There was this man, spiritually minded, going to satsang (religious/spiritual discourses) every day.
Observing him over several days, one day his parrot from its cage asked him where he was going so regularly.
He explained it to the parrot a guru had come into the town and he was conducting satsang and that’s where he was going. He further added the guru was an erudite person speaking with insight on various topics including high philosophy, not for birds and issues from mundane daily life too.
‘Will you then be kind enough to do me a favour?’
‘Certainly, tell me what would you like me to do for you?’
‘Will you ask him how long it would be before my freedom?’
‘Am so glad you too are yearning for moksha (eternal salvation). Perhaps my association? Surely the guru would have something to tell you.’
The man returned from the satsang after a couple of hours.
The parrot had kept awake beyond its usual sleep-time waiting for him:
‘So, please tell me what did guruji say? What were his precise words?’
‘You’re out of luck, boy.’
‘Why? He refused to…’
‘Oh, no…nothing of the sort. I did take you question to him.’
‘He heard me and suddenly right before me he fell unconscious…don’t know what came over him…his disciples rushed to his side. In the ensuing pell-mell I came away. I didn’t want them to think I had anything to do…’
‘Oh, so it was…’ the parrot fell silent.
The man got up and went about his morning chores.
After a while, it occurred to him there was no sounds coming from his parrot, usually in good cheer in the mornings.
He went up to the cage and saw the bird lying motionless on the base.
OMG, dead? Had it attained moksha it yearned for? Guru’s blessings?
May be it was alive yet. He took the bird in his hands and ran his fingers gently over its back in an attempt to comfort and revive it.
After a few seconds suddenly the bird came alive, flapped its wings and flew out of his hands and away.
The man was startled.
In the evening, the satsang was held like always. The guru appeared no worse for the incident of the day before.
Once the discourse was concluded, the man went up to the guru and solicitously inquired about his well-being and also narrated the strange incident of his parrot.
The guru smiled: ‘Your bird was smarter.’
Vexed as he was, our man did not pursue the subject any further.
During one of his travels, Kalidasa felt very thirsty and looked around for water. He saw a woman drawing water from a well. He went up to her and asked her for water. She agreed to give him water, but asked him, “Who are you? Introduce yourself.”
Now Kalidasa thought that an ordinary village woman was not worthy of knowing who Kalidasa was. So he said, “I am a traveller.” But his lady replied, “In this world there are only two travellers – the Sun and the Moon. Both rise and set every day and keep travelling perpetually.”
Then Kalidasa said, “Alright then, I am a guest.” The lady promptly replied, “In this world there are only two guests – Youth and Wealth … both are temporary and hence can only be called as guests.”
Intrigued Kalidasa said, “I am a tolerant person (sahansheel vyakti).” Now the lady replied, “In this world only two truly know the meaning of Tolerance – Bhoomi (Earth) and Dhru (Tree). How much ever you stamp the earth or throw stones at the tree (for the fruits), both continue to nurture us.”
Now Kalidasa was completely perplexed. He said, “Fine. I am a stubborn person (hatavaadi).” The lady smiled and said, “There are only two truly stubborn personalities – our nails and our hair. We keep cutting them non-stop, but they continue to grow.”
Kalidasa had been patient so far, but now in anger he said, “I am a fool”. Now the lady gave a wide smile and said, “There are only two kinds of fools in this world – a King who rules without having any capability or knowledge and a Minister who is a sycophant to such a King and lavishes praises on such a useless king.”
Kalidasa realised that he had been outsmarted. He fell at the feet of the lady and when he touched her feet and then got up, whom did he see? Mata Saraswati – the Goddess of Learning and Wisdom. She said, “Kalidasa, you are wise. But only if you know yourself do you become a Manushya (human being). A person without any awareness of self has not reached the pinnacle of being a Human.
of the town was clearly lived in by not-so-affluent class evidenced by the
residential buildings and streets that had long left behind any claims to aesthetics,
beauty and pride.
An area whose inhabitants forever needed to borrow funds. A need ably served by Ja and a few other smaller lenders, resident right in their midst; family gold, silver or any other valuable would be pawned with them in return for ready cash, at an interest rate far higher than banks.
