Friday, 24 June 2016

My wanderings - 35 Short story - 17. The Hermit with an earthen Lamp

This is  a story of long ago, when I had just entered my adolescent age and I was residing at Srinagar alongwith my parents and  other elder siblings. Our house was situated on the banks of river Jehlum overlooking the Habba kadal bridge. Our backyard comprised of a joint compound connected to outside lane through a small gate opening  beneath the house of our neighbours known as a ' pilav' in Kashmiri.
On the right hand side of our house was an open concrete  platform like structure of about two hundred square feet and with a height of about twenty feet on the river view side, with out fencing, serving as a compound to a small garage constructed beyond its rear periphery locating  a rice mill. The only entrance to the concrete platform and garage was available through a small door from its rear side opening from the street. The rice mill was closed from a long time now. Therefore, no body had access to the concrete platform like structure.
One fine morning in the early hours of dawn, someone from our house observed an earthen Lamp known as 'Rattan Deep' in Kashmiri  lighting  in the middle of concrete structure. We were all surprised to see this miracle as nobody could reach the place with out opening the rear gate which was locked from outside since long. The earthen Lamp was full of oil and its wick was emanating a majestic flame  flickering with all might  and not defaulting   for a moment in the strongest of winds. Our neighbours also visited us  as it was visible better from the windows opening from the  right side of our house. But the spot was not accessible from our side also. Speculations were made  by every one ,but most logical and sagacious suggestion was put forth by my mother , who  told that according to her opinion,  some hermit of highest order is living in the garage who lights these earthen lamps early in the morning during his meditation. She warned us not to look or spit out from those windows and that too in the early hours of morning. She cautioned us to treat the place as most sacred and never disturb the hermit anymore. I began to rise from my  bed early in the morning and witness the spot daily because of my inquisitive age. I could see the lighted earthen lamps placed there on daily basis. Sometimes there was a single lamp and sometimes two or three. But I could never see the hermit.The lamps would extinguish after sometime with the exhaustion of their oil. A devout Hindu neighbour of ours told my father that he had seen the hermit in his dream.  The hermit had ordered him to sprinkle some boiled rice and flowers on every Tuesday from the window of our house. My father was a religious man with a rationale outlook but the remedy put forth by our neighbour suited best to our mother. She started preparing boiled rice and arranging flowers for the purpose.
We could perceive the form of hermit  as a tall skinny man with a dark skin  immaculately dressed in white dhoti and piece of another white cloth flowing  over his shoulders alongwith a long white beard sprouting profusely  out from his dark face presenting a spectacle of contrast. Some of our younger cousins even claimed to have seen the hermit in blood and flesh holding a small earthen Lamp  in his hands. My father being a very  seasoned  person could not give any explanation or put forth any logic behind the lighting earthen lamps. He had also to remain contended  with the theory propounded by my mother.
Howsoever ,  rationale a person claim to be, a small mystery or a miracle hinders his conviction because he has been brought up in such an atmosphere where superstitions and ghost stories have been inculcated in his mind right from the childhood. Our subconscious minds are already embedded with superstitions because  we listen to ghost  or angel stories right from the age we start comprehending our environment and surroundings. Therefore, it is very difficult for a person to be rationale who has been brought up in such an atmosphere.
Now reverting to  the story, one day our father awoke us very early in the morning from a deep slumber of/in darkness for witnessing a scene from the same right side windows of our house which amazed all of us. We saw crows carrying small lighting earthen lamps in their beak from the windows of a nearby temple and placing them properly on the concrete structure besides our house. Perhaps they wanted to swallow the oil of lamps once the flame is extinguished. But they could never swallow it unfortunately,  because flame of earthen Lamp usually extinguished only after the exhaustion of its oil.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

My Wanderings - 34. Short story No. 16. Who is dear to Lord

                  In my early  youth I used to visit shivalya in Srinagar located near karan Nagar. Actually there was a temple of Shiva and branch of Ramakrishna Ashram located adjacent to temple. My purpose of visit was neither  in pursuit of spirituality nor in connection with gaining any divine enlightenment. I used to sit for hours in the reading room of Ashram to read latest books and magazines, which were rarely available those days. I visited  the Ashram inordinately and without fail, because I was  so much interested in reading.
I became  familiar with many workers of the Ashram who appeared more important and indispensable  but   least of all with  a  person who deemed to be of ordinary disposition. His ordinary attire and simplicity attracted my attention towards him after a long time. He could be seen wearing a common man's dress , a pant and a shirt and doing ordinary chores of Ashram like changing the lamps repairing the electric fuses arranging the magazines and books. Mostly I noticed him working in the lawns of Ashram raising flower beds and watering them most earnestly . He spoke very less and that too with all humility. But there was a sort of  radiance present  on his face which perhaps  reflected his dedication towards service with a spectacle of divinity.  Latter on I was astonished to learn that he was working as professor of physics in local college and belonged to a well to do family dealing in Medicine business. His name was Brij Nath ji. After college hours he would spent most of his precious time at the Ashram. He was not interested in family business and was not married either.
Once they planned to renovate Ashram and raised funds for the purpose. The construction work started at large scale and a new and spacious    meditation hall was  built  with modern fixtures. Renovation work of old structures was also  initiated. When the construction  was at final stages there was shortage of funds and the work  could not be carried  out further. Brij Nath ji applied for withdrawal of his Provident fund account. An amount of two lakhs, which was a huge amount those days, was released from the Personal Provident fund of Sh. Brij Nath ji  and construction could be completed.
Only after few years of  construction of new Ashram, militancy started in Kashmir. Unfortunately there was mass migration of Hindu community of Kashmir to Jammu and other parts of India. Most devotees of Ashram also left for Jammu. But only Brij Nath ji and few other inmates of Ashram preferred to stay at Srinagar and that too in the premises of Ashram.
One fine morning, when the militancy was at its peak in Kashmir valley, few militants brandishing automatic Guns entered the premises of Ashram. They knocked the door of meditation hall where Brij Nath ji along with other inmates was meditating. A cold shrill passed through the spine of  all inmates , except Brij Nath ji, on witnessing the militants holding  automatic Guns  entering the meditation Hall. Brij Nath ji encountered them boldly.
One among the militants addressed to Brij Nath ji.
Be prepared, we have come to kill you.
Yes you can kill us, only if my Thakur desires so otherwise not,  replied Brij Nath Ji most confidently pointing towards the marble statue  of Shri Ramkrishna installed  in the hall.
On hearing the reply of Brij Nath ji. all the militants lowered their guns with a feeling of uneasy ness. Then they asked for Tea, which was most promptly served to them by the other inmates of Ashram. Afterwards  they left the Ashram with a note of regret writ large on their faces and with a promise  not interfere in the working  of Ashram anymore.
Brij Nath ji still lives in the Ashram with all humility and devotion to his Master. This story reminds me 13 and 14 shalokha of 12 chapter of Baghwat Gita, where lord Krishna says

