…doing the right thing!
A story from Africa vide V Narayanan
At the time of the great King Obatala:
Three people came to him dragging a young man with them and said to him:
‘O King!! This man has murdered our father.’
Obatala: ‘Why did you kill their father?’
Young man: ‘I’m a goatherd. My goat ate from their father’s farm, and he threw a stone at my goat and it died; so I also took the stone and threw it at their father and he also died.’
Obatala: ‘Because of this, I pass judgment, on charge of murder, by sentencing you to death.’
The Young man said: ‘Oh King, I ask for 3 days before you execute the judgment. My late father left me some wealth and I have a sister to take care of. If you kill me now, the wealth and my sister will have no guardian.’
Obatala: ‘Who will stand for your bail?’
The Young man looking into the crowd, pointed at Lamurudu.
Obatala asked: ‘Do you agree to stand for him, Lamurudu?’
Lamurudu answered, ‘Beeni (yes).’
Obatala enquired further: ‘You agree to stand for someone you don’t know, and if he doesn’t return you’ll receive his penalty.’
Lamurudu answered: ‘I accept.’
The Young man left; but after two days and into the third day, there was still no sign of the Young man.
Everyone was afraid and sorry for Lamurudu who had accepted to receive the penalty of death if the man failed to return.
Just before it was time for meting out the punishment to the poor Lamurudu, the goat herdsman appeared looking very exhausted and he stood before King Obatala.
The Young man spoke up: ‘I have handed the wealth and the welfare of my sister to my uncle and I am back to receive the penalty. You may execute the penalty now.’
In great shock and surprise, Obatala said: ‘And why did you return after having a chance to escape the death penalty?’
Young man: ‘It would then appear humanity has lost integrity and the ability to fulfill promises kept.’
Obatala turned and looked at Lamurudu and asked him: ‘And why did you stand for him?’
Lamurudu responded: ‘It would then appear humanity has lost the will to do good to others.’
These words and events moved the complainant brothers who had wanted justice for their father’s death very deeply and they decided to forgive the young goat herdsman.
A furious Obatala asked: ‘Why?!!’
They said: ‘It would then appear as though forgiveness has lost place in the heart of humanity.’
(reblogged from here)
A tiny little story of innocent joy!!! No twists, turns or lessons. Loved it.
In the holy city of Kashi – the oldest inhabited in the world, it’s said – there lived a cloth merchant Shivendra with his family of wife and three sons: Vishwa, Shambu and Hara. In a city boasting a hoary history for weaving brocades of silk and gold and cotton, Shivendra thrived in his business; textiles were a passion for him – sourcing top quality material, engaging artisans who conceived both traditional and innovative new designs and wove magic…coupled with his business acumen. Over time, his products became iconic with people coming from far and near to buy from him.
While the going was great, the stress of doing business was slowly getting to him. The sons helping him out observed he was getting slower on his feet, going about with greater effort. He did not go out to meet his suppliers and major customers as often as he did before – it required him to be on his feet longer. His visual acuity also was not as good as before – he was often passing defective material both at input as well as output that merited outright rejection in line with the high standards they had set for themselves.
Worst of all, he was increasingly losing his cool with his family over trivial matters, with vendors and customers during negotiations thereby seriously hurting the business. The sons saw this was more due to his lack of adequate sleep in the nights, an ailment he suffered from as far back as they could remember, rather than an innate part of his makeup. All kinds of mantriks and tantriks were called in to no avail. Reconciled to his lot he gamely carried on. Was it a genetic disorder? His past karma as some observed? Only now, it was beginning to show in ways that perceptibly impacted family life and business too.
The sons were fond of Shivendra, still young in his early sixties. They put their heads together wanting to do something about it. Finally it was decided one of them by turn would go out seeking remedies that must exist in some part of the land while the other two would stay back to help their father and the family. The parents reluctantly agreed after they were convincingly reassured about his safe return within a month or two.
Thus one day Vishwa set out northwards on his horse, adequately equipped. Set to go for the Himalayas in search of holy men (sadhu’s, yogi’s) for a miracle cure, he rode for several days until he reached outskirts of Sitamarhi (about 150 kosh or some 500 kms away by today’s measure), said to be the birthplace of Sita. Still an hour away from the town and it was getting dark, he stopped for an overnight halt at a village, taking shelter in a mandapam (a four or more pillared stone structure) standing by itself in the middle with the shrine it had served disappearing long ago without a trace.
