Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The Brahmin and the Butcher

"Life is like this " reminds me of Suresh Chandrasekran (, who for quite some time I could  relate  only with  good humor until he wrote his first guest  post for me which gave me an insight of a philosophical brain that he is. Suresh Chandrasekrans astounding ability to write from anything and about everything not only amazes me but also has made me an ardent fan of him It has always been a pleasure to have him as a guest on my blog and I must thank him for sharing this beautiful,long forgotten story from Vyada Geeta  with all of us.  
The story , in Swami Vivekananda words –  represents the “highest flights of the Vedanta” – and the lessons in this story are some of the most brilliant and profound. It is very unfortunate that existence of such a beautiful story has never been a topic of most lectures and discussions in popular Hinduism. And Thank you Suresh for sharing this wonderful story 

#vyadageeta #guestpost #sureshchandrasekran #geeta #swamivivekananda 

"No duty is ugly, no duty is impure it is only the way in which the work is done, that determines its worth. "

A Brahmin was engaged in austerities in the forest. He was disturbed by the falling of a crane’s droppings on him. Enraged, he glared up at the crane and, by the power of his austerities, the crane dropped dead.
Proud though he was in the powers that his austerities had given him, he was saddened by the fact that his inability to control his anger had caused the death of the crane. He was musing about his shortcomings as he entered the nearby town, to beg for alms as befitted a renunciate, who had given up possessing worldly goods.
At the household where he stood for alms, the lady of the house requested him to wait as she was busy looking after her sick husband. The wait was too prolonged and the Brahmin lost his temper again. When the lady at last came out, he glared at her in anger and berated her for her negligence of a Brahmin sage.
The lady laughed and said, “I am no crane, Brahmin!”
The Brahmin was astounded. How did this ordinary housewife know of what befell him in the forest when such ability to know things from afar was only given to the enlightened sages? Humbled by the thought of being in the presence of a noble soul, the Brahmin beseeched her to teach him the path to enlightenment.
The lady said, “Anyone who does her duty, thinking of it as an offering to God and without any thought of personal benefit, attains enlightenment, O Brahmin! If you want to be set on the path to enlightenment, approach the butcher at Mithila and he shall guide you.”
The Brahmin wended his way to Mithila, wondering all the while about how a lowly butcher could be so enlightened as to guide him – a Brahmin. When he saw the butcher at his shop, heartlessly killing and cutting the meat of goats, he was even more aghast. His quest for enlightenment was a burning fire in him, however, and he told the butcher about the lady who had directed him and requested his guidance.
The butcher said, “Satya and Ahimsa are the way to enlightenment. He, who does his duty, with no thought in his mind but that of the greatest good that he can bring about, given his station in life, is true and non-violent. Violence lies in the mind, when it seeks to do injury, and not in the action. Truth lies in the heart – if the motives be pure, the action in in consonance with Satya.”
“How is it that you, a butcher, are more enlightened than me – a Bahmin?”
“What Society calls a Brahmin is one thing. What the divine teachings call a Brahmin is another. One does not become a Brahmin by birth; only by his thoughts and actions. He, who seeks to serve without any THOUGHT of recompense; he, who is never angered, even when he fearlessly fights injustice; he, who has no ego and only works for the enlightenment of all – only such a person can be called a Brahmin, regardless of where he took his birth.”
The full text of the discourse of the butcher is in the VyadaGeeta.
The idea, therefore, of teaching being the sole province of Brahmins is NOT that education is to be denied to the others BUT that education ought to be disseminated with the mind-set of a Brahmin – freely to all and not to only those who can afford it.

The VyadaGeeta is also a clear indication that the caste system was a division of people based on their natures and NOT based on birth. Else, how could a Brahmin by birth learn from a butcher?

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Tales from the Mahabharat: Uttang Rishi

I am back again with "Tales of the Mahabharat " A guest post by one of my favourite blogger Suresh Chandrasekaran of " Life is Like This " 

#mahabharat #mahabharata  #uttangrishi #lordkrishna


The reclusive Uttang Rishi stayed the forests for most of his life with little contact with the rest of the world. It was during one such long stay away from civilization that the war between the rift between the Pandavas and Kauravas ripened to enmity and ended in the calamitous war at Kurukshetra that resulted in the decimation of all the Kauravas.
On one of his peregrinations in the forest, Uttang Rishi met Krishna. As was the custom in those days, Uttang asked Krishna of the well-being of his family and, then, sought to know about Krishna’s relatives – the Pandavas and Kauravas. Krishna had the unpleasant task of explaining to the Rishi about the dreadful war between the two.
Uttang was enraged and said, “Krishna! You are the Lord of the universe and quite capable of stopping this destruction from happening. Yet, you allowed such disastrous violence. I, herewith, curse you…”
Krishna interrupted the powerful Rishi and said, “Even the Lord of the Universe may not tamper with destiny, once it is written, O sage, or else the very basis of all order shall be disturbed. Know you that this incarnation of mine was intended to destroy evil and the Kauravas, because of their thirst for power, were part of the evil that I sought to destroy.”
Uttang was pacified.
Krishna said, “I wish to grant you a boon, O most righteous sage! What would you ask of me?”
Uttang said, “I need nothing, Lord! The only thing that I, perhaps, may seek is that I may not lack for water wherever I am, since I travel in wild and inaccessible places.”
After some time, while Uttang Rishi was traveling in the forest, he was afflicted by thirst and could not find any water to drink. He remembered the boon of Krishna and besought water. Whereupon a huntsman accosted him and offered him water from his deerskin container.
Uttang was aghast. How could he, a Brahmin, take water from this low-caste huntsman? Thrice the huntsman offered water and thrice the Rishi refused. The huntsman disappeared.
Uttang was surprised by this miraculous disappearance of the huntsman.  Clearly, he could not really be a huntsman but some divinity sent by Krishna as a test. Uttang felt dejected about the possibility of having failed the Lord, when Krishna appeared before him.
Uttang complained, ”Lord! You promised me water whenever I needed it. How could you send it in the hands of a huntsman?”
Krishna laughed and said, “O Sage! I asked Indra to give you divine nectar and make you immortal. Indra refused saying that Amrit was not for normal human beings. I said that you were a realised soul and deserving of immortality. Indra then said that if you truly were a realised soul, you would know that all differentiation between people were only the creation of mortals; that all people were the same in the eyes of a realised soul and, thus, if you accepted the nectar from Indra in the guise of s huntsman, you would deserve it. I agreed. You let me down!”
The great epic, thus, does not support differential treatment on the basis of caste. True, the social order of the times did differentiate between people but the epic clearly states that such differentiation is not the divine order of things but only man-made