Norman Allan
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A Man of God


Philip tells a story about the Swami Vinoba Bhavi. Philip spent three months at the guru’s ashram in Puna. The guru was a teacher of some renown. The day Philip arrived at the ashram it was swarming with police and military. The Prime Minister of India, Indira Ghandi, was visiting the ashram to consult with and seek advice from Vinoba. Then she was whisked away in a helicopter and slowly the troops and police dispersed.

The next morning, when Philip came out into the courtyard, he saw an old man in a loin clothe sweeping the yard. Here was the great Vinoba Bhavi. A small wizened man, he stood not much more than five foot tall. Thin arms, thin chest. A calm and grace suffused him focused as he was on his task.

A disciple, a "nun" in saffron robe, approached him. "Babaji," she said. "Why are you sweeping? A great man like you, all the world comes to you for your advice. Why not leave such a menial task to others?"

Swami Vinoba bent over and reached to the ground. He picked up a small pebble. "Ram," he said (Ram being one of the names of God). Then lovingly laid the pebble back down where he had found it and picked up a small tangle of thread, lint, and fluff. "God,’ he said, and put it down again. He picked up a small dried leaf…