In early 1998 Guru completed what was then his most prodigious poetic work – the 270 volumes of his monumental Twenty-Seven Thousand Aspiration-Plants – and so concluded an epic venture spanning more than fourteen years. It was another of those relentlessly sustained and patient undertakings which together coursed like a braided river through Guru’s life, those multiple strands of inspiration, of paintings and soul-birds, literature and music and wonderfully original things.
One evening we were with Guru shortly after the last poem in this series had been written. Guru asked Subarata and me how New Zealand intended to commemorate the culmination of this vast poetic work, and watched us while we discussed various ideas, mostly predictable and rather unimaginative ones.
Unhappy with our own thoughts, we asked Guru if he instead would think of things that would really make him happy. Guru rose and went through a doorway into an adjoining room for two or three minutes, then came back with a series of ideas that quite astonished us. It was as though he had also stepped through an unseen portal into another world where the future, the unimagined, the possible, lay awaiting its manifestation – and gathered from there a few trinkets to bring back. The first of these? That we shake 27,000 people’s hands, giving each of these people a card of poems and a sweet!
This unique challenge quite consumed us for some time. We visited school assemblies, announcing a handshaking-record attempt to honour Guru’s achievement; stood at escalators in shopping malls with a microphone to introduce ourselves, and armed with a hand-held manual counter to accurately record numbers; visited universities and busy streets; toured towns, distributed 27,000 sweets and gave away 27,000 large cards – each carrying an explanation of Guru’s achievement and a sample sprinkling of 27 poems, like this one:
“If you want to remain always happy,
Always perfect and always fulfilled,
Then always keep inside your heart
A pocketful of sweet dreams.”
Everything about this unusual commemoration charmed people a lot, and left 27,000 spirit-awakening, heart-warming mementos with their 27 inspirational poems scattered throughout this peace-hungry world.