In operation for years, Ja was comparatively reasonable with his interest rates. He played it by some simple rules giving away no quarter nor taking any – the debtor stood no chance of earning any remission under any circumstance. While compassion, mercy…did not find a place in his line of business, he saw himself, far from being a usurious demon, filling as he was a critical void in public services by helping out people in dire need who had nowhere to go. Funds were often needed for functions in the family that had to be celebrated in a certain style regardless of the means affordable. There were health issues, school/college fees and a zillion other reasons for needing money urgently. Not infrequently people even borrowed for helping out a relative or a friend too.
Looking at him doing well for himself and his family, it might seem here’s was a guy who did no work whatsoever, produced nothing, never sweated, yet earned a living and more sitting on his gaddhi. That wasn’t so. Ja too had his anxious moments and sleepless nights; some pawned clever fakes and, with some, the accumulated debt far exceeded the value of the pawned stuff. While his client-base and hence the business grew, repayment defaults were piling up, burrowing for the first time visible creases on his forehead.
Far from becoming an object of disdain generally reserved
for his profession, he grew to be a respected member of his society. He was the
community’s representative in dealing with the municipal offices over many
day-to-day issues. And, even became the managing trustee of the local temple.
This time it was Navaratri – ten days of devotion and
celebrations, including music programs, dance, drama and discourses. Ja’s young
son recently inducted into the business undertook the task of arranging all
On the penultimate day, the discourse had attracted a reasonable attendance, Ja included, considering it was preachy, promising little by way of entertainment.
The pravachan was about: ‘There’s Hell To Pay – The Unforgiving Karma’.
Some excerpts from the pravachan to give a flavor of
how it went:
“…When you wantonly kill an ant, not only you have
committed the sin of killing a living being, but also the ant’s ledger book of punya
and paap gets transferred to you…In our villages, they don’t kill
creepies/crawlies. The generally immobilize them with a dollop of cow-dung. And
then it is put away in the backyard…”
“…Bhishma Pitamah suffered his final moments lying on
a bed of arrows. A karmic pay-back of his cruel act in a previous birth of
piercing bodies of insects with needles…”
So it was an exposition at length on the theme of righteous living laced with illustrative and instructive anecdotes, to save oneself from inescapable karmic consequences.
The pravachan concluded with a mention of a few torments
of Yama (God of Death) in Hell for sinners after their death, listed in Garuda
Purana such as these:
“Tamisram (heavy flogging) – Those who rob/cheat others of their wealth are bound with ropes by Yama’s Servants and cast into the naraka (Hell) known as Tamisram. There, they are given a thrashing until they bleed and faint. When they recover their senses, the beating is repeated. This is done until their time is up.
Andhatamtrsam (flogging) – This Hell is reserved for
the Husband or the Wife who only treats the spouse well for profit or pleasure.
Those who forsake their wives and husbands for no apparent reasons are also
sent here. The punishment is almost the same as Tamisram, but the
excruciating pain, suffered by the victims on being tied fast, makes them fall
Rauravam (torment with snakes) – This is the Hell for
sinners who seize and enjoy another man’s property or resources. In this Hell, the
cheated, assume the shape of “Ruru”, a dreadful serpent and torment the
sinners severely until their time is up.
Avici (turned into dust) – This naraka (Hell) is
for those who are guilty for false witness and false swearing. They are hurled
from a great height to be utterly smashed into dust on reaching the ground.
They are again restored to life and the punishment is repeated till the end of
Three days after the curtains were brought down on the festivities, Ja appeared unusually in good cheer. ‘Pink back on his cheeks, a spring in his stride, a song on his lips, his turban at a jaunty angle and all that sort of a thing…’ as PGW(odehouse) would have pictured him.
For, in those days, unexpectedly Ja received a slew of hopelessly overdue repayments, a great relief!!
Things turning out as he had intended and hoped was a matter
of immense satisfaction to the son. After all, the discourse and its subject
were his idea; especially closing with those slokha’s (verses) from Garuda
Purana (a compendium of 19,000+ verses) designed to thoroughly chasten any
It also produced an unintended consequence: Ja dropped his interest rate by a couple of points with immediate effect! He also wrote off in deserving cases a good part of the unpaid interest burden. Recall, Ja too was in the audience.
Source: Images from Gyansagarji_Pravachan (Wiki), kismatconection.com and m.dailyhunt.in/
hours of darshan were over, curtains drawn and place was getting
readied for the discourse scheduled for the evening.
mostly middle aged and some old, were settling down on the huge blankets spread
out on the floor.
