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Samartha Ramdas was a great devotee of Lord Rama, a saint, and the Guru of Shivaji, the famous warrior-king who ruled Maharashtra during the 17th century. Ramdas had many disciples who lived with him in his ashram.

Everyday, Ramdas would conduct classes on the scriptures. One day, a small boy came to the ashram and humbly asked Ramdas if he could join the ashram. Attracted to his sweet innocence, Ramdas consented. He called the boy 'Bola.'

The next day, Ramdas noticed that Bola had not turned up for the class. Later, Ramdas saw him sweeping the backyard. He asked him, "Why didn't you attend the class?"

Bola replied, "Holy one, I am not learned. I will not understand the scriptures. But I can sweep and clean the place and feed the cattle."

Ramdas was pleased to see his humility and service-mindedness. He said  "Alright. But you must attend the reading of the Ramayan every night. It is simple. Anyone can understand the story of Lord Rama, Sita, His consort, and Lakshmana, His brother."

Every night, Bola would listen attentively to Ramdas reading from the Ramayan. He was so engrossed that he never noticed the other disciples sniggering behind his bock. They looked down upon him, thinking him to be a mere servant who was unfit to imbibe the lofty principles of spirituality.

One day, when Bola did not turn up for the nightly reading, Ramdas waited. He did not start reading until Bola arrived. Ramdas had discerned in him the sincerity of a true seeker. The other disciples wondered what their Guru saw in Bola but refrained from commenting for fear of invoking Ramdas's wrath.

That night, after the reading, Ramdas told Bola to get ready for a trip to the royal palace the next day. Shivaji had invited Ramdas and his disciples to stay in his palace for a few months, and to enlighten the royal courtiers with enlightened talk.

Bola said "Guruji, why don't I stay behind? Someone has to keep the ashram clean, feed the animals and do the daily worship. In any case, I wouldn't be of any use in the palace as I am not learned."

Will you be able to do everything single-handedly?" Ramdas asked. Bola realized his Guru had a point: the ashram was huge and how indeed could he do everything alone.

Understanding his thoughts, Ramdas said, "Don't worry, Bola. If you find that you need help, just call Hanuman, and he will come to your help."

"Yes, Master," Bola replied, fully accepting Ramdas's words.

After Ramdas and the other disciples left for the palace, Bola started working. Even though there was a lot of work and he had to do it all alone, Bola cheerfully did the work. He considered himself blessed for having the opportunity to serve his Guru in this humble way. That day, after cleaning the ashram and feeding the cattle, he started making food for the deities in the puja [worship] room. After he had finished preparing the delicacies, he set them on a tray before the images of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana, and waited. Even after waiting for a long time, he didn't see any sign of the trio. He was wondering what to do, when he recalled Ramdas's words.

Without any hesitation, he called out, "Hanuman! O Hanuman!" He heard the rustle of wind blowing through the trees, and the very next second, Hanuman appeared before him. Bola said, "I've prepared the food for Your Lord, Sita and Lakshmana. It's starting to get cold. Can you please bring them here?"

Hanuman was astonished to see such innocence. But he decided to test Bola. "Why don't we eat some of the food now, and then I'll call them. I'm really hungry."

"Nothing doing," Bola replied sternly. "Go and call them. After they have eaten, I will serve you a sumptuous meal."

Bowing down before Bola's innocent faith and devotion, Hanuman set off at once, and came back with Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. When he saw them, Bola prostrated before them and, with all reverence, ushered them into the puja room, where he served each one of them with great joy and humility. When they had finished, Bola told them, "Please come back again tomorrow. I will prepare your favorite dishes."

This episode repeated itself daily for the next few months. On the day before Ramdas and his disciples were due to return, Bola told Sita, "Dear Mother, my beloved Guru is returning tomorrow. I would like to get the ashram ready for him. Can you help me?"

"Of course, my child!" Sita replied "I will cook a feast for everyone. Lord Rama and Lakshmana will decorate the ashram for you, and Hanuman will get us the best flowers and fruits." With those words, Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman started working. Bola happily went to clean the ashram and feed the cattle.

The next day, when Ramdas and his disciples returned, they were pleasantly surprised to see the ashram looking so beautiful. There was an agreeable fragrance of flowers and food too. "What happened, Bola?" he asked.

"Like you said, Master, I asked Hanuman to help, and he brought Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana with him. They helped me prepare a reception to welcome you back,"

Hearing Bola's words, the disciples looked scornful. "He must be out of his mind," said one. "His imagination is running wild!" muttered another.

Ignoring them, Ramdas asked Bola, "Where are they?" Bola led him into the main ashram building. As soon as they reached the puja room, Ramdas saw the figures of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman retreating into the puja room and disappearing! He was speechless. Embracing Bola, Ramdas said, "My dear child, I had to do so much tapas [intense spiritual practices] to get a vision of these divinities. But your innocence and total faith drew them to you so easily. You are truly blessed!"

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