Category Archives: Story

Sage Vyasa Earns A Respite…

 

Enjoy this literary gem from the inexhaustible treasure of Mahabharatha!

The story how Mahabharatha was recorded goes like this: Sage Vyasa managed to get Vinayaka as his scribe for the task upon one condition: Vyasa must narrate without a single pause. The sage accepted it with one proviso: Vinayaka must understand what is being said before writing it down. This innocuous ‘clause’ put to good use enabled Vyasa to compose the epic without a break!

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Here’s an instance where the sage used a brilliant literary artifice to gain time:

Background: It is in Virata Parva. The mandated year of remaining incognito had just expired for the Pandava’s. Duryodhana labouring under a miscalculation amassed his troops in full strength and raided the border areas of Virata herding away their cattle. This was planned to draw the Pandava’s out prematurely from their hiding and thus gyp them of their rights once more – they would surely come to the aid of Virata in the face of this provocation and thus expose themselves. .

Scene: A chariot is seen to be coming towards them from a distance. Duryodhana wondered who could be the warrior venturing out thus all by himself?

Pitamaha Bhishma standing by his side responds, in Vyasa’s words:

‘Gangajalam keshava naari ketu’

Four words totally unrelated to each other! What sense to make out of them?

Gangajalam = water of River Ganges; keshava = a name given to god Vishnu; naari = woman; ketu = a planetary god.

Of course, Vinayaka figured it out not before giving Vyasa a much-needed respite. Here’s how:

Ganga ja: One Ganges gave birth to = Bhishma;

lam kesha = lankesha = Ravana, King of Lanka;

vana ari = one who destroyed the vana (Ashoka vana where Sita was held captive)

ketu = flag;

Now it reads as: Bhishma (said): It’s one who has on his flag one who destroyed Ravana’s vana = It’s one who has Aanjaneya on his flag = Arjuna.

So it was Arjuna on a chariot driven by the young prince of Virata!

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Clever, isn’t it?

The story goes on from here to record how Arjuna single-handedly defeated the entire force of Kaurava’s in this episode.

Am glad from inside languages like Sanskrit, Tamizh…would continue to confound smartest of lexical analysers!

This is from an upanyasam on Hari Vamsam by venerable Shri Anantha Padmanabhachariar.

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Source: images from Pinterest

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Architectural Marvel: Thanjavur Brihadeeswar Temple

Brihadeeswarar Temple is 1000 years old, in Thanjavur. The amazing architecture of this temple makes it unique and stupendous. This video tells us about the facts of how this magnificent temple was built” – from Madras Trends

Duration 3.27 mins with subtitles in English:

 

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PS: There many other videos on the net, small and big, on this temple and its features. This one from Madras Trends is vide Vidya Dwarakanath.

The Story Of A Banana That Lost (Found?) Its Way

a6ce urbandud.wordpress com

‘Did you taste the bananas I had sent for you yesterday?’

‘Yes, it was very tasty indeed,’ Krishna smiled.

‘It’s a special variety I had planted this season. What I sent you was the first ‘thaar’ (bunch) of the season from the field.’

‘But you sent just one.’

‘Just one? I had personally handed over an entire ‘thaar’, not keeping even one for our home.’

‘Don’t know about that, but I got to eat just one and it was delicious, not the usual stuff.’

‘That’s surprising…never mind, today I’ll personally come with two thaar’s since you liked it so much. Be there till I turn up, don’t go away; I’ll surely come…will surely come…will surely come…’

Enga (Hey), where are you going to and where are you coming from? Wake up, it’s morning. You were dreaming,’ his wife was standing beside him.

The devout mirasdar (landlord), startled out of his sleep, taking a little while to gather his wits, dismissed his wife: ‘Oh, it’s nothing, don’t worry. Get the coffee ready, I’ll be there in a few minutes. I’ve to go to the field thereafter, so don’t delay.’

When he returned later with two huge thaar’s in his hands, his servant, coming to work just then, rushed to him: ‘Ayya, why did you bother? But for my son – down with fever, he didn’t sleep all night – I would have been here much earlier.’

As he tried to relieve the master of the heft, he found himself pushed aside petulantly.

The inquisition began: ‘Tell me first what happened to the bananas yesterday?’

‘Why, I carried the thaar you had given and delivered it to the Ayyar (priest).’

‘How many bananas were there in the thaar you carried?’

Ayya, I did not count. I guess it must be over hundred.’

‘And you handed over the whole thaar at the temple?  Don’t lie – I’ve a way to find the truth.’

‘I did exactly like you had instructed, Ayya…except for a small lapse.’

‘Small lapse?’

‘Just when I neared the temple, the sight of the bananas drew a beggar child who seemed too weak even to beg. He barely managed to put out his two hands, his hunger-dizzied eyes fixed on the fruits. I did not have the heart to walk away. Gave him a fruit that he eagerly partook…it was just one small fruit from the bottom of the pile, squashed on one side by the weight of the thaar…’

Despite his efforts to minimize the loss, the servant stood waiting for the inevitable reprimand.

Silence…

Finally, ‘Go, take these two thaars…’

‘I’ll go right away and this time there’ll be no lapses, I assure you, Ayya…’

‘and distribute among the hungry.’

Ayya?’

‘You heard me right.’ The mirasdar walked away.

The servant’s jaw dropped. He had expected to be fined a month’s pay for the infraction.

