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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The wheel landed upon my head years ago in the same manner

The wheel landed upon my head years ago in the same manner.

A lesson from Vishnusharma's Panchatantram.

Four Brahmin youths lived in a town. They were very close friends. As is usual with Brahmins, poverty was a nagging problem for them. They were unanimous in their view that it would be better to live in forests infested with wild animals, wearing tree bark as dress rather than living in a town where some relatives lived in comparative affluence and looked down upon the poor cousins as beggars who are bringing discredit to their clan as a whole. 

So they decided to leave the town in search of wealth. There is nothing surprising about it. When people are obsessed with earning money alone, they will abandon truth, they will abandon their kin, they will abandon their motherland and would not hesitate to desert their own mothers. In their greed thy look up on the foreign land as almost equal to heaven. 

After covering a long distance, they reached the city of Avanti.. Avanti was one of the most popular cities of that time along with Ayodhya, Kanchi, Puri, Dhaaraa , Mathura etc,. They had a free bath in the river Sipra, and also had the Darshan of Lord Mahakala. On their way out of the temple they met a learned yogi by name Bhairavananda. When they paid him respects in the appropriate brahmanical manner, he was pleased and took them to his residence..

After feeding them, he asked, "Who are you? What brought you here? Where are you proceeding to? It would seem that you have travelled a lot. What is the purpose such a long travel?". 

They replied almost in unison. " We are indigent Brahmins. We are fed up with the abject poverty we suffer. We have left our motherland in search someone who can teach us some great powers of miracle though which we can become very rich. Our watchword now is, ''Earn huge wealth and live comfortably, or simply wander and die in search of wealth". We have no going back . We expect some windfall for sure. It is said, sometimes, we get water spontaneously as rain from the sky. Sometimes we have to dig a little to get water. Sometimes we may have to dig on and on till to great depths perhaps till we reach the other side of the earth to see some water. But we are prepared for anything. We will search for money till there is life in us. We are not worried even if we perish in that process. Vishnu could get Lakshmi only after working hard as a member of the team which churned the milky ocean. But even for Him Lakshmi is fickle. When He sleeps on his serpent bed in the milky ocean for four months, She simply leaves him and flirts with others. She is not to be blamed for that. Who will care for a fellow who is sleeping continuously for four months? . So dear Sir, please teach us some miracle trick to enable us to earn immense wealth. We are ready to sit in caves for years together and learn Samadhi, or propitiate evil deities or devils haunting the burial grounds, or turn ourselves into kapalikas or cannibals to earn money. We know that you are a capable guru and sorcerer. You must help us. You alone can make our lives meaningful."

Prodded like this for days and nights Bharavananda invoked some tantric deities and prepared a lamp with four wicks and assigned special powers on the wicks and distributed them amongst the four with the following direction. " You proceed in the direction of Himalayas each one of you keeping a wicd in his hand. Where a wick falls down all by itself on the ground, you dig there. You will get some treasure underneath. 

The four Brahmin youths set out to Himalayas without any delay. After they had covered some distance the wick held by one of the fellows fell down. He dug the earth there and found that the landscape was full of copper. He told others. " Here we have abundance of copper.. All of us can share it, market it, and be rich. Let us collect all the copper and return to our motherland." 

The other three laughed. “You fool. We have no use for your copper. You can do what you want.”

They walked away, but the youth with the copper mine returned to his native place carrying loads of copper and lived well reasonably.

Before long the second wick fell and they hit silver there. The two Brahmins with wicks in hand scoffed at the idea of sharing the silver, and proceeded further. The second Brahmin made himself rich with silver and lived in comfort.

Within a few days of walk the third wick also fell. Here the find was gold. The third Brahmin was jubilant and offered to the fourth one holding the remaining wick that it was time for the two of them to share the gold and go back to their native land.

The fourth fellow was avaricious. He hit back point-blank. " You have his gold and you are jealous of me that I am going to find the ultimate treasure of gems and precious stones. You are offering me gold only because of that. Let us part ways at this moment. I am proceeding further to take possession of the riches of Kubera himself. " 

The fourth Brahmin started walking ahead all alone. It was hot in the day. He could not find even some water to quench his thirst. But he prodded on. He lost his way and wandered in hunger and thirst for days and days, always holding on to the wick. 

Finally he saw a person standing in the scorching sun with a huge wheel rotating fast on his head with the axle embedded deep on the top of his head. He was bleeding profusely. 

The Brahmin asked him. "Who are you? Where can I get some water? Why are you having a wheel rotating like this on your head?"

Just as the fourth Brahmin was uttering these words, the wheel disengaged itself from the head of the bleeding man and anchored itself right at the centre of the head of the brahmin and continued its speedy rotations. 

He asked , " Hey, what is this"

The former victim replied. " The wheel landed upon my head years ago in the same manner. Once upon a time when Sri Rama was the king of India, I set out in search of wealth with a wick given by a yogi, and when I reached here I saw someone adorned with the same wheel rotating atop his skull, and he had also the same story to tell me. Seeing that I have landed up here with unquenchable avarice for wealth, the wheel shifted and flew away from his head and started doing its rounds on the top of my head. Now you have landed up here with greater avarice, and, if I am to reckon from your talk that king Veenavatsa is ruling now I have had the wheel atop my skull for more than three thousand years. Now it is your turn to have the wheel on your head. Let me run away from here. Hopefully someone who is greedier than you may land up here, maybe, after a few thousand years, and he will take the wheel off your head. 

Till then, good bye and best wishes'

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