Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Virtue of Karma

Recently, rather, a few minutes ago, i read some poetry by Susheela, my next door neighbour, who lives at a stone's throw from my Hall of residence. Although i am running short of time this week, and i certainly agree that i still am not fulfilling my duties by finishing off my assignments as i'm writing this blog, but this blog of hers started off my train of thoughts that i could not refrain from scribing the thoughts. Actually she has pressed the button of the machinery without knowing what is there as the outcome!
First, I'll try my best to rephrase her poetry (pardon, sush, for i'm not an artist, so i may not be wise enough to be just enough with your kriti). To be honest, i could not copy and paste her article here, that's why i am re- narrating the whole sequence!
It is after reading her poetry, it clicked to me how this story unfolds into some other legend. So here goes the Story of Ahilya:
It was The Treta Yug, the second aeon according to Hindu Mythology, when common man was intelligent enough and sins were not yet prevalent. Ahilya and her husband Gautam, the sage lived in the woods. Mr. Gautam had a fixed routine of bathing at Dawn and then spending his day praying the dieties. Ahilya, as like sincere women of that time used to manage the household with her full devotion. It was a calm life for them, without any ripples. The couple shared the aura of integrity, honesty and responsibilty.
But however calm the life may be, it always has some checkpoints for us to either succeed and pass through it, or fail there and learn a lesson. As the luck would have it, God Chandra aka Moon happened to pass by their abode, and as he saw Ahilya, he got impressed by her beauty (read "her aura", for beauty is just skin deep) . He started keeping an eye on the couple to find some way to satisfy his want. After spending a few moments he found that he could have his chance only when Gautam went for his daily bath.
That fateful day, Gautam left for his daily bath. Ahilya was winding the bed when Gautam came back, he had forgotten something back home and had returned to get it. Ahilya gave him whatever he wanted, but that day, Ahilya could not resolve his smirk. She was uknown to all what was going around her. and suddenly she saw another Gautam Standing on the door! Then who was he in whose embrace had she been till now!! The real Gautam, in his rage cursed her to become a stone, until Maryada Purushottam touched her.
Ah! So a Lady, though honest was turned into a mannequin! comment some on this story. But i have a different viewpoint, so here goes my analysis:
Ahilya no doubt was Honest and undoubtedly truthful, but what she lacked was the insight. The quality of differentiating the true from the imitation. She was not punished for her deed, in my point of view, she paid for her ignorance. Who says Ignorance is Bliss?
The Sage, he had his spiritual powers reduced by the curse he bestowed on Ahilya. So he learnt that Anger was indeed futile.
As for the Deity Chandra, the mass still remembers his deed! What a disgrace.
What Susheela wrote was the plea of a statue, a rock.
My question had been the same hitherto "Why me, O GOD! relieve me of this misery!" until i heard this second legend.
A prologue before i start this legend, that i forgot when did all this happen, perhaps it was Treta Yug, again!Since i don't remember the aeon, so i will start it in "Once Upon A Time" manner. Anyways, here it goes:
Once upon a time, there was a great Sage, who alongwith his wife and two children lived on the outskirts of a town, in fringes of a woody area. He was famous for his strong belief in Karma. He and his family went from door to door to collect some eatables. At the end of the day, they would consume half of whatever they collected and rest half of it for yajna (The sacred offering). The Yajna was famous for the Karma-phal (the resultant of Karma) it generated. The monthly yajna was famous even between various Deities and they too used to come to attend it.
As like other times, the Yajna had come to a successful end and everybody had parted. This family was about to dine, when they heard
"Kuchh khane ko milega, ya sab khatm ho chuka?"
Won't I get something to eat, or is it over?
It was Durvasa (The incarnation of Lord Shiva, whose bouts of anger had a history). Thankfully, the family hadn't yet started, so they invited him in, and the Sage served Durvasa his share of dinner. The food was nice, and Durvasa was hungry. He quickly ate all of it and asked for seconds. The husband did not have to tell, the wife came forward and now she too offered him her share. It was a worry for the husband that the wife will have to remain hungry for the whole day, but there was more to come. Durvasa still was hungry as ever. So eventually the children too gave him their share without any hassle, and that sufficed Durvasa. He left after that. That day, the family had to sleep hungry.
And then, it had become a monthly routine that Durvasa would come when everyone had left after the Yajna, and he would eat all the food left, as a consequence of which the family would starve for the whole day.
Indra (The king of all deities) was monitoring this and was deeply impressed with this sage. So he ordered his two of his servants to invite this sage to heaven at any cost whatever it may be.
So, both the servants appeared before the sage and asked him to come along with them to the Heaven, as he now deserved to be in.
The sage asked Could you please define what is Swarg (Heaven)?
Everybody knows the difference between Heaven and Hell, and you too are aware of that, Oh wise one! the messengers replied.
But I want to know in definite terms what is a Heaven?
A heaven is a place where you get all the facilities which anyone can just imagine of, in this material world! replied the messengers.
I understand! So there must be in some what that one has to pay some price for such amenities?
Yes, certainly! You pay there in terms of your karma- phal.
Is it then, that my karma- phal gets depreciated as a price for those faciliities?
Yes Sire! You are true enough.
What happens when my karma- phal depreciates?
You are born again, we won't lie to you, Sire, but this is called as the cycle of life and death.
Is there any upper threshold of Karma- phal to get into this heaven, and what happens, when a mortal crosses that upper bound?
There is an Upper limit! and when a mortal crosses it, he then is able to come out of this infinite cycle of life. This is how the affairs are. So, may we take you with us? Lord Indra awaits for you there!
I refuse to leave this material place, for I never wanted anything else than The pleasure of achievement after the struggle, which is karma. I never yearned for material pleasure. You people may leave, and do convey my regards and pardon to Indra. Smiled The Saint.
Now the question is, how does this story relate to Ahilya? It indeed does relate. The statue of stone is the human intellect which defines a level of it's own. Every thrashing (if it is to be called as this) raises the level. It is the satisfaction of learning which gives the importance to karma. It is the gain of insight into the surroundings which converts a rock back into Ahilya.