Monday, October 16, 2006

Lessons in Life - 02

Hare Krishna,

The following excerpt has been drawn from the book “Sparks from a Divine Anvil”. The Divine Anvil of the book being Sri Chandrashekara Bharathi Mahasvami. The narration is by Sri Jnanananda Bharathi (Sri R. Krishnaswamy Iyer in his purva-ashrama, an ardent disciple of Mahasvami), the author of the book.

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A Government officer who had served at many places in South India went to Sringeri for the first time in his life and was introduced to His Holiness.

H.H. Is this your first visit to Sringeri?

G. Yes, though I wanted to come here several years past.

H.H. What prevented you from coming here earlier?

G. In my younger days I was employed in the Cuddappah district. I was told then that Sringeri was not very far from there and I immediately longed to come here. But my friends and relations told me that, though the distance was not much, the journey was a very perilous one as there were no proper means of communication, many a dense forest had to be crossed and many a steep hill ascended and they were infested with wild animals and robbers and that after all Sringeri was a small village among the mountains with no amenities of modern life and further that a dip in the waters of the River Tunga might easily infect one with malaria. This description discouraged me to such an extent that it not only damped my enthusiasm but it made me drop the idea altogether. Then I was transferred to a distant place wand from there to several other places successively. Years rolled on, but somehow my innate longing to see Sringeri persisted, though whenever I tried to carry it out some inconvenience or discouragement would always rear its head successfully against me.

H.H. How did you manage to come now?

G. Oh, this year I felt very keenly that much time had been allowed to pass and that, whatever might be the obstacle, I ought not to mind it. So I resolved upon coming here and I have come.

H.H. I am very glad to see you here. But how do you feel after coming here?

G. Oh, it is wonderful. The moment I made the resolve to come here, I felt so jubilant that I felt that I could very easily face any obstacles. Strange to say, I had not the slightest inconvenience either in the train or in the motor bus journey. On the other hand, everybody that I met, on hearing that I was on my way to Sringeri, was very kind and respectful towards me and volunteered to attend to my wants throughout the journey. The forests and hills which were said to contain wild beasts and robbers offered such enchanting and pleasant and invigorating scenery as I have not seen elsewhere. Having come here, I find the waters of the Tunga very pure and healthy and certainly not malarial. The town itself is a very nice one, having all the advantages of a city and lacking only its disadvantages. The Temple of Sri Sarada and the Mutt are superb and soul-inspiring. I feel so much at home and so happy here that I very much regret that my holidays will soon be over and I would have to be back at my drudgery again.

H.H. The recital of your experience is very interesting. But did you notice the parallelism?

G. With what?

H.H. Why, with our life itself! When in our younger days we feel an inexplicable longing to grasp the truth of things and think of taking up seriously the study of our Vedanta. Many of our sincere friends, relatives and well-wishers would be shocked at our “premature” and “ill-advised” attempt to explore the philosophical lore of our ancient sages. They would assure us in threatening tones how fool-hardy such an attempt was, would point out to us what dire consequences would follow such foolish inroads into forbidden ground where far greater men were still groping without knowing how to find their way in or out of it, and would cite to us, as warning examples, the cases of those who had perished in their foolishness and had been lost to the world for ever. Necessarily we would be very much discouraged by such disinterested advice and would drop the attempt altogether. But when the innate longing is strong and persistent, we will come at a stage of life when we make up our mind to have that longing satisfied at any risk. Once we start with this determination, we will feel before long that the road before us is really smooth and not at all thorny. Where we expected dangerous pitfalls, there would be stepping-stones. Instead of “wild beasts and robbers”, on the way, we will find very kind and helping hands. When actually on the road, we will feel a joy and exhilaration which no earthly thing can ever offer us. When we do enter into the heart and spirit of the Vedanta, we will find it so pure, clean and healthy and giving us the bliss beyond compare. The only factor in which the parallelism fails is this, after the close of your holidays, you have to return to your job, though reluctantly; the holiday of the earnest aspirant who realizes the truth of the Vedanta never ends and so he has not the need any more to return to his state of bondage.

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Humble salutations to all.



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