I had heard that U.G. was once again in Bangalore, and, happy as a lark, I jumped into the first taxi I could find to rush to his place in Poornakuti. With Chandrasekhar home on leave, Nagaraj on his way, and some Germans and an American visiting there, I was sure it would be a merry get together. Half expecting him to be out playing tour guide to his Western friends, I was delighted to find him and the others at home. Chandrasekhar was taping his poetry and singing with all his might. I drifted upstairs and found U.G. trying to coax Valentine into something warm to fight the evening chill. He remarked that she was becoming slightly violent, not a very good sign.

The next day I arrived with my kids, Prashant and Mittu, at Poornakuti. U.G. was to leave the next day for Bombay. We found U.G. upstairs in the big room, which was converted into what he called his "office," talking with one of his visitors. We brought him some pepper papads, which he insisted on tasting at once. He soon turned red in the face and complained that they were too hot and spicy. My son ran for U.G.'s thermos containing warm water, and my daughter flew to the kitchen for a glass of cool water. U.G. wasted no time in invading the refrigerator for some cooling Italian cheese to ease his burning throat. But before we could sort things out, he had, to our great surprise, wolfed down the rest of the hot papad, leaving us spectators confused and helpless.

He sticks to the subject least wanted....

About a week later some wealthy friends of U.G. dropped by to visit. U.G. has a habit of sticking to the subject least wanted by his audience, making them squirm uncomfortably in their seats. That day the topic was to be money. As his uncomfortable guests listened, he went on, "If I had a son who wanted to be admitted to college, I would beg, borrow, or steal to raise the necessary money for him. What are you, the so-called rich, doing, Sirs? You are doing nothing, just sitting and talking. Instead of sitting and talking of capitation fees (the donation demanded by certain educational institutions for granting admission to aspiring candidates) you could start schools and colleges. You are all rich enough to do it. I am not impressed with the rich who sit and talk, doing nothing, sorry." They never brought up the topic of capitation fees, or anything else relating to money, again.

Later that day Suguna and I were discussing the possibility of visiting an astrologer. In the middle of our plan-making U.G. jumped in with, "Why do you want to waste your money? What is it that you want to know?" I said that we wanted our charts done, but this only excited him more. "I don't need your charts," he said, "I only need to glance at your face to know your future. Anyway, you have no future."

Nobody is dear to me....

A very wealthy friend of U.G.'s, Rochaldas, dropped in to see U.G. one day. "I am very happy to see your face, even if but for a few moments," he said. "Why my face? There are a million faces out there," replied U.G.

U.G. never tires of trying to find out how rich Rochaldas really is, and why, in spite of having five cars, he still travels by bus or taxi. "There is no use hoarding it, you know. Money is there to spend, and if you don't, somebody else will. Spend it before someone else blows it all. You know, I am the only one who is really happy to see your pockets overflowing."

U.G. was planning to leave for Bombay the next morning. R. asked if he might arrange for a car to meet him there. In his best form U.G. replied, "There are already cars lined up to take me, and, anyhow, I can't bear the pain you would feel in parting with your money."

"But," protested R., "it is a distinct pleasure for me to spend my money on you."

"Pleasure is pain, Sir," was U.G.'s instant reply.

R. then asked him an interesting question, "Is anyone especially dear to you?"

"If anyone is especially dear to me," U.G. answered, "then you would lose the chance of being dear to me."

"That means then everyone is dear to you," said R.

"I did not say that," U.G. exclaimed, "When I say that no one is especially dear to me it does not mean that everybody is dear to me."

Not much later Gopinath walked in and took up with U.G. the issue of a young man who was in serious trouble by trying to get into the highest spiritual state. Soon the man himself came in, sat down, and began a strange rocking motion in a sitting posture. This young man had a guru of his own whom he considered as a Super God and told U.G. that he (U.G) was just a God. U.G. calmly advised him to seek treatment. "Go to your gurus for help, appeal to your Super God, but leave me alone."

How rich are you?

