Special Thanks

[Listen to Asha read this story]

(Told by Padma)

Over the years I have had different roles at Ananda. First I was in the financial department. Then I took over the publishing. Now my husband and I lead the Ananda colony and church in Seattle, Washington.

I’m still involved in publishing, though. I coordinate the foreign rights. Swamiji’s books are published in 90 different countries and in some 28 languages, so it is almost a half-time job. Foreign rights is the key to spreading the teachings around the world, so Swamiji has always been pleased to see the growth in this aspect of the work.

Many times he has expressed his gratitude to me for all that has been accomplished. But he has never thanked me for doing any one project or any specific thing. What Swamiji says is, “Thank you for helping.”

This is the essence of karma yoga: We are all serving—and in that sense helping—God. There is nothing personal about it—not his role, not mine. We are just smoothing the way for what is trying to happen.

Often, when a decision has to be made, Swamiji will put it just that way: “What is trying to happen?” It is not a question of what “Swamiji wants,” or what any of us want. This is a divine work. We are all God’s instruments.

A few months after he moved to India in 2003, Swamiji came down with a nearly fatal case of pneumonia. He was barely breathing, and had to be rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night. Ever since he had arrived in India his health had been deteriorating.

“Even when I was a young man,” Swamiji said, “I found the climate in India difficult. At this age, it may kill me.”

Swamiji invited Dharmadas and Nirmala to come from Ananda Village to be leaders of the work in India. Now, a few months after coming to live in a country they had never even visited before, they faced the real possibility that Swamiji’s health was not up to the challenge. If he had to leave India, or if the climate killed him, then it would be up to them to make the work happen.

Fortunately, Swamiji recovered. Gradually, his overall health improved, and he didn’t have to leave India. But on the day he was checking out of the hospital, after the pneumonia, the future seemed uncertain.

Swamiji was resting on the bed. He asked Nirmala and Dharmadas to come sit on the bed with him. Holding their right hands in both of his, he looked deeply into their eyes.

“This work does not belong to me,” he said. “It does not belong to you. This work belongs to Babaji and to Master. It is their will we must follow, not our own. If we do that, you’ll see that this work will develop beautifully, in ways we can’t even imagine now.”

This was a dramatic expression of what Swamiji has been saying to me all these years. This is a divine work and it is our privilege to be helping.

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