Scriptural texts the world over state that a saint’s proximity is infallible in its effect. Even a fragment of his garment (Christ’s holy shroud) or a hair from his head (as of Mohammad), or Buddha’s tooth, are surrounded by miraculous tales of wonderful cures and magical transformations.

Once a thief stole a precious bejewelled necklace from a king, who then gave him a chase. The thief ran inside an empty cave and found the ochre robes of a holy man and the sacred ashes (vibhooti) of a sacrificial fire (havan). He quickly hid the jewels among the ashes, donned the saint’s robes and rubbed the Vibhooti on his body to disguise himself. When the king entered the cave he found this “holy thief” meditating, so he prostrated reverentially. 

The touch of the saint’s garments and the powerful vibes of the saint’s seat of meditation metamorphosed the thief. 

He pondered that when a fake mahatma could have kings bowing to him, what if he truly became a mahatma? So he came clean with the King. “I am not what you think, I am the thief you were searching.” The King refused to believe that a thief could speak the truth even at the cost of certain death. So the king prostrated again and said, “No Sir, you were a thief, but such truth can emerge only from a very pure and sinless mind.”

Stories abound where sinners and criminals were transformed by the powerful words or the presence of a great soul. A saint was once asked if he could describe the change that comes about in the personality of a realised master so that he could be recognised by common folk. “If you changed through contact with him… recognise him,” was his answer.

Prarthna Saran is President, Delhi Chinmaya Mission.

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