An Old Story And New Insights

A story most from my generation must have heard as children sitting on the lap of their grandma (don’t know what is said to them these days). It goes generally like this:

In a village an old woman sitting under a tree prepared vada’s for sale.

A crow sitting on the tree waited for an opportunity.

When the woman was looking away, the crow swooped down and flew up and away, picking up a delicious vada in its beaks, all in a flash.

As it sat on a branch of a nearby tree, ready to savour its booty, a fox came along. .

Espying the crow atop with the vada in its beaks,the scheming fox spoke:

‘Oh my friend there, news got to me you’re blessed with a very sweet voice that has the koels go away in shame! I have come from a long distance only to hear your voice. Could you kindly sing a song for me? Won’t you? Please don’t disappoint me. ’

The crow was thrilled to hear these words. Not to disappoint its appreciative audience, the crow obliged.

As it opened its mouth going ‘kaa kaa’, the inevitable happened.

The fox grabbed the fallen vada with alacrity and quietly slipped away leaving the crow in a daze.

Usually the grandma, a simple soul, finished the story and made her demand like the child should now go to sleep or eat its food without further fuss…The moral of the story was not explicitly stated. And we simply understood it as: the crow was foolish and the fox wily.

Grandma’s, in the generations that followed, grew more articulate. They would point out how it was unwise of crow to foolishly embark on what it was not capable of, falling a victim to flattery.

Some crow lovers, not happy with the story, added a second round where the crow, learning from its experience, would hold the vadaunder its claws and belt it out raucously to the fox’s dismay.

A few die-hard purists steered the story back to its original course: In a third round, the fox would request the crow holding the vada in its claws to perform a dance. Yes, it meant the foolish crow…

In some versions, the smart crow, till the end, holds fast to the vada while obliging the fox with song and dance.

In all these versions the story is one of getting into deep waters and followed optionally by learning from one’s experience and getting out unscathed.

The one moral of the story, right before us in plain sight, yet strangely missed by most, was pointed out by Dr Sudha Seshayyan in one of her programs I watched today:

Ill-gotten gains are never enjoyed.

At one stroke this invalidates the versions that let the crow get away with the vada.  All said and done the crow was a thief stealing it from the old woman. Unintended consequences of tampering an old tale?

End

Source: image from YouTube

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Work Smarter, Not Harder

Watch this short clip here, don’t miss.

Vide Gopalswamy

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Jottings From The US: If You’re Jaded For Fun and Surprise, Try This…

…You wont be disappointed! Of course you’ll need…

For us, talking to/engaging this eight year old was an endless source of fun and surprise.

It was family time for watching TV, after dinner and all school work duly completed for the following day. Usually it’s a movie or a serial picked in deference to our – visiting them – likes.  And sometimes it’s what the children wanted.

Today it was an English serial with a smattering of violence and romance.

It also let me witness the play of an unusual but purposeful parental ‘rule’:

‘Close your eyes,’ the dad said when one of those scenes came up.

This was easier done and less stressful for the adults, I thought, than remaining alert all the time and fast-forwarding past whenever it popped up.

Ne (the 8 yo) this time did something more. She got up from her seat with alacrity. Keeping her back to the TV, she quickly marched up to where I was seated, climbed up next to me and, considering me as equally ‘vulnerable’, shielded me by closing my eyes with her small hands!

**

On another occasion her dad was talking to her on evils of procrastination and advising her against it. He summed up finally: ‘You know, Ne, time and tide waits for no man.’

She looked contemplative, nodding her head in agreement. However there was a solitary crease on her small forehead as she inquired tentatively: ‘Dad, but this time and tide…may not be such a difficult thing for us, girls?’

**

End

 

The Story Of The Brahma-Raakshas And The Mango Trees (For Children)

May require reading it to them.

Part 1

They were resting after a simple meal of dal (lentils) and roti (flat bread), on the rope-cots laid out in the open front-yard of the temple. The temple usually served as the night shelter for wayfarers who happened to pass by. A light breeze provided relief from the stickiness in the air. The sun had gone down a couple of hours ago. While the birds had returned home, the insects came out buzzing aloud. The street, poorly lit by lampposts, one here and one there, was deserted save for an occasional villager returning home from some field work.

