Shri Nathji very frequently told this parable of the mahatma and the atheist to show the miracles of faith and the need for absolute firmness in the heart of the believer.
There was a mahatma, a holy man, who was confronted by an atheist who said to him:
”I will only believe in God if you will jump off that cliff and escape unhurt!
The mahatma looked at the cliff. It was at a very great height. Anyone that fell off the cliff would most certainly die, with all his bones shattered. However the mahatma was undaunted and he accepted the challenge of the atheist. He told him he would jump off the cliff and would escape unhurt because God would protect him.
And so the mahatma went to the top of the cliff. He closed his eyes and prayed to God. And then he went to the edge of the cliff and prepared to jump.
And even as he jumped he said, very loudly: If my God is true nothing will happen to me! Agar mere Bhagwan sachhe hain to mujhe kuchh naheen hogaa!
He fell several hundred feet below. Even as the atheist rushed forward to see what had happened, he saw the mahatma getting up from the ground, apparently hale and hearty. The atheist was filled with great wonder. No man could have survived the fall.
But just then the atheist noticed that one of the toes of the mahatma was bleeding. In order to belittle the mahatma, the atheist said: Ha! You had said that nothing would happen to you- but look! Your toe is bleeding!
In his heart of hearts the atheist was convinced that some unseen power had saved the mahatma, but his ego could not bear the defeat. He knew perfectly well that the mahatma’s body had been miraculously saved from the fall, but instead he deliberately chose to point out the insignificant hurt on his toe.
The mahatma looked at his toe and was puzzled as well. He, who had saved his entire body, could have saved the toe as well. But why didn’t He? And then the answer came to him and he said to the atheist:
This is the punishment I have received for the ‘if’ I used when I said, ‘If my God is true I shall not be hurt!’ There is no ‘if’ in faith!
“Ye mujhe ‘agar’ ki sazaa milee hai–jo maine kahaa thhaa ke agar mere Bhagwan sachhe hain!”
Shri Nathji used to say: Either believe in God completely, or else don’t believe in him at all. It is wrong to believe and disbelieve at the same time!
Shri Nathji would say You must believe in God when He listens to your prayers, and you must also believe in Him when He does not listen. You have faith in your own existence even when you cannot see yourself in darkness. Does a person doubt that he does not exist if the lights go off?