Shri Nathji frequently told the following parable to illustrate the theme of spiritual regeneration.
A mahatma spoke to God, and asked to be shown the most wicked person on earth.
God: When you wake up in the morning the first man you see, will be the most wicked man on earth.
The mahatma woke up the next morning wondering what hideous creature he was going to see. To his surprise, the first man who passed before him was a local washer- man, a dhobi. The man did not even look at the mahatma, and walked on unconcerned.
Mahatma: I have seen the most wicked man on earth, O God, now show me the most righteous!
God: You have no right to know the secrets of my creation. However I will grant you this last request. Tomorrow morning you will see him.
The next morning, the mahatma saw the same dhobi pass before him. He was surprised! Could there be a mistake in God’s creation? Did He forget? As if in answer to his question, the dhobi came up to the mahatma and asked him to grace his home and to eat with him.
The mahatma went to the dhobi’s house. Inside the house was the man’s wife. The moment the dhobi stepped out of the house to fetch something, the mahatma asked the woman: Tell me, what kind of a man is your husband? Are you happy?
The woman praised her husband as a wife would. But the Mahatma persisted: I am asking you as a father! Tell me your troubles!
At this, the woman burst into tears and said: For thirteen years he has ignored me completely. He is a gambler, and does everything that is sinful. He never even talks to me. He is seldom home. I leave his food in the kitchen for him, but I never show my anger. I have to do my duty. I have suffered terribly. But something happened yesterday night. He was suddenly changed. He came into the house and spoke to me for the first time in many years.
He said to me: ‘Do you want to say something to me?’ I was so startled and so frightened that I could not reply for a moment. I had wanted to ask him why he had not spoken to me for the past thirteen years, but I did not dare. Instead I asked him on a sudden impulse: ‘Which is one of the biggest things in the world?’
‘The land,’ he said, ‘it spans all of standing space and stretches as far as the eye can see!’
‘Isn’t there something bigger than that?’ I asked.
‘The ocean!’ he said.
‘And bigger than the ocean?’
‘And bigger than that?’
Suddenly a realisation seemed to come over him when I asked him that. He was startled, almost awakened. He let out a loud cry and began beating his forehead.
‘Bigger than the sky above,’ he cried ‘are my sins! My sins! I am an unparalleled sinner!’
And he wept inconsolably. He wouldn’t stop crying, until I said to him: ‘And what is bigger than your sins?’
He suddenly stopped crying and brightened up. And, the next instant, he was dancing as he said:
‘The Mercy of God! Bigger than my sins is the mercy of God!’
The Mahatma understood. Genuine tears of repentance washed away a man’s sins. Even the greatest sinner in the world could become a righteous man in one day if his genuine repentance brought down the Mercy and Grace of God.
Meri bandgi se mere jurm afzoon
Tere kaihar se teri raihmat zyaadaa
My sins are greater than my worship,
And Thy Mercy greater than thy anger.