To lead and to follow – The Trail of Ants

It is truly wonderful how some of Life’s biggest lessons can be learnt through the smallest of things; and when it comes from ‘The Saarthi’ Himself – the experience is nothing short of being profound.

The Manthan is the annual internal summit held by the MaitriBodh Parivaar, wherein teams from all over India gather to retrospect the activities through the past year and plan for the year to come, in the presence of Divine Friend Dadashreeji. It so happened that I got a chance to be with Him, standing outside His ‘kutir’ waiting for the commencement of one of the sessions.

As the most loving Master and Friend that Dada is, He was helping me understand my role as a Team leader and was explaining what a leader should be. As if He had asked Nature Herself to help me understand, at that precise moment, something quaint happened. He pointed at the steps to the kutir – a trail of ants had just started coming in – as if from nowhere. They were all marching in a single line, everyone following the one leading the whole swarm. Whatever path the leader took, everyone followed right up to the tiniest of twists and turns. If the leader was going straight so did everyone right up till the end; if it took a slight turn, so did the rest, not missing a single turn. It was truly fascinating and inspiring how they were all focused single pointedly on where the one in the front was leading them.

Dada’s loving voice broke my reverie: Prawesh, why do you think everyone is following the leader so precisely wherever it is leading them?

I thought for a moment and replied: Dada I think it is because of Trust. All of them have the faith that the leader will take them to the right place.

What else? – He asked

I thought about it for a long while. In the meanwhile, the leader had found a crack on the wall and it went inside leading in all of his army. All of them followed in a single queue. None of the ants seemed to worry about where the leader was taking them. They just seemed to have blind faith in their leader as it led them to their new found home.

I was still wondering what else it could be besides faith. At that moment, somewhere down the line, an ant seemed to have ‘lost’ its way. In stark contrast to how it had been marching with its team, now the ant’s path seemed chaotic; it had no clue where it was heading. It was truly lost, but desperately trying to find its way back. After what might have seemed like an eternity of wandering for the poor insect, it finally reached back to the line. If it could sigh, then it probably would’ve been a big sigh of relief. It was now back on the ‘path’ set by the leader on its way ‘home’.

Then it dawned on me – the ants followed the leader because they knew that they would all be lost without the leader. The only way to find home is to follow the leader.  I turned back to Dada and He was smiling like a most caring Father. He was taking us Home.

Something strange happened suddenly. Out of the crack came an ant, which started scurrying in the opposite direction. While all of the ants seemed to be moving towards their home in the cracks, this lone ranger, which suspiciously looked like the leader, went on running towards the other way. Once in a while, it would stop for a fraction of a second and communicate with the other ants, but it kept on running relentlessly.

My heightened curiosity made me follow this curious one’s marathon. The line of ants was coming to an end, but it didn’t seem to want to stop. And then I noticed, at the end of the ant trail, was a smaller ant. It was slower than the others, but was trying its best to keep up with everyone else. Nonetheless, it was slowly getting left behind. The leader finally stopped when it reached this small ant. It communicated something to it, which seemed like the sheer joy of having found a lost friend, and then rejoined the trail leading the smaller one back home.

A true leader will not rest until the last one of His friends is safely back ‘Home’. So it is with Dada. He too has tirelessly led His children and will care and look after each one of us till we are all back ‘Home’ – where we all belong.

~ Mitra Prawesh