April 2018

Thoughts feed the desires. The desire vitalises each flimsy dream. In a short time, the consequent chaos creates a roaring inferno within. – Chinmaya

Beware of the thoughts; else the result would be chaos within and tragedies without.

In the Bhagavad Geeta, the Lord describes the ladder of fall:

ध्यायतो विषयान् पुंस: सङ्गस्तेषूपजायते । सङ्गात् सञ्जायते काम: कामात्क्रोधोऽभिजायते ||

क्रोधात्भवति सम्मोह: सम्मोहात् स्मृतिविभ्रम: । स्मृतिभ्रंशात्् बुद्धिनाश: बुद्धिनाशात् प्रणश्यति ||
(Thinking about the sense objects brings an attachment towards them. Attachment breeds desire and desire leads to frustration, which in turn leads to delusion. Delusion leads to loss of memory, and with it the power of discrimination is destroyed. In the absence of discrimination, the individual perishes.)

Shree Krishna Vilasa Kavyam authored by Sukumaran (Popularly known as Sukumara Kavi) is diademed as the Crest Jewel among the Sanskrit poems written in praise of Lord Krishna. The poet shot to fame, shining like the North Star in the literary horizon with his only work. But behind this composition, there is a tragic story.

Sukumaran was a wonderful child – obedient, intelligent, humble, virtuous and deeply devoted to his Guru. But his Guru was always harsh and rude towards him.

 The Guru was soft towards all other disciples and never scolded them. He was ever ready to explain again and again to them whereas in Sukumaran’s case lessons were taught only once. But then, Sukumaran was smart enough to grasp the lesson in that single explanation. But the teacher always appeared to be angry with Sukumaran. Even though depressed and deeply hurt, Sukumaran never compromised with his studies. By hard work, he acquired great knowledge in various subjects.

 Years went by. Though he had mastered everything, Sukumaran went on with his higher studies and the teacher too was not inclined to allow him to leave.

One day a grammar lesson was in full swing when Sukumaran raised a doubt. The teacher lost his temper. He began to cane Sukumaran. The pain was unbearable. When it began to bleed Sukumaran ran away from there. He felt deeply hurt and humiliated. “I cannot bear it anymore. Tonight I will take him on,” he decided.

When the negative emotions storm the mind, even the brightest of intellects is paralysed, and the greatest of sins appears justified.   

When the Guru was engaged in his evening prayers, Sukumaran sneaked into the attic with a big granite piece and seated himself on a beam straight above the teacher’s bed. “Let him sleep. I will drop this granite piece straight on his chest. He will die on the spot,” Sukumaran planned everything while hiding up in the attic.

When the teacher had finished his prayers, his wife asked him, “Shall I serve you dinner?”

“No, I am not well, I don’t feel like eating today,” he said in great distress.

The lady could deduce that her husband was unhappy. “What is wrong with you? Tell me,” she coaxed him.

The subsequent conversation between them went thus:

Teacher: “Today I canned Sukumaran harshly. I feel sorry for him. He always used to face my cane silently. But today he ran away from the class. Maybe I was too harsh. My heart is too heavy to eat or sleep.”

Wife: “I have been longing to ask you about Sukumaran. He is so good at studies and gentle in manners. I have not heard of any other boy as intelligent and disciplined as him. He is humble and obedient too. Yet you have been so cruel to him. Is it fair on your part to punish boys of his age?”

Teacher: “You are right! Do you know something? I love him more than our own son. I didn’t pamper him because I was afraid he will turn priggish. Sukumaran is the best student in this school. His mind is like gold. But I also see a few drawbacks in him. I scold him so that I can make him the best!
Wait and see, he will become a great scholar one day! The whole world will be at his feet! But I cannot pardon myself! I cannot even imagine the pain he would have gone through today! I will never punish him again.”

Hiding in the attic, Sukumaran overheard each and every word of the conversation. A deep sense of repentance swept over him. He started crying and when the Master was fast asleep he came down and went to his chamber. But he could not sleep even a wee bit that night.

Burning with guilt, Sukumaran went to his master early in the morning.

The teacher was overwhelmed with joy seeing his beloved student. He embraced him bestowing on him his wholehearted blessings. After a few moments of silence, the teacher spoke, “I was very cruel to you. I know you are hurt. But my dear child, please bear with this old man. I shall never hurt you again.”

Sukumaran pleaded with folded palms, “Sir, you may chide me again; cane me as much as you like. I will be only happy to face anything. I was hiding up in the attic with the evil intention of killing you. I was shocked when I realised that you have got the deepest affection for me. The very thought of killing the teacher is unpardonable. Now that I have sinned by thought and by deed, please lead me on to the right path of redemption.”

The teacher consoled him, “Repentance is the best form of redemption. You have repented from the bottom of your heart. I have pardoned you. What more do you want?”

But Sukumaran said firmly “No sir. That’s not enough. Unless I punish myself I will not have peace of mind.”

There was no way Sukumaran could be dissuaded. At last, the teacher relented in a broken choked voice, “If you are so keen, go to the Brahmana Sabha (the assembly of Brahmins) tomorrow and seek their opinion.”

At daybreak, Sukumaran had his bath. After the morning prayers, he went straight to the Brahmana Sabha. The assembly was in full session. He gave a genuine report of the previous day’s incidents.

“You will have to smoulder yourself to death in burning awn of paddy. This is the only way for your redemption,” the Brahmins passed their judgement.

Arrangements were made immediately. Sukumaran positioned himself neck-deep in a heap of awn, which was set fire at its base.

“However, I must compose a poem in praise of the Lord before shedding off my mortal coil,” decided Sukumaran and began to recite the verses that reflected in his mind as the flames were slowly spreading upwards. (These verses were noted down by his friends and later compiled into a great work, which became famous as Shree Krishna Vilasa Kavyam).

He had reached the 12th chapter when the flames caught hold of his throat. In a few minutes, he was reduced to ashes.

Thus the voice of a genius was silenced forever. But his memories are alive even today and he will ever be known as the symbol of devotion to the teachers.

(Later the poet laureate Kalidasa made an attempt to complete the composition of Sukumaran. But as he was about to write, he heard an incorporeal voice forbidding him from his attempt, “Don’t try to join plantain fibre to the silk thread.”
The divine voice, comparing Sukumaran’s composition with silk and his own with fibre, put Kalidasa to shame.)

May the Almighty Lord give us the ability to detect and eliminate the negative thoughts before they turn into a roaring inferno.

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Posted in: Chintana

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