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Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Spice Trader

  Ashtavakra  was a wise man. He traded spices and goods from Indian main land to regions and nations far and wide.  One day he came across a sage in the cold mountain deserts of Pamir who taught him the art of surviving the cold harsh mountains with nothing but just a few herbs between their teeth.

Amazed at this discovery, he decided to meet all wise men that he came across in his travels and imbibe their knowledge. His loyal and rather simple servant, Nityajantu accompanied him wherever he went. Over a period of several years, he met several wise men, peers and fakirs of the Arab desert, wise monks of the far away northern regions, old nomadic tribal men and women of the stony Gobi desert.

           He learned with such eagerness and child like joy that nobody could resist from imparting their knowledge to him. Over time he grew much wiser that even kings, badshahs, and ministers were conscious in his presence afraid that if they talked it would expose their ignorance in front of him.

One day he finally decided, as he grew old, to stop traveling. Retire at home and compile all his knowledge for the benefit of future generations. He prepared 28 granths (epics) and 25 treaties of various esoteric knowledge. His fame grew far and wide; people came from all walks of life to seek his advice on all matters. The scope of his knowledge was so encompassing that nobody ever left without sound piece of advice. In the meantime, Nityajantu served his master with true devotion. All his efforts to impart knowledge to the simpleton servant fell apart. He was happy cooking, cleaning and serving his master and decided to know nothing more. Ashtavakra finally gave up all his efforts to teach the servant.

            One auspicious day, in his meditation, Ashtavakra levitated beyond the conscious mind’s limitation and had his first true experience of the realization of the Divine. What an ecstatic experience it was! When he came out of his meditation, he experience utter sweetness and beauty of the Divine in every little thing. As he stepped out of the house, he saw Nityajantu, his humble servant, cleaning vegetables for the evening meal. He was wrapped completely in pure bliss of the Divine. He was totally merged with the Divine. To Ashtavakra, he appeared as the child Krishna muttering a Radha bhajan under his breath.

A huge realization dawned upon Ashtavakra as he bowed before his servant. It startled Nityajantu so much that he almost jumped up and all the vegetables fell on the ground.  Shocked and confused by his master’s behavior, he requested him never to do this again, saying that a master can never bow before the servant and other such things.

            Seeing his response, another realization dawned on Ashtavakra that Nityajantu in all his childlike simplicity, was not even aware of his own awareness of being Divine. He assumed his state of bliss as the normal state of existence , just the way it is with little children. They know the “truth” and yet they don’t know that they know it. What a big realization fell upon Ashtavakra! He traveled all over the world and learned from hundreds of wise men and women while eventually learned one simple truth which his simpleton servant knew just by being.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Haunted Haveli

In the village of Hoshangarhi, there was a huge haveli that stood in the outskirts of the village. Tall, proud, pristine, painted bright white yet abandoned and haunted.  

Once upon a time, a big family of two brothers, their wives and several noisy children lived in that mansion. There was a complete harmony and celebration; Devjani was the wife of the younger brother. They had no children of their own but they loved all the children of the elder brother Somesh and his wife Mridula. 

One day Devjani went to her parent’s house for a visit. Her mother gifted her some of her family jewelry. On her return she was too tired; she kept the gift in the cabinet without showing it to her sister-in-law, Mridula. Being close-knit, like siblings, this pinched Mridula. The rub of feelings grew; before Devjani could realize anything squabbles and fights grew between the two. Husbands began to notice the discord but decided not to intervene. The differences turned into intolerance and Mridula decided to get Devjani out of the house. She started filling her husband’s ears against Devjani and her brother in law.

 Evil words worked like slow poison. The elder brother started doubting and questioning her young brother. The entire mansion resonated with disturbance. Devjani’s husband resorted to drinking because of the disharmony in the house. One day he came home drunk to find two women in a heated exchange of words. He tried to intervene but the elder brother got in the middle and called him, lazy, selfish and a cheat. Frustrated with the lambasting, he started beating up his wife Devjani that night and threw her out of the house blaming her for their childlessness. All this while Mridula gloated with evil joy. Devjani was deeply shocked. The irony was that when they threw her out of the house, she was pregnant. Her parents took care of her. When her child came into the world, there was no sign of joy or recognition in her as if she had lost her mental equilibrium and her connection with the world. She ignored the baby and roamed around in the streets talking gibberish.

