We met him at a satsang centre during our travels. He seemed unremarkable at first. Over the years we had come across many sevadars who were dedicated and sincere, so he was not particularly unusual. He was just another sheep in the flock. Or so it seemed.
His task was to pick up the elderly and drive them to satsang every Sunday. He surprised us when he arrived earlier than the agreed time. In fact, we were later told that he was always very early. “I don’t want to be late for my seva,” he said with a beaming smile. We invited him to join us for breakfast but he insisted on waiting outside with the car.
He was a good driver. Not too fast, not too slow. Clearly, he was focused on delivering his fragile passengers to the centre, safe and sound. He navigated his compact car on the freeway with quiet confidence and the kind of skill that comes from familiarity and practice.
He told us he arrived from India a few years ago. His fluency in the local language and his Hindi were perfect. “But I want to learn English,” he said. And yet, his English was not bad at all.
When we got to the centre, everyone assembled for satsang. Mr Unforgettable got busy helping another sevadar, but when he was done, he gravitated back to us. Everywhere we went, there he was, attentive and ready to help. “I just want to do seva,” he said. So when someone needed a glass of water, there he was dashing out to get it as though it was a matter of life or death. “I need a pen,” mumbled an elderly gentleman, and in a flash it appeared from the hands of Mr Unforgettable.
After satsang, some of us were talking about the spiritual path and there he was seated on the floor in a corner, completely captivated. We had quickly become very fond of him. Without our even knowing it, he had carved a place for himself in our hearts.
That evening we were invited for dinner and it was there that we got to know him better. “Where do you work?” someone asked. “At an international law firm,” he replied. Wow. We were already so impressed by this devoted human being and now he is an aspiring lawyer at a top law firm! Amazing.
But what he said next made us feel even smaller. “As a janitor,” he said matter-of-factly.
Needless to say, we were speechless. Here was this devoted, helpful, generous, loving human being who had seamlessly adjusted to living in a foreign country; who was earning a living and doing seva with the kind of attitude and humility that we have only read about in the books.
And in such contrast, there we were, receiving special treatment simply because we were old satsangis visiting from another country. Who was the real satsangi here?
He was truly inspiring and while we were genuinely very happy for him, we shuddered for ourselves. We thought we were good examples. We thought we were good sevadars. But it was clear that we still had a long, long way to go.
Ironically, most of us had been on the path for over 22 years. Mr Unforgettable on the other hand, was only 22 years old.