April 2010

“Desire to possess” when directed towards Narayana becomes the “burning spiritual anxiety of devotion for the Lord.” – Chinmaya

All our desires, be it the desires for possession or progeny, wine or wealth, name or fame, spring forth from one common desire– the desire for happiness.

But, the amusing thing is that though unhappiness is disliked by all, we are performing actions which bring misery alone as its reaction. The Bhagawad Gita says that such actions appear to give nectarian joy in the beginning but ends up giving only poison-like misery.

In this pursuit of happiness, when one is guided by the “desire to possess”, but meets only with painful consequences, then he or she is forced to think as to what constitutes happiness. It is to such a matured seeker, ripened due to his or her alert observation amidst life’s happenings, the Sadguru instructs that happiness does not lie in possessions but in the Possessor, the Supreme Lord, who is the Self within.

This advice of the Teacher acts as a fire spark, and soon enough, this spark takes the form of “burning spiritual anxiety of devotion for the Lord” turning itself into a huge conflagration to burn down the entire stockpile of ignorance, piled up over the beginningless past. In this huge fire of knowledge, just as the ore is purified and transformed to brilliant gold, the erstwhile sinner, freed from all impurities, shines forth as an awakened saint.

Srinivasa Nayak was a pawnbroker who lived in the village Purandaragada during the Vijayanagar dynasty. Everyone called him Seenappa and knew what a miser he was. He cared for nothing except for money.

One day a poor brahmin approached Seenappa for money to perform the thread ceremony of his son. Seenappa refused to give the Brahmin any money. Days, weeks and months passed in this manner. The Brahmin kept asking and the jeweller kept refusing. Six months passed thus.

 Seenappa’s wife, Saraswathi, appalled by her husband’s behaviour, gave the brahmin the nose-stud that her parents had given her. The brahmin took the ornament straight to Seenappa’s shop to pledge an ornament and take a loan.

 Seeing the ornament, the perplexed Seenappa, asking the Brahmin to wait, put the ornament in the locker and went home. He saw his wife without her ornament and questioned her about it. Worried and unable to think of an alternative, she decided to commit suicide. She went into the kitchen and mixed a cup of poison for herself. Just as she was about to drink the poison, she heard a metallic sound.

Lo and behold! The nose ring was at the bottom of the cup, sparkling. With a heart filled with gratitude, she prostrated before the idol of Krishna and took the ornament to her husband. Astounded, Seenappa ran back to the shop to check for the nose ring only to find that it had vanished!

After deep thought, he concluded that the brahmin was none other than Lord Shri Purandara Vitthala himself. He recalled all the incidents that had transpired in the previous six months. Wonderstruck, he was ashamed of his miserliness.

Seenappa decided to renounce all material belongings and become a dasa (servant) of God. From that day onwards he became a devotee of Shri Hari. The hands which sported gold and diamond rings now played the tambura, the neck which used to be resplendent with golden chains now wore the tulasi mala. The man who had turned away countless people away, now himself went around collecting alms and living the life of a mendicant.

This Seenappa is none other than Purandaradasa who went on to become the Father of Carnatic music in India, composing more than four lakh songs praising the Lord. Even today, every student of Carnatic music begins the lessons with Purandaradasa’s compositions.

May we retain our “desire to possess” – not the world, but the Lord, Who alone is worth possessing.

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Posted in: Chintana

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