One day she passed by the haveli. She saw Mridula inside. She walked in and asked, ‘Didi (big sister) whom are you cooking for? Everyone is gone.’ And laughed manically. The next day virulent cholera hit the village. All the family members got infected and died within hours. The villagers cremated their bodies. Devjani now roamed around the village like a recluse hardly visiting her parents’s house. She rather preferred to live in her old haveli. In the night, she fought with the spirits of the diseased relatives or laughed and played with the disembodied souls of the children that waxed and waned in the night. She ran around on the terrace laughing eerily. The villagers avoided the area around the haveli during the night. They started calling it the Bangru haveli.

The old fakir sat under a tree and witnessed the whole drama. He summoned Devjani and she sat next to the fakir in the state of complete disarray. She laughed, cried, pulled her hair and showed no sign of recognizing the presence of the fakir. Fakir understood that the pain she has endured made her disconnected with her physical mind so she could remain blissfully unaware of her sad reality. He touched her forehead and reconnected the two. Suddenly Devjani felt as if she woke up from sleep. She stood before the fakir. Tears ran down her face and she felt at his feet and thanked him for freeing her from her misery. While she got her conscious self back and reconnected with life, the legion of souls of her relatives stuck in the haveli were released all at once as if a big curse had lifted. She went back to take care of her child. She never saw the fakir under that tree again but thought about him often.

One day she inquired about the fakir. The old men of the village told her that there is no such fakir in the village anywhere. Although, the babul tree that she had mentioned is exactly where the mazaar (grave) of the old fakir was. The old fakir was a Sufi saint who lived in the village centuries ago. When she went back to the same spot under the tree, she found the mazaar right where the Sufi sat that night when he liberated her from her suffering.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Downward Climb To Ascend

Muni Ujjwal was running for his life as the mad crowd was dashing at him with all sorts weapons available at hand. There were angry because the Muni drunk with his power of siddhis, promised to fulfill the desires and wishes of the villagers on this full moon night. He promised to produce gold coins, emeralds, diamonds, and rubies at will, destroy the enemies or summon the desired women and what not. 

On that fateful night, Muni sat in meditation before the crowd of the anticipating villagers who were in full awe of his celestial powers. When the Muni summoned his Ishtadeva, he appeared and got angry with the Muni, he categorically declined to fulfill any of his ego driven and selfish demands. He deserted him for good saying that there is no reason why he should shower benevolence on someone who has fallen down from his ascended level.

Seeing his absolute failure, reverence quickly turned into rage. Villagers chased him with murderous intent. Scared for his life, Muni entered the dark forest that the villagers diligently avoided in the night for the fear of wild animals. He ran panting for breath with moonlight as his only guide in the darkness. He reached a clearing where he found Rishi Agatsya. 

Rishi Agatysa was submerged deep in his mediation. Radiant golden light surrounded him. He was emanating celestial light from his body. Muni begged Rishi for mercy; slowly the sage opened his eyes and said, ‘Muni, I agree to help you ascend to your spiritual realm again but you will have to follow my path.’ Muni readily agreed. Rishi then asked him again to think again before agreeing to his conditions. Muni knew too well that he has fallen and this Rishi was his only salvation.

Rishi Agatsya finally said that the path to the Divine that I will show you is bit tricky. It takes you one step upward and two steps downward. Therefore any progress you make, you will have to descend two realms lower. 

The Muni had no choice but to follow as was told. Subsequently as he meditated, he would ascend and then descend two realms lower. Taking lifetimes after lifetime, from the realm of angels, he was pushed back in to humans, then semi humans and then into the lower forms of life but he persisted with nothing but faith. 

Descending further, he entered the demon realm and so on into the darker realms till he reached the very bottom that is the Patala Loka where he took birth as the serpent king, Sheshnaga. 

