.“Mayi sarvamidaM protaM suutre maNigaNaa iva:
“You often deviate from the main story” comments a reader, referring to the last paragraph of the previous chapter. I admit that I do. The problem with me is that I write as thoughts come to my mind; I don’t arrange them in an alphabetical order, before writing. It has an advantage: the flow will be incessant. The disadvantage is that the main story gets distorted. Anyway, I shall try to keep an index file in my head and place things in order; till then kindly bear with my deviation.
For the annual day program in our college, Sri Vijayan master, our Malayalam professor, wanted to stage a kathakali. He had learned the dance during his young days. He was looking for an actor for the roll of Kuchelan. There were no takers for the roll of the poor Brahmin. None wanted even to imitate the deprived even on a stage and therefore, he asked me to take up that roll.
“But sir, I haven’t learned ‘kathakali’” I said, scratching the back of my head.
“That doesn’t matter,” Master assured. There will be no action for you and your very presence on the stage will reveal the intensity of poverty among Brahmins even during the ‘Thretha Yuga’ right under the nose of Lord Krishna. I will do all the acting and you have to simply walk across the stage, revealing the empty space between your chest and hip, till I offer you a seat close to me and grab the small packet from your hand.
No, it was not, when the play was staged.
Something which the learned professor never expected happened.
Seated near Krishna, the poor Brahmin, that was me, out of curiosity, opened the small bundle in his hand, tasted a grain of the sweet puffed rice, continued to put the grains, one by one, into his mouth till the last grain had been eaten!
That is not kathakali.
But, believe me when I say that the audience enjoyed every bit of my action. The open air-theater at the Victoria college, reverberated with the thunderous applause of the students and teaching staff. Everyone forgot that in kathakali, you have only ‘mudras’, hand and finger movement, facial and eye expressions and dance. Every part of the body, except the tongue, speaks. The success of my Kutchela was that my action revealed the level of his poverty. When you are hungry, you will eat any thing that comes to your hand, even a packet of puffed rice meant for the God. Our Gods are not hungry; that is why they are not eating the ‘neyyappams’ and ‘ payasam’, we offer. And if they were, you will offer only, ‘pushpam, jalam and thoyam’. ‘Phalam ‘ . Fruits, either you will eat or give to your children, if you are not hungry.
Vijayan master, I expected, would pulverize my bones and make puffed rice out of them. But he didn’t .He simply said,” I thank my stars, I didn’t stage “Dussana vadham” and ask you to do the leading roll. You would have unrobed the boy playing the role of Panchali” He continued,” in the history of Kathakali, this is the first time, Kutchela actually ate the puffed rice, handed over by his wife, to be given to Krishna. More than regretting your idiotic action on the stage, I feel sorry for the audience, who applauded your action. It is unfortunate that, there was not a single boy or girl in that vast crowd, to throw a few stones at your head, alarmingly vacant.”
His pain was understandable.
He was not the first person to keep his finger on his nose in dismay and ask himself, a question which several of my readers are asking every time they open my post. “How this fellow is allowed to walk free in this globe, after creating so much trash!”
When I was about to leave his room, hanging my head down, sad about his comments on my head’s poverty, he said, “next time when we act, leave a few grains for me too, just for tasting!”
Unlike many other people of my age, I seek the company of women, for my morning walk.( again deviation from the topic of discussion, for which I seek your pardon). They talk about their daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law with equal dislike . They have that impartiality and I like that. And they never talk about their disease unlike my male friends.
I asked an old colleague of mine, a butter-fly in her early seventies but still attractive with an air of authority, wisdom and wits. They are her original attributes; otherwise, everything is duplicate, with her – hairs, teeth, ear, eyes, heart, kidney, jewels and even husband! Her name is Parvadha vardhini and she insists that everyone should call her ‘ Puppy’ and not Parvadham, though by virtue of her body-size, she deserved to be called so .
“How is that you never talk about any disease, Puppy, whereas, my other friends talk only about that topic”, I asked her once.” Glad that you have none.”