The old priest, a kind and hospitable host, was making polite inquiries to the visitor by his side, a young man in early twenties, where was he coming from, where was he going, etc. It turned out he was hailing from a place not very far off proceeding to meet his cousin residing in the town.  Just then, interrupting their conversation, some soft and melodious music, played on a bansuri (flute) floated in from a distance. Had he heard the tunes before? Didn’t seem so.

BansuriNewIndianExpress

‘The villagers seem to take care of you well – there’s even music to lull you to sleep at night!’ the visitor said in jest.

‘Oh, that’ll be Keshav, the milkman…he’s good at it…happens every night…one day it is bansuri, sometimes it’s ektara…’

‘So you don’t get bored…’

‘It’s not what you think.’

‘Well, what is it then? Someone running classes for aspiring artists at this hour?’ He said it so light-heartedly it didn’t offend the priest.

‘It’s a long story.’

‘The evening is young yet. Am all ears. Unless, of course, you’re tired…’

Thus, thanks to the visitor, came to light a strange story that would have been otherwise lost to posterity.

Here’s the long and short of the priest’s account.

Part 2

The story started decades ago, when the priest’s father, also a priest, was serving at this temple.

One day — unfortunately, it was also the day he had to go out, leaving the temple in the hands of a stand-in – a yogi passing by arrived at the temple in the same manner the visitor had. The stand-in did not know enough to receive the yogi with due respect and provide him for a comfortable night stay.  The yogi, short on temper like Sage Dhurvasa, felt slighted.  Before departing, next day morning, the yogi cursed the village as a whole: he summoned a brahma-raakshas (a super-demon) and instructed him to live among the mango orchards, never to move out or unnecessarily hurt any human.

The curse was harsh on the village; for the village was known for its delicious mangoes, available in the summer, much sought after by the royalty of the land and the rich, the leftovers picked up by the traders for the commoners’ market.

Right from day one, the raakshas made his presence felt. He would make hideous sounds all day and night sending a chill up the spine for anyone in the vicinity.  There were also short interludes of delightful music sounding like coming out of some wind-instrument that could calm the nerves of an incurable insomniac – but these were few and far between. The orchards were left alone by the villagers for the fear of their lives. When one or two picked up enough courage to venture in, they were chased away by the raakshas with a dire threat to kill them if they ever returned. Come summer, he grew quieter – but only after consuming the all the ripe fruits as if he was making up for all the months he had gone without, essentially destroying the livelihood of the poor villagers.

Gloom descended on the village. Poverty sneaking into every house threatening to take up permanent residence. Many tantriks were brought in to evict the raakshas from their midst to no avail.

Finally the priest thought of a way. He located the whereabouts of the yogi through his network of priests. He went up to him in person and explained with due apologies why he was not welcomed and cared for properly when he had visited the village. And also the subsequent havoc that the raakshas was causing all around. The yogi was mollified; but he expressed his inability to recall the raakshas since he had stayed within his limits as instructed by the yogi himself; he could only be punished if he had transgressed in any manner. By way of a partial redressal, however, the yogi imparted a mantra to the priest. Without realizing the implications in full, the yogi also extracted a promise from the priest he would not share the mantra with anyone else. If he did, it would cease to be effective.

rakshas_by_interrage

On his return, the priest used the mantra month after month – it had to be recited on every ammavasya (new-moon day) morning before sunrise to forcibly bind the raakshas to a small cluster of trees until the next ammavasya. From time to time the raakshas roared out his resentment in no uncertain terms setting off palpitations in the hearts of the villagers; but there was little else he could do. The villagers gradually gained confidence knowing the raakshas would not cross his limits and went back to tending their orchards and plucking the fruits in summer, leaving the cluster well alone. And, much to everybody’s relief, life quickly returned to normal as before.

Happy times don’t last forever as they – pessimists – say. One day disaster struck.

It was the day before an ammavasya when the priest suddenly passed away.

Amidst the grief over the priest’s sudden death, even before the embers turned cold on the funeral pyre, a sense of nervousness gripped the villagers on how would the raakshas be kept in check now. For a while, it seemed there might not be any real cause to worry; for, there was the priest’s son, a young man barely out of his teens, but properly groomed by the father to take over. Their nervousness turned into pure panic when they learned the son was not initiated into the mantra by his father so as to comply with the solemn promise given to the yogi.