Because of his noble deeds and spiritual efforts, Sheshnaga was later called upon by none other than Vishnu himself to work as his protector. From the depth of darkness, Muni catapulted to the realm of God, the Divine Lord himself. 

All he knew was that in order to resurrect he needs to have complete faith in his guiding guru Rishi Agatsya. That unshakable faith, even in the darkest realm gave him the courage to remember the Divine and eventually he found himself in the abode of the God again.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Story of Devi Anukampa

Devi sat in deep meditation in her damp cave while underground water seeped and trickled in droplets at the mouth of the cave. From her vantage point, higher up in the isolated wing of Vihara (Buddhist Monastary) she could see the spiral staircase reaching the assembly place surrounding the holy kund (sacred pond).

The senior most monks sat in deep contemplation over the issue at hand. They were in a state of confusion. The arrival of the Devi at Vihar raised some serious questions amongst the young and old monks alike. Anahata, the head councilmen sat bemused by the discussion as the assembly discussed the issue of the presence of the beautiful young woman disrupting the life of celibate monks; creating unwanted desires in them thereby distracting from their path. She looked at them smilingly, she closed her eyes and merged with her inner light again.

 Anahata disagreed with the other monks. Although stunningly beautiful, he felt as though she never invited his sexual energy; instead he saw trees swaying happily, dropping their fruits for her and showering her with flowers. Whenever she walked through the forest, it became more vibrant and green. 

Trees blossomed out of the season as if the whole existence was bursting with joy in her presence. When she walked through the main Vihara chambers, just one look at her inspired the monks to carve and paint the most beautiful sculptures and paintings. Anywhere she went, the place resonated with life and beauty, she inspired joy, creativity, and bliss by her mere presence.

While the council decided to test the virtues of Sanyasis and Devi, Anahata’s head hung in shame to be part of such vibration that actually thought of testing the goddess herself. Devi Anukampa smiled and agreed to the test. She called upon all the monks that claimed that she was the distraction to their sadhana into the main prayer hall. When she arrived and sat before them, one look at the beautiful form created a surge of desire in all the monks. The next moment, Devi Anukampa shut her eyes and merged with her inner light. At that very moment, a miracle happened. 

All the desire filled monks dropped their adult grown up bodies and turned into infants crying and wailing for the Divine Mother. They were conscious beings still adult but crying out for their Divine Being for the first time just the way a new born cries for his mother. They let out a collective wail, the prayer hall suddenly turned into a pulsating womb. The collective cry of the souls vibrated through the Vihara into the forest. Anahata was sitting in his meditation in his cave, when he heard the wail, the cry of seeker for the Divine. 

A tear drop of joy and gratitude fell from his eyes as he bowed to the Divine Mother who sat amongst the monks reminding them of their real quest.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Friend for life

Ajeya was the sole heir of a huge princely estate, one day bored of his privileged life he decided to prove himself. On a whim he got on his horse and took off. By afternoon he ended up in a lush green forest, he felt extremely thirsty and realized how unprepared he is for the journey. He search for water in the forest for hours but he could not find any pond or stream. He came across a strange looking woodcutter, who understood that the person he is talking to is from a royal family looking at his attire jewelry and horses. The woodcutter asked him to wait under the shade of the Gular tree ( Indian cluster fig tree) as the sun is strong and he will fetch water for him.

Exhausted from his search Ajeya readily agreed. he waited for nearly an hour but there was no sign of the woodcutter. Tired and thirsty he decided to take a nap under the shade of the tree. As soon as he shut his eyes mischievous monkeys on the tree started throwing Gular fruits on him to annoy him because he had invaded their territory. 

 He ignored their antics for a while but they persisted relentlessly, finally just to deter them from their mischief he threw a fruit back at them, which unfortunately hit a baby monkey suckling on its mothers breast, he fell on the ground with the impact and injured himself. Monkeys fell eerily silent at this sudden event and retreated. 

