February 2015

Make your life a celebration of His presence. –  Chinmaya

People search for God everywhere in vain, not knowing that He is the very Self of all beings. The Upanishad says:

श्रोत्रस्य श्रोत्रं मनसो मनो यत् वाचो ह वाचं स उ प्राणस्य प्राण: |
He is the very Life Principle in each one of us because which we are alive, because of which all our sense organs function.

एन रूपं रसं गन्धं शब्दान् स्पर्शान् च मैथुनान् । एतेनैव विजानाति किमत्र परिशिष्यते ||
It is that Consciousness in the light of which the entire world is experienced. Other than this Consciousness, what else remains to be known?  

The saints, having known this truth make their lives a celebration of His presence.

This is a story on Sant Kabir and his son Kamal. Though living in extreme poverty, Kabir spent his time joyfully singing the name of the Lord Shri Rama.

Once a large group of devotees came to visit Kabir. Spreading a woollen blanket on the floor, Kamal made all of them comfortably seated with the exchange of sweet loving words. Kabir took his wife aside and said, “These devotees have come to our home from various sacred places. We must feed them well and take care of their needs. If we permit them to sleep here hungry our reputation of goodness will be lost.”

Now there was not the least bit of food in the house and so the distress of the couple was intense. The wife said to Kabir, “O Lord, I do not know what is to be done. If we go to our neighbour, they will not give us anything. We could go to the bazaar and buy, but we have no money. So take your son with you and go and steal something. Break open the shop of the merchants who seem to have an abundance of materials for food. Bring the food and we will serve these saints sumptuously.”

Kabir assented to this. It was midnight. He took a sword and his son Kamal took a crowbar. They hastened to the bazaar and broke open the shop of a rich merchant. He put the son inside the shop and he himself remained outside. The merchant was in deep sleep. When Kamal looked into the shop, he saw piles of money, garments and ornaments. Seeing them he felt a sense of disgust. He rejected them all and took with him only the materials needed for cooking. Kamal brought out of the shop flour, rice, sugar, peas, butter, vegetables, turmeric etc. and gave them to Kabir. He brought just sufficient items to feed the saints well.

As he hastened to come out of the shop, a thought came to his mind, “The grocer is fast asleep. I ought to wake him up. I will wake up the grocer and quickly run away from here.” Then taking courage, he quickly moved to the side of the grocer and slapped him on his back saying, “You ought to be awake. We are two thieves who have broken open your shop. We are going away with the materials for cooking. I tell you this.”

The grocer sat up and Kamal started to run away. As he was passing through a narrow opening, both his feet got caught. When half his body was outside, the merchant seized him by the feet. As the head was outside, the merchant could not recognize who this thief was. The child Kamal then called out to his father, “O father, the grocer will now come outside and shout in the bazaar. If people hear the story of our stealing, your reputation of goodness will be lost and the saints will no longer visit our house. So put aside all ideas of love. Cut off my head before the merchant recognizes me.”

Highly pleased with his son’s words, Kabir cut off his son’s head with his sword. He then took the bundle of materials and hurried back home. He told his wife what had happened and gave Kamal’s head to her. Overwhelmed with love for her child, tears flowed from her eyes. She wept, “O my child, you are one of great good fortune. You have sacrificed your body for saints. Coming into this worldly existence, you have made Shri Ram your own. You have saved our whole family line.” Saying this Kabir’s wife restrained her feelings with great difficulty by the force of her courage. She took the cooking materials and started to cook. After cooking she served the saints and said, “This is a blessed day. I have seen the feet of the saints.”

Meanwhile, the grocer came out of his house and shouted aloud. People gathered. Looking at the corpse they said, “This thief’s head has been cut off and taken away. Now, who can recognize him?” They told the grocer, “Your fate seems to be very peculiar. One of the thieves has killed this man and taken away his head. God has indeed protected you, else you would have met with calamity. But indeed strange! How is it that they left the pile of money untouched and took only little cooking materials?” The matter became the talk of the town. The grocer, however, hurried away and reported the matter to the king. The king ordered his soldiers to find the culprit.

Meanwhile here, the saints took leave of Kabir after finishing their morning prayers. The couple accompanied the saints to see them off. The wife was weeping bitterly. She prostrated at the feet of the saints. As they came out of the city an extraordinary event took place. As the devotees were walking along the path, they saw a headless corpse impaled on a stake. As they stood still for a moment to look at the sight, the corpse joined its hands and saluted the saints!

The sadhus said to Kabir, “The corpse is making namaskar to us. How is it that life has been preserved in a body without head?” Kabir spoke in all humility with folded palms, “Sir, this thief is a great devotee of the Lord. Just like Bhishma and Jatayu, he has preserved the life in his body only because he had a great desire to prostrate unto the lotus feet of the saints and sages.” The saints wondered, “Who is this thief?” Kabir narrated the whole story.

The hearts of the saints melted in loving compassion for the little child Kamal. The saints asked them to get the head of the boy. When the compassionate saints saw Kamal’s head, they were moved with emotion. They took the corpse down from the stake and placed the head upon it. As the saints placed their hands upon the head of Kamal, he came to life, arose and made a namaskar to the saints!

The men and women gathered there looked on with wonder! What is impossible for the devotees who have bound the Lord with the chord of their single-pointed devotion! No wonder why the Lord says in Sreemad Bhagavatham – AWÇû pÉ£ü mÉUÉkÉÏlÉ:  – I am a slave My devotee!

When the devotee is so tuned with the Lord of his heart, he intuitively comes to the experience that the Supreme Lord is not somewhere outside, but He is the very Self of all beings.

Hence says Kabir:

मोको कहां ढूंढे रे बंदे मैं तो तेरे पास में । न तीरथ में न मूरत में न एकान्त निवास में ।
न मंदिर में न मस्जिद में न काबे कैलास में । मैं तो तेरे पास में बन्दे मैं तो तेरे पास में||

(O Man! Why are you roaming around in search of Me? I am so near to you!! I am neither in holy places and godly idols, nor am I in solitude; neither am I in mosques and temples nor am I in Kaaba or Kailash. O dear! I am so near to you!!)

Life becomes an eternal celebration once His presence is felt as the very Consciousness in us. In Pujya Gurudev’s words “Problems and challenges become chutneys and pickles for the food of life once His presence is recognized each moment!!”

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