CHAPTER - 6

It was as if fortune had begun to smile on Akbar Khan. He had stepped into the most propitious and opportune moment of his life. Jitendra thought he would entrust the Ashram cows to his care since he had some experience in that line. There was an outhouse, rather a family-size cabin, attached to the cowshed which was meant for the caretaker of the cows. The previous incumbent had been asked to quit because he was found on a night very disorderly and dead drunk. The work was now being temporarily attended to by one of the disciples. But he had no knowledge and could not but fumble and blunder. So Jitendra decided to put Akbar Khan in the place. He would stay with his family in the outhouse and get his wages every month. When he was told the wages, Akbar Khan could hardly conceal his joy and satisfaction. He thanked God, for it was literally a godsend. He didn't tarry a moment. The very next day he arrived with his family and took charge. He felt like a helmsman in a great undertaking. He swaggered to everyone he knew and made no secret of his pride. And to be favored by so illustrious a personage as the Swamiji was no small matter. If only he had money he would directly go to Mecca and thank Allah. He scrubbed the floor and bathed the cattle regularly. The whole family sincerely devoted themselves to the work. There was not a moment when he did not thank inwardly the great monk.

Akbar Khan had promised to increase the milk yield by two times within two months, and he kept his word. The milk, after whatever was taken for Ashram use, was sent to a milk co-operative society in a nearby village either by bus or cycle. This work was done by one of the Ashram staff. Sometimes Akbar Khan's daughter Fatima did it if the regular man was either on leave or had something else to do. On the whole Akbar Khan proved himself more useful than was expected. He had revived and become healthy. His humor which had been dead for years revived too. He had now become capable of very sensible decisions.

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The work which Jitendra had projected for taking religion to the masses was well apace. There were a dozen monks from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, who were willing to work along with him. They went to different places in the country and promoted the Swamiji's mission. They would assemble at convenient intervals and discuss the progress. They were on the lookout for enthusiastic local organizers and many came forward. The response was very encouraging. There were a large number of people among the public, including the upper classes and the middle classes, who understood the desperate need for religion and an improvement in public and private morals. They very much wanted a regenerative process to be set in motion. People had come to concentrate themselves so much on money and material interests that they had forgotten Satya and Dharma. Rich men acted from an inflated ego and the poor from an insulted and humiliated ego. About one hundred and seventy five centers on the whole, comprising all the states within the country, had been decided upon. Soon the centers were formed and they began to function, Jitendra and the other monks did their best to invigorate them and make them more and more serviceable to the people.

Jitendra had been very busily and ceaselessly at work and the other monks too derived energy and inspiration from him. There was abundant enthusiasm at all levels. Jitendra felt happy. It was a splendid sight to see the people assembling in such mighty and staggering numbers to hear his lectures and those of the other monks. Jitendra had admirable oratorical talents that suited the masses. It made its way straight to their head and heart, and became productive of very visible effects. The mail Jitendra received grew day by day till it became simply unmanageable. Many people offered to give physical and financial assistance. Many people said in their letters how they had reformed, how their friends and neighbors had reformed. There were people who wrote for dispatch of books and other publicity material. They asked for booklets and copies of his magazine to be distributed. Many men and women begged for his counsel and guidance to solve the moral conflicts in their personal affairs.

More Sanyasins joined and the pace of the work was doubled up. The people and other monks began to look upon Jitendra as a Godman that had come upon earth for a mission. There were men and women, college girls and boys, workers and business men, people in difficulties and hardships and people in prosperity, who touched his feet, who kissed his robe, who lovingly stroked his face, who shook his hands and who garlanded him and threw flowers at him. He was becoming a force, a man of destiny, the prospective founder of an era, and really an Avatar of Lord Krishna. There were pilgrim crowds coming to see him and take his blessings at the Ashram. The Ashram was becoming a crowded place, and orderlies were posted to keep the regularly swelling numbers under control. Many who took the blessings of the Swamiji, praying to him to remove their hardships and solve their problems kept reporting very good results everyday. Jitendra was a little puzzled how all that could happen. Perhaps what little of Lord Krishna he had realized in him was doing its work without his knowing it. He prayed for people everyday. It was as if he was productive of a divine force that acted independent of him, enlarged him and promoted his cause.