He picked up the baby monkey who was unconscious from the fall and decided to look for water for him. He got on his horse and carried the baby monkey with him. A few miles from the tree there was a small pond. Ajeya tenderly washed the baby monkey's face and put a few drops of water in his mouth. As he rocked him gently, the baby monkey opened his eyes slowly and gave him a pitiable look. That moment he resolved to keep the monkey with him and take care of him. 

Days passed by, the two developed a special bond. They later came upon a town, where the cloth merchant gave him a job, he asked him to take a huge lot of cloth and get it dyed in different colours. he asked him to tie the monkey in the backyard because he would be struggling with that heavy bundle  of clothes. Ajeya did as told, upon his return he was aghast to find that the rope was lying loose on the ground and baby monkey was nowhere to be seen.

 He inquired around but nobody had seen him. Defeated he retired for the day in a shelter above the shop that the kind cloth merchant offered him to sleep. Ajeya worried for the safety of the monkey, as per habit he saved a fruit for the baby monkey. He left it by his bedside and drifted into a peaceful sleep. Morning he woke up to find that the fruit was missing, the seeds and skin were scattered around in the same familiar fashion as the baby monkey did while he ate. He spat and dispersed the seeds and skin of the fruits all around him in a circle while eating, which Ajeya always found amusing. It gave him relief to know that his baby monkey was still alive and well and he is aware of his whereabouts.

As time passed he attained considerable success and bought a small piece of land upon which he built a small cottage and grew vegetables and fruits around it. There was never a day that he did not think of his monkey friend, he maintained his habit of leaving some food for the monkey every night, which monkey dutifully consumed as Ajeya slept.

Later he married and had two beautiful children, he grew richer and retired to a peaceful life as an old man, his children got married and left the house, one day his wife left the world too. Alone he sat and remembered his monkey friend all the time. he would beg of him to appear before him once before he dies. One day as he struggled to sleep he saw a big monkey sitting by his bedside. Looking at him with the tenderness of a mother. Tears welled up in his eyes, he was finally there. Before he could say anything monkey spoke in a deep resonant voice. "Come with me my friend, your duties here are done, I have fulfilled my promise of protecting you in this lifetime, let me take you to my Lord Ram in his heart the heavens dwell."

Atreya discarded his old body and followed the monkey through a tunnel of light, Monkey now took the form of Lord Hanuman whom he ardently worshipped in his previous lives, Hanuman pointed at the gigantic divine form of lord Vishnu, he entered into the lotus of his heart and floated in supreme bliss as he gratefully bade farewell to his protector, savior and friend Lord Hanuman.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Prince Aniket- The Timid Brave Man

Aniket was  timid, docile and sensitive by temperament since birth, unlike his elder sister princess Karnavali. She was outgoing, smart, brave, and a bit too strong willed. King Arhanya had various moments of desperation trying to make a man out of the boy. But any strictness on his part made the prince wither like a delicate flower. He constantly worried about prince Aniket ever making a strong successor for his throne. On the other hand, the princess loved horse riding, archery, and war training. She was skillful, brave and unafraid.

            Every time the king experienced a failed attempt to make a strong ruler out of his delicate son ; the sheer candor of his daughter made him insanely mad, he would reprimand her, curb her freedom, and took away her privileges. Karnavali grew up resenting her father’s unjust behavior towards her owing to her brother’s timidity. As she grew up, such experiences of failing to teach prince Aniket archery, martial arts, or any other skill of a warrior made her more determined to master those traits. She grew up to resent her brother with unspeakable vehemence. She openly bullied him while he played with small birds and animals in the royal gardens. She would shoot the animals right before his eyes sending him running teary eyed to their mother for comfort. The prince eventually became her outlet for all her anger and frustration. Soon she started to mock him in front of servants and attendants.  The royal servants liked the sweet tempered prince but they did not see an able ruler in him. 

            One day the king sent a proposal of his daughter to the neighboring kingdom but offer was duly rejected because of the rash temperament of the princess Karnavali. Her attitude had rubbed off many diplomats and messengers the wrong way. The king finally decided to organize a swaymvar (bride chooses the groom on her own accord). The grand day came. The royal palace was decorated; elaborate food preparations were made. The entire court waited all day but not one suitor turned up. Dressed in all the regalia, Karnavali could not take the humiliation any more and in front of the entire court, she started making jibes at her brother Aniket. The prince silently endured the humiliation because he understood her pain. The father watched helplessly partly because he himself was scared of her daughter’s sharp tongue. He was afraid that she would say something rash to him in front of the court and partly because he was ashamed of his timid son who was no better than a delicate woman in his eyes. 

