Friday, August 24, 2012
Twameva mata ca pita twameva Twameva bandhush ca sakha twameva Twameva vidya dravinam twameva Twameva sarvam mama deva deva Thou art my mother and thou art my father. Thou art my brother and Thou art my friend. Thou art my knowledge and thou art my wealth. Thou art my all in all, O God of Gods.
Om Namo Narayanaya
The Devotion of Bharata to Sri Rama
Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz had Ruby slippers, which when tapped together took her home. Hermes or Mercury the Roman/Greek Messenger of the gods had winged slippers that allowed him to fly to his required destinations. Cinderella had glass slippers that proclaimed her as the love of the prince and thus the future princess changing her life from rags to riches.
All of these are fantastic stories but there were a pair of wooden sandals that, although simple, ruled over a grand kingdom.
On the Throne of Ayodhya, following the death of King Dasaratha, Sri Rama’s wooden sandals were set upon the throne to remind the people of what the kingdom stood for, the ideals that were to be remembered and as a reminder of the true ruler of the kingdom. In the Arthurian tales, the round table of Camelot represented the ideals of the kingdom, so to did the wooden sandals of Sri Rama rule Ayodhya.
Goswami Tulsidasji describes the wooden sandals of Sri Rama as follows.
“The Sandals of the all merciful Lord were like two watchmen entrusted with the duty of guarding the people’s life or they might be compared to a pair of caskets to enshrine the jewel of Bharata’s love or to the two syllables constituting the word Rama intended for the spiritual practice of the human soul. Or they may be likened to a pair of doors to guard the race of the Raghu, or a pair of hands to assist in the performance of good deeds or again to a pair of eyes to show the noble path of service.”
So we have established that Sri Rama’s sandals ruled over the kingdom, keeping it in trust until Sri Rama returned. But there must be more to the tale. A story is not a story without the plots and sub-plots, the twists and turns and of course, the one question that perhaps everyone wants answered is why, oh why, was the kingdom left under the rule of a pair of sandals? Were the no kings, princes or at least a distant cousin to rule the kingdom?
Let us start at the beginning. Not the beginning of the story of the Ramayana but a different story a story of a pair of wooden sandals. Sandals that achieved acclaim and respect because it adorned the feet of Sri Rama. Once there was a great Kingdom Ayodhya. There ruled king Dasaratha with his three wives and fours sons. All was well and love pervaded the kingdom. Then the Eldest and beloved Son Sri Rama was exiled from the Kingdom and with him went his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana. The King dies out of shear heartache at exiling his beloved son. The second born, Bharata returns to discover the horrors that have occurred at the hands of his mother Keikeyi, and more troubling is the fact that it was all done in his name, for his benefit. He just returned home and discovered that besides all the tragedies he is to be King. Well isn’t that convenient. The King is dead, the rightful heir exiled and the throne is his and he had to do nothing to get it. His hands were totally clean. The usual reaction would probably be one of utter joy and gratitude for one’s good fortune. Bharata however was distraught and refused the throne. He chastised his mother for her actions and then set out to find Sri Rama.
How does one explain the actions of Bharata? He was getting everything, served on a platter, as to say. Power, wealth and no opposition yet he chose to deny these offerings. Today if one was given a higher position in their profession, with the promise of ever-increasing pay cheques and every luxury desired it would be close to impossible to refuse such an offer. Bharata did not even think of the option to him it was final that he shall accept nothing but the well-being and return of his brother Sri Rama. Would we be so quick to deny such pleasures for God?
In the Sri Ramacharitmanasa Mother Kausalya says:
“By the grace of God and through your blessing my sons and daughters-in-law are all pure as the water of the celestial stream (Ganga). Although I have never sworn by Rama, I now swear by him and tell you in good faith, my friend, that in extolling Bharata’s
amiability, goodness, modesty, loftiness of character, brotherly affection, devotion, faith and nobility the wit of even Sharada. (The goddess of speech) falters. Can the ocean be ladled out by means of an oyster-shell? I have always known Bharata to be the glory of
his house and the king repeatedly told me so. Gold is tested by rubbing on the touchstone and a precious stone on reaching the hands of an expert jeweler; while men are tested in times of emergency by their innate disposition”.
