A Saint In Love With Women
A Saint In Love With Women
The story I am going to tell you is very old. However, I remember the details minutely. Although I am a Hindu, whenever I go to my village Bhanjapur Sasan, I first visit the tomb of Zaved Khan and then I go to the temple of our village goddess Basulei and then to the temple of Chatteswar, I mean, Lord Shiva.
Zaved Khan's story is deeply poignant and engrossing; the story of an unfortunate soul who was harassed and beaten by both Muslims and Hindus because he was daring enough to speak out his thoughts freely. He had to withstand their anger and resentment silently, but not for too long. All hell broke loose when he declared that only bad Muslims and bad Hindus ate the flesh of other living animals. He openly condemned the sacrificing of goats and sheep to the village goddess. The pandits of Bhanjapur Sasan were inimical to Zaved as he motivated the Brahmin youths to stop offering goats to the village goddess. Zaved was a brilliant talker; he could easily outwit any Maulana or any pandit.
One thing that was most revolting to the Muslims and Hindus was his special fondness for women. Women in large numbers went to the mud-walled shanty of old Zaved and touched his feet. It was clear that he preferred women to men. One thing that fascinated some was Zaved's extreme aversion to costly gifts. He didn't accept anything from his visitors except vegetarian food prepared onion-and-garlic free. Additionally, some also gifted him sweet-smelling pans(betel leaf). These apart, he didn't refuse things like photos of gods, goddesses and saints and holy books.
Zaved's little shanty was located in a lonely area. Some village girls and women visited him every day. What was most disturbing, a rich Muslim businessman's wife cooked food after Zaved's own heart and brought the same to him with extraordinary devotion and love.
The Muslim businessman being talked about was the one bent on vilifying Zaved as a cheat and womaniser. His contention was that after Zaved had murdered his wife, he had intentionally taken to the path of God to carry on his nefarious clandestine acts of lust and licentiousness. Men and women, in general, were spiteful about him. They wanted to see him hanged. Most people also thought he had lost his wits on account of his beautiful wife's sudden death and that he had never murdered her. Speculation was also rife that he was engaged in the practice of witchcraft. Zaved had acquired the status of a mysterious character.
I was told much later that Pandit Shukadev Satpathy had once employed some miscreants to set fire to Zaved's ashram. However, people said the miscreants sided with the enigmatic Godman. What was the reason? It transpired that they had set the house ablaze with Zaved Baba inside, but the next morning they found the house intact and Baba hale and hearty as ever. They fell at his feet and became his dedicated followers. This too was not free from contention; some disputed it angrily. The likes of Shuka Satpathy and Benu Tripathy were determined not to lose their leverage and status as exponents of religion and spirituality. Benu had said to Zaved Baba: "Sala.. pathan...!You liar..! Lord Jagannath and Lord Krishna talk to you..? Why are you misguiding the innocent village people..?"
On another occasion, Shuka Satpathy had said to him, "What's the use of living such an outwardly austere life when you are unable to conquer your weakness for women?"
Zaved Baba hardly ever lost his temper even at his enemies.Some said the wives of his enemies and he himself were thick as thieves.That accounted for Baba's silence about his enemies. He had got a thing about those beautiful ladies.
Behind all this was Tehmina's husband Mr Nissar's propaganda to tarnish and blacken Baba's image. Now Tehmina never left Baba's side. Her husband and children had abandoned her. Baba always appeared surrounded by glamorous and fashionable women. The men of Bhanjapur Sasan could not cause the least harm to Zaved Baba because their beautiful wives clung to him steadfastly.
Despite his meanness and niggardly behaviour, Shuka Satpathy was a gem amongst men for he was endowed with profound learning and erudition. In addition, he was affluent and well-off. He commanded respect everywhere.Could such a respectable man at all bear the news of his wife being sighted in the arms of a fake Muslim fakir? He had beaten his wife Charu many a time for frequenting the fakir's place. He had engaged spies to detect concrete proofs to oust the fakir from their locality.
One afternoon the pandit got word to visit Zaved's ashram. Shuka Satpathy instantly reached the ashram. Later Benu Tripathy also arrived there.Them apart, some Muslims under the leadership of Mr.Nissar came from the adjoining village Shahapur. The gathering grew bigger and bigger. It was an interesting sight to watch. Charu was sitting on the bare cement floor.On her lap lay the old fakir's head. She was waving a palm-leaf fan. There were other women and some trusted disciples.
"Enough is enough, Zaved..!Stop defiling our ladies? What kind of a fakir you are! Always in the midst of women and girls! Have you no shame?"
The angry businessman Nissar roared with bulging red eyes, "Gentlemen..! What are you waiting for?Kill him..!..Kill this devil...! He's downed many families... hasn't he..?Report him to the police...I say...This fakir is Satan's messenger.!"
Benu Tripathy said, "Actually a God-fearing person keeps women at arm's length..."
"Just like you eloping with your master's wife...!" This was a croak from an unidentified woman.
Some people were sighted coming with staffs in their hands.
Zaved Baba stood up and said in a firm voice, "Pandit, your sin is coming to light soon.Your mistress is pregnant.People... Go see the sin this holy man has committed with dead Gopi Babu's widow..."
Gopal Mohanty was a retired policeman. He had married a twenty-one-year girl in the hope of fathering a son. He had died a disappointed old man. Now the lady was pregnant with Shuka Satpathy's child.
For a moment old Shuka was left breathless with astonishment."How come Zaved knew ...all this..!"
Then Baba said to Nissar, "And Sir..? You have gone a few steps ahead... Getting your trusted business partner run over by a truck..? Right or not...?Go home quickly... Your daughter is running away with her lover... Carrying all her gold and diamond jewellery..!"
Then Zaved Khan said to the vast gathering, "Yes, I love women much more than men. But why...? I find them to be so kind...so generous...so soft... I dwell in the deepest region of each woman's heart... Without her, there can be no creation...Each woman I see is none but Mother Kali. Try to consider each woman as your mother... Your own holy sacred mother...Can anyone be more loving than your mother..? Young and beautiful mothers...? Old and loving mothers? Cultivate extreme closeness with each woman you know... Address each openly as Mother..! Be the most loving son... Take pride looking at the beauty of each loving mother...I know you can't do this, nor will you allow anyone doing this..."
After a few days, people often noticed Shuka Satpathy at Zaved's ashram... Nissar allowed his wife returning home, but it seemed he was not still fully convinced of the fakir's nobility and righteousness.Satpathy too couldn't overcome all worldly weaknesses...