Secured his horse to a tree nearby and settled down to watch idly the happenings in the village. It was just a single street lined with squat houses, about a dozen of them. Men folks were returning home from farms and wherever, the women lighted up lamps in their houses and children back in their pen after play-time. After a while, a kind lady from one of those houses came to him inquiring if he wanted water. Soon another came to him with some roti and sabzi, followed by some fodder for his horse too! Villages in our land were known for their hospitality even to strangers!
In an hour things quietened down further with no one appearing on the street. That’s when he saw an old man – must be in his seventies – emerge from the farthest house on the street, accompanied by a young man. The man walked with firm footing in the failing light, refusing to hold the hand offered by the young man. They came down on the street and walked slowly looking down all the time not missing an inch as if they were searching for something. On inquiry, the young man informed him it was indeed so. Earlier in the evening, his wife had dropped somewhere while walking on the street her diamond nose-ring. So?? Well, the old man was the vaidya (medicine man) revered in the village and had the sharpest pair of eyes. So it was…and truly in a few minutes he found the ring lying partially hidden under a stone!
Vishwa was mightily impressed by what he saw. He requested some time from the old man.
On the following morning, he went up to the vaidya’s house and told him all about his father and family and the purpose of his visit. He wanted some medicine to improve his father’s eyesight so he could as before keep a hawk’s eye on the business.
The old man patiently heard him out, asked a few questions…he then went away to the back of his house and returned after a while with a bamboo canister in his hand containing an herbal potion to be given to his father first thing every morning for a week…no need to continue thereafter. More importantly, he was required to do a few activities without fail to go with the potion and even after, never to be discontinued. Results would begin to show in about four weeks. All this, not before teasing him about the inevitability of ageing.
Something about the old man made Vishwa believe in him. He respectfully thanked the old man for his help, offered him appropriate dakshina (fees) and took leave of him carrying the canister carefully.
All at home were quite happy to see him with his horse back safely – it had been only a month.
He explained his consultation with the vaidya. Happily for him everyone agreed on the new regimen he suggested to be put in place as early as the following morning.
The day began with Vishwa’s mother giving Shivendra the potion first thing in the morning.
It was not just with the potion. Shivendra reached the workplace before anyone else. He threaded every needle and loaded every loom ready for operation. When the workmen arrived at their workplace, they were surprised to see it was all set up ready to go. Shivendra waved them away when they fondly fussed about his straining his eyes needlessly, insisting on doing it again whenever needed during the day. All the same they were enthused and energized by their master ‘soiling his hands’ on the shop-floor like one of them in a new practice that had come to stay. It showed in the output at the end of the day.
Exactly what the vaidya had ordered!
In about three weeks they saw Shivendra doing it in half the time he took to begin with! Things got better where it mattered – he was catching flaws easily in the finished product passed by others. Likewise with the input yarn going onto the looms. The final validation came in by way of fewer customer complaints. And not just at work, it showed in the house kitchen too – his wife was happy and impressed to see him help her in her daily chores by unerringly hand-picking stones and mud-balls clean off the rice that went into the cooking pot,
A couple of months passed. One day, Shambu came up to express his desire to go out for a while like Vishwa did, to do his bit for the family. Vishwa told him how the vaidya he had met, certainly not a day younger than seventy five, had walked effortlessly without any help – he was the man if anyone could help their father with his legs. And it was now in evidence he genuinely cured. So it was agreed Shambu would exactly follow his brother’s footsteps, reach the village and consult the vaidya. It was worth a try.
On day 8, Shambu reached the vaidya’s house.
He was told by a young man, his attendant and household help, master was away on his morning routine to collect fresh herbs from up the hill nearby…he should be back anytime now. Did he hear right? Up the hill? Yes, he did it every day, Not once, but once in the morning and once in the evening – some herbs need picking only in the evening, the attendant told him. He sat down on the thinnai (porch) waiting for the vaidya’s return. In a little while, he saw a light drizzle sending towards the house an old man he rightly guessed to be the vaidya in a hurry without a stumble or slip, Muttering more to himself the ground would turn slushy in no time, he gave a perfunctory nod to Shambu and went in. Giving him a little time to dry himself and settle down, Shambu knocked and entered almost feeling sorry for imposing himself thus on the old man. .