Bharata left Ayodhya to find Sri Rama. With him were the Three Queens, and a whole retinue from the kingdom. Sri Rama in the meantime passed through the forest dressed in simple attire. Upon his feet, he wore wooden sandals or Karrow.
I can tell you that these are by no means comfortable trust me I have worn wooden sandals of this particular ancient style.
Sri Rama, Mother Sita and Lakshmana none the less wore these sandals and travelled through the forest and wherever Sri Rama
went he blessed those he passed including the very land he tread.
At first when people saw Bharata in the forest, they suspected his motive was to kill Sri Rama once and for all. On meeting Bharata however they discovered the Great love he carried for his brother and all negative assumptions were dispelled. They thus assisted him in reaching Sri Rama.
On finding Sri Rama there was much joy shared amongst the brothers and the other members of both parties. Bharata offered several options to Sri Rama including the Return of Sri Rama and Mother Sita to the throne of Ayodhya. Bharata however realized that his request was selfish in that he sought his own happiness in the options given to Sri Rama. To see Sri Rama comfortable and upon the throne or to be by Sri Rama’s side would have given Bharat immense joy. Bharata realised that all of the suggestions were against the dharmic character of Sri Rama. Bharata thus installed Sri Rama’s sandals on the throne while he himself went into exile in wait of Sri Rama’s return.
And that brothers and sisters, is why a pair of wooden sandals ruled over Avodhya. There is a lesson, a truth revealed to us, in this story, if we were to follow the actions of Bharata. He prostrated at the feet of Sri Rama, removed the Sandals of Sri Rama’s feet and set it upon the throne. We, every man and woman must renounce the material pleasures of the world and prostrate at the feet of the lord knowing that there is only one power that rules supreme above all else the power of Sri Rama. God is the absolute King of kings the ruler of all.
What makes Bharata’s story so unique. The Ramayana is full of stories about brothers. This is true. Sugriva and Vali were brothers but where Sri Rama and Bharata had a relationship based on love Sugriva and Vali were enemies who fought over kingdom and pleasures until one killed the other. There were the brothers Jatayu and Sampati who loved each other but saw each other rarely. Then there are the many brothers of Ravana and the relationship they had was also one of love but there was also a sense of duty and fear of Ravana's strength. Bharata’s love for Sri Rama was pure, there was no fear that drove him to cower at Sri Rama’s feet subserviently, there was clearly no animosity towards his brother and so great was his love for Sri Rama that separation from his brother and seeing his brother having to, “rough it out”, was unbearable for him. One may argue that this is against the teaching of Hinduism. That which states that one should not be attached to other people, be it your parents, brother, sister, spouse or children. A valid teaching but let us acknowledge the fact that this was no ordinary love. This was the love for God. The love that we should all try to cultivate for the LORD.
Sri Rama himself said in the Sri Ramacharitmanas,
“… the Earth may abandon its natural forbearance and Mount Meru be blown away by a puff of wind discharged from the mouth of a mosquito; but Bharata will never be intoxicated by kingly power, o brother.
Lakshamana, I swear on you as well as by our father that there is no brother so good and innocent as Bharata.
God, dear brother creates the world by mixing the milk of goodness with the water of evil; while Bharata is a swan, born in the lake of the solar race that has sifted the goodness from the evil. Choosing the milk of goodness and discarding the water of evil he has illumined the world by his glory.”
It is indeed difficult to describe the brotherly affection that the brothers of the Ramayana shared. The reason for this is that there is no modern example that is available for fair comparison. I thought about this point, how do I describe the relationship the brothers had.