The vision loomed large of those terrible days when the raakshas was in full fury.  What would they do now? No one in the village slept even a wink that night.

Part 3

It was morning of ammavasya – the day to renew and recharge the bondage of the raakshas. With the earlier spell almost spent, the raakshas was kicking up fury threatening to break free, a show he put on every month without a let-up knowing well the monthly check on him would inevitably be reinstated by the priest.

Only this time the priest was not around to put him back on leash.

The son anointed as the new priest offered the morning pooja at the temple and turned up at the spot before sunrise. He called out – he know how from his father – to the brahma-raakshas:

‘Look, my friend…’

The raakshas derisively laughed: ‘Friend?? What friend? Where’s your father, one who has imprisoned me here?’

‘A friend or a foe, you’ll know when I’ve finished. Not sure if you’re aware – my father passed away yesterday, that’s why I’m here today.’

‘Sorry to hear.’ Somehow he didn’t sound he was mocking.

‘I know you too have a heart…and live by scruples. Like you haven’t harmed any of us from the day you came here though on occasions it was pretty close. And I know, for a brahma-raakshas, it’s not easy being confined to a small space.’

‘Thanks, but no thanks for your commiseration.’

‘I’ve a deal for you…’

‘Deal? What deal? Why, you now wish me to spend all my days sitting on a single branch of a tree?’ This time he was certainly mocking.

‘No, on the other hand, I would love to give you back access to the whole of the orchards like before for you to move around. No mantra, no bond.’

The raakshas had not known the mantra was not passed on to the son by his father. Hence the young priest was in no position to restrain the raakshas in any manner.

‘So what is it? I’m keen to hear what you’ve come up with.’

‘It’s like this: As I said before, you’ll have an unfettered access to whole of the orchards. In return you promise you’ll let the villagers freely tend to the trees without fear. Also you’ll not henceforth pluck the fruits…’

‘Ah, Ah, so I starve all through the summer just like at other times of the year, watching those luscious mangoes swaying in the breeze right in front of me, yet forbidden to touch…am I allowed, Sir, to take in the aroma that wafts in…’

‘Every evening, food would be brought straight off the kitchen of one of the houses in the village for you. All through the year, every day you’ll enjoy a varied meal instead of just mangoes and mangoes and mangoes…that too only in summer. Aren’t you fed up? Though, I know you’ve grown fond of those fruits. Think about it.’

‘Mmm…,’ the gears meshed and the wheels turned for a little while. And, then: ‘Sounds good, I’ll take it. Just make sure, during the season, to include a few mangoes in the meal.’

The young priest, heaving a sigh of relief, continued:

‘I’ve a further suggestion for you.’

‘What is it now?’

‘I suspect you must have been a sangeet vidwan (musician) of no mean merit in your earlier birth. For, I’ve heard the occasional music, so melodious, interspersing the awful racket – a veritable assault on the senses –  you usually produce.’

Tickled at the praise, the raakshas was willing to ignore the rebuke: ‘Go on.’

‘Perhaps you did not share your knowledge with your sishya’s (disciples) causing you to turn into a brahma-raakshas upon your death. Under this new mutually agreed arrangement, we needn’t be so adversarial from hereon; hence, why not you give up producing those hideous sounds – there’s no need to scare away anyone now, you know – and instead, sing to the trees the melodies you could? Will do them good, I’m sure. Might make the fruits even more delicious; after all, happy means produce happy outcomes. It’ll also do you enormous good – won’t be a wasted effort, I assure you.’

The raakshas thought for a moment. Won’t hurt him to do it…he agreed. How was he to know then this simple decision would prove to be life-changing for him in the time to come!

Thenceforth there was peace, prosperity and happiness in the village with the folks going about their business fearlessly, and the raakshas, generally relaxing, moving about as he wished within the orchards, singing as he pleased for the trees and enjoying the evening meal brought for him every evening without fail.

Years rolled by. The fruits indeed grew more delicious than ever before garnering rave praises from all over.

