Accounting Karma (A Story For Children)

Watch out…you may be hit with it even if you had nothing to do with the act if you’re not careful. .

An old story brought back in WhatsApp:

Sagarworld com

It was a Friday. As customary, the King was out on the palace grounds under a shamiana performing anna dhaanam, distributing with his own hands food to the poor and the needy.

Presently at the head of the food line was an old man bent with age, hunger writ on his face.

Just then an eagle flew overhead holding its meal by its claws – a serpent. In a desperate struggle to free itself from a certain death the serpent spit out its poison. No one noticed a drop of it falling down through a netted air-vent in the shamiana’s canopy into the large anda of rice porridge being served out.

The old man received a generous helping of the porridge with a kind word spoken by the King.

No sooner he stepped out, overcome by hunger, he partook some of the porridge, his unsteady hands spilling much of it on the ground. Even before the little went down from the mouth to his stomach, the old man was stricken with convulsions and he dropped dead right there for all to see.

Elsewhere in the Heavens…

The venerable Chitragupta, the eternal book-keeper was vexed. The eagle was simply returning home after the hunt, holding the prey with its claws, to feed its young.  It had not anything violating its dharma. The serpent was only trying all it could to escape a certain death. The king had no knowledge of what had happened as he went about doing his good deed. Under the circumstances, to whom should he debit the karma of causing the death of the hapless old man?

Unable to resolve it satisfactorily, Chitragupta took the matter to his master, Lord Yama, the god of all dharma and death. Yama heard him out and advised him to wait for some more time; surely, he would get his answers.

In the afternoon a small group of Brahmins, returning from a pilgrimage to Kashi, came into the city.  Informed of the King’s anna dhanam, they reached the shamiana, only to find it completely deserted with no living soul anywhere in sight. Unaware of the morning’s happening, they suspected, given the prosperity evident all around, perhaps the King ran out of people to give and hence had gone back to his quarters.  While speculating on their next move, one of them suggested they should still try to meet the King in person. He would not send them back hungry. Also they could present him with a few of the gangai-chombu’s (small copper vessels filled with water from the Ganges and sealed at the mouth) they carried with themselves for people back home who were not fortunate to make the trip. The King was sure to like receiving them, a rarity in his land.

They located a fruit vendor at a distance and asked her directions for the King’s quarters. She obliged them pointing out the way. They thanked her and set themselves about when she called one of them and said in hushed voice:

’You all appear to be innocent out-of-town folks. Sad it would be to see you landing in trouble. And, don’t ever tell anyone I cautioned you. If you must and when you do meet him – I’ve no idea why you wanted to – don’t ever touch the food the King may offer you. Think of some ruse to say no. If he doesn’t like someone’s face, without a twinge of conscience he would poison his food. And who is to say he would like your faces? Just this morning I saw with my own eyes…’

At that instant Chitragupta in the Heavens was greatly relieved. Just as his master had said, now he knew whom to debit…

 

End     

 

Source: Image from sagarworld.com

 

 

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The Day God Lost It

On my way to the temple in the mornings, like on other days, I gave some money to the woman first and later to the man, both mentally disturbed, elderly, sitting at their usual places on the pavements. This small act eases my conscience to a little extent, though the feeling of helplessness and guilt never goes away for not doing more and not drawing the attention of any charitable agency equipped to them sustained assistance.

As I walked back, the thought of the two home-less came to my mind leading to this conversation of mine, not the first, with God:

‘Hey, Almighty, why do you let these people suffer like this? They are your wards and you’re abandoning them showing no mercy?’

‘Why’re you raising it? Because you’re feeling clean and good after your little errand of mercy just a while ago? If it is so, how should I be feeling blessing you and others with so much more’?

‘But there are many from whom you have snatched away everything.  It’s about them we’re talking, while being thankful for what you’ve given us.’

‘My dear, it’s all about one’s Karma’s and I don’t stand in the way of Karma taking effect.’

‘While it’s all just to extract payback for the bad deed one did in the past, don’t you feel sorry when it actually plays out?  How can you be so heartless?  We praise you, worship you as the merciful One, don’t you ever forgive them?’

At this point, busily engaged in the conversation, I walked smack into a young chap standing in my way, sipping a glass of tea in front of the wayside tea-stall. The glass fell from his hands and broke, spilling hot tea on the ground.  Luckily no one was hurt.

