Does God care?

In a town in West Bengal (a state in India) there lived two brothers, Ananta and Mukunda. Mukunda, who later became the great Saint Paramhansa Yogananda, was the younger brother of Ananta. Ananta, a man of the world, did not approve of Mukunda's spiritual occupations, since he worried for his brother’s well being in the absence of worldly ambitions.

One day, their differences came to the fore. Mukunda said, "You well know Ananta, I seek my inheritance from God, our Heavenly Father." Ananta, an accountant by profession, quickly retorted, "Money first; God can come later! Who knows? Life may be too long." Mukunda would not give in, "God first, money can come later! Who can tell? Life may be too short."

The heated argument between the brothers ended with the elder brother throwing a challenge. He proposed to send Mukunda accompanied by his friend, Narendra, to the nearby city of Mathura by train, without any money or other provisions on them. As per the conditions of the challenge, Mukunda and Narendra were not to take money from anyone or reveal their identity or bet to anyone. Despite all this, they were to return home before midnight. Narendra would act as witness to make sure that Mukunda abided by the conditions of the bet. Ananta was trying to test whether God would meet Mukunda’s need for food and return fare. Mukunda welcomed the challenge. He had complete faith in God that He will take care of him during this unusual challenge and boarded the train to Mathura with the witness, Narendra.

It so happened that two strangers, who boarded their train, without a word from Mukunda or Narendra, led them to an ashram (hermitage). There they were offered a sumptuous feast, originally meant for some royal visitors, who had canceled their visit at the last moment. While resting after the meal, a cheerful young man approached them and offered to be their host for no apparent reason. Without Mukunda or Narendra revealing their identity or the challenge, the young man took them sightseeing around Mathura, mentioning how much of an honor it was to serve devotees of God in such a manner! At the end of the day, when parting from them, the young man presented them with two train tickets to return to their town and some money, urging them not to refuse his offering. And so ended the test, where Mukunda and Narendra were well-provided for, despite not asking anyone for money, food or return tickets and not carrying any money with them.

The two reached home safely. Ananta was astonished. "I understand for the first time your lack of worldly ambitions!" he told the future Paramhansa. There and then itself, he asked Mukunda to initiate him into spiritual practice.

Moral: Complete faith in God is the only currency one needs to make spiritual progress. However, in order to develop the kind of faith young Mukunda (Paramhansa Yogananda) had, one has to do regular spiritual practice.

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