And one morning…

Someone saw strangely the food brought in the night before was left untouched. What happened? Was he ill? During the day, the music also had ceased, replaced by an eerie silence.

The priest was brought in to investigate.

‘Our friend seems to have attained eternal salvation…earlier than he was destined, perhaps due to his good deeds of service to the trees and hence to all of us,’ declared the priest.

The whole village was grief-stricken like they lost someone in the family.  Even the trees in the orchards appeared crest-fallen.

It did take a few months for the village folks to regain their equanimity and go about their lives as usual.

The following summer, however, brought some bad news: The fruits didn’t taste their best. It was like the trees had lost their verve.

It was then the practice was started at the priest’s suggestion of playing music – a song or two – every evening for the trees too to recover from their loss; life wasn’t the same for them without the daily treat of raakshas’s music, he suspected.

The next summer’s bountiful produce of mangoes confirmed the priest’s surmise.

Part 4

The priest concluded his story: ‘The practice continues till date. And that’s the music you heard.’

For a minute no one spoke.

Then the old priest went in and brought a plateful of sliced mangoes as a dessert.

The visitor took a few slices and went ecstatic in his praise.

The priest gave credit where, he thought, it was due: ‘All thanks to our late friend, the brahma-raakshas.’

Finishing the last piece, ‘You were pretty smart to push the deal through when you actually held no aces in your hand. A fair deal it was, I would think, paying off both sides: stopping him from depriving the villagers of their fruits while freeing him up and feeding him on the other hand,’ said the visitor.

‘You could say that,’ smiled the priest.

‘You were very clever too. You also got the raakshas to sing and got rid of him in the only way you could ever – an impossible task otherwise. It wasn’t through any unfair trickery either, I would say – for, it provided him with much needed salvation from an unenviable existence. When his bad karma was completely offset by the good he had accumulated by singing to the trees, even the yogi, his master, could not have stood in the way of his salvation.   And at the same time, the fruits got even better for the village!  Again, pay-off for both sides. And, what a pay-off for a mere act of singing!

All in all  brilliant moves on your part: ‘contain the damage first, eliminate the cause second’ with everyone a winner and a loser none!!’

Acknowledging with a hint of a smile, the priest added: ‘In fact these unusual melodies are entirely his – we play it with as much fidelity as possible.’

By now the visitor’s regard for the priest had gone up by several notches.

With the conversation thinning out, it wasn’t long before the old priest, exhausted at the end of the day, fell asleep, totally lost to the living world. The visitor however slept fitfully that night, turning on sides frequently, his dreams filled with angry yogi’s, their curses and a mishmash of freely-mingling disembodied spirits. Though spirits never put fear in him; for he was fed on countless incredible stories by his grandmother on spirits and their antics – some of them she had claimed to be her own real-life experiences.

Following morning, he got up early, readied himself and took leave of the priest thanking him gratefully for his hospitality.

An hour into the journey, for no reason, his mind wandered back to the music he had heard the night before.  Might be that there was always music in his family? Thinking about it, the notes did sound familiar – at least in some parts. Yes, it was kind of like what his grandfather played on the harmonium for his students years ago in the main hall of the ancestral house. It could as well be his mind was playing tricks after hearing the priest’s story. Dismissing the thoughts, he moved on.

End

 

 

 

 

Source: Image of Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia from newindianexpress.com, and deviantart.com/interrage

 

How Fate Changed Its Course! (A Children’s Story)

The old man was a jyotish (astrologer), known to be infallible in his predictions. It was like he sneaked a peek at Brahma’s (creator’s) notes when he said what he said. People came from far and near with their horoscopes to consult him.

One day a poor daily-wage earning man came up to him: “Sir, I’m gasping for breath in the firm grip of dire poverty, deeply mired in loans taken from all possible sources. Further, there’re two daughters to be married off. Haven’t a clue how I’m going to see through it all. Could you kindly take a look at my horoscope, Sir, and suggest if there’s a way out for me?”

jyotish-research.com janam-kundali

The jyotish took the horoscope and gave it a quick look. Rolling his cowries, he became pensive.  Breaking the silence, he said: “My dear fellow, I’ve some important tasks to complete. Your horoscope needs a more closer look. Leave it with me for today and come back at this time tomorrow – I’ll have my reading ready for you.”

