Papaji’s Escape from Disaster
I had gone to load a ship at Mangalore harbour. All day long I was supervising the loading of the ore into the hatches. I had to be there to make sure that all the ore was loaded and the paperwork done properly. After the loading of the ship, my company would receive ninety per cent of the value of the ore in cash. The other ten per cent would be sent to our bank after an analysis of the ore. I had to stay behind on that particular day because my director had specifically asked me to remain there so that I could get the draft for ninety per cent of the ore as soon as the ship was loaded. He wanted me to bring the money to him in Bangalore the next day.
The work did not finish till 9 p.m. I had had a long, tiring day without any rest and without any food. The captain of the ship had offered me some food but I had refused because it contained meat. I knew that if I was to get to Bangalore on time, I had to leave Mangalore at once and drive all night. It was not a job I particularly relished. I was hungry and tired, but I would not be able to eat or sleep till I had driven several hundred miles through the night.
The road over the Western Ghats rises about 5,000 feet above sea level. It was a hard road to drive on even during the day because there were twelve difficult hairpin bends to negotiate. In those days there was also a danger from the wild elephants that still roamed the forests. On several occasions these elephants had been known to attack passing trucks and push them off the road into the valley below. It was a road on which one had to be especially alert and attentive.
My immediate goal was an all-night hotel on the far side of the mountains. I felt that if I could get that far during the night, I could rest, eat and sleep there for a few hours before carrying on to Bangalore in the morning.
Soon after I had begun the drive I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I remember was waking up with my head on the steering wheel. I felt completely awake, as if I had just had several hours of good sleep. I looked around to see where I was and found to my amazement that I was already on the far side of the mountains. I must have driven all night while I was asleep. I had negotiated all the twelve hairpin bends without even being aware that I was driving. When I searched my memory, I could only remember driving the first few miles from Mangalore.
The hotel I was aiming for was quite close. I went there, had a couple of cups of coffee and then drove the remaining 100 miles to Bangalore to deliver the draft to my director. Afterwards, I went to a hotel, had a shower and tried to go to sleep, but my body didn’t need it. It had had all the sleep it needed during my drive through the mountains.
Who had driven the jeep? Who had manoeuvered the car around the hairpin bends? Even in the daytime these were difficult roads on which to drive. On one side there were mountains; on the other, deep valleys. And the road itself was only about twenty feet wide. Today, when I remember this incident, my hair stands on end. If I had really been asleep, I would have surely died. So who was driving the jeep?
I have thought about this incident many times. The only answer I can think of is that I survived through grace. Some power looked after me that night because I was destined to live. I was destined to be an agent of that power, so I was not allowed to die. I survived because that power needed this body to do its work
Excerpt From Nothing Ever Happened Volume One, pages 232-234
By David Godman