Unfortunately we live in a world that is Hollywood pervaded and dictated and in this world there seems little place for the stories of the Ramayana. The basics of the tale may be known but the subtle messages that exist are like fossils hidden from many. It occurred to me that a fairly recent (when compared to the Ramayana) piece of literature was released by JRR Tolkein and one of the central themes of the story offers a glimpse into the kind of relationship that Sri Rama and his brothers had. I am not naïve enough to believe that everyone has read, “The Lord of the Rings”, but I am positive that a large majority of us present has watched Peter Jackson’s screen adaptation by the same name. In the story we are introduced to four friends, Frodo, Sam, Pipin and Merry. All these characters have their own role in the great story. If we were to reflect on the relationship that occurred between Frodo and Sam it was very much like that of Sri Rama and Bharata. A relationship of mutual love and respect. There are other parallels between our great epic the Ramayana and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings but that is another story all on its own. The purpose behind introducing this parallel is so that those familiar with the story of Frodo and Sam can bring it to memory. Now multiply that a hundred fold and you have a glimpse of the love that Bharata held for Sri Rama.
What makes Bharata such a great character? He was not a King, he was not a fierce warrior, and he was not a great seer or sage. Considering this why is he so highly recognized and remembered from the multitude of characters within the Ramayan.
The answer is that he was able to be any of the above; he was as pure as Sri Rama himself and in many ways was the mirror of Sri Rama, yet in his life his only purpose and aim was to serve his Brother, his Master and his king - Sri Rama. This is why Bharata is such a bright light in the archives of Hindu history and literature. Despite all the material benefits, and all the name and fame that he could have acquired his mind had one purpose, serving his beloved Sri Rama.
Swami Vivekanada said:
“Wealth goes, beauty vanishes, life flies, powers fly – but the Lord abideth forever, love abideth forever…Stick to God. Who cares what comes, in the body or anywhere?
Through the terrors of evil, say, ‘My God, My Love!’ through the pangs of death, say ‘My God, My Love!’ Do not go for glass beads, leaving the mine of diamonds. This life is a great chance. What? Seekest thou the pleasures of this world? He is a fountain of all bliss. Seek the highest, aim for the highest, and you shall reach the highest.”
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
Awake, Krishna Awake the Lotus-petals Open the water lilies droop The bumblebees have left the creepers The cock crows and the birds chirp on the trees The cows are in the byre lowing, they run after their calves The moon fades before the sun Men and women arise and joyfully sing their songs Krishna of hands lotus-like awake The day is about to dawn. Om Namo Narayanaya The Glories of Sri Krishna As children trying to learn the alphabet and numbers, we are taught in tune. In other words, we are taught rhymes and songs. A, b, c, d, e, f, g. Or 1, 2, buckle my shoe. 3, 4, knock on my door… It is believed that as human beings we find it easier to grasp information if we can put it to a tune. Make a song of it, make it rhyme, make it fun and we will learn from it. I work in an open plan office and share space with very different people. All of us so-called creatives, each with his or her personal taste in music. One of my colleagues happens to be a major fan of Hip Hop and R&B. Genres of music I do not appreciate and would never willing play myself yet thanks to my colleague I know most of the words to many of the songs he plays. The point I am trying to make is that even when you do not set forth to learn something willingly when you listen to it musically your mind somehow just absorbs it with or without your permission. This being the case, isn’t it fitting that Sri Krishna gave us the truth in verse. He did not lecture us on commandments. He gave us the Gita. I have often heard it said that for every reading of the Bhagavad Gita a new meaning is unearthed. The Bhagavad-Gita, the song of God, the Song of Sri Krishna, is truly immortal. It lives and breathes, and grows with the people. It evolves and communicates directly with the heart for this is the song of God. Lyrics sent down from above to touch the heart and soul of all who read it, sing it, or listen to it. Sri Krishna himself delivered this great song to