..One who is not envious but is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor and is free from false ego, who is equal in both happiness and distress, who is tolerant, always satisfied, self controlled  and engaged in devotional service with determination, his mind and intelligence fixed on me......Such a devotee of mine is very dear to me.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

My Wanderings - 33 Short Story No. 15. A Strange case of Kranti Veer Kaul

Kranti Veer, as the name implies , never tried to reconcile in  his life.  He made it a point never to realise the wishes of his  parents.  He was  actually born to his parents after three daughters. Therefore, he grew up into a very pampered   kid. His  parents  particularly the mother was responsible for his present state of affairs.  They tried to fulfill all his  irrelevant and untoward  demands. He would ,sometimes, emotionally blackmail them to realise  his wishes to derive most of advantage from them. But  all the wishes  were realised  at the cost of inconvenience to his parents. There was only one streak of silver lining visible in his whole disposition  and that was his intelligence. He was exceptionally intelligent and a very good in studies. Only this quality overweighed his all other bad qualities.
All his elder sisters were well behaved and most accommodative. They loved their only brother so much. They were married shortly after completion of their education with out any hassle. Kranti completed his engineering and joined services in State Public Works Department. After getting Job he was married to a very nice girl working as  a teacher. At the time of marriage also Kranti behaved indifferently.  But  only within a few years  of marriage , the wife of Kranti gave birth to a son  and  a daughter.  His parents heaved a sigh of relief that Kranti   has  somehow, reconciled with  his life. However, Kranti was not a person to remain satisfied with his Job and family. He left his job and Joined business and made his Father also to invest  a large amount of providential money in it. He did  business for some years  and when it started crossing break even point and showing profits,  a Saint of highest order came in the life of Kranti.  The Saint was on his  religious sojourn and camped with his desciples near the town of Kranti for  some time. He gave many religious discourses which influenced the mind of Kranti very much.  He lost interest in business and started visiting the Saint on daily basis. In the meantime his business started declining and he suffered great loss.  Finally Kranti totally lost interest in business and began to utilise his time towards spiritual pursuits only. His aversion towards his occupation totally deteriorated  his business  and he began to find solace under the feet of  his Guru  whom he called Swami ji.
One fine morning ,Kranti left his home for joining the original  Ashram of his Guru, which was about two thousand  kilometres away from his town  to become his permanent desciple. But he did not inform any one at his home. Later on his family members came to know about his  misadventure which hurted
their feelings very  much. They once visited the Ashram to implore upon him to return his home as it was very difficult for them to live with out him. But they could not change his mind and there was no other alternative for them  but to reconcile with the situation and remain contented with it.
Kranti tried  meticulously to abide by the rules of Ashram. In earlier days  It was very difficult for him to rise from his bed so  early in the morning and take breakfast very late and  to leave tea altogether.  He had to be in meditation for hours together. But he  could overcome these  difficulties with passage of time as he was very much enthusiastic about realisation of self and  pursuing knowledge. His intelligence and enthusiasm helped him to achieve excellence in the field of spirituality in shortest possible time.
The family members of Kranti, particularly his wife had to suffer too much  in absence of him. She had to look after her young kids and aged parents of Kranti. She worked almost  round the clock for the betterment and education of her children. She  had to arrange for the tuition of  her children, who were at the crucial juncture of their academic carrier. She singlehandedly arranged their admission in professional colleges located in far off cities. She did not let her children  feel absence of their father. Sometimes she was even blamed for her inability to stop her husband from becoming  a Saint. But she was undergoing  a sort of penance in her life, where she could face these blames indifferently and stoicly.
In the meantime both her parents in law passed  away and she had to arrange for their funeral and performance of last rites with the help of some relatives and neighbours.
Finally her children completed their education with high grades and got placement in Big companies.
Kranti was now an accomplished saint who had taken the  prime seat of  Ashram after the death of his Guru. He had changed his name from Kranti to  Swami Maha Anand Dev ji.He had thousands of desciples. People thronged the places in thousands, where ever he was scheduled to give his spiritual discourse.
People used to say that it was because of the greatness of their father that his children have made so much progress in life. No body gave credit or even mentioned about the contribution of their mother.  Children were also happy that their father was a great man and used to visit his Ashram sometimes. But his wife never visited him ever again even after much persuasion  by her children, who also gave all the credit to their Father for their achievements.