The Doctor of Doctors
The role of the Guru is not only spiritual. A real Guru has to ensure that His disciples' physical, mundane, mental, emotional and spiritual needs are adequately met, with circumstances created by Him so that the disciples could themselves resolve problems that hinder their spiritual progress. The Guru ordinarily allows the disciple to solve his own problems by providing the necessary advice and direction. He usually does not just dispense the magic pill to solve the disciple's problems or to cure his illness. He cures eighty percent of the problem and leaves the remaining twenty percent for the disciple to take his own initiative. Even then, He gives the necessary advice and direction on how best to solve the problem. Another way of looking at the 80-20 equation is that the Guru generally allows the disciple to wallow in the web of life's drama, engage in his samskaras, which may be pleasurable or painful, then pull him out of the web, so that he does not sink further into the web.
Once in 1983, I suffered high fever and weakness. I felt miserable and could not do much work. It also affected my sadhana. I really did not want to trouble Baba with such a minor problem. So I decided to take permission to go to Ranchi, where there were better medical facilities and many Margii doctors whom I personally knew. I went to one Margii doctor and after diagnosing me, referred me to another specialist. The specialist examined me thoroughly and gave me some medication to take and strongly advised me to take adequate rest. But he did not tell me the nature of my illness.
After that, I returned to Calcutta. I informed the General Secretary (GS) Dada about the medical treatment and the doctor's advice to rest. I could not explain what exactly my illness was, as the doctor did not clarify it. The GS Dada consulted another local doctor about my illness. The doctor examined my prescription and told the GS Dada that it was medication for tuberculosis. I later learned that the doctor in Ranchi had diagnosed my illness as the initial stage of tuberculosis.
The GS Dada immediately informed Baba about my condition and that I needed to take adequate rest. Baba did not say anything.
During a reporting session the next morning, Baba asked GS Dada why I was not present for the session. He replied that I was resting as per the doctor's advice. Baba was not happy with that response and insisted that I should be present for the next reporting session.
The GS Dada informed me of Baba's instruction. At the next reporting session, I was there before Baba arrived. As Baba came, He saw me and said, "Who told you that you have tuberculosis? You don't have any tuberculosis. It is not tuberculosis but your weak liver that is the problem."
He then prescribed some special asanas and diet. He added that I should take every morning a spoonful of the sugar of guruchi (gulancha in Bengali), together with barley water and lemon. Guruchi is a creeper commonly found in Bengal. He stressed that this was the medicine for my illness and instructed me to discontinue the medication given by the doctor.
It is about twenty years now since Baba prescribed that treatment and the problem has not recurred since then.
This incident clearly shows that Baba is fully aware of our problems, even if He feigns ignorance. A spiritual aspirant should never request Baba to remove his problems. He knows when and how to remove them. He knows what we need. The myriad problems that come in a sadhaka's life are really a spiritual medicine, burning out old, deep-seated samskaras, clearing the way forward, creating the enabling environment for our spiritual advancement. If there is anything a spiritual aspirant should request from Baba, he should ask only for devotion. Anything less is a trinket.