“Who said I have no disease?” Puppy retorted.” My disease is at home, reading newspaper or searching for some sweet preparations, in the kitchen”. She was joking. She always jokes; mostly about me but this time about her hubby.
Next to kids, I love the company of youngsters. Life becomes vibrant and lively when you join them and enjoy their pranks. I never question their action or advise them .They hate both. Anyway they won’t obey you; there is no need also.
My children have mostly disobeyed me and I am proud of them. If your children, obey every nonsense you utter and move their head like puppets, be careful; there is danger around the corner. Take them to a psychiatrist-earlier the better!
“If you have stopped asking questions, you have stopped growing” Jaddu has said something to this effect. His words were more beautiful. Open your old books and see how your ancestors have questioned their mother, father, guru and even God.
“Mother, tell me” asked Satyakama.” Who is my father?”
There can’t be a simpler question any mother would expect from her child. Ajapala was a honest woman. She told the truth. Her lovely body had no cloth to cover upon, except poverty. So our ancestors, Kousika or Kasyapa gothras, exploited her poverty. When I start “abhivadaye,Viswamitra —,I pause for a moment and visualize my great ancestor’s posture with his face turned and hand extended, refusing to accept his own child. He had no answer when asked how he could forsake his own child. I respect him for his other virtues, but those don’t come before my mind, when I think of his name; Bad acts always precede good ones, when you try to recall anyone’s activities, except your own !
“Father, to whom wilt I be given” asked the virtuous Nachiketha, frustrated by his father’s act in donating the worthless cows to the needy Brahmins”. A second time and a third time he asked that question
Vachasravas, in an angry mood, shouted, “To death I give thee”.( “Vayai moodeda –shut up”, we will tell our children, in the same situation. That is equally bad ). The little man, tender in age, stood like a rock, waited at the door of Death, unmindful of hunger and thirst for three nights and when the Lord of Death arrived, he asked a simple question, “Is death, a comma or full-stop?” He didn’t yield to Yama’s inducements and ultimately, he was sent back to earth, with the lamp of wisdom. We should also not dampen our children’s inquisitiveness by asking them to shut their mouth.
Seated on the chariot, in between the two warring groups when the war was about to start, Arjuna asked Krishna, ”Why should I kill all these people, my cousins, my teachers, my uncles and grandparents and so many other close relatives, just to get back the lost kingdom? I don’t mind loosing it for ever rather than living on wealth and pleasures soaked in their blood. Vyasa’s poetry shines in “Bhunjeeya boghan rudhira pradigdhan” Krishna was not only Arjuna’s best friend, but his guide and guru also. So, he elaborately explained to him the reasons. He didn’t say ‘shut-up and fight’, though he could have said that. Arjuna would have obeyed,. but would have lost the battle and we wouldn’t have got that philosophical marvel, laced with dazzling poetry.
Yes, “Mayi sarvamitham proktham, Soothrey manigana iva:” Is upper most in my mind, when I mention about the poetic beauty interwoven in that rare masterpiece.
Krishna, in his inimitable kindness, mentions all living and non-living things, as cluster of pearls . The string in the center is the connecting factor. The string remains as such, even after the pearls get loosened and separated but if the string is broken all the pearls scatter .Then there is no garland.
When the inherent divinity or faith or whatever you name for that belief in a supreme power, is broken, we just scatter, loosing our identity, our shine.
While climbing up the steps of the Ganges in Dakshineswar, with a pitcher of water for pouring over the twelve lingas on both sides, one of the pictures for sale, on the side shop used to attract me always- that of the mother Goddess holding the uthareeyam, upper garment of Sri.Ramakrishna and happily following him like a child. That picture vibrated my heart so much that, gazing the twinkling stars and smiling moon, I used to weep silently, wondering how great is the love of the God for his creations! He follows you, holding your T-shirt ( like me you do not have an uthareeyam, I guess), if you think of Him once a while, like me. ‘Ennada, Krishna, ippidi prananai vangahari-why do you trouble me like this, God?” I used to ask him, when tormented by difficulties. Suddenly I see his smiling face in a corner or on a tree -top across my front or side doors of the house. He is ready for performing the celestial dance, ‘Kaliyamardhanam’- But there is no need for that. The poisonous multihodded Kaliya has already withdrawn and escaped into the deep waters.