The sales in the Ashram book-stall were fast picking up. Raghunath, one of the disciples, was in charge of the book-stall. Some times two or three more disciples had to join him to cope up with the crowds at the peak hours. Three or four chairs were put up inside the stall for them to conveniently sit and write up the cash bills and pack up the books in little parcels. Fatima would come in sometimes and assist. When the crowds grew steadily less, the other disciples left leaving Raghunath alone to do the work. Sometimes other work cropped up in connection with the mission and additional disciples could not be spared for the book-stall. But then Fatima would step in and offer solid help. Fatima loved the book-stall. She sat for hours. Raghunath was a handsome youngster with a winsome manner and gentle laugh. He lit up the place with his receptive manner and geniality. He considered his work as a part of the Gnana Yagna which His master had undertaken on a countrywide scale. Fatima asked him one day what was meant by Gnana Yagna. Then he explained it was an offering to God through propagation of spiritual knowledge and inculcation of moral principles among people. He asked her to read Vivekananda's work on the subject. There was a copy available at the book- stall. She took and read it. And she began to understand what it meant by stages. The two had an open mind on each otherís religion. There was the aura of the Swamiji in the bookstall that illuminated their understanding. It had become a shrine of Hindu-Muslim unity.

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Since last three days Jitendra was full of the paintings of El Greco in his mind. He repeatedly went through the albums of his famous works. He was a Spanish Mannerist painter. His portraits owed their rare power of suggestion to the absorbed expression of their models. He compared the picture of his own Guru he had painted with some of the portraits of El Greco. This technique of working out an absorbed expression on the faces of the subjects Jitendra had acquired very naturally in the process of learning his Art. The portrait of his Guru he had painted stood in a line with El Greco's own style and technique. But of all the works of El Greco that which took his attention most and provoked endless admiration was the painting that carried the title "View of Toledo". It was the work of a true genius, and had earned unstinted plaudits from art-circles all over the world. Toledo was his birthplace. Jitendra had already read a great deal about El Greco's works in several books exclusively devoted to a critical study of his paintings. He had also read articles about him in Art-journals, in Encyclopedia Britannica and in the Encyclopedia of Art. He found a lot of enlightenment on his works in the volumes written by Leo Bronstein, Camon Aznar, Manuel Cossio and Elizabeth Trapier, and all that he had read about him came and crowded up in his mind.

El Greco discovered his own feverish awareness of the interior life in the spirit of Toledo itself. When he made this painting, he endowed the city with a burning soul akin to his own. He was merely transposing his spiritual visions into his own language of colors. His language was not literary but pictorial. That spiritual language lay embedded in his techniques and colors. Out of sheer nothings he could create a spiritual atmosphere on the canvas. He would introduce large unrealities into the limited and even ugly realities, and make them shine with a unique beauty that could only be felt, but could never be imitated, copied or duplicated. And he was a supreme colorist. In this celebrated picture "The view of Toledo" Which he painted in his studio, and not at the site, he rearranged the buildings and scenes of the town to suit his own compositional purpose. And so, the "View of Toledo" Was less of real Toledo and more of what his inner vision and spiritual energy built and rebuilt for him, and which he transported to the canvas. It was all his personal magic. He had always had a tendency to dramatize rather than to describe, and that tendency had found fullest expression in his work, "The View of Toledo". It was a `View' born in his fantasy and not wholly out of what obtained in reality. El Greco not only dramatized, but also wildly fantasized. In his other works too it was the same thing. Extreme distortion of body characterized some of his great works. The brilliant dissonant colors and the strange shapes and poses created a sense of wonder and ecstasy. He was an expert miracle-maker and conjurer which he exhibited abundantly in the free illusionist and atmospheric creation of space. He infused his own soul into that of his subject and enlarged it to cosmic dimensions as he understood it. Jitendra would only paint such pictures. That was his wish. But he would put i nto them infinitely more. He would put the cream of Hindu Advaita into them. His spirit would lodge in them. His paintings would be , in the ultimate sense, discoveries of his own self in relation to God and the Cosmos.