When he identified himself, the old man did not appear to mind the intrusion. Recalling his meeting with Vishwa, he inquired about their father and was happy to learn his patient, unmet, was doing better. So why was Shambu here? If the potion given was exhausted, there was no need for more to be given, he already had said. Thereupon Shambu clarified he had come for a different purpose – it was his father’s problem with his legs and his curtailed movements. The vaidya heard him out patiently, threw a few questions and as before at the end he gave him a bamboo canister containing an herbal potion with same instructions – to be given to his father first thing every morning for a week…no need to continue thereafter. More importantly, he was required to do a few activities without fail to go with the potion and even after, never to be discontinued. And wait for four weeks for the results to show.
On his return, Shambu shared his consultation with the vaidya. With everyone in agreement, the new regimen was rolled out from the very next day.
Once again, the mother was entrusted with the job of giving Shivendra the potion every morning for the week it lasted. At lunch, he had porridge of crushed oats, horse gram and sprouts, sitting next to his horse also feeding on the same though prepared differently along with some green grass. This was to be his largely unchanging luncheon menu, minor tweaking permitted, for three days in a week henceforth. The horse seemed to love sharing the table with the master!
On two other days he went out and met his suppliers and major customers, collecting inputs directly from the field. They too were happy to meet him and be heard. With improved bonding, many irritants of little value were not allowed to get out of hand simply though talking it out, letting them focus their energies on more substantial issues they faced. On one occasion, a supplier in jest remarked Shivendra would do well to tell his wife to guard him against any ‘evil eye’; for he had heard from many in their circles say these days he went about like a young horse, defying his age.
Which his wife duly did, exorcising any evil spells, by performing the prescribed rites, when he carried the supplier’s tale back home.
So some more months passed. While things were a lot better Shivendra still had the occasional bouts of irritation, impatience and anger. The lack of adequate sleep in the nights was telling. Did cause some setbacks in business and loss of goodwill; though not irreparable, a lot of energy and effort went into retrieving the situation whenever it happened.
One day, the youngest son Hara came up to say it was time he also did what he could. This time both Vishwa and Shambu advised him strongly to go back to the same vaidya, citing the successes they have had with his cures. So he set about following the same route as the other two.
It was the tenth day and he was standing in front of the vaidya giving him an update on his father and telling him about his father’s problem of insomnia and how it affected life at home and workplace. This time the vaidya asked Hara questions at length about his father, his personal and professional life. Asking him to wait, he went inside the house.
Half an hour had passed, still no sign of the vaidya. Hara inquired with the attendant. The attendant informed him his master was meditating in his room. Wrong timing, should have come a little later after he had finished his morning prayers, Hara thought to himself.
Another half an hour passed. Hara was pacing up and down impatiently now bordering on irritation. Again when he made inquiries, the attendant told him his master was scribing on palm leaves. Strange, they – his brothers – had never warned him to expect this. What was happening?
And then the vaidya emerged from inside. What, no bamboo canister in his hands? Instead, something wrapped in silk. Hara’s heart sank – may be the vaidya could not find in all this time a cure for the ailment in his books.
As if he read his mind, the old man said there was no easy cure for his father’s ailment. From all that Hara had told him and revealed by meditation, it appeared to be karmic in nature. There was no option but to live with it as he was doing presently. However it is fury could be somewhat mitigated thru medication…
Hara breathed easy.
The old man then asked him to take the package in silk to his father. In it was the medicine that would give him some relief from the ravages of the affliction. Must be handled carefully during the return journey, else the contents could crumble to pieces. This was as best as he could do.
Profusely thanking him and offering a generous dakshna Hara headed back home.
They eagerly gathered around him, though a little disappointed he returned without the all too familiar bamboo canister. With the father’s permission, they opened the package taking great care not to damage the contents. In it there was no medicinal pudi (powder) or potion, but two palm leaves containing a prescription message from the vaidya.
