Every night it is the same mad scene: About 25 men—some paid, some sevadars—spend two or three hours working in the dark to winnow, bag, and then carry up into one of our big transport trucks the huge pile of rice harvested that day. Hands, feet, rice, chaff, kahis (shovels), and tokris (baskets) are flying everywhere, with two tractors chugging away driving large fans. The rice is thrown from baskets into the wind. The heavy rice falls down, and the chaff is blown farther away. The men get chaff throughout their clothing. Occasionally they stop to shake it out, but they don’t really seem to notice it. They are running, laughing, shouting, throwing baskets of rice to each other in the dark. One sevadar who has been helping says, “After taking Prasad from Maharaj [it was halwah tonight], everyone feels fresh, not tired. Everyone is happy. There is no pressure.” Even the paid labour say, “We don’t know who is doing the work!”
Maharaj is here in his Bronco. He will sit with the workers until the whole pile is finished. Last night it was 9 p.m. The workers take their dinner afterward.
Last night Maharaj drove into the courtyard rounding up everybody to do this work. Some were eating, some said they had to take a bath, etc. After he flushed them out, they all ran down the road in front of the Bronco to the field, as if he were herding them. They certainly didn’t seem to feel oppressed. There was this wild energy, and they worked so quickly, with such high spirits.
Just sitting here, on a pile of burlap bags and straw next to the field, I can feel the great energy charging this place.
October 26, afternoon: As Maharaj quietly watches, ten of our young sevadars are loading the rice bags from last night onto our truck, which is brightly painted with our full address: “Shiv Sadan, Vill Bhagwanpur Khader P. O. Asifabad Distt Meerut.” We have calculated that these bags weigh about 145 pounds each. Our people don’t have the bag-carrying equipment used by professional loaders. Instead, two men lift a bag onto the head or back of a third, who then carefully walks up the ramp and even after reaching the truck has to climb up onto the stacks to place it. After this feat of strength, the young men dance as they go back down the ramp to get another bag.
It occurs to me that the video of this scene should be a good corrective for that American view that eating meat is necessary for strength, for our diet here is simple vegetarian. Reading my thoughts, the foreman enthusiastically calls out, “We’ll show those Americans what it is to work!”
Suddenly the makeshift ramp slips and one man and his bag fall as he is almost to reach the truck. He has hurt his foot somehow. “Carefully!” Maharaj calls, and also asks if he is okay, for he has retreated behind the truck. After a few minutes, he comes back into sight. He bows to Maharaj slightly, is clapped on the back by the others, and takes a new bag on his back.
I have never seen such willing workers anywhere. Surely it is the Power of God at work. When Maharaj was younger, he himself did the work of two or three men at a time. His energy was legendary. He would wake everyone early in the morning at Gobind Sadan so that they could begin the day’s work together. And when they left the fields in the evening, he and the sevadars would joyfully sing God’s praises far into the night. That great energy is still palpably present among us, and we find ourselves capable of working extremely hard without tiring. This is not a matter of theory; we all experience it in practical forms, and thus tremendous amounts of work get done by a few ordinary people.