Situated on the banks of the Ganges near holy Rishikesh in the Himalayas, there was once an ashram that had attracted a fair number of seekers due to the holiness of its presiding monk. The guru would take in all seekers who wanted to learn a life of dedication to God; but such was his love that he often did not discriminate who he allowed to stay.

After some time, he noticed that the ashramites were often quarrelling and he could hear rude words that left him pained. `Why are they angry with one another?' the guru asked himself. But he could not bring himself to throw anyone out - such was his compassion. One day he saw two inmates fighting over food in the ashram canteen. The incident left him shocked and he returned to his hut in a despondent mood.

`What can be wrong with them?' he asked himself. He was racked with the problem of remedying the situation and elevating their souls. So, he increased his discourses to them and gave more personal advice on their sadhana. The inmates' reverence for their guru increased, but unfortunately this did not translate in better behaviour towards each other.

The guru, then resolved to practise penance and ask the Lord for divine help before matters could get any worse. So, he shut himself away in his hut for a week, maintained silence and took a reduced diet. After some days of intense prayers and meditation, he was rewarded with a vision of celestial light. The guru was transfixed in bliss as the Lord's nectarine voice came through the light:

"My child, my dear child." The guru could not believe his ears. He was thrilled to hear the sweet voice.

"Is it really you, my Lord?" he asked filled with ecstasy and disbelief.

"Yes, my child," God said lovingly. "Tell me, what can I do for you?"

The Guru prostrated to the Divine voice and said,"Dear Lord, be pleased to come to my ashram."

"What for?" the Voice asked.

"You know everything, Lord," the guru humbly submitted. "Yet, I shall say it. The members of the ashram hate one another; they are jealous of each other. Lord, if you come and stay with us for a week, they will be filled with pure and noble thoughts."

The kind lord replied, "Certainly, I will come, but not for one week, but for ever."

The guru's joy knew no bounds. But the Voice continued, "But only on one condition."

"What is it, my Lord," the guru asked eagerly.

"I will come, but not in this form," the Lord clarified. "I will always be at the ashram in the guise of one of the inmates. I shall always be moving in the hearts of one of them; it could be anyone of them."

With these words, the Light disappeared.

The Guru, after recovering from that ethereal experience, opened the door of his hut and called all the ashramites to assemble. When he informed them of God's wish to abide in their hearts they rejoiced, but they were confused too. "Is this inmate sitting near me God in disguise?" one disciple thought. "Who could be `God in disguise' person?"

Nobody knew and everybody was left guessing and as a result careful too. For, each
one thought, "How can I fight against anyone here? What if he is one in whom God is there now?" And thus, a subtle change slowly came over in each one of them.
They began to see God in everyone and took every opportunity to help the other and be kind and courteous. The whole atmosphere in the ashram was now totally transformed – only love and harmony prevailed. The guru was the happiest man now.

The Lord's trick had done wonders.

If we reflect, we can make our family, our society and our earth just like this ashram – full of peace and harmony – if only we believe and practise the feeling that each one is just God in a different form. Our life would become a sweet experience, every moment.

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