A great mahātma, Rama Tirtha, after his God-realization found he could no longer continue a home life in society, as Professor of Mathematics at Lahore University. He went to live at great heights in the Himalayas, occasionally coming down to give talks and publish articles. On one such occasion his former teacher sent a young brahmacari to look after him.
One day the mahātma gave a four-hour long discourse to an audience of thousands; he danced on the sands of the Ganges, and many of the audience saw a god there dancing.
Afterwards he went back with the brahmacari to the small room where he was staying. The mahātma’s lack of interest in food and his solitary life in the mountains had upset his digestive system, and he sometimes suffered from attacks of colic. When the spasms came on, his body twisted and turned. The disciple watched with horror, and when he found there was nothing he could do to help he burst into tears.
The mahātma patted him on the head and said: ‘My son, Rama is above all this.’
‘But when you danced, we saw a god dancing there,’ sobbed the brahmacari, ‘and now this.. . . How can this happen to you?’
The mahātma replied; ‘You know the procession of Rama when it goes through the village, don’t you? What a joyous occasion it is! The image of the god passes, so majestic, so exalting; then the band and its music, and some of the devotees singing the songs of divine love. Then come the acrobats, some distance behind the palanquin of the god, displaying their skill to take part in this great occasion. And finally there are the clowns, aren’t there? They turn somersaults to amuse the children and to add to the general happiness. You know all this, and you appreciate it all.
‘The same thing is happening here: it is a divine procession through the body of Rama. The dance on the sands – that was the passing of the god before your eyes. And now, following the procession, here are the acrobats and the clowns, making their bodies twist and turn. It is all the divine procession, and Rama is an onlooker, appreciating it.’