"After our youngest son had seen Star Wars for the twelfth or thirteenth time, I said, "Why do you go so often?" He said, "For the same reason you have been reading the Old Testament all of your life." He was in a new world of myth." Bill Moyers, interview with Joseph Campbell












PRABUDDHA BHARATAPrabuddha Bharata | September 2004  





               Glimpses of Holy Lives




          Whatever God Does Is for Our Own Good




     Girivar was a farmer who lived in a small village on the banks of the Narmada. A man of staunch faith in Gods mercy, he was fond of repeating his favourite maxim: Whatever God does is for our own good. By Gods grace, Girivar enjoyed favourable circumstances: his old parents were undemanding, he had a dutiful wife in Gauri and his young son Uday was always obedient. What more can a man ask for? Girivars neighbours would talk behind his back. In his place, anybody could say Whatever God does is for our own good!


     Quite right. A devotee must never make much of his reliance on God until it is put to the test and he passes.




     The Trial Begins




     Sorrow made its presence felt for the first time in Girivars contented life when he lost his parents in quick succession. One gets the opportunity of serving ones parents in their old age as a result of great good karma, he mused sadly. It is my misfortune that I could not serve my parents for a longer time. But then, these things are in Gods hands. Whatever God does is for our own good.


     The real test, however, was yet to come. And it came soon.


     Just as Girivar was getting over the pain of bereavement, fate snatched his son too. The eight-year-old was bathing in the river with his mother, when a crocodile caught the boy and carried him away before anybody had a chance to help. Shouting Oh, God! Save me! little Uday disappeared under water. And they brought an unconscious Gauri home.


     Girivar did his best to assuage his wifes anguish, but she was inconsolable. Gauri my dear, do you think I dont share in your suffering? But try to understand. It is futile to wish things had happened differently. This world is but a wayside inn. Every individual comes to this world to work out his own karma, and when that is done he departs. Really speaking, people are not related to one another as we imagine. Did we know who Uday was before he came to us? Do we know where he has gone now? But we can be sure of this much: our son has certainly gone to a better place. After all, he called to God to save him - he did not call out to you or me - and the Lord will never forsake such a person.


     Gauri, remember what the sadhu told us the other day. This world is Gods pleasure-garden and we are His servants. We may have grown a beautiful flower, but that does not mean the flower belongs to us. On the other hand, it should be a matter of great joy to us if the Owner of the garden should want the flower we have grown.


     Then again, how can we take it for granted that Uday is dead? What evidence have we of that?




     Not I, but Thou




     Maybe you are right, said Gauri in between sobs. Deep inside, something tells me my Uday will come back to me, no matter when.


     But that is quite beside the point. Why should you expect to see him again! exclaimed Girivar. The thing to understand is this: If we consider ourselves Gods servants, we must be ready to serve Him in whichever way He likes us to. Until now God accepted our service in one way, and now if He wants us to serve him in a different way, we must be prepared for it. A servant cannot have preferences. He who hesitates to serve his master wholeheartedly is an unfaithful servant; and he who regards his masters things as his own is even worse - he is a thief! Dont you see, Gauri, nothing in this world is really ours: God gives, God takes away. We have accepted Him as our master, so let us not flinch from our duty; let us forget our happiness for His sake. But believe me, whatever God does is for our own good.


     Now Girivar saw no point in spending time on his fields. He leased out all his land and the couple gave themselves up totally to worship and meditation. Before long, their devotion started to show results. Gauri, especially, began to experience a kind of peace she had never before known in her life. Noticing the change that had come upon his wife, Girivar observed one day, How can man hope to understand the Lords inexplicable ways? Could we even imagine He would draw us to Him in this manner? Maybe you can appreciate it now - a son is a son, no doubt, but our attachment to him might have led us away from the only thing that is to be loved. Gauri nodded quietly. See? That is why I say, whatever God does is for our own good, concluded Girivar.


     Still, a mother is a mother. Memories of her beloved Uday continued to haunt Gauri.




     Destiny Intervenes




     Far away down the river, the crocodile that made off with Uday was challenged by another crocodile and lost its grip on the boy in the ensuing struggle. But Uday was already seriously injured and too weak to save himself. Luckily, some people in a boat passing a little distance away spotted his limp body bobbing listlessly in the water. As they pulled him aboard, Uday lost consciousness.




     Inscrutable Karma




     King Chandrasen, the ruler of the territory that straddled the Narmada, was childless. Recently he had lost his young wife too. The suddenness of her death hit the king hard and he was contemplating giving up everything to embrace the monastic life. His sense of obligation to his subjects, however, was making it difficult for him to decide. At last, unable to make up his mind, Chandrasen approached his fathers guru for guidance.


     The guru was a yogi who possessed occult powers. It is not right for a king to neglect his royal duties, to leave his kingdom uncared for, he advised. Moreover, I know you are destined to find a worthy heir - and I also know a secret rite that can make it happen very soon. The kings face brightened up. Educate the boy, train him well, and when he comes of age, hand over the reins of the kingdom to him. You may become a sannyasin only then. Then the guru added, But the boy will remember his antecedents on the day of his coronation.


     King Chandrasen decided to go ahead with the rite. It was the custom to feed the fish in the Narmada after the ceremony. The king was doing just this, when his officials caught sight of a bleeding figure drifting downstream. As karma would have it, it was Uday.


     Everything turned out just as the guru had predicted.


     When Uday regained consciousness after twenty-one days, he had forgotten everything except his name. He was taught that he was Prince Udayraj, son of King Chandrasen, and that his mother, Queen Kamaladevi, was dead. Gradually, under the tutelage of qualified instructors, the boy learnt all the skills a prince would need to run an efficient administration. And when Uday grew up, the king arranged for his marriage with the princess of Vijayanagar.


     Chandrasen had discharged his responsibilities. Only one last thing remained, Udays coronation, and the king, after consulting his ministers, fixed an auspicious day for it too. Now at last, he could give it all up and become a free sannyasin.



     (To be continued)

International Yoga Day 21 June 2015
International Yoga Day 21 June 2015







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