A few weeks later I got a phone call out of the blue: "How rich are you?" the voice said. My heart jumped for joy as I recognized the voice: it was U.G. In a flash the children and I were in a taxi on our way to K.R.Road Our mood was a mixture of helpless excitement and hopeless abandon. When I walked into the room I saw U.G. and immediately performed pranams with all the devotion at my disposal. He gave us all some Italian chocolate filled with liquid coffee. That had to be the most unique prasad ever given by a holy man. Not content to spoil us, he trotted out some wonderful Swiss chocolates, and passed them all around. It was a sweet start for a wonderful day.

Suguna, our ever-smiling hostess, so adept at making us all feel at home, exchanged a few words with us, then marched us all into the kitchen for a cooking demonstration. The dish was a very simple couscous dish which U.G. often eats when he is traveling. It was a very simple fare, but tasted extraordinarily delicious.

After our light meal U.G. saw my son studying for an upcoming exam. My son asked if he could take a break and watch some TV videos. Before I could give my motherly consent U.G. gushed, "Sure, of course, do it. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." That was all the encouragement he needed!

You may frighten the animals....

Not many days later U.G. was discussing his forthcoming trip to the U.S. with Ramaswamy. Rochaldas arrived just as U.G. was announcing plans to visit the Nagarhole jungles near Mysore. When Rochaldas showed some interest in accompanying him there, U.G. said, "Sir, you seem to be doing very well in this human jungle. You don't have to go to the Nagarhole jungle. You may frighten the animals!"

U.G. went on in a philosophical vein, "Man is the most vicious species on earth. No other animal wantonly kills its own kind. Without his weapons man is exceedingly vulnerable: even a deer could finish him off in a few minutes."

The conversation, taking its course, turned to gossip. Soon he noticed the hour: it was dinner time, and time too for the guests to go. Ramaswamy got the message and headed toward the door. U.G. graciously followed close behind, enquiring after the old man's age, health, sight, hearing, etc. Ramaswamy made his way down the stairs and out the door.

Going Dutch....

About a week later Suguna and I were trying to catch a few winks when Henk the Dutchman arrived. U.G. noticed that Henk was looking pale and weak, lacking his usually friendly Dutch charm.

U.G. loves poking fun at the Dutch, especially when Henk is around. Kalyani brought Henk some special foods, hoping to get some money at some future time. U.G. said, "She doesn't know that you are Dutch and that by expecting money from you she is also being Dutch." I was sent to fetch the dictionary: "Dutch," "in Dutch," "going Dutch," "Dutch uncle," and on and on, enough Dutch to last anyone a lifetime!

Suddenly U.G. decided to do some shopping. At these times no one can stop him, no matter the time, even if it is a hot afternoon. So we all marched in a troop to the only shop open at that hour, the Dutchman in tow. U.G. bought something and the Dutchman, completely out of character, offered to pay. "You pay?" asked U.G., "When we hear such offer from you we know that Holland is in big trouble."

Kicking the goddess Lakshmi:

Upon arriving at U.G.'s the next afternoon, I could see that the usual crowd had assembled. There was Nagaraj, Adri, myself, Suguna, and the overpowering presence of Brahmachariji, who was, as often happens, reading U.G.'s palm. He said that even if U.G. were to kick the goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) she would forgive him and come back as his house maid. That was just too strong a statement, even from a supposed holy man like Brahmachariji. To my ears it sounded like nothing less than blasphemy.

I Never walked, but ran everywhere....

But as the afternoon wore, talk turned to U.G.'s boyhood. When he speaks of his childhood we can get an idea of what an impossible boy he really was. Woe to his grandparents who must have been pushed to their limits! U.G. is fond of saying that if his mother had lived she would have attempted suicide every hour on the hour!

He related how his grandfather was interested in health foods, fat diets, and such things, and would use the little seven-year-old boy as an experimental subject. There were fixed hours for all meals, including lunch, which had to be consumed at the same time daily. U.G. would stealthily go to the clock and turn the hands ahead, informing his busy grandfather that the appointed time for his lunch had arrived. This trick was soon discovered by the long suffering grandfather, and U.G. continued on for years as his grandfather's experimental guinea-pig.

He had a long way to walk for his Hindi lessons, and along the way used to pass an old movie house. U.G. could not resist the temptation to sneak in and watch whatever was playing. When he left he would dim the lantern, bribe the servant boy not to tell, slip into the movie tent, watch the film, and then return home with the servant boy. One day, unfortunately, he looked over to find his grandfather seated next to him. His escapades ended abruptly.

