2 September 1980. Janmashtami - the holy day of Shri Krishna's birth according to the Hindu calendar. In the morning, Swamishri had traveled from New York to Boston for a checkup on his cataracts. Now we were making the return journey back to New York.
The eight hours of road travel were naturally tiring for Swamishri. The sadhus urged him to lie down in the back of the van. Thakorji was placed neatly in the upper berth of the van. He, too, had been put to rest for the journey. The lights were switched off.
Suddenly there was a loud thud. Something had fallen to the floor.
"What was it? What was it?" Swamishri asked along with the other sadhus as he sat up in his seat.
A sadhu disclosed, "It was Thakorji. He's fallen from above."
It was as if Swamishri had been struck by lightning. With a somewhat shaky voice he cried,
"Thakorji hasn't fallen out of his case has He?"
We switched the light on inside and were relieved to learn that Thakorji had merely turned over within His own little case. But Swamishri was still distressed.
Tears were running down his face. Throat choked up, and with hands gently massaging Thakorji, he kept muttering, "O Maharaj! Forgive me. Please forgive me Maharaj!"
For Swamishri, it was as if Shriji Maharaj had actually fallen down and hurt Himself. And that it was his fault. For Swamishri, Thakorji isn't just a metal icon, but the Lord in Person.
In the van itself, he began dandvats as atonement for his mistake. One...two...three...five...ten...twenty ...twenty-five...
Swamishri himself was ill, but one after the other he kept on doing the dandvats. No one could stop him either. He still wasn't satisfied, but what else could he do?
He decided to offer thal and beg forgiveness in that way. Then Swamishri just sat before Thakorji with his mala; motionless and speechless. He wouldn't talk or eat or drink, or anything. He still couldn't forgive himself. In reality, he wasn't to blame at all, but all the way, he just couldn't come to terms with the fact that it wasn't his fault. Thakorji had fallen. And it hurt Swamishri.