I am sure that you too would have seen that smile or heard that melody of his flute and if not so far unfortunately, will feel His presence very close to you, very very close to you -why within you, when you read these lines.
Do not worry if the time and circumstances not favour your performing the prescribed rituals, but remember that He is the string on which you stay, move and shine ; He is the string which holds you in tact and once you get loose from its hold, you fall down and scatter on the floor,unsung and unmourned. And also remember that He will not easily allow you to strip and fall, because you are a precious pearl (mani) for him!
.“Mayi sarvamidaM protaM suutre maNigaNaa iva:
My Website : http://perinkulams.wordpress.com/
To be edited:
Generally, no body likes to be questioned, especially some of our religious leaders, to whom we look at, to clear our doubts.
Either they feel that we are too small to interact with them or expect us to swallow their words of wisdom as they come out of their holy mouth
Sometime ago, I took some youngsters from US, on vacation to India, to the head of a religious place .When the young men prostrated before the Sanyasi, he neither raised his hand to bless nor opened his mouth to say a few words. He turned his face away and engaged in talking to others, as if those fallen at his feet were objects of no concern for him.
“The statues in temples, when we prostrated before them, didn’t speak; but they didn’t turn their head away,“ lamented the youngsters “:What do you expect us to learn from His holiness?’.
The great teachers, in the good olden days, treated their visitors with respect and disciples as their own children. They didn’t push them with the handle of their palm-leaf fans!
When I returned to my hotel room, one of the NRI guests had left a small peace of paper on my table, with a quotation from Jaddu Krishnamurti,scribbled on it:
“Do experiment with what I am saying. Put aside your religions, your customs, your racial taboos and all the rest of it, for they are not life. If you are caught in those things, you will never discover life; and the functions of education, surely, is to discover life, all the time.”
When I finished reading it, my guests entered. ”Yes, I understand your feeling” I tried to pacify them, “Do, you know what we should do? –”.
Before I completed, they said,” we certainly do, uncle. We should say good bye”.
“Young men, say good bye to me,” I murmured, “but not to the treasure house, you have acquired from your ancestors, just because a few men clad in colour cloths or bare chest, didn’t treat you like human beings.”
.But they were not there to hear my words of wisdom; They had already left the place.
Even the “Gurunam Guru”,Dakshinamurthy, while explaining the true nature of the Supreme to a group of old sages, through his silence, was full of smiles, “muditha vadanam”, says the great Thirumeni of my native land.
I am reminded of the gracious and affectionate, though wrinkled face of that great seer of Kanchi, the late chandra sekharasaraswathy, to meet whom I used to run like a thirsty calf towards it’s mother. In the year 1985, he was camping at Kurnool, in a mill- compound, on the shores of the Tungabhadra river. I went there, along with a friend of mine, V.K.Krishnaswamy iyengar, a retired navy officer. He had no family of his own, had enough money to lead a comfortable life, despite the large amount he wasted, during his young days, on vices, both major and minor. .
We were lucky to bathe in the river, along with the saint and walk along with him to his place. I had to physically, push Iyengar, down at the feet of the acharya, as he didn’t know how to greet a saint, when I took him to the great Guru. I explained to the master about my friend’s background and the old man just smiled, as usual. That innocent, child-like smile, activates every micro organisms in the body and bring tears to your eyes. That was his attraction.
“Avidhyanam’ chollu” The saint ordered remembering the ‘Soundarayalahari’ slokas I recited before him,as a ten-year old child.
“I never visited a temple or a mutt for the past 30 years,” V.K told the saint, “Still, while bathing in the river this morning along with you, I felt that I was bathing in Ganges. I haven’t yet, recovered from that feeling .The peace and pleasure, I enjoy now, I never had in my life so far. Can I spend the remaining part of my life, serving you and the math? Will you accept this sinner and his money?”