U.G. loves to relate incidents of his naughty childhood. Looking at him now, we can still see some of the mischievous boy in him. I usually take my little daughter with me when I go to visit him, and when I admonish or correct her he is perhaps reminded of his childhood. He says that all he ever heard in his young days was a constant "No, no, no," or "Don't." He could not remember even once when the adults around him had said, "Yes, go right ahead and do it.

When my daughter had exams I used to make a fuss about them. U.G. would say he never took exams, often copying down the questions carefully, handing in his paper, and simply walking out. I said that most of us could not afford to gamble with our lives in such a way. I would advise Mittu, my daughter, not to listen to such stories. He would just laugh and relate to us the time he bribed the boy who had the job of printing the examination papers, made copies, and passed them out to grateful cohorts. He was caught in the act and punished, but he remained unrepentant.

When U.G. was in town I usually brought my daughter with me to visit him. One result was that she began missing too many of her classes. My concern about her slipping attendance was brushed aside with statements like, "When I was her age I was successfully bribing the boy in charge of attendance records. Once I forgot to pay him and he let out my secret."

These kinds of activities continued on even into his college years. When I asked him why, he said he was so caught up in the spiritual search he had little time left for formal study. He performed 3,000 Gayatri Japa or 5,000 Shiva panchakshari every day with great fervor. He showed me how he counted the mala beads by using the cross lines on his fingers. All these activities were a direct result of his mother's dying prophesy that her son was destined to be a "great one," and her wish that he should be raised accordingly. His grandfather took this last request seriously indeed, and the little boy was tutored in Sanskrit, the Vedas and the Upanishads from the tender age of five.

U.G. demonstrated how as a little child he would sit with his feet up on the desk, slumped over, and often fall asleep when things got too boring. If his teachers hit him he would hit them back. They would complain to his grandfather, promising never to teach his little brat again.

He related to us that his grandfather was fond of philosophy and spiritual matters and kept a sort of open house to which were invited all sorts of sannyasins, pundits, scholars, and holy men. He often held durbars, and would reward the best scholars with gold coins, to which the boy U.G. helped himself whenever an opportunity arose. One day a sannyasin came who was able to produce miraculously gold coins from out of nowhere. U.G. was asked to prostrate himself before this man, but he refused to unless and until the man produced gold coins embossed with the current year. The embarrassed and mortified elders hustled him away quickly before the startled old sannyasin could gather his wits.

U.G. could launch into a childhood story at the strangest places. Once we were riding in a taxi past the Modern Hindu Hotel. As we passed by the venerable landmark U.G. remarked that as a child he had stayed in the hotel, and, while running down the front steps he collided with a waiter carrying a tray full of steel tumblers. One falling tumbler cut a gash on his forehead and eyebrow. He showed me the small scar.

I asked him what it was like for him to remember and retell these childhood incidents. He replied that whenever he narrated these stories they were not invested with sentiment or emotion for him, as our remembrances were when we recalled them. He added that as a boy he never walked anywhere, but always ran. This moving restlessness can be seen in his present activities, flitting around the world at a pace that would exhaust even the most robust. Even as a child he loved to travel, and depended upon his grandparents to plan trips for him. It seems that he used to pray to Anjaneya, the Monkey God, and promised him coconuts if only he would use his powers to influence the grandfather to make some new travel plans. He would be delighted when he found his grandfather packing for a new trip somewhere.

U.G. continued his bribing and bargaining with the Monkey God, but noticed that there was always a gap between his prayers and the desired result. Even then he had philosophical leanings, wondering what the connection was between his desires, his prayers, and the actual getting of whatever he wanted. What was this time gap between his thoughts and the event? Things quickly got out of hand. The debt of coconuts owed to Anjaneya mounted, finally, to a neat but unmanageable 1,000. At last he backed out of the bargain, saying that he would not know what to do with 1,000 coconut-halves, the amount that would be returned to him as prasadam. (Prasadam is the sacred offering to the deity returned to the devotee after the worship as part of the deity's grace.) He now laughingly says that the Monkey God is belatedly exacting his part of the bargain, making U.G. live near his temple grounds whenever he is in Bangalore. Even when he walks to the market area he always passes through the temple grounds, saying it is a short cut, denying any sentimental or metaphysical meaning.