us. Sri Krishna was truly a beautiful form of God. The Sri Krishna Chalisa offers a vivid image of Sri Krishna. The sweet sounding flute embellishes your hands; your body dark of hue is like the blue lotus. Your crimson lips are like bibma fruit and your eyes are like the pleasing lotuses. Your face is like a fresh blossoming lotus and shines like the full moon. You are beautifully attired in your yellow silken costume. Gopala, Nandalala, Kanhaiya, Govinda, Murilidhara, Kaanha, Muraliwala, Sham, Madhusudhana, Sri Krishna. The stories associated with Sri Krishna are numerous and mix together courage, conviction, love, justice, and truth in each of them. To capture the stories of Sri Krishna and retell them will take far too long. To grasp the true meaning of the stories, these plays that he performed, is sometimes beyond the expectations of one lifetime. Sri Krishna was a musical incarnation of the Lord. To honour Sri Krishna and his love for music and gaiety I have chosen to look closer into a few of the many Bhajans and Kirtans dedicated to this eternal musician. We sing these songs and cry tears of joy. We clap; we dance and experience the presence of God wherever and whenever these songs are sung. These songs cover the stories and glories of Sri Krishna in his every aspect and in a manner more eloquent than I can hope to muster. Sri Krishna according to legend was dark, shyam, the colour of night. There is a beautiful song from the film Satyam Shivam Sundaram that goes as follows: Yashomathi Maiya se bole nandalala, Radha Kyu Gori Mein kyu Kala In the first verse the child Sri Krishna, ask his Mother Yashoda. Why is Radha fair and I dark? Yashoda Maiya answers lovingly that he, Sri Krishna, is dark because he was born at midnight. In the second verse Yashoda Maiya says, Listen my love Fair Radha with her black kajal and dark eyes has cast a spell of love on you and that is the why you are dark. This explanation is sweet an innocent. However, there is more to Sri Krishna and his complexion then perhaps Maya Yashoda was willing to offer in this song but for which Sri Ramakrishna provides and answer. Master, when referring to Mother Kali’s dark complexion said that from afar even the ocean looks dark but when you actually take the water in your hands you see that it is clear. God has no colour but merely reflects that which is in our sight. When we get closer, we realise that God is beyond colour and form and is all that is real. Another popular theme in songs dedicated to Sri Krishna is that of the Curd Thief. Makhan Chor, Nanda Kishore I have come across several songs with the line, Maiya Mori, Mein Nahi Makhan khayo. Sant Surdas writes, O mother mine, I did not eat the butter Come dawn, with the herds, You send me to the jungle, O, Mother mine, I did not eat the butter. All day long with my flute in the jungles At dusk do I return home. But a child, younger than my friends How could I reach up to the butter? All the gopas are against me On my face they wipe the butter, You mother, are much too innocent, You believe all their chatter. There is a flaw in your behaviour, You consider me not yours, Take your herd-stick and the blanket I’ll dance to your tune no longer. Mother Yashoda then laughed and took the boy in her arms. Mother mine I did not eat the butter. In these songs, the child Sri Krishna tells his mother that he was not the one who ate the makhan or curd. The story goes that, as a child Sri Krishna loved eating curd. In addition, would often raid the storehouse and eat the curd. Despite his actions, he was so adorable that none could help but love him. This behaviour earned him the name Makhan Chor. Is this a promotion of bad behaviour among children? When children misbehave should we say, aw never mind, it’s okay if they so cute. No. The lesson behind the tale of the curd thief is that everything comes from God and everything must go to God, whether we will it or not, and that which God loves he has every right to take when he pleases. When we learn to love God and make him our own then we will not deny him. The famous Indian poet Surdas, wrote many songs and poems in praise of the divine Sri Krishna. The bhajan Sabse Unchi Prem Sagai is associated with Surdasji. This bhajan celebrates the glories of Sri Krishna. It sings of how Lord Krishna renounced the delicacies offered by Duryodhana and ate the vegetables of Vidhura’s house. How as Ramachandra he ate the love-filled fruit offered by Shabari Bai. Surdasji says Love is indeed the best way to serve the lord. He recounts how Sri Krishna served the Brahmanas at the yajna of Yudhistra. He lovingly guided the