December 2014

Human life has been given to us unasked. We are blasting it and blaspheming it in a thousand ways. –  Chinmaya

Once upon a time, there lived a noble king. But due to bad company, he slipped into licentiousness and indulgence. He squandered away the wealth of the poor by living an extravagant life. The subjects were miserable under his tyrannical rule.

One day, acting on the advice of his team of counsellors, the king performed a huge yaaga (ritualistic worship) for prestige, power and prosperity. The ritual was performed extremely well and the king, overjoyed, handed over a very expensive silken cloth to the chief priest as dakshina (gift).

As the priest received the cloth, he felt a strong urge to sneeze, and thoughtlessly, out of sheer habit, covered his nose with the cloth. The king, seeing this, flew into a rage and thundered, “Idiot! You deserve to be beheaded. How dare you insult me by insulting my gift!!”

The king had great regard towards the elderly Raja Guru (the Royal Preceptor). He turned to the preceptor for consent.

The Raja Guru, feeling pity for the poor priest, told the king, “O king! Let me ask you a question. Do we have the right to punish someone for the mistake we ourselves commit?”

“No Guruji. But… Why do you ask this question?” wondered the king.

The Guru smiled and said, “Is it not true that the Lord also has given us a beautiful gift – this human body? While we go on misusing His gift, is it right to punish someone for the same mistake?”

The preceptor’s reply came as a bolt from the blue. Realizing his mistake and strongly repenting for whatever had happened, the king decided to turn over a new leaf and ruled the kingdom adhering to the path of righteousness.

It is said:

A farmer was gifted with a jet plane. He did not know what to do with it, as he had never seen an aeroplane.  So he yoked the plane to his bullocks, broke the windshield of the plane, sat in the cockpit and rode the jet with bullock-speed!

So too with the majority of us.  We mishandle and misuse this divine gift called the human body, which has infinite possibilities to unfold and to blossom.

Tulsi Ramayana says:

“Out of 84 lakh species in this universe, to be born as a human being is indeed very rare. The human body is like a ladder which can take us to the higher or to the lower worlds, or even beyond all worlds (through liberation). The one who uses it for indulging in sense pleasures is like the one who throws away the paras mani (philosopher’s stone – a stone which can convert the base metal to gold) and picks up the glittering, sharp glass pieces from the wayside and injures himself…”

There is a classic story about the rarity of human birth in the Pali Canon, the ancient text recording Buddha’s teachings:

Buddha was speaking to a group of monks, “Suppose that this great earth were totally covered with water and a man were to toss a yoke with a single hole into the water. A wind from the West would push it East; a wind from the East would push it West; a wind from the North would push it South; a wind from the South would push it North. And suppose a blind sea-turtle were there. It would come to the surface only once every 100 years. Now, what do you suppose the chances would be that a blind turtle, coming once to the surface every 100 years, would stick his neck into the yoke with a single hole?”

The monks answered, “It would be very, very unusual Sir!”

And the Buddha replied, “And just so, it is very, very rare that one attains the human state.”

Having attained this human birth, what is the best way of utilizing it?

The scriptures are unanimous in answering this question – Know Thyself. The Self in us is none other than the Supreme Lord, so say the scriptures.

Srimad Bhagavatham whips up the seekers in slumber:

“The ears which do not listen to the Lord’s glories are merely snake-holes. The tongue which does not chant the Lord’s name is nothing but a tongue of the frog. The head of a man, though bedecked with silken turbans and diadems, is only a burden if it does not bow down in front of the Lord. The hand that never serves the Lord, is the hand of a corpse. The eyes that don’t see the images of God are as purposeless as the eyes in the centre of peacock feathers. The feet that don’t take us to the places of worships are no less than trees. The heart that never melts listening to the glories of the Lord is no better than a stone.

Vain are the lives of such people, their life-span being merely food for Time to swallow through its jaws of sunrise and sunset…”

An absent-minded professor was late for his lecture. He jumped into a cab and shouted, “Hurry! At top speed!!”

As the cab sped along he realized he had not told the driver where to go. So he shouted, “Do you know where I wanted to go?”

“No Sir,” said the driver, “but I am driving as fast as I can!”

Unless we study the scriptures and expose ourselves to the teachings of the great saints and sages, we will find ourselves lost in this jungle of worldliness. Let scriptures be our road map in our journey of life.

The Upanishad says:

इह चेदवेदीत् अथ सत्यमस्ति । न चेदिहावेदीत् महती विनष्टि:| (All is fine if this great Truth is known in this birth. It is a big loss if this Truth is ignored.)

मृत्यो: स मृत्युं गच्छति य इह नानेव पश्यति | (The ignorant person goes from death to death.)

Is there any guarantee that we may get this human birth in the next life also?

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee. The Lord says in the Bhagavad Geeta:

… क्षिपामि अजस्रमशुभान् आसुरिष्वेव योनिषु |
(Those who live a vicious life filled with anger, greed, lust etc., I throw them into the devilish wombs.)

Through our noble way of living, let us prove to the Lord that He has not committed a blunder by granting us the human status!

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Posted in: Chintana

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