Why are you turning this into a problem?....

I still retain loyalties to the saints and spiritual teachers who helped me along my way. U.G. sometimes makes fun of the japa I do and the fact that I am not completely rid of the guru business. I rang him up one day and told him that, try as I might, I was unable to get religion and orange-robed saints out of my system. "It is not surprising," he said. I asked him to please accept me as I was, religious background and all. "Why only the religious background," he replied, "I have accepted all your backgrounds."

I replaced the receiver and, with a quiet heart, made my trip to K.R.Road, the street of U.G.'s residence. As I neared the Basavannagudi post office I found U.G. walking along the nearby broad footpath. I slowed down and pulled up next to him, offering him a lift. He quietly availed himself of my offer with a polite "Thank you." Immediately he said, "Have I ever told you or anybody else not to go to your gurus or temples? What's the problem? Why are you turning this into a problem? I said that I was in no mood to discuss anything with him, that I was content to merely sit quietly in the car with him. I did not want to shout at him over the noise of the traffic, and had no desire to discuss my spiritual problems with him. Obviously it didn't matter to him either, as he single-mindedly commandeered the very same taxi to the commercial district to do some shopping.

As we made our way towards the bazaar he related to me the activities of his morning, who had dropped in to see him, and some gossip. We had to shout over the racket the traffic was making. He would read every board, every advertisement, every broadside, every street and traffic sign along the way. I would catch him doing this even in the middle of the most interesting conversations.

He was intent upon buying a small wooden shelf for his apartment, but could not find any that pleased him. Finally he decided that only a custom-made shelf done by his carpenter would suffice, and we stopped our fruitless search. Then on to "Woody's" Restaurant where he bought some of his favourite idlis. As he stood in the sweltering sun waiting for the idlis to be wrapped, he thumbed through the Economic Times, apparently unaware of, or at least unaffected by the horrible heat. He scanned the paper for news of the American dollar exchange rate for that day, saying that his fortunes "rise and fall with the dollar."

U.G. has a strange habit of arranging and rearranging the furniture in his apartment. He says that since he does not think about God, the purpose of life, or how to be happy, all that is left for him to concern himself with are the ordinary things of life like arranging furniture, exchange rates, the price of idlis, and spending money. He says it is possible for him to think of money or the spending of it only when the means are there, otherwise he doesn't think of it at all. Over the years I have gotten used to finding the furniture rearranged whenever I visited him in Poornakuti. The sofa goes into the balcony, the stool is moved into the corner, the plant on the balcony suddenly appears in a heretofore vacant corner of the room.

We all gave him credit for such ingenious ideas....

U.G. decided that he would have three homes--in Bangalore, Switzerland, and California--and spared no time in organizing and decorating his flat in Bangalore.

One day he decided that we needed some creepers and ferns on the enclosed balcony, along with some wall posters, to help beautify his apartment. To this end he seemed ready to move both heaven and earth (and everything in between!), so long as it was accomplished by nightfall. Creepers were soon uprooted from the garden and let loose on the huge columns in the corner of the veranda. A taxi was soon hired, and he and Chandrasekhar were off, in the sweltering heat, to Lalbagh for more ferns and pots. Within hours the new potted ferns graced the rooms. Next day we set out in search of some wall posters. An obliging friend of U.G.'s, anxious to help, overfilled the tank with petrol causing the car to stall without warning in the middle of traffic. We all got out and passed the time watching some nearby horses. Soon the car was revived and we continued on our way. The desired posters were soon found at the cost of some 400 rupees, and U.G. would not rest until they were correctly displayed on the veranda walls. Next day all guests, as well as the regulars, were led upstairs personally by him, none failing to give all the credit for such ingenious ideas and creativity. I urged him to set himself up in the interior decoration business, with us as shareholders, of course!

She had three burning questions....

