“This happened before his great revelation to Arjuna at Kurukshetra,” said Madhava.
At a small fair in a quiet little village, I saw him. They had come together—men, women, and children—from neighbouring hamlets: they had put on new clothes of different colours that day. In the crowd, there was one who easily attracted attention. He played upon the flute, and as I heard him, I opened the window of my heart to let in more and more of the melody of his song.
I wished to know all I could of this man with music in him. He was there, I learnt, not for the street-singer’s meagre reward: he was there for he loved the people. He lived, I learnt, in a little house on the roadside.
I called on him a day after the fair. In him, there was the soul of a child and the mind of a sage. His devotion was to his flute, which he played upon wonderfully in his house and in the street, the market and the field, on the hilltop and by the side of the stream. I called on him in the evening: he greeted me with glad remembrance. I was there, I said, to make his darshana and to hear him sing and speak to me.
I asked him what was the secret of the “greatness” of which men and nations were in such weary quest. “Greatness,” said the flute player, “is the mask put on by the petty-minded. If you, my child, would love, renounce greatness. Strive not to be great but to be a servant of humanity, a servant of all life.”