      He silently watched his son being humiliated. The final blow came when Karnavali called him eunuch in disguise and that he should hide his face somewhere or kill him self. Deeply hurt, prince Aniket walked out of the court in defeated silence. Next day he left the palace without saying a word to anyone. Father did not even bother to stop him as if he secretly wished the cause of his embarrassment to disappear from his palace. Prince Aniket walked deep into the jungle. The night fell with its spooky eeriness all around him. But a broken heart knows no fear. 

 From a distant well, he heard muffled cries for help. He paced forward following the moonlight guiding him into the well. Peeping into the well, he asked,
“did anyone call for help?” Out came a reply, “Yes, please help me”. I fell down this well today while chasing a deer today. My ankle is broken. It’s a dry well, can you please come down and carry me out on your shoulders.” Aniket’s compassionate heart did not think twice as he climbed down the stairwell of the dark well. Not even slightly aware of what was awaiting him. 

He made assuring sounds to the stranger as he descended into the well. When he reached the bottom, he found no one there. Instead, as he called out, a reply came from the top of the well asking him to come out. Puzzled he climbed out to find a radiant Sadhu standing by the well smiling at him benevolently. Silvery etheric light emanated from his face and body. He asked Aniket to follow him to his place. He found Sadhu’s calmness soothing his aching soul. The gentle kindness, which reflected in his own inner being. On their way, the Sadhu said, “you must know prince, it takes a very brave and fearless man to follow the voice of a stranger in the darkness of the night in a strange forest and descend down a well to save another human being. You are indeed a brave, fearless and a compassionate man.” These words struck Aniket like lightening. Till today, people had called him silly, coward and a timid man. Sadhu smiled again knowing his chain of thoughts. 

            The life at the ashram suited him perfectly and blended well with his calm temperament. His inner being blossomed with joy after finding his true home. He was taught how to gather wood, use a bow and arrow to hunt for food, protect himself against wild animals, and to take care of his inner self through meditative practices.In a few years, he grew into a strong, muscular, and a self-assured man. His arrows never missed the target. 

    One day the Sadhu asked him how he never misses a target. Prince replied, “I do everything while remembering the Divine even when I shoot an arrow and hence I never miss the target.” Sadhu understood that the time had come to send him back to his kingdom.  Prince protested that he is happy here but the sage insisted that he must perform his royal duties too while remembering the Divine.
     Upon reaching the palace and meeting his father again, the king could not believe his luck. He was so happy with the transformation of his son that he offered his throne to him right away. But Aniket refused and said that he would serve his father as long as he is the king. He also suggested that his sister Karnavali should be made the prime minister owing to her exceptional administrative abilities. 

All these years, Karnavali thought she was the rightful heir to the throne. Karnavali saw her dream of taking over the kingdom demolishing before her eyes. She burned with anger. She tried every trick to humiliate him verbally but Aniket’s poise surprised her. He defeated her in every shooting dual, games, races and martial arts. It made her more furious when nothing worked. Desperate, one day she poisoned his food. Aniket like every other act ate that food while remembering the Divine. And that very moment the poison in the food turned into nectar. Watching this unbelievable event, Karnavali realized the propensity of her crimes against her innocent little brother. Filled with repentance, she asked for his forgiveness. Unperturbed, Prince Aniket told her, “I don’t need you to be sorry. I would rather see you happy. I know how unfairly you were treated as a child. But I am glad that today you understand that I was not the one to be blamed for that injustice. I suffered just the same and even more as a child.”

            For the first time, the two embraced each other and shed tears. Karnavali’s heart opened as tears of pain flowed from her eyes. A noble suitor married her soon after and took her to his city. Thereafter the king died. Aniket became known as the brave, mighty and a compassionate ruler. He ruled successfully for 58 years creating a powerful and successful empire.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Blizzard.