chariot of Arjuna. He danced with the gopis in Vrindavan. The Poet asks, “in what way can I worship this merciful and magnanimous Lord”? The Sri Krishna Chalisa accounts the many glories of Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna the one who saved the people by lifting the Govardhan Mountain with the strength of his baby fingernail. This story tells of a Puja, which the people of Vraj performed for Indra, King of Gods, and Heaven. Sri Krishna interrupted the puja. Enraged Indra sent down showers destroying the land to punish the people of Vraj. To protect the people of Vraj, Sri Krishna uprooted the Govardhan Mountain and held it aloft for one week sheltering the people from the heavy rains. Indra realised his defeat and error. Humbled he prostrated to Sri Krishna and stopped the rains. From this we learn that despite ones position, wealth and power know, that pride has no place before God and people. Pride stands in the path of service and obscures your way to the Lord. The Chalisa speaks of the story of the Putana the demoness sent to kill baby Gopala with poisoned milk. The Baby Krishna suckled but fell not to the poison. He instead drew out the poison and the very life out of the demoness. By this, we learn that there is nothing that can stand in the way of God. No harm can befall him and he has the power to draw forth the vice and the evils if we turn to him. Another story that speaks of the love of Sri Krishna is that of the Great Krishna bhakt Mira Bai. When Mira Bai was four she witnessed a marriage and innocently asked her mother, "who will I marry?” In jest her mother turned to a statue of Sri Krishna and said that he, the beautiful fellow, Sri Krishna shall be her bridegroom. From that moment, Mira longed for her beloved Krishna. Mira was beautiful and innocent and news of her spread. The King of Mewer approached Mira’s Family to request Mira marry his son. In due course Mira was married to Rana Khumba of Mewar. Despite being married, Mira Bai loved only Sri Krishna. She would visit the temple and in ecstasy, she sang and danced in the presence of her beloved Sri Krishna. Her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, clearly age-old instigators of ill will, never cared much for Mira Bai and tried many means of harming her. She once received a basket, containing a cobra. She was told it contained a garland. Mira Bai meditated on her Lord. So pure was Mira’s love for Sri Krishna that when she opened the basket the snake did not strike her for in its place was a Murti of Sri Krishna wearing a garland of flowers. The Rana’s family later sent Mira a cup of poison disguised as nectar. Offering everything to Sri Krishna first, when Mira drank the poison, the Prasad, what she consumed was truly nectar. When one offers everything to God, what is there for one to fear? He loves his devotees. Mira Bai was not the only devotee to experience ecstasy on listening to the glories of Sri Krishna. Once at a devotees home Sri Ramakrishna asked the musicians, “Please sing something about Gauranga.” One of the songs is as follows: The beauty of Gauranga’s face, filled with divine love, is brighter than the brightest gold. His smile, which illumines the whole world, surpasses even the charm of a million moons shining in the autumn sky. The musician adds: Friend did you see the full moon? It illumines the devotee’s heart. It does not wane, it does not stain. It illumines the devotee’s heart. As the musician continued the song, the Master went into Samadhi and after a while, he gained outward consciousness. He stood up and, filled with an intoxicating pure love; he joined the musicians and said: Friend, is it his beauty or because of some fault of my own? In the three worlds, I see nothing but Krishna! The song went on then the Master took his seat. He remained in ecstasy while a song about the meeting of Radha and Krishna was sung. When the song ended, the Master uttered: Bhagavata – Bhakta – Bhagavan The Lord, the devotees, and his Word are one. Swami Vivekananda wrote a poem entitled to Sri Krishna that reads: O Krishna, my friend, let me go to the water, O let me go today. Why play tricks with one who is already thy slave? O friend, let me go today, let me go. I have to fill my pitcher in the waters of the Yamuna. I pray with folded hands, friend let me go today. A simple enough poem at face value but in it Swamiji encompasses aspects of the divine incarnation so beautifully. He refers to Sri Krishna as friend. The very same Krishna spoke to Arjuna and gave him divine knowledge, to which we are all privy. Sri Krishna the Friend of Man. Swamji talks