One day, (March 1963) when Baba asked someone to pray, the devotee began: “O God, grant me health, give me long life so that I may serve Thee …”
Baba interrupted, correcting him, “This is not a prayer, but a list of your wishes! The real prayer to God is praise for Him through love and nothing else! When you know you are in illusion, why keep asking for more of it?”
Baba had one of the mandali tell this tale to illustrate how strong Maya’s grip is on the world:
Once there was a beggar. He used to beg in front of a temple, and as soon as he had collected one hundred naiya paisa [penny coins] he would convert them into one pure silver rupee coin. By the time he had collected twenty-five rupees he was an old man, and realized that soon he was going to die. He was in a plight as to what to do with his precious coins. So he thought that as they were his life’s work, he should not part with them. They had become so precious and dear to him he decided that they should be buried with him. But knowing that people would rob the money from his dead body, he thought of a plan to keep the coins inside his body. He piled up the twenty-five silver coins and tried to swallow them all. There were too many and he had to clench his mouth shut over them. Straining with the effort, he suddenly died! Nevertheless, he got his wish. The coins remained tightly shut in his mouth!
Since he was buried at public expense, it was done in a haphazard fashion, and soon his body’s flesh was eaten away by animals. His bones with the skull – with twenty-five rupees inside – were lying on the ground. Some school boys of the village were passing by, and coming across the skull kicked it and heard the jingling of the coins. All of them kicked the skull as hard as they could to knock out the coins, but it was no use; the teeth’s grip was so tight. They tried to break open the skull with stones, but to no avail.
So they took the skull to a wise man in the village, who told the skull: “Look here, man, all these people want to take your precious money away, but I want to add to it. Here are five more coins!” Upon hearing this the skull opened at once, and the wise man struck it from behind and removed the coins.
So from this tale you can see how strong Maya’s grip is. The more you get, the more entangled in it you become.
Lord Meher, American ed., Bhau Kalchuri, Vol. 18, p. 6171.