The pravachankaar (speaker),
a man of god, clad in ochre robes cleared his throat and got ready to begin.
The mike was adjusted for his easy reach. The subject for the evening was ‘Laukeekam (worldly
life) and Aanmeegam(spiritual life).’ A vexing
subject if not handled right. Essentially a question of how to ride ‘two horses’
at once, with minds of their own?
then, a luxury car sailed in outside the temple. First, a lady got down,
fussing around collecting from inside a big wicker-plate of fruits and flowers.
Obviously for presenting it to the pravachankaar. A man, her
husband, joined her. Aware they were holding up the proceedings, she hurried up
to the make-shift dais at the far end. Coming up behind her was the man,
walking slowly, head up and looking all around the pandal. Was
there a hint of disdain on his visage?
at the dais, she paid her obeisance’s, placing the fruits and flowers before
the speaker. Among them was also an envelope most likely to contain some cash
contribution. Her man stood behind, unmoved.
man of god blessed the couple. As she turned to move away, the man came up to
the pravachankaar and politely inquired if he could do
something good for the bhakta’s who had assembled to listen to
the discourse. The speaker nodded his assent.
he did next shocked his good lady wife and others on the dais.
pulled out wads of currency notes from a pouch he carried and flung them up in
the air – one here, one there, another there…
a moment, there was complete chaos…everyone scrambling to get hold of as much
as they could. And some were not above snatching from another’s hands.
was not all – the crowning ‘glory’ was the sight of the speaker going gung-ho
on all fours clutching lustily a few notes in his hand.
man winked a ‘I told you so…all fakes’ at his wife. She went pale and stood
a few minutes, peace and order returned.
smug look on everyone’s face said each got his fair share of the windfall– the
man had somehow done a good job of covering them equitably.
And now they were ready for ‘Laukeekam and Aanmeegam.’
they turned their attention to the dais, the speaker was not found to be at his
lady followed by her man made haste to the waiting car saving herself further embarrassment.
On the way out she caught the sight of the pravachankaar down on his
haunches beside the few old people left sitting out on the action minutes ago,
giving them his collection.
audience was growing impatient over the delay.
None in the assembly including the speaker presently knew his act was by happenstance a teaser ‘show’ in real of what the discourse to follow was all about: Life for most of us, Laukeekam, is essentially one horse play, the horse guided and goaded in its ride by cries and calls of Aanmeegam.
I was waiting in line for a ride at the airport in Dubai. When a cab pulled up, the first thing I noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for me.
He handed me a laminated card
and said: ‘I’m Abdul, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d
like you to read my mission statement.’
Taken aback, I read the card.
It said: Abdul’s Mission Statement: “To get my customers to their destination
in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.”
This blew me away. Especially
when I noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly
As he slid behind the wheel,
Abdul said, ‘Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and
one of decaf.’
I said jokingly, ‘No, I’d
prefer a soft drink.’
Abdul smiled and said, ‘No
problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, lassi, water and
Almost stuttering, I said,
‘I’ll take a Lassi.’
Handing me my drink, Abdul
said, ‘If you’d like something to read, I have The NST , Star and Sun Today.’
As they were pulling away,
Abdul handed me another laminated card, ‘These are the stations I get and the
music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.’
And as if that weren’t enough,
Abdul told me that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature
was comfortable for me.
Then he advised me of the best
route to my destination for that time of day. He also let me know that he’d be
happy to chat and tell me about some of the sights or, if I preferred, to leave
me with my own thoughts.
‘Tell me, Abdul ,’ I was
amazed and asked him, ‘have you always served customers like this?’
Abdul smiled into the rear
view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two
years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like
all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard about POWER OF CHOICE one
Power of choice is that you
can be a duck or an eagle.
‘If you get up in the morning
expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. Stop
‘Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle.
Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
‘That hit me. really hard’
‘It is about me. I was always
quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an
eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were
dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I
decided to make some changes, slowly … a few at a time. When my customers
responded well, I did more.’
‘I take it that it has paid
off for you,’ I said.
‘It sure has,’ Abdul replied.
‘My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This
year I’ll probably quadruple it. My customers call me for appointments on my
cell phone or leave a message on it.’
Abdul made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like a duck and start soaring like an eagle.