On the very next day my friend Pushpa rang me up and suggested that we pay U.G. a visit that day. As usual I did not require much persuasion. On our way to K.R. Road she said she had three burning questions that had to be put to U.G. and just could not wait. We reached U.G.'s place to find him waiting for Brahmachariji who was due to arrive soon with a car. The bright prospect of a free ride home suddenly presented itself. When the car arrived U.G. decided to accompany us all, with him and Brahmachariji in the front and Pushpa and I in the rear. It seemed as good a time as any to ask questions, so Pushpa ventured her first question, the one on man's instincts.

"I don't have any instincts," said U.G. With most of his attention absorbed in the movement and noise of the traffic, and the countless signs along the road, he added almost casually, "You use the word `instinct' to justify your actions, that's all." The traffic seemed blocked at every turn, and the poor frustrated driver, goaded on by the very determined Brahmachariji, worked his way through Malleswaram. Pushpa chose this time to pose her second question to U.G.:

"Why should we not trust a compassionate man," she asked.

"Because," replied U.G., "He is only giving you what is already your due, and making a great big virtue of it. He has no right to possess more than another. It is only his guilt that makes him share his excess with one who is deprived."

After a few more stops and turns Pushpa asked her third and final question. "What is wrong with ambition?"

"Your ambition is always related to your goals, and those who profess to live without ambition just don't have the necessary drive to get what they want, that's all. They have given up, and their attitudes toward ambition is only a matter of `sour grapes'." Distracted as he was by the flow of noise and traffic, his answers were cryptic and quite satisfying to Pushpa. I recorded the exchange in my computer for later use.

I rushed home, wrote down the day's activities, made Xerox copies, and rushed with them back to Poornakuti, thrusting the copies into U.G.'s hand. My expectations of praise were met, instead, with a, "What do you mean you are finished? If you don't write at least twice that amount before I leave, you can have all these copies back." I was stunned and, moaning, nearly dropped down the flight of stairs I was ascending. I appealed to him that my daughter Mittu had exams coming up and I was obliged to help with her studies. This did not, as I had hoped, have any softening effect upon him. "Keep the night lamps burning," he insisted, "or take some sleepless tablets if you must." I had never heard of a `sleepless tablet', but came home and started writing with double vigor. I was unable to finish the writing before his departure. He advised me to push on and post them later to him in California.

Talking about Pushpa and her endless questions reminds me of the day when she wanted to ask U.G. why he had made such contradictory statements. He replied, "My first sentence is negated by the second sentence, and the next sentence negates the second. If you want to understand what I am saying you must listen to me in disconnected frames, the same way that I talk. That's the way I am listening to you. Each is a separate, independent frame. Then you don't see any contradictions."

All transformations are ruled out....

Upon U.G.'s return to Bangalore Chandrasekhar was going through some old files from the "archives", and Nagaraj was sitting comfortably on the sofa reading some magazine when U.G., suddenly inspired, said to Chandrasekhar, "I want everyone who is interested in this kind of thing to understand: all kinds of transformation--physical or the so-called psychological--are out. When the desire to become something different is absent, then the body is free to function in its own way, that's all. You, the one who is creating the problem, cannot solve it. You continue to ask, "How, how, how, but that `how' is the problem, and the only problem."

Then he talked about erupting volcanoes. "No volcano," he assured us, "ever asked anyone's permission to erupt with fire and fury. And though we would call such an event a calamity and natural disaster, the volcano doesn't. Despite its merciless destruction it still helps nature's aim by bringing up all the raw materials from the bowels of the earth, throwing it upon the surface, and replenishing the land."

U.G. looked like an erupting volcano himself as the words poured out of him with great force. He went on to say that men enjoy seeing one another suffer. "He takes pleasure in sympathizing and feeling sorry, giving it fancy names like `compassion'. Why don't you feel happy for someone who goes about in a fancy car and has ten houses? But you only feel jealousy."

"But," I protested, "We know that very often gains are unfairly gotten...."

"Even knowledge is power," he said. "There is no knowledge for the sake of knowledge. `I know and you don't know;' so you want to know more."

We all sat silently listening to him, not daring to interrupt the flow of words coming so effortlessly from him.

Thoughts are emotions and emotions are thoughts....

