Baudet (Ashram donkey)

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(Pranab:) “I have spoken about cats and dogs and cows in our Ashram. Now let me tell you about a donkey.
         Sometime during 1945-46, Udar appeared with a young donkey from God knows where. On Christmas day he dressed it up nicely, placed a conical cap on its head and brought it to Mother.
         In French a donkey is called ‘le baudet’. Mother was happy to see it and named it ‘Baudet’ and asked that it be kept in the Ashram. And so Baudet became the Ashram donkey.
         Now who was to look after it? Richard was a young boy then aged about thirteen or fourteen and had just arrived from England. Richard was put in charge of the donkey.
         Richard was young and so was the donkey and both grew up together. Slowly Richard became very friendly with the whole community of donkeys. Once Richard got to know that a donkey had been found on the road bleeding profusely with its ear sliced off. No sooner had this news reached him than he dashed towards the donkey. He took it to the hospital and did not return until it was properly treated and dressed. That is how he began to be called ‘Richard the Donkey-Hearted’.
         July 14th is the French national day. In Pondicherry, the festivities start on the previous day. They used to also organise a donkey-race.
         Richard appeared for the race with his donkey.
         The rule for the race was that each rider must ride on his donkey and race till the finishing line.
         Richard got ready on his donkey. It was a strong animal and if any other animal came near it would lunge to bite it. Another problem was that it would not respect the starting line. So it was decided that it would be placed behind all the other donkeys. Like that both the problems were solved in one shot.
         The race started. Richard's donkey being very strong caught up with the rest. After taking the lead it would rush to bite whichever donkey tried to come in front.
         Richard's donkey was running ahead of the others but a couple of yards before the finishing line it suddenly stopped and stayed put and no one could make it move.
         At this impasse Richard got off its back and literally pushed it across the finishing line. And this is how he won the race.”[1]

  1. Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, I Remember...', p.105

See also