It was a chilly November evening in 1802.Andrew and Jack were walking across the frozen, still forest. Their was no other sound except that of there footsteps muffled by the soft snow. It was a cold winter evening in the Alps. The skies were turning ominously grey. They have been walking for hours after losing their way in the snow blizzard. They were childhood friends who grew up together in the Alpine countryside. Like their fathers they graduated into their ancestral profession as lumbar jacks.
Today during a heavy blizzard they took shelter in a gathering of tall snow covered pines. Every now and then a heavy layer of snow would slip off from the weary branches and plop down soundlessly.

They could not navigate their way back into the village instead wandered deep into the forest trying to find their way out. They were cold, bruised, tired and hungry and heavy with sleep. They both were trying to keep the other one awake, as sleeping out in that blizzard would mean a certain death. Suddenly Jack let out a shriek of disbelieve. Andrew looked at him half scared that Jack has spotted some hungry wild animal.
It was the light of a lamp coming from an isolated cottage in the forest. They found a new surge of energy as a they ran across the frozen terrain towards their beacon of hope.They knocked on the cottage till it was answered by a kind looking old woman. She looked at them and asked them to come in, she said she has been waiting for them. She went towards the kitchen to fix them some hot stew and asked them to sit close to the fireplace. 

Slightly confused and yet in disbelieve, they followed her instructions without hesitation. Later over supper she talked about their day and about the blizzard and how the blizzard worried her about their safety. They thought may be the old woman is confused or suffering from memory loss. What they found most amusing was her calling them Henry and Thomas with such conviction that they almost believed it.

Morning they thanked her for her hospitality and took off. The sky was still grey,they hardly walked for a hundred yards before the blizzard hit them again with renewed fury.They scurried back to the cottage and knocked but their was no response. The fire place was cold and the old woman Eliza could not be found anywhere.Worried for the frail old woman's safety they went looking around the house and came back disappointed. They finally decided to find some wood to rekindle the fire. They went in the backyard and found a stack of dried wood.

Fire brought back some life into their numb fingers. Later they stepped into a small locked room in the corner to find the whereabouts or a photo of the missing woman. What they saw shook them to their spine. The cobweb covered skeleton of old woman Eliza was resting on a rocking chair wearing the same outfit as last nights. That corner of the room had a window with a view of the forest. It appeared as if she was sitting on the rocking chair looking out into the forest for someone to return home, perhaps Henry and Thomas they reflected sadly.
Spooked out of their wits they stepped out of the room and waited for the blizzard to subside. Next morning nature took mercy on the two young men and allowed them to find their way back to the village.
When they shared their unbelievable story the grand old man of the village chided them not to make joke of such serious things. He later explained that about 50 years ago in a similar notorious blizzard the two, father-son lumberjacks Henry and Thomas were buried deep into the snow, they gave them a quite burial and prayed that no one is waiting for them to return home, because nobody in the village knew of their whereabouts.They knew their names because they would many a times end up working in close proximity with the other lumberjacks of that village.

That night Andrew and Jack had a tough time finding sleep. Their restless minds jostled to comprehend their experience and they both felt sad for the kind old woman Elisa.

What they did not know was that in the year 1749 father-son Henry and Thomas were no other but the two friends Jack and Andrew who came back in this life to complete an unfinished business. The divine coincidences pushed them back to their previous home where a wife and mother waited in agony for years with hot food in the kitchen and fire burning in the cottage to usher them home to safety and comfort. They never returned and Eliza left the world looking out of that window waiting for them sitting on that rocking chair. The soul left with nothing but just one desire to see her two beloved men to come back home to safety. Her longing created the events that brought the two men home to safety from a ruthless blizzard and saved their lives.

Friday, May 24, 2013

In sickness and health...

