Sage in the 'hood - part 2
Krishna had the run of the ashram almost entirely to himself until the year the wall fell down. The one up behind the ladies hostel. 2002 monsoon was the final straw for the foundations at that stretch of the brick and mortar structure. Maintenance of such things was a bit slack and, really, who needed a wall anyway?
The latest batch of students had been resident for several months and many of them loved Krishna very much, making sure he had plenty to eat and giving him lots of cuddles. Many took it on themselves to groom him and ensure he was free of the blood-sucking ticks and fleas. Whilst this was very much discouraged by the acharyas, it was hard to stop. For which Krishna was grateful. He had learned not to go seeking too much attention and found that it would come to him anyway.
He enjoyed when the student batches came. Every third year it was very quiet and rather lean pickings, with only the established office and ground-staff present.
All the folk in white meant good times. It involved such things as making sure they all got up to early morning chanting on time and that they all got safely down the hill again to breakfast… an important task, that. It usually generated gratitude in the form of a dosa or poha as a reward. Then there was the guarding of the hall steps whilst they had sanskrit and vedanta class. Didn't want any stray crows dropping into the lectures. Plenty of them tried mind you.
His evening duty was to ensure that all got up to the temple again for aarti and satsang. Then again that all safely arrived back down for the evening meal.
Between times he only had to patrol the boundary to ensure that cats and other dogs knew to stay out. Squirrels and birds were permitted to run the trees, but should not attempt to approach the quadrangle between the hall and the dining room. They'd be told in no uncertain terms about it if they tried. Monkeys coming to steal the mangoes always got short shrift from the guardian too - occasionally the teenage males would tease him, but the dog was much too clever to be baited like that.
So life was pretty good. Until the disaster. Two months after the rain stopped he'd gone up to sniff out the wall behind the girls rooms when, without any warning, the whole thing keeled over. Not down the hill, as you'd think, but inwards to the ashram grounds and all over the guardian dog. One of the ladies saw it happening and screamed for help. Luckily, some of the lads were close by and many of them helped to remove the rubble, finding the dog semi-conscious and clearly damaged. He couldn't get up at all - it seemed his back was broken.
The resident acharya and most of the office staff said that 'it' was to be put down. Not ashram responsibility. Which technically was true. However, many of the students had great feeling for the animal and approached Guru-ji for permission to organise vet care. The request was granted.
A local vet came and took the dog into his care - asking for a name. One of the brahmacharis said "Krishna". Every one nodded. It was a good name.
There it was. Seven years a resident and at last a name to be called by. The final acceptance.
This amazing canine certainly had blessings of the Lord upon him. The vet, who had not held out much hope, was as astounded as any that recovery was made. Certainly, the dog now walked with a marked limp and a twisted back. But within the year he was running about as if nothing had happened. Run about he needed to now, for the hole in the wall remained and local hounds had found it. Many tried to intrude and seek territory. Krishna did his best to remove them, but one or two worked their way onto the premises.
One black bitch in particular he quite liked, so as long as she kept herself to the lower end of the land, he let her stay. Not that he could do anything with her. The visit to the vet had brought more than just a fixed spine. Didn't mean he couldn't appreciate a fine looking bitch when she came along!
Then there was the day that the red conqueror arrived. He liked Kaneya. Being by now already 13 years, he was ready for an apprentice. The lad was keen and bright and was willing to learn the pattern of the ashram, with the students and without. Krishna still had the respect of the whole place. It was well known he was the senior and the one to turn to when help was needed.
A wise and steady dog, Jaya Sri Krishna-ji!!!
© Yamini Ali MacLean