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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.


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