I apologized profusely and offered to make good his loss. He politely declined. As I bent down to help him clean up, he kept me out. I had no option but to move on.

We resumed our conversation.

‘See, he was karma-ordained not to have that cup of tea this morning.  What specific karmic debt he discharged in this case, I’m not at liberty to disclose or discuss.  It’s quite complex accounting.’

‘But, dear God, You know You lost it this time?’

‘How do you mean?’

‘Well, where You didn’t, he did – the young chap forgave me!!…And, don’t You debit it to me as a bad karma in Your book of accounts!’

An inscrutable smile appeared on His face and He was gone.

OMG, have I offended Him seriously by showing Him to be the loser? What’ll happen now?

Vexed as I was, I got my answer minutes later when a scooter dangerously cut across the traffic and raced past from behind, very narrowly missing me, braking to a halt only a few feet ahead of me. I pointed to the offender how close we were to a bad accident and moved on as he mumbled his apologies.  I took it to mean I was forgiven for my recent judgement against Him!

End    

Life: Thy Name Is Irony

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Source: from internet

What’s Your Religion?

It was clear something bothered the man.

The Guru called him to his side and asked:

‘You want to tell me something?’

‘Yes…I have to confess, I’m not religious.’

‘That’s not unusual.’

‘So much disease, deprivation, hate, chicanery, crime, and wars… killing innocents all around.

‘True.’

‘Not sure if anyone is in charge here. This cannot be god’s – if there’s one – creation. I don’t believe in god, worship or prayer.’

‘You’ve a point.’

‘I don’t believe in karma and rebirth…and, in swarga (heaven), narak (hell) or moksha (eternal salvation). Life is here and now. Who has seen after-life?’

‘So much you don’t believe in. You believe in anything…anything at all?’

‘Not sure if I do. With so much suffering, inequities…’

‘Alright – is there anything you want to believe in?’

‘Well, if you put it that way…in goodness of man, perhaps, whatever is left.’

‘That’s here, not other-worldly and a good enough religion to go after, my friend.’

End

From My Diary – An Extract

June 1st
The film disturbed me…the plight of the single women left in the lurch by the shameless men. Amazing NGO guys working for them…and what do they get in return…

June 10th
The pravachan (talk/sermon) by the Swamiji (holy man) – it made so much sense. Shouldn’t we all give back something?

June 21st
The Swamiji said it again. Have been thinking about it. Will set aside a thousand rupees a month for giving away. I think I can afford it.

July 2nd
The HelpAge brochure…just the thing I had in mind. Helping destitute women. Must write a check.

July 5th
The check yet to be sent out. Damn all this work. Sucks up the time and the energy to do anything else. Keep forgetting.

July 18th
Saw the site. Seems to be a big setup. My contribution – a burp in a hurricane. The phrase – I coined it, Hadley Chase’s was less sanitary. Look at smaller setup’s desperately needing support. These guys won’t miss it.

August 28th
Sanskrit and Veda’s institute struggling for survival… S what if I haven’t learnt. Must do our bit for preserving tradition. It’s only two thousand rupees. Nice and smart of them to ask small.

September 7th
Yes, the institute. Had a thought – what if they’re already beyond the tipping point? Would be a waste, no? Must look at something else.

October 5th
Home for Cancer patients…poor folks. Need a place to stay in the city for treatment. Cities…so expensive. Six thousand rupees to cover one or two patients. A great thing. Will also protect us – it’ll be such an irony. Lord would not let that happen.

October 16th
Just checked on the Home’s brochure. No Income-Tax registration. No known names. These days…so many scams. Who knows if it’s genuine?

December 10th
Today, a procession by film-stars collecting for flood victims in the south. How will my contribution make a difference? These stars…if they give what they charge for just one film that should handle half a dozen floods. And what is the government doing with all these taxes? Passing on the buck to us? What passing the buck? They’re collecting the buck. There’s a word for such wrongly applied phrases – can’t recall. Some mal…

March 10th
So boring. Had to be done. Readied Income-Tax returns. Just found haven’t made any donations to claim deductions. Must do it in the next financial year.

March 28th
This is easy. Swamiji talked about small acts of kindness – like feeding the pigeons. I think, I’ll begin with that. Men will take care of men. Who will worry about these poor creatures? Need to check on this avian flu, though.

