Even death is preferable to losing one’s soul

Remembering Here&Now

Ageh Bharti recalls the time when he was suspended from work as a Locomotive Pilot with Indian Railways, facing charges for causing a derailment.

Ageh Bharti at the time of inquiry (middle) ¹
Jabalpur Station
Jabalpur Itarsi

At Jabalpur, I never missed giving Osho a send-off when he was going out on a journey and to receive him upon return, even if I might had to take leave from work. Of course, once when I was under suspension from my Railway duties for about 90 days due to the derailment of my locomotive and four vehicles of a goods train (in those days, I was a Locomotive Pilot), I didn’t go to receive him at the station so that he would not see me upon arrival and not become concerned and worried. Later that day, I went to see him in the evening at his residence at 8 pm.

There he talked about my suspension and asked me if Pramod could do something? I told him that Pramod was the biggest boss of the entire Jabalpur Division and he could revoke the suspension immediately but I didn’t like him to talk to Pramod about this trivial thing. Osho said, “It makes no difference to me.” However, before leaving, I took Osho’s promise that he wouldn’t talk about this small matter.

My suspension period became lengthy because I belonged to the Jabalpur Division and the place of derailment i.e. Itarsi, was in the Bhusawal Division. So an inquiry could be conducted only when officers of both divisions were available. Of course there had been a flaw in the brake system of the locomotive and this finding could save me from punishment, but in reality that was not the cause of the derailment.

Many well-wishers from the Railway Department would come and mess with my head by saying that I would be acquitted for sure if I attributed the cause to that defect in the brake system. But I was determined to speak the truth.

One railway union leader came and also assured me that if I would attribute the cause of derailment to that flaw in the brake system of the locomotive, I would be saved. If not in the Railway Department, he guaranteed that he would see to it that I would be absolutely acquitted in Court.

I said to him that in that case, I will have to namasté you for my entire life, whenever, wherever we meet. Secondly, I don’t know the future. If I were removed from the railways, I might have to sell vegetables on the road. And also it may be that people always give me a ride in their cars from one place to another instead of letting me walk on the road. I don’t know the future but I know for sure that the cause of the derailment was that I had dozed off for a while.

My wife Shanti Singh (later Ma Yoga Sambodhi) has been always on my side to support me in everything that I thought to be right. She told me that with the so-called well-wishers insisting again and again for me to tell lies, I would go mad. “Better you tell them that ok, you will attribute the cause of the derailment to the defect in the braking system and they will stop troubling you; and during the inquiry, you say whatever you like to say.” I said to her, ”A good idea,” and followed it.

Osho’s lover Bhikham Chand Jain spoke angrily to me again and again, as to why Osho was not telling me what I should say in the inquiry. I told him that Osho won’t suggest anything, I know it. Because if Osho suggested something and I followed his advice, it wouldn’t help my growth. But if I thought about the pros and cons of the whole case and then decided to speak the truth, it would help my growth. Therefore, Osho would not suggest anything. But Bhikham Chand didn’t understand and continued to criticize Osho about this.

Finally, the inquiry was held at Itarsi. Normally inquiries take much time, but in my case when they started to ask questions, I told them the truth, namely that I was awake until the Home Signal appeared. My speed was barely 10 kms per hour because I knew I would have to stop at Itarsi. But it was 5 am in the morning and I dozed off. The officers looked at each other, they were surprised at my acceptance; the typist didn’t type my statement. They asked me again and my answer was the same. Then the typist was asked to type it up.

In fact there was a 99% chance of my removal from service because in the recent past two major accidents of passenger-carrying trains had occured and the Indian Parliament seemed to be so angry that they wanted to hang the Loco Pilots.

One of the inquiry officer asked, ”How much of your duty had you completed at the time of accident?”

I answered, “11 hours 30 minutes.”

“That means you are accepting that you are responsible.”

I said, “I am not saying that I am responsible. I simply stated that I had completed 11 hours 30 minutes of duty.”

“As per rules, how many hours duty can be expected from you?”

“12 hours,” I answered.

“That means you were within the hours of duty.”

I told him, “That means 12 hours of duty is not right. It should only be 10 hours at the most.”

“So you want to change the rules?”

“Practical experience demands change,” I said.

The officers laughed at my statements. I signed the document and the inquiry was over.

Osho was to arrive back in Jabalpur two days later. I went to receive him at the station. He remembered the date of my inquiry and first of all he asked about what I had testified.

“I said the truth – that I had dozed off.”

Osho said, “Good. In everyone’s life some two or three occasions come when one has to take a decision. One should always take a decision in the favour of the soul. Other things carry no value. Even death is preferable to losing one’s soul.”

Finally, I was demoted to the next lower post for three years. After completion of this demotion, I changed my cadre. I applied for the post of Assistant Loco Foreman. Then, after subjecting myself first to a written test and then an oral test, I qualified and became a supervisor with Indian Railway.


¹ In the first photo of the slide show, Ageh Bharti is flanked by Jaya Shukla (later called Ma Yoga Meera) and her husband, Dr Hemant Shukla (Swami Anand Nirvan)

Ageh BhartiAgeh Bharti is a regular contributor

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