“You are not a sinner, let it be very clear to you.” The Acharya said,” If you were, you wouldn’t have come here.The traces of sin, if any also vanished when we took bath together, this morning.
You wants to serve the math. Let me take the opinion of our learned Iyengar friend, who has been serving me and the math, for quite some time now” The saint,turned his head and with a twinkle in his eyes and a naughty smile asked the Iyengar sitting in a corner, busy with his ledger work,” Intha madathukku,nee oru poratha – you, one, not enough for our mutt?”
Every one laughed.
Then, he looked at V.K and said,” one Ranghachari is running a Samskrita patasala, near Kumbhakonam,. He badly needs some support, physical and financial. You can collect his address and other details, from the mutt. Try to help him. If you are still left with some money, after keeping the required amount for your expenses, spent the rest on poor and needy.”
While we took leave of Acharya, V.K, was sobbing like a child.
“Guru is he, whose life is mingled with God’s life, who is intoxicated with the bliss of the eternal and whose heart is overflowing with compassion and love for all creatures and beings in the world. The touch, society or even a sight of such a great and illumined personality would be at once bring a sense of indescribable relief to the struggling soul, and set him on the path of immortality, peace and bliss” said Swami Ramadas, of anandhasramam.
In fact, almost all the troubles, in our society is due to peoples’ yes, yes’ attitude .I have seen elderly people standing before someone they respect, bending their body at 90 degrees, closing the mouth with
their right hand, left hand hidden behind. The respected souls, instead of dissuading them, enjoy that sight and encourage them to do so.
Arjuna, didn’t stand like that.
.Have you seen any pictures, Arjuna, standing before Krishna, bending his body, in the shape of inverted ‘L’ and blocking the air passages, with both the hands? And, sirs, he was questioning whom? ‘Krishnam vande jagadgurum.’
The moment you stop asking questions, you stop living. Jaddu said something like that. I don’t remember his actual words which are more beautiful.
Droupathi was a great woman. She was fire-born, brought up as a prince and the legitimate co-occupant of the of the great Hathinapura throne, which she didn’t occupy most of the time .She had to spend the best part of her life, walking in the forest and serving others. She was treated shabbily, by every one, right from the moment she entered her in-law’s house. She was, undoubtedly, Arujuna’s asset and she belonged only to him . When Kunthi realized her mistake of unknowingly asking her five sons to share her, she would have corrected her words .She didn’t do it. What right she had to ask her ‘bahu’ to accept her five sons as her husband? Did she want to perpetuate the stupidly committed by her earlier? And the great Yudhistira, son of the king of ‘Dharma’, happily accepted his mother’s orders! And his younger brothers respectfully obeyed him.
But what about the pride and dignity of that poor girl ? None bothered.
And she was mortgaged as if she was a lifeless article, when the elder pandava, the epic man of wisdom, lost a game! And the great warrior princes known for their valour and strength, courage and pride, simply stood as stone statues, when their helpless wife was de-robed, right before their eyes!
The ill-treatment continued till the end. Yudhistira, preferred a dog, to his devoted wife, while ascending the portals of Heaven. Leave away giving her a fitting farewell, he didn’t stand near the beautiful body of his beloved, when it fell on the road side and shed a few tears for her or, even for his brothers .And the Lord Yama, the master of virtues and righteousness accepted him. The reason for his action was ridiculously simple- Yudhishtira happened to be his son! Let us boycott him.
I missed the main point. Drowpadi asked the elders assembled in the royal court, “How can Yudhishtira mortgage me, when he himself had mortgaged himself, first?”
Even, the Great Bhishma, didn’t answer her question.
Valid questions, many times remain unanswered. But, still you ask. That is how the society progresses. That is how the world advances.
“The exciting thing is that we don’t know what lies beyond the unopened door— and each door will open to many more doors—each answer leading to many more questions— that is discovery”