Video and Audio

Everything Is God - Inspiring Story from the Life of Swami Ramdas

Nayaswami Gyandev
January 12, 2020

Nayaswami Gyandev shares an inspiring story from the life of Swami Ramdas from India, during his Sunday Service talk at Ananda Village. Find the complete talk here.

The Indian saint Ramdas was visited late one night by a strange, disheveled man who asked to stay in his sparse room. Throughout the night, the man repeatedly asked Ramdas for his few possessions - his clothes, books, lamp, water pot - which Ramdas happily relinquished as tests from God. When the man finally left just before dawn, Ramdas felt immense joy in seeing God in this man and surrendering everything, embodying his faith that everything comes from and belongs to God.

This story illustrates the practice of seeing God everywhere, even in difficult people and situations, and letting go of attachment to possessions by offering them freely back to their divine source. By giving unconditionally, Ramdas found profound peace and freedom.


Nayaswami Gyandev:

And I'd like to share one example of him [Ramdas] living those verses, from the Gita: that everything is God.

He was staying in a small room in a rest house on some temple grounds. And the room was just had hardly anything in it, just a few of his possessions. He had a couple of mats, had an umbrella. He had a hurricane lamp and some religious books, a water pot. That was basically all he had.

And one night, he was just sitting on the floor of his room when a man burst into his room a very strange-looking, disheveled-looking man. His clothes were all torn and ragged, and he was carrying a bundle on a palm stick, and he's just asked if he could stay. Ramdas said, "Yes, you can stay."

So the man sat down and unwrapped his bundle, which, which was a big collection, sort of a bizarre collection of stray bits of colored cloth, and he set them out very, very carefully. And Ramdas is watching this, and he just had the thought, "Oh, Lord, Thou cometh in wonderful disguises." The man looked at him at that point and laughed.

Then he gathered up all the cloth, put it back, put it back in the bundle. And he said, "I would like to have that outer cloth of yours." for Ramdas' brother had given him two outer cloths to wrap himself in. And Ramdas took off the outer cloth and gave it to him. And the man then started to chant a little bit and very bizarre singsong voice. Now after a while, he stopped and looked at Ramdas. He said, "I want that other outer cloth of yours."

Well, Ramdas gave him the other outer cloth and said, "So now let us lay down and sleep." So they both lay down and sleep. Five minutes later, the man popped up again. He said, "I would like that water pot." Ramdas gave him the water pot. And this continued through the night. The man asked for the umbrella; Ramdas gave it to him. He asked for the hurricane lamp; Ramdas gave it to him; the religious books and Ramdas gave it to him, thing after thing after thing.

As he started to wrap them up in his bundle, which was getting rather big at this time, and Ramdas says that, "Oh Lord, Thy tests are wonderful. Everything is Thine and Thine alone!" The man looked at him, and he said, "You may regret this after I leave, will you not?!" And Ramdas said, "No, of course not! You are Ram himself. You're only taking your own things!"

The man said, "One more thing. Your spectacles." Ramdas took off his spectacles and gave them to the man. He was certain God Himself had indeed come to test him. Then the man said, "And one more." "It is yours, Ram! Take whatever you want." He said, "Your loincloth." Ramdas started to take it off. He got it most of the way off; the man said, "No, never mind. I do not need it."

He got up to go. He said, "Will come with me?" Ramdas said, "By all means, Ram, I will come with you." He said, "Not now. Later you come with me." He just walked a step out the door into the pouring monsoon and he turned and said, "What do you think of me? I am not mad. I am not!" Ramdas could barely speak. He was so choked with emotion and said, "You, are He! You are He!" The man left.

Ramdas sat to meditate. He meditated through the rest of the night into the morning. It was broad daylight when he finished, and there was a crowd gathered outside this little room because someone had come to bring him breakfast and noticed that all the things that Ramdas had had, he didn't have anymore. He thought a thief had come while Ramdas was perhaps meditating and just made off with everything.

So they asked Ramdas, "What happened?" and Ramdas said, "The Lord provideth through one form and taketh away through another." That didn't satisfy the crowd at all. They wanted an explanation. So Ramdas told them everything that had happened.

And when someone suggested the man should be hunted down and captured, Ramdas said, "For what fault of his? He was just taking the things that were his own. He was the Lord Himself!" And everybody knowing Ramdas accepted that explanation and went away.

And soon, Ramdas' brother had restored all the things that Ramdas had given away, and he wanted to restore his spectacles as well. And Ramdas said, "No, no, perhaps the Lord may have deprived Ramdas," he always talked about himself in the third person, "Perhaps the Lord has deprived Ramdas of his spectacles because he might not need them in the future." And indeed, from that day on, for the rest of his life until he was quite old, Ramdas did not wear spectacles because his vision had been completely restored.

A beautiful story of just living the dream, living the belief that God is everything and that everything that comes to us is from God; it’s not easy. But if it's the ultimate truth, what could be more irresistible than testing it, at least now and then?

And I know there are people in this community who live it on a regular basis, whether through the giving of resources or giving of time or giving of skills, or giving of kindness or service. And you see it in their lives. You see the happiness that comes. You see the freedom that comes.

And you think, "Okay. I know that great saints do this, and that sometimes makes it unapproachable because it seems so far, but here are my friends; here are my gurubhais. They are people I have watched on a day-to-day basis; they’re doing it. Maybe I could do it too." May we all strive to do that in our lives.

God bless you.