No later entries found on the subject.
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Credits: openclipart.com (Johnny_automatic)

The Guru Speaks

The morning paper carried a human interest story with a snapshot of the scene of the incident:

“…He sat in front of the temple all day and night. He never hassled anyone for alms. The mere sight of him tugged at the heart strings of the devotees and loosened up their purse strings. He had collected a pile of rags, empty bottles and a couple of aluminum plates to receive food. Whenever the temple trustees objected, he would move to a distance and was back in a few days.

One morning he did not get up from the pavement that was his bed. He had died in sleep.

The municipal authorities were called in to remove the body for whatever investigation and finally cremation.

When they cleared the rags, empty bottles and other worldly possessions, they also found a bundle.

It surprised everyone to find the bundle had a large amount of currency notes, folded and tucked haphazardly. The beggar’s wealth was inventoried on the spot and rechecked by a member of the public. It totaled up to a little over sixty two thousand rupees…”


The Sishya (disciple) read it aloud and commiserated: ‘How assiduously he must have collected the money, poor man. He had it all the time, but, miserable chap, he was not destined to enjoy while he was alive.’

The Guru smiled: ‘Well, I would think, he enjoyed doing what he was best at – begging. The money was not the act for him. He didn’t die a miserable man.’

End

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Source: Unfortunately I’m unable to presently recall the source for this piece. Credit for the image: openclipart (Gerard_G)

And they were 38

It was a rule the counter closed thirty minutes before the departure. The man was all sweat as he rushed, his wife, a portly lady straining for breath and her sari in disarray behind him. The hassled girl fixed him in a stare and after a moment’s indecision decided to take them in as the last passengers on the flight. Now this was it and no more. It was their lucky day, he thought to himself.

The airhostess standing at the head of the isle behind the pilot’s cabin launched herself into the routine of demo’ing safety procedures. Exhausted some had already slipped into a sound nap while she gamely went about her chore and there were others sharing their jokes when she was on the part about emergency landing on water.

In a couple of minutes the aircraft climbed to its cruising altitude and the seat-belt signs were switched off. It was a cue for a few to stand up and stretch their limbs. Shortly after the hostess was all business sporting a plastic smile and handing out tea, coffee and light refreshment. That done the passengers, 35 of them, caged in the aluminum shell for the next fifty minutes, quietly settled down to reading books and magazines, listening to the in-flight audio channels or to resume their interrupted nap. A few busied themselves on their laptops and tablets. The mothers pulled out toys and gaming kits to engage the restless children.

All was well until thirty third minute when the plane smashed through a large bank of thick clouds. The turbulence brought prayers to the lips of the believing. The seasoned travelers were nonchalant.

About twenty seconds later

The channels were quick to push aside economic crises, epidemic breakout and ethnic violence to announce with profound grief the loss of thirty eight lives – that included a promising TV actor, a group of business men returning from an offsite event, a few other professionals, senior citizens and families with children and a honey-mooning couple. The flight from the island resort had crashed into the sea. There were the usual stories of how some narrowly escaped the grim fate quite fortuitously and others despite hurdles kept to their appointment. The search was mounted for rescuing survivors, the prospects appearing dim. There were clips of wailing relatives, some quietly in tears. One of them pitifully cried to the camera: ‘If there was a God, and a benevolent one, how could He mercilessly and indiscriminately cut out so many lives in a single swathe?’

On the same day late evening one of the channels trailing in ratings put out a hastily pieced-together program on places of interest on the island. A partial transcript of what was said:

“…Weeds, reptiles and rodents had taken over the old mansion and its lands. No one dared to go anywhere near. Whoever went in to lay hands on the rumored treasures from the mansion’s cavernous rooms was said to turn up dead foaming at the mouth. Screams could be heard in the nightsThere were no records of any descendants; no one so far had come up to claim ownership of the propertyWhatever could be gleaned about the last occupants of the mansion was by talking to a puttering oldie – she had heard it from her grandma: The Pannaiyar (the big landlord) owned much of the lands in and around the village. He and his hands had mercilessly lynched a young lad accused of outraging the modesty of a woman from the mansion. That the boy was mentally a little unstable did not count. His parents, restrained, watched helplessly as life seeped out of the dying lad. They cursed the entire assembly of perpetrators to doom then and forever. That was the beginning of the end for the Pannaiyar, his family and others and the mansion…”

An innocuous factoid strangely preserved in the oldie’s account was regarded as an insignificant detail and edited out by the channel: they were thirty eight in the assembly.

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Credits to openclipart.com (laobc) for the image.