Agreeing to the suggestion, the man inquired if he had to pay now any fees in advance. The jyotish said it wasn’t necessary, he would collect upon completing the job.

On the man taking leave, the jyotish’s daughter came up to him: “Appa, why did you fob him off, the poor man?  Only a little while ago, you said you’ve finished the backlog and you’re free to receive new clients for the day.”

The jyotish explained his action: “Dear girl, you’re an astute observer. Actually the horoscope was very clear saying his life would end tonight itself. And there may be no time or means to perform prescribed pariharam (remedial measures). I didn’t have the heart to tell him.”

In the meanwhile the poor man was headed back home picking his way through the paddy fields. On the way, suddenly, dark clouds gathered overhead. Very soon, rain broke out accompanied by thunder and lightning. Hastening his strides to find some shelter, the man came upon an abandoned mandap (a pillared structure). In a corner away from the shower he set his bag down – a long piece of cloth with its edges bunched and tied together to form a kind of pouch, usually slung over the shoulder – containing grains of rice for his wife to cook; and himself rested on a dry slab of stone forming the floor of the mandap at its center.

In an hour, the rain let up somewhat and he was ready to go. When he lifted his bag, it came off light in his hand and…almost empty! It was then he noticed on the floor a huge swarm of ants, countless, had raided his pouch and made away with the grains. There was little he could do. With a wan smile, he poured out whatever was left also for the ants and stepped out. The dinner tonight would be without staple rice.

On the following day, he went at appointed time to meet the jyotish.

Seeing him the jyotish was dumbstruck. His predictions never failed. Did he make a mistake? He took out the horoscope and examined again it diligently. He had not erred in his reading. Then how?? This man of meagre means could have hardly performed in short time the parihaaram needed to counter what the fate had ordained.

What had happened…after their meeting the day before? The jyotish asked him. There wasn’t much eventful that had happened previous evening to account for. The jyotish however persisted until he got it all from the man.

He went back and checked his palm leaves – inscribed on them was the jyotisha shastra (science of astrology). As he read the relevant parts, it took awhile for the full import to sink in…so that was it!!

While it was comforting to know he wasn’t wrong after all, at the same time he was awash with shame over his lapse; for, it was clear to him now he had not advised his client appropriately.  The man had performed the pariharam quite inadvertently, no thanks to the jyotish. The shastra had set out the pariharam in this instance as: he should feed a hundred hungry mouths before the day’s sunset to hold off the certain death fated for him. The swarm of ants feasting on the rice grains had ensured it was done…in excess too. There was no stipulation in the shastra the mouths must be human! Something the jyotish had unfortunately overlooked and considered the pariharam to be undoable given the man’s finances and the time available to comply.

It was a second life for the man, the jyotish explained. In the time to come a big upswing in his fortunes was predicted for him; the jyotish also impressed upon him the need to be always charitable and kind to all in his life.

The jyotish did not collect any fees this time, atoning for his lapse.

 

End

 

More stories here on winning over Fate:

How Fate Was Overcome…

How Fate Was Outwitted… (a 5-part story)

 

 

 

 

Source: Adapted from Palani Mohan’s post in FB and jyotish-research.com

A Child’s Play…

with colors:

Drawings by kids are always interesting for the splash of colors, the juxtaposed objects, their shapes…Here  are some, selected from a large collection:

Phoenix (by Sh, 11 yrs)

IMG_6622

A ‘The Sun And The Moon’ theme (by Ne, 8 yrs)

IMG_6610

A Deer In The Forest (by An, 8 yrs)

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Love Birds (by Ne) 

When asked, the ugly on the left is the boy and the pretty on the right is the girl, the artist clarified!

IMG_6600 (1)

Love Birds (by Sh)

IMG_6603

A Lion and Its Cub (by Ni)

IMG_6601 (1)

The cub is demanding attention and the father won’t be bothered, explained Ni.

A Stingray And A Coral (by Sh)

IMG_6606

A Stingray And Corals (by Ni)

IMG_6602 (1)

 

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Words Of Wisdom

Driver

Driver

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Source: Image from auto.bigmir.net