of the play of Sri Krishna. The are so many tales of the games and pranks that Sri Krishna played on his friends and loved ones. This also refers to the divine play, the Maya that we are all entangled in and which He is the master a wielder of. Yamuna refers to the Holy river and to devotion and love for God. He prays to be free from the bonds of Maya. The Glories of Sri Krishna? All the glory of Sri Krishna can be summed in one word, LOVE. Every act of Sri Krishna was done in the fulfilment of love. Love for his devotees love for humanity, love for all creation. However one chooses to approach God, as friend, child, parent, sibling, partner let it be filled with love. It is Gods love for us that makes him come to us through out the ages as Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and Sri Ramakrishna to set us on the path that will ultimately lead us back to him. We sing a bhajan at Ashram, Acyutam, Keshavam, Krishna Damoharam Rama, Narayanam Janaki Vallabham This song is dedicated to Sri Ram and Sri Krishna and asks Who says God does not eat, sleep, dance, laugh, and come when called? Be like devotees such as Meera Bai, Yashoda Maiya, Shaabri Bai and you will find all of this to be true. Shakespeare wrote in one of his plays If music be, the food of Love play on. A friend approached me the other day with a book containing a collection of trivia on a wide range of topics. Under the section of Hindu Gods is stated Sri Krishna God of Love. Clearly, if we take into account the stories of Sri Krishna it validates such association. Thus if music be the food of Sri Krishna let us play on.
Tiffany and the Giant “Tell me a story daddy, please.” My daughter called out just before I exited her bedroom. “You sure you can stay awake for a story?” I replied as I moved to her bedside. “I’m not sleepy. Please Daddy.” “Okay, love. Once upon a time, there lived a Princess named Tiffany just like you. My Princess Tiffany.” I touched her button nose with my index finger and delighted in her giggle. “She was a very pretty and smart little girl. Everyone loved Princess Tiffany. She was so beautiful and such a wonderful child that people from distant lands knew of her and loved her. She received many presents from many passing visitors. Deep in the mountains there lived a Giant. An ugly monster who lived all alone. She was always chased away from every place she went because she was mean, careless and destroyed everything beautiful. Some said that the Giant had no heart and had no love. “ “That’s sad daddy,” interjected my Tiffany. “Yes it is and so when the giant heard of Princess Tiffany she was hurt and angry. The Giant was jealous. The giant marched to the palace and scared all the people away. Only the king and queen and their daughter Tiffany remained. The Giant took Tiffany’s toys and began to break down the palace. The giant took picked up Tiffany with her big hands like a doll. “We love you dear,” shouted the king and queen from the ground which was now far below Tiffany. “You are the only one who can stop the giant now. Be strong and let your love and happiness shine. That is the only way to destroy the giant.” I kept quiet for a moment and when Tiffany did not react, I rose quietly and walked out into the passageway where my sobbing wife waited. I took her in my arms and held her close as she cried. Every night I told Tiffany the same story to get her to sleep. It was a story I created to follow the doctors orders. “Mr. and Mrs. Friedland,” said the doctor. “One of the best weapons against cancer is positive thinking. Use metaphors and stories to constantly reinforce a sense of strength and optimism in your daughter.” He paused, examined our reactions and then continued. “The truth is that this time around the chemotherapy did little damage to the cancer cells I fear that the cancer is going to spread. Miracles do happen though and right now I think you should pray for your daughter and keep her positive. There have been cases where due to a positive mind-set patients have been able to overcome the disease. Create stories for the child, tell her the story of David and Gollyath or any other story that depicts simple messages about overcoming big obstacles despite one’s size. “ Sally, my wife, wept through out the consultation. I am surprised that she had any tears left. I nodded at the doctor while simultaneously fighting back my own tears. “Thank you doctor.” There were no more questions to be asked, no arguments left. We rose to leave when the doctor said, “I know this is going to be hard but please try no to cry in Tiffany’s presence, it will just weaken her spirit.”
