Narrated by the indomitable Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister of Goa who sadly passed away in harness yesterday.
I am from the village of Parra in Goa, hence we are called Parrikars. My village is famous for its watermelons.
When I was a child, the farmers would organise a watermelon-eating contest at the end of the harvest season in May. All the kids would be invited to eat as many watermelons as they wanted.
Years later, I went to IIT Mumbai to study engineering. I went back to my village after 6.5 years. I went to the market looking for watermelons. They were all gone. The ones that were there were so small.
I went to see the farmer who hosted the watermelon-eating contest. His son had taken over.
When the older farmer gave us watermelons to eat in the contest he would ask us to spit out the seeds into a bowl. We were told not to bite into the seeds. He was collecting the seeds for his next crop. We were unpaid child labourers, actually. He kept his best watermelons for the contest and he got the best seeds which would yield even bigger watermelons the next year.
His son, when he took over, realised that the larger watermelons would fetch more money in the market so he sold the larger ones and kept the smaller ones for the contest. The next year, the watermelons were smaller, the year later even small. In watermelons the generation is one year. In seven years, Parra’s best watermelons were finished.
In humans, generations change after 25 years. It will take us 200 years to figure what we were doing wrong while educating our children.
Here’s a down-to-bones homeless destitute happily sharing his morsels with a dog!
Once-in-a-decade moment captured.
But the caption that follows…spoils the meal for us.
“Replete with covet-able virtues are only those without riches!” That’s what it says.
The purpose seems to be to sound a clarion call to our latent better selves Nothing wrong with that. But the word ‘only’ was unwarranted I thought. A generalization blown away away by a mere breath.
However it is well in line with the detestable practice so prevalent in Tamizh writing – or, is it Indian at large? – to put something or someone down while extolling the virtues of something or someone else.
Is it a mere literary style for staging a drama or something deeper – an expression of a hidden streak of envy, though harmless in itself, in the psyche of a class in the society proudly distinct from the…
It was a working day. Even so the crowd at the camp was
Right then, a swanking new car sailed in. From it emerged
a couple whose prosperity was so apparent despite their best efforts to appear
ordinary and appropriate for the occasion.
The man in spotlessly white clothes and the lady carrying in her hand a small bagful of fruits and flowers, were readily ushered in to the Aacharya’s presence by a sishya.
For a moment, they were awestruck by the Aacharya’s radiance.
As they bowed down, the sishya introduced
him as a prominent merchant in the town operating a chain of stores selling saree’s. Now he was planning to set up
hand and automatic looms to make his own branded products.
Thereupon the lady without a fuss quickly laid the fruits
and flowers on a plate and the man, a thick envelope, offering it to the Aacharya.
And the couple stepped back and did saashtanga
namaskaram’s (prostrated in obeisance).
The sishya opened the envelope. Announcing ‘a check for Rs 50,000/ he dropped it into a sealed box kept for the purpose – the practice of making the contribution public was followed to avoid any unsavory imputation by anyone.
The Aachaarya, advanced in age, sat erect ignoring his mild indisposition and blessed them with akshathai’s (rice grains mingled in turmeric paste sprinkled on devotees). He called the man near and made solicitous inquiries at length about the family, his poorvaja’s (who were his forefathers, where did they hail from…) and his business, and wished them both well. Along with a few words of wisdom and advice, he said he would pray for their continued happiness, health and success of their business.
Finally the couple took leave much pleased with the
special attention and grace bestowed on them by the Aacharya.
Thereafter there was a steady stream of devotees with humble offerings – they too received the kind Aacharya’s blessings and were offered fruits as prasadam’s. But none was spoken to like it was with the merchant couple.
At a point, the sishya
could see the Aacharya had tired out. He brought the session to a close and
helped the Aacharya retire to his place – a small room with a cot.
On the way, the Aacharya making an effort said to the sishya: ‘You don’t look your usual self –
something on your mind?’
The sishya shook
his head in polite negation.
‘I can read it – you’re bothered by my attention to the
rich merchant couple? I’ve been observing you since morning.’
looked on silently averting the eyes of his Aacharya.
Lying down slowly on his rope cot, the Aacharya continued: ‘Yes, Rs 50,000 is a generous contribution. While neither you nor I, sanyasi’s (renounced normal worldly life), are interested personally, it’s certainly a happy situation to be in – you probably saw me perking up on hearing it – gives us, as instruments of the almighty, a little more elbow-room in helping the needy. Needless to tell you money to us per se is like dew drops on a lotus leaf, ready to be rolled off any moment.’
‘Now, coming to the part of my praying for their
well-being – this probably bothers you the most…’ the Aacharya paused to catch
his breath: ‘He’s probably employing a hundred or more employees in his stores.
And is likely to employ more in his new venture, especially the poor weavers
rendered redundant by machines. His success means livelihood to so many of
these people. When I pray for his success as promised, actually I pray for the
well-being of a hundred and more of his employees. I’m sure you’ve no problems
Turning on his side, away from the sishya, he muffled a weak yawn: ‘Also, perhaps, you did not hear me advising him to treat his employees fairly and generally be charitable with his wealth…I could’ve done more with them, you thought…or, may be less?’
Silence…punctuated only by his labored breathing.
It was clear there wasn’t much more to be said. The sishya stepped out noiselessly closing the door behind him.
Source: A snap from TheHindu.com of the venerable late 45th Azhagiyasingar of Ahobila Mutt used here as a real-life Aacharya’s and is in no other way linked to the post.