But there was uneasiness in his mind; in his heart, there was not total acceptance. To change your style of life just because you are going to receive an award from the hands of the viceroy looked to him like a compromise. It was against his pride.
Tomorrow it was going to happen, and he was walking on the sea beach with a disturbed mind: whether to follow the advice of his friends or just to go the way he always lives?
At that very moment he saw a man come running. And just in front of him, a very rich Mohammedan was also walking on the beach – the man said to the rich man…which Vidyasagar heard; he was just four feet behind him. The man said, “What are you doing here? Your palace is on fire!”
The rich man said, “Okay,” and he continued to walk with the same ease, as if nothing had happened.
The man who had brought the news said, “Have you heard it or not? Your palace is on fire, everything is burning, and there seems to be no way to save anything.”
He said, “I have heard; now you go and do whatsoever you can. First I will have to finish my evening walk, and then I will be coming.”
Vidyasagar could not believe it. His whole house was on fire – and he had the most beautiful palace, rich, with many antiques. He was a lover of paintings and statues, and his palace was almost like a museum. People used to come to see it, to visit it. And just to go around his palace inside used to take hours, because there were so many art treasures to be seen. Everything is on fire, and the man says that he will first finish his evening walk!
And he continued at the same pace. There was no hurry, there was no tension. Vidyasagar could not believe his own eyes, and the thought arose in him: Here is a man who knows how to live in utter ease. Whatever happens in the world is not going to change him even a little bit. And here I am – just for an award from the viceroy, I am going to change my whole lifestyle. They are going to cut my hair, put it in shape, cut my beard and put it in shape, and I have agreed! No, I am going to be just as I am.”
And he thanked the rich man. “You have saved me.” The rich man said, “I don’t understand – how have I saved you?”
Vidyasagar explained. “I was going to change my whole dress, shave my beard and cut my hair…and just to be respectable, to look rich, just to take an award. And your house – I have been many times in your palace. Your whole life’s collection of great paintings and other art pieces are on fire, and you are not disturbed at all.
“That’s why I say you have saved me: I am going tomorrow just the way I am. You have taught me the greatest lesson of my life: that one can take everything easily, one just needs a certain acceptance that whatever is happening is happening, and whatever people can do they are doing. What more can I do?”