It seemed that we sat in silence for the longest time, when U.G. erupted again, "Why do you all give such importance to your emotions? You impute all this significance to your anger, your love, your passion, and your affections. Why? He was sitting comfortably cross-legged on the carpet with the rest of us. He noticed that I was jotting down the beautiful things he was saying on my note pad, but said nothing. "Your thoughts determine your feelings and emotions. It is thought that gives such importance to emotions, nothing else."

The volcano seemed to be calming a bit, and, pointing to himself, he said, "The body here is so peaceful. It is only interested in pumping blood, secreting pancreatic juices, moving its bowels. It is so blissful in and of itself that it is not at all interested in your so-called `spiritual bliss', your yoga, your divine peace, your moksha, etc."

Chandrasekhar asked if the sthitaprajna was a stone.

Crimelessness would lead to joblessness....

"This is not a stone," answered U.G., "It definitely responds to everything happening around it. Nowadays science has discovered that a stone, too, is affected by your physical looking."

Just then Prashant, my son, came upstairs where we were sitting and asked me if he might watch the video for a while. Before I could respond U.G. intervened: "Yes, yes, of course. Enjoy the music. There are some good American programs, too!" I said that I was concerned about his eyes, but U.G. insisted that watching TV was not harmful to the eyes in any way because it was in continuous movement, whereas reading forced one to focus on fixed words and letters, a definite detriment to one's health! I was glad Prashant was out of ear range, as I knew he would gladly welcome this kind of advice and make the very most of it, so weary was he of continuous study!

This talk of watching brought us to another interesting point. U.G. continued, "Looking at a rose does not tell you that it is a rose; the things you notice about the rose--its color, shape, fragrance, and beauty--were all created by the looker. These things are not qualities of the thing itself, but our own knowledge about the flower projecting itself, that's all."

He went on to say that man had created God out of his greed. The ultimate greed is God. A man who is at peace with himself and the world (for they form one unit) would not create a God, and would never ask himself how to find peace of mind. These kinds of questions are born out of man's false sense of dilemma and not of his natural physical state of being. Soon the mechanical nature of man, the automatic functioning of the biological organism, will be discovered. He says that we are not ready to accept the fact that we are functioning exactly like computers, with information put into us from the outside. "You are nothing but a memory, but you don't want to accept your automatic, mechanical nature."

He continued along a slightly different line, "If there were no crime in this world, many would be left unemployed. Crime is an industry, like any other, and feeds millions--judges, policemen, jailers, and thieves. If you took away the beliefs of the masses, there would be even more jobless. What would the priests and holy men do? The scientists are no better, as they are a direct threat to the world. They have developed the means to blow up the entire planet. Instead of being alarmed, they spend their time awarding each other Nobel prizes.

In the middle of all this Suguna entered and announced that lunch was ready. One interesting thing about U.G. is that he never feels disturbed when even the most serious discussions are interrupted. Nor does he plan to continue the conversation at a later time. As soon as Suguna walks in he drops what he was saying, tells a small joke, and the whole conversation is completely forgotten. Sometimes his friend Kalyani comes in dancing and singing, upon which U.G. abruptly ends his on-going conversation, no matter how serious, and offers her a ten rupee note if she would sing us all some songs. His more philosophical guests are often annoyed by these actions, implying as they do an undercurrent of indifference to their theories and grave concerns.

The dollar is sinking....

About a week later I was walking with U.G. when I remarked about his weight. As we entered the narrow gates of a park he said, "Weight is not my problem. Right now my problem is walking. What's happening here? There's no center of gravity, no gravity at all. Lighter than the lightest, heavier than the heaviest. That's what they say. Then you end up feeling like this. Who's walking here? It's a very funny situation."

He began to weave and meander around as he walked on, a common sight for his friends. Suddenly he said, "The dollar is sinking, the Franc is rising, the Rupee is floating, and I am gliding." You could tell he was very pleased at his extemporaneous composition. Then he said, "Shanta, do you know why Jesus walked on water? He didn't know how to swim!"

What's so happy or new about the New Year?

It was New Year's day, and the usual gang was hanging around at U.G.'s place at Poornakuti. The poor Dutchman fell into a trap waiting for him when he amiably wished U.G. and the rest of us a Happy New Year.

