what advice I should follow,? maintained Jiwaji.
Saint Namdeo looked at the person. He said, ?You are right. A man cannot act upon thousand and one words of advice. It is simply impossible. I would suggest, therefore, that you pick up any single sentence from amongst the so many and follow the message contained therein in letter and spirit. That will give you extreme solitude and happiness. Say, which sentence would you like to select??
Jiwaji thought for a while and said, ?Sir, here is that sentence. One should always speak Truth, nothing but the Truth at all cost.?
?Oh, that is fine. But it is extremely difficult to adhere to the Truth stead-fastly.?
?Never mind. Sir it is my firm and final resolve to utter the truth come what may.?
?By the way, what is your name and what is the profession you are following?? enquired Namdeo.
?Sir my name is Jiwaji and my profession is theft?.
?Quite surprising,? said Namdeo.
Namdeo was taken aback. Because nobody on this earth would ever call himself a thief even a thief himself.
?As you say theft is your pursuit it is extremely difficult?nay it is impossible to speak truth. You can'tafford it Jiwaji for untruth is the capital of your profession.?
?Sir it is my firm promise both to you and to Lord Panduranga that henceforth I will speak truth at every step whatever consequences I may be required to face.?
?That is very good. Worship Truth. Let Lord Panduranga give you enough strength to do so. Be happy, be blessed with the grace of Lord,? said Namdeo.
So with the firm determination to speak truth Jiwaji left the scene.
The next day at night Jiwaji set out on his usual pursuit of theft. He was roaming in a lane with almost no street light about in search of a house where from he could get a bumper theft.
At that moment Jiwaji noticed a beggar limping and coming in his direction.
The beggar approached Jiwaji and asked him, ?Who are you? What is it that you are after??
Jiwaji replied, ?I am a thief. I am in search of a house from where I can steal huge quantity?either money or gold.?
The beggar was stunned to hear Jiwaji'sreply. Nobody on senses can admit that he is a theif. Here was a person who was bold enough to say that he was a thief.
In fact the beggar was none else than the king of the city. In those days it was the practice with the king to don different dresses on various nights and move around the city to find out the real condition of the citizens.
The beggar was all the more curious. He enquired about the name of Jiwaji and Jiwaji told his name without of any kind hesitation.
?What sort of thefts can you commit?? asked the beggar.
?Sir, I am expert in all sorts of thefts,? confessed Jiwaji.
?I will tell you about the smallest thing which can command biggest value. You steal it and then you will be able to pass your entire life in lavish luxuries,? said the beggar.
?Oh I see, then tell me the whereabouts. I will utilise my skill and fetch the thing with ease.?
?I will tell you the what and where of these tiny valuables on one condition,? said the beggar.
?What is that condition?? asked Jiwaji.
?You will have to part with half the proceeds of the theft?this being the price of secret information I will pass on to you just now.?
?Agreed. Rest assured I will handover half the portion of theft.?
The beggar then went near Jiwaji and whispered in Jiwajis? ear, ?The king of this place holds exceptionally valuable diamonds in his treasury which is heavily guarded. If you steal them all, your life time anxiety will vanish. Each piece costs crores. But you will have to share them with me.?
?Alright, I will handover to you half of the diamonds neither less nor more.?
?But when will you complete your operation-theft??
?Just within 48 hours. Day after tomorrow you come here at this hour, at this place and you can collect your share,? Jiwaji told the beggar.
(To be continued)
(The author can be contacted at 16, Jeevanchhaya Hsg. Society, Opp. Civil Hospital, Satara-415 001, Mah.)