RAJESH M IYER
RAJESH M IYER
We've all heard of the epic battle of Mahabharata. And know how the Pandavs vanquished the Kauravs and their allies. Who according to you was the real hero who turned the tide? Was it the great archer Arjun by killing the mighty Karn? Or, was it Bheem who killed Duryodhan that technically made the Pandavs victorious?
Well, a similar battle of ego erupted between the two brothers. As the war came to a close, both Arjun and Bheem argued as to who is the greatest among them. Ego-filled arguments were given by each to prove his point. When they could not settle the issue, even with the other three brothers, the Pandavs approached Krishna.
'How can I decide?' Krishna shrugged his shoulders. 'I was part of the battle and was charioteering Arjun's chariot. I hardly saw Bheem fight. If there's someone who saw the entire battle, it is Barbareek, whose head I had severed to stop him from fighting in the battle and who asked me a boon for his head to atop the mountain so he could see the entire battle.'
So off they trudged to the top of the mountain upon which was Barbareek's head.
Since Barbareek was Ghatotkach's son and Bheem's grandson, Arjun was skeptical. Wouldn't he favour his grandfather? But Krishna assured Arjun that Barbareek was a great soul and would never lie.
A shock awaited both Arjun and Bheem when they approached Barbareek with their query: who was greater among them and is responsible for the victory in the battlefield?
'Where were you two?' Barbareek asked them.
Was it some kind of joke, the two brothers wondered. Here they were, for eighteen days killing opponents, some of the greatest warriors the world had ever seen and this head -- which Krishna called as a sole witness to the entire event -- asking them where they were. When they looked at Krishna, he had mischievous smile and shrugged his shoulders again, much to the irritation of the two brothers.
Knowing that Krishna would not answer them, they turned to Barbareek.
'If you didn't see us, what did you see then?' Bheem growled angrily.
'I saw Krishna severe heads of people with his Sudarshan Chakra,' Barbareek replied, 'and Kali drinking their blood.'
That was when the meaning dawned upon the two brothers. Here they were taking themselves to be the cause of something, of which they were actually insignificant parts. They understood the deep esoteric meaning in Barbareek's words and realise their folly in their excessively vain behaviour.
Little, five year old Sahadev had no idea why his father, Pandu said, ‘The only way to know the world for you is to consume my brain.’ Sitting on his lap, Sahadev gaped at him. He thought it to be a joke, but when he saw the earnestness on his father’s face, he wondered.
Sahadev forgot about it till that fateful day when he stood trans xed, looking at his father’s corpse. His mother too had died, but the young Sahadev seemed consumed by a thought. No one noticed him, for everyone was lost in their own grief, till what Sahadev did next.
From among the burning bodies, the only thing that struck him was his father’s head, almost as if enticing the young lad. Sahadev saw pieces of the brain splatter out from re. He also saw some of those pieces being carried away by the ants.
His father’s words rung in his ears, as Sahadev lunged. Before anyone could react, he picked up a small piece of his father’s brain from the ground. He then ran fast towards the forest.
The entire family was already in shock, but to see the youngest member of the family behave in such unseemly manner, left them speechless. Before they could even come to terms with what transpired, Sahadev had disappeared among the trees.
As Sahadev stopped to catch his breath, he looked around to make sure of no human presence. He looked up at the sky from among the tree tops and could see dark clouds hanging extremely low. He wondered if they were trying to scare him.
The clouds then moved with such swift movements that the young mind thought that it would lift him off his feet in one menacing sweep. But, the scared boy was also determined, egged on by the words that haunted him. The father wasn’t around, but the words lingered, shrouding the little brain so much that he didn’t see the old sage who had chased him.
Sahadev saw the sage only when he nibbled at the brain. The small bite made a jamboree of images from the past move before his eyes in an instant. His eyes glowed. Before the sage could move further towards him, Sahadev sunk his teeth again in the piece of brain.
Something flashed before his eyes. This time he saw the present world appear before him; a celebratory dance of activities at various places around the world. The sage was just a couple of steps away when Sahadev took the third bite.
He saw millions of things flash simultaneously. It now dawned upon him that what he was witnessing was the future.
That’s when Sahadev saw the real face of the sage who had chased him. It was a young man with the most mystical of smiles.
Even though Sahadev had never met him, he had heard stories about him from the elder of his two mothers, Kunti; heard wonderful tales of love, compassion and valour.
Sahadev felt a strange light permeating beneath the ragged garb of the sage. The small nibbles had fulfilled their promise. He knew it was Krishna!
Strangely, Sahadev had no question left, some of which had nagged his little mind only a few moments back. Where did Krishna appear from all of a sudden? How could he come all the way from Mathura? And, if he could appear in a flash, he could have stopped him from eating the brain, couldn’t he?
But the little one was no longer a child he was a few moments back. Now, he knew.
‘Trikaal gyaani,’ was how Krishna addressed Sahadev, before instructing him not to tell anyone about the depth of his knowledge.
‘What if they ask?’ Sahadev’s innocent mind queried.
‘Tell them only what they ask,’ was the last statement Krishna made before he disappeared. ‘Never reveal to them that you know everything.’
Chuang Tse was a great Zen master. He had solutions to the problems that faced not just his disciples, but common folks too, who came calling upon him for solutions. But one day his disciples were astonished to see the great master furrowing his eyebrows. That was odd since they had never seen Chuang Tse in such a state.
'Is the master worried about something?' they wondered, but none could muster courage to ask.
'Could he be meditating?' they thought. 'If so, it would be unseemly to disturb him.'
'But we've seen him meditate,' one of the young disciples objected. 'He looks serene. His face exudes calmness. There's something amiss and we must find out.'
With no one willing to ask the master, the young disciple spoke in a weak tone and asked, 'Master, is there something that worries you?'
'I was just wondering...' Chuang Tse said and looked up in the sky.
'Wondering about what?' the young disciple was perplexed as were the other disciples.
Here was the master who had reached the pinnacle of spiritual learning and to whom the world turned to for guidance and he says he is wondering.
'I saw a dream last night,' Chuang Tse began. 'In the dream I saw myself turn into a butterfly...'
Chuang Tse paused longer than he did while talking. The suspense was getting to the disciples.
'So?' one of the disciples couldn't wait.
'So, I am wondering if I am Chuang Tse and became a butterfly in my dream or am I the butterfly and being Chuang Tse is part of its dream?'
A curious incident in the life of Sakyamuni Buddha wonderfully sums up his teaching.
One day, while he was sitting along with Anand in the grove, Buddha waved his hand in the air as if he was waving a fly away.
Anand found it odd, but kept quiet. But Buddha repeated the action, Anand couldn't keep quiet.
'What are you doing, master?' Anand wondered.
'I am waving the fly away,' Buddha replied.
'But there's no fly,' Anand was shocked at the reply. 'I saw a fly near your face a few moments ago, but it's gone now. You're waving blankly in the air.'
'You're right, Anand,' Buddha replied. 'When the fly was hovering near my face, I waved it away, but did it mechanically without a conscious effort... without awareness... more like a reflex action. This goes against what I've been teaching you all. Perform all actions consciously... with awareness. Since even I momentarily succumbed to my old conditioned state, I need to make sure that I practice and do each action consciously.'