They wondered if it would work. Nevertheless they decided to give it a try, beginning with once a week and stepping it up if it indeed worked. There must be something in what the vaidya said – he had not so far let them down.
It was the first day of their trial. A couple of hours before dinner Hara and his father set out to a neighboring village, much bigger than theirs, a kosh (about 3.5 kms) away. Prayed at the Amman koil (female deity). Came out and distributed food packets they had carried to the poor, handicapped, mentally deranged and destitute that usually collected outside, holding each one’s hands for a moment and possibly looking into his eyes – this part was specially emphasized on those palm leaves (social distancing was not in force then). They indeed felt they were giving out more than the food.
It wasn’t late for dinner when they returned after the good walk. The entire evening had been a wee bit tiring for Shivendra.
Hara found his father…a strange kind of peace on his face, more affable? …usually the first hour was the worst. May be he did catch some sleep after the rather busy evening.
In the evening, assessing the day, the family decided they should do it more often.
Sleep or not, one thing Shivendra certainly gained over the days was awareness and goodwill in the neighboring village with the inevitable rub-off on the business sure to follow.
Two months later with all the gains continuing through sustained efforts…the family was breathing easy and their business back on even keel thanks to the vaidya – he had been awesome, right for the third time and how!
Yes, joy of giving (charity) to the less fortunate seemed to be the antidote, satisfying to the soul, for ones inescapable karma…especially the touch and look – that was a brilliant stroke, pure magic.
(explanation would be needed about karma and soul)
Images: Vayalur temple, Pinterest, princesstrail.com
Once in a village there was this farmer tilling his land from dawn to dusk.
His hard work was amply rewarded as the crops thrived and in time, laden with grains, ready for harvesting.
In the middle of the field a sparrow had built its nest. And by now with its brood of two little chicks.
One day when their mother was away, the little sparrows overheard the farmer telling his son: ‘We’ll begin the harvest from tomorrow early morning. I’ve called in our neighbours.’
When the mother returned in the evening, the alarmed chicks related the conversation and said they should move right away.
The mother becalmed the chicks: ‘Yes, we must move, but not yet, there’s time, I assure you.’
Next day morning,
Like the mother sparrow said the harvest did not begin.
During the day, once again, the little sparrows overheard the farmer telling his son: ‘Son, get ready, we’ll commence harvesting from tomorrow early morning. Our relatives have promised to help.’
In the evening when the mother heard from its chicks, she was unperturbed. ‘Not yet,’ she said.
The following morning,
There was no move to towards beginning the harvesting.
On this day, the farmer told his son: ‘Tomorrow, keep yourself free and ready. You and I – we’ll do it ourselves.’
In the evening, the mother and her chicks flew away to find a new home.
Source: moral stories and image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Paws)
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.
Source: moral stories and picture from birdeden.com
This part 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 these programs.
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 down senseless.
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 their time………”
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 hardened soul.
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/
The hours of darshan were over, curtains drawn and place was getting readied for the discourse scheduled for the evening.
People, 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?
Just 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?
Up 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.
The 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.
What he did next shocked his good lady wife and others on the dais.
He pulled out wads of currency notes from a pouch he carried and flung them up in the air – one here, one there, another there…
In 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.
That 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.
The man winked a ‘I told you so…all fakes’ at his wife. She went pale and stood transfixed.
After a few minutes, peace and order returned.
The 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.’
When they turned their attention to the dais, the speaker was not found to be at his station.
The 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.
His 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.
Source: Image from Jagran.com
A busy road in the city…the sidewalks too, men and women in a hurry to get wherever.
And, here this young man, well-dressed, spiritedly selling towels…switching easily from Tamizh to Hindi to English.
I watched him for a while from a distance. Curious, walked up and engaged him.
Was surprised to learn he worked for a well-known IT firm!
Looked at him quizzingly: Then what was he doing here?
Well, passing by, he had observed this man trying to sell his stuff to people who wouldn’t pause to take their breath…obviously tired from the effort.
Moved by his plight, the young man wanted to do something for him – he offered him some money. The old man was too proud to accept.
So here he is…doing the next best thing he could think of – standing in the place of the old man and selling his wares!
It was a working day. Even so the crowd at the camp was not thin.
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.’
The sishya 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 with that…’
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.