Vexed over ‘whatever happened to his master?’ he trooped out carrying the bananas. He was not going to lose his peace trying to figure things out.

 

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Source: Adapted from a post in WhatsApp. Image from urbandud.wordpress.com

Swatchha Bharat (Clean India)

Swatchha Bharat

He asked the old man for some advice.

The old man turned to him: ‘Have you ever washed utensils?’

What an odd thing to ask! Mildly irritated he said, ‘Yes, what of it?’

‘What did you learn?’

‘What is there to learn from it? All that one does is to scrub it clean.’

The old man smiled at him: ‘Yes, you’re right…but it’s done harder on the inside than on the outside.’

 

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Source: Strictly not a word-by-word translation of the original from Pinterest, possibly a zen story.

What You See Is Not What You Get

The weather was threatening to turn for the worse accompanied by lightning and thunder dazzling the sky with their fireworks. The trees were swaying perilously to heavy winds.

floodA little sparrow struggling to hold itself aloft approached a large tree standing on the banks of a river seeking shelter.

The tree refused point-blank asking it to go somewhere else, all its pleas falling on deaf ears.  Thereupon the dejected sparrow went up to another tree that was located some distance away. The second tree obliged, taking the bird under its wings and ending its search.

Shortly after, the clouds unloaded their goods with a ferocity that caused the river to swell in no time and break its banks.  The deluge washed away the ground soil causing the trees standing on the banks to topple.

The sparrow was saddened to see the nay-saying tree falling down and being swept away mercilessly by the raging water currents.

The tree too spotted the sparrow on a safe perch just in time to utter these words before disappearing from sight: ‘This was certain to happen. Now you know…’

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Source: facebook.com/shasty.rathnam

‘So, Find A Man Who Always Speaks The Truth’

A Paramacharya anecdote on wearing rudraksha maalai

 Periyava

He had visited Nepal to have darshan at the holy Pashupathinath temple.

On return, he presented himself before the Paramacharya and respectfully offered the temple prasadam and a rare rudraksha maalai (string of rudraksha beads).

‘Did you have a good darshan?’ the old sage inquired.

‘Yes, Sir, by god’s grace and your blessings.’

The sage lifted the maalai in his frail hands.

‘What’re you going to do with this?’

‘If you may kindly permit, I intend wearing it around my neck…’

There was silence.

‘So, you’ll always speak the truth?’

He was startled. ‘Yes, Sir, I’ll henceforth always speak the truth,’ the words almost rolled off his tongue.

He knew it was not possible at all try as he might. In the presence of the sage he would dare to speak untruth.

Holding himself back, ‘No, Sir, it’s impossible for me to be speaking truth at all times.’

‘Why so?’

‘Sir, I work in a bank. The official records are never unmixed truth. Further, if my manager orders me, I would be compelled to…’

‘Take this, if and when you find someone who never speaks untruth, give it to him.’

The man was mighty happy to receive the maalai back from the sage.

Rushing back he said to his wife: ‘Let’s do as you had suggested. We even have His okay. And imagine we never saw we always had someone with us right here with us in this house who never spoke untruth!’

Since then the maalai adorned the sage’s portrait in the pooja room!

The incident was shared some days later by the sage with another man who had come to have darshan: Your relative…that fellow who works in the bank…he has aspects of Harishchandra in this age. He didn’t lie to me he never lies…’

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Source: https://mahaperiyavaa.blog/author/mahaperiyavaa/

 

Hurry Up Before…

Today I read here a post about a teacher who went to great lengths to help out a student of his. Brings me to what I always wanted to write about, but never quite managed it. Won’t hold longer.

The boy was a little sickly, prone to frequent attacks of cold forcing him to stay away from school. And he wasn’t any good in languages that had one too many consonants like four ‘ka’s, four cha’s… (Hindi, Marathi…). He had trouble telling one from the other. To add to his grief, the nouns in these languages had gender they had no business carrying at all. Besides these phonetically sooper-correct languages, drawing also brought him down. His rendering of objects made his teacher wonder if he (teacher) was seeing things right.

Well, suffice to say these subjects often messed up his grade and rank in exams. And there were times he couldn’t muster even pass-marks in these subjects. On those occasions the class teacher would personally plead with the Marathi/Drawing teacher taking the boy along – unbelievable? but that’s what he did. The teachers would oblige passing the boy with minimum marks. At least once it happened even when the boy had not taken the exam at all owing to sickness.

The boy never understood the gestures fully. The incidents receded in his consciousness as he moved on from sixth grade to the seventh and so on, over the many years of education and employment that followed. It wasn’t until he was into his late thirties and gotten quite worldly-wise that the memories surfaced from deep recesses of his mind and their full import struck him.

A class-teacher going out on a limb for him for no personal gain? And there were those teachers chiming in with him in his extraordinary (and irregular, of course) act.

I’ve never stopped kicking myself for not having gotten back in good time to esteemed Shri Manikkavaachakam (my class teacher), Ms Kamath (Marathi teacher), Shri Venkataramana (Drawing teacher who could draw with both hands at the same time)…to tell them what those gestures (though patently in violation of rules) meant then and mean even today, the feelings I’m awash with…While words fail me here, I do know it’s a debt that I’m incapable of ever repaying, a lapse too late to correct and a sin that’s unforgivable.

The only positive fallout – ever since it is my endeavor to express myself sooner than later to those whom I owe in life: parents, spouse and children, relatives, teachers, friends, colleagues… and often perfect strangers too.

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