Shambhu was a poor farmer who owned a very small piece of land in the Vidharbha region (present day Maharastra). He and his wife Prema toiled day and night to grow food grains to sustain themselves and to take care of their two year old toddler Karna. Those were tough times but hard work and good amount of rain kept them afloat and content with their lives.
The following year a prolonged drought affected the kingdom. Shambhu had  sown the seeds into the earth and waited in vain for weeks. All the stored food was soon over. Everyone in the village had the same story. Everyone was surviving on meager meals. A month later the couple became week, they eyes sank like dark pits behind their cheek bones. The toddlers ribs could be counted from a distance. They were all desperate for food and water. They prayed deeply for respite.The last well in the village dried out, to walk several miles to the next source was getting increasing difficult for his weak body. The toddler was losing his consciousness and mother cried in anguish.

Frustrated and helpless he ran out into the parched fields and yelled at his merciless God who was watching them and his helpless child die a slow painful death. He cursed with deep pain and asked his God to take him first if he is so keen on taking a life.
After dusk they went to bed hungry, starving and staring at the thatched roof with hollow sleepless eyes. He murmured a quiet apology through his lips.
That night dark clouds gathered in the area, it rained and it poured. The villager's heart were lifted with hope. They rejoiced to see puddles of water in their fields the following morning. Within days the seeds sprouted like hungry infants seeking their mother's milk. In a few weeks green crops were standing on their fields. There was promise of abundant food again. They regained their health and admired their toddler who ran around the fields with gusto.

However, the out-pour continued incessantly, even after the rainy season. The earth was filled and saturated; and the water level started to pool around their homes. Soon the entire village was flooded. Shambhu's little mud house was soon submerged halfway. The family took shelter on the roof. Again looking at his terrified wife and child. He yelled at God for being so cruel.
This time he heard it loud and clear.

" Shambhu when everything was fine you did not remember me, then came the drought and you prayed day and night for water, so I gave you water. Then you forgot me again, now sitting on top of your submerged home you remember me again?"
" Why cant you remember me when you are sad and when you are happy. When times are good and when times are bad."
Shambhu was not sure whether he actually heard it or he was simply delirious from exhaustion.
He promised from that moment on  he would remember his Vitahala (form of Lord Krishna that he worshiped as his supreme deity)  before all good things in his life.

Next morning the water receded and the family survived. Everything went back to normal. Shambhu prayed before the beginning of his day and at its end. He prayed before his first morsel of every meal thanking the supreme provider for that meal. Several years of fulfillment drifted past. Their son grew up and helped his father in the field. One day hungry after a long day of work in the field, he put a morsel of food in his mouth without thanking God. He was filled with regret and disgust at his own weak nature. He left the house immediately to repent for his forgetfulness.

In the forest he sat in a cave and vowed never to eat again. How could he forget his Vithala his savior, protector and provider. He went hungry for days. He cried incessantly out of love for his Vithala asking for forgiveness. One night in the dark forest he saw a bright figure in golden light walking towards him with a platter full of tastiest and fragrant food towards him. It was none other but Vithala himself who could not see his devotee go hungry. He sat before Shambhu who was overwhelmed with joy, he wept in ecstasy. Vithala fed him food with his own hands. Through his tears he heard Vithala speak " Shambu I cannot see my devotee go hungry, your love called me from the heaven to come down and feed you. Shambhu dont love me so much, I have so many of my children to take care of. I cannot go and feed all of them"
As Shambhu laughed, Vithala melted back into the forest.

Gratitude for what we have is our biggest prayer to God. Our love for our creator can compel him to come to us and show us that he cares about us more than we can ever know. He is watching over us through good and bad times and filling us with his love and light every moment.
"Dukh Mein Simran Sab Kare, Sukh Mein Kare Na Koye
Jo Sukh Mein Simran Kare, Tau Dukh Kahe Ko Hoye." -Kabir Amritwani.
While suffering everyone prays and Remembers Him, in joy no one does
If one prays and remembers Him in happiness, why would sorrow come?- Saint Kabirdas

The suffering we experience in this world are designed to wake us up. We are awake when we realize God. If we remember God in our happy times, then we can not experience suffering.Because in difficult times the divine presence in our being makes all the suffering remain only on the surface while inside we  are wrapped up in bliss and joy. Cocooned in his love and mercy.