What's so new or happy about it?" U.G. asked. "You were here yesterday and you are here again today. You have even worn the same clothes." So the new year was greeted not with a bang, but with a hiss.

At that moment the Italians Paolo and Marissa walked in. U.G. poked fun at their belief in astrological readings, and their love of money. Although U.G. always warns against wasting money on astrological readings, his many friends usually make a beeline for the Nadi astrologer in Bangalore.

"I don't have to look at the chart," U.G. said, "I can tell you what you want to know right now. The future is not as far away as you imagine. It is here now. Tell me what you want to know."

He seemed very interested in Paolo's chart. He was anxious that he (Paolo) should find a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. He said, "It is good for us if you are going to be rich, Paolo. When the dollar sinks we shall have to depend upon you."

Paolo was angry because the Western horoscope he had made up with the help of a computer was giving wrong information, as it had been fed the wrong data. We all agreed that getting angry at a computer was a useless waste of energy. He, Sivaraman, and U.G. continued on discussing some of the finer points of astrology. We were amazed at U.G.'s substantial knowledge in this field.

Sivaraman remarked that the groups hanging around U.G. were getting larger and larger. U.G. rushed to assure him that no one could ever take his place or outwit him, so he need not fear the growing crowds. He said that in that case he was prepared to be U.G.'s successor. U.G. laughed and said, "Since there is nothing to succeed here, you need not wait for long. You could take over immediately." U.G. watched Sivaraman closely as he spoke. Sivarman has this habit of opening his mouth wide, and to add to that his ravenous appetite always seemed to frighten U.G. U.G. then interrupted him with, "Sivaraman, I don't see any words when you are talking, only a deep crater. If you don't stop I feel I shall be swallowed up in it." Not another word escaped Sivaraman's tightly closed lips that day.

None of us here have a criminal record....

Not much later Subramanya, a journalist, brought along a rather self-important man who was responsible for the surrender of six hundred dacoits. It was obvious to all that he was expecting some words of praise from U.G. Instead he was blasted: "What about the six hundred dacoits you have put there in the Parliament?" Chagrinned, the man rose and said, "I will return when you are in a better mood."

The same afternoon the minister for small scale industries arrived. U.G. as usual was blunt: "Let me make one thing absolutely clear, Sir. I am not in the least interested in small or large scale industry. Nor am I willing to recommend any people to you." That said, he allowed the conversation to roll on uninterrupted.

The Inspector General of Police arrived with a whole army of policemen and security guards. U.G. felt moved to say, "Sir, none of us here have any criminal record!"

When talking with ministers and representatives of the State U.G. assures them that he has no objections to corruption. For him corruption is simply business as usual. He neither condemns nor condones corruption. He says that a man talks about morals only when he lacks the means to corrupt another or be corrupted himself. U.G.'s friends often fear for his well-being when he makes such statements to important members of the government. But in this case the minister was delighted with his honesty and candor, even inviting him to have lunch with a group of ministers to discuss with them his views on life, the State, and corruption. U.G. declined.

Of sleeping men, magicians, and avatars....

Listeners are often surprised to hear U.G. put God-men and magicians on the same level. He mentioned a film made by a Swiss man that looked at the lives of eight gurus from India. He spoke vehemently about God-men and their miracles, adding that the magicians in the U.S. could make jumbo jets and elephants disappear in a wink. One magician was able to fill buckets and buckets with flowers right in front of his audience.

U.G. said that no God-man, especially Sai Baba the Avatar, would ever risk performing their tricks in the U.S.A., because the powerful and sophisticated cameras used there would easily expose them. He went on to say that if the Avatars or so-called God-men really possessed knowledge about any as yet undiscovered laws, it was their solemn duty to inform the world, putting mankind on the right track and thus saving it from its inevitable doom, instead of producing trinkets and ash, which was, according to him, nothing more than cheap entertainment.

"They are going to survive as great survivors as long as they have believers. You provide the fertile soil for their survival."

Subramanya asked U.G. how a stone could be worshipped as a God. He replied that if a virus could pass itself off as man, then it certainly cannot be difficult for a stone to pass itself off as a God. If man is capable of inventing God, and then worshipping him, he is capable of believing in anything.

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