Michael and Gabriel stood in the hall of the St John’s maternity ward delivery room. “Is this it then, the last of Father’s favourites?” “Yes Gabriel, this is the last human soul to be born.” Michael leaned against the wall. His left leg bent with his foot against the wall, his right extended in front, and foot firmly on the floor. “Then we are moments from the beginning.” Gabriel sat on one of three vacant chairs outside the delivery room. “Hush!” Michael turned towards the door. He listened closely as the umbilical cord was severed. From the room came the first cries of a new born baby. Gabriel rose from his seat. From his throat issued forth a high-pitched shriek that pierced through the sky in glowing brilliance. Had there been anyone around to witness it they would have seen Gabriel yawn. But to Michael and others like him they heard a clear message. “It has begun. We are at war.” In that instant the world changed. The air was filled with mixed smells: the aroma of frankincense and the stench of sulphur. Beams of light burst into existence all over the place but was balanced by pockets of thick black smoke in others. In the maternity ward of St. Johns hospital stood two luminous beings their wings outstretched. One held a sword which appeared to be pure light while the other wielded a golden spear. “What now Michael”? Gabriel relaxed his wings, his golden form naked and free of human disguise. “Now we wait brother, it is only a matter of time before Lucifer shows his face and the battle begins in earnest.” “Speak of the Devil, literally”. Gabriel gestured to the figure that appeared behind Michael who turned to face the newcomer, his sword at the ready. A figure, very similar to the two outside the delivery room, approached from down the corridor .The newcomer was brighter than the other two but crowning his head was a mane of jet black which matched his expansive wings. “Now, now brothers, there is no need for violence” Gabriel flared his wings in readiness to charge but he was halted by Michael. “What are you up to Lucifer? I remind you, your lies and deceptions may work on humans but we see the truth.” “Exactly brother. You know that I am being sincere. I am not here to fight with you. This war has set me free but not to challenge the Father but to bow before him as before and reclaim my place among my brothers, to fight by your side.” Between the angels a black sludge appeared and boiled into a massive, foul smelling demon. Its body arched over like an ape, its talons dragging on the ground which melted away as if touched by acid. The demon moved towards Michael and opened its mouth. A ball of flame rolled limply out the demons mouth before it keeled over and died boiling back into non-existence. Lucifer retrieved his trident from the bubbling mass and held it forward in peace. “An entertaining display Beelzebub, nice of you to sacrifice one of your pathetic hells spawns for our benefit. Answer this though, if you speak the Truth Satan, then what is there to fight against”? “Gabriel, you are still so blind to the things around you. I was banished to hell and reined as part of my punishment but there are others who resided within my kingdom who were part of it, evil that has grown strong within the fires and who obeyed me begrudgingly. The Father spoke through you as he always had Gabriel. He opened the gates that separate the realities. Heaven, Earth and Hell are now mere pieces on this massive chessboard. I come to you as a brother behind me stands a king and his bitch that oppose the Father. I come to you as a brother to aid your fight in Our Father’s Name”. “I do not sense deceit in you Lucifer but you didn’t earn the name Prince of lies for nothing. You may not rule over Hell any longer, you may have given up your rebellion against The Father but that just leaves you alone. Your fight is your own, but get in our way and you will once again meet my blade”. “Fine brothers if that is the will of our Father I shall obey”. Lucifer bowed his head to the archangels before him.” “We must go, may the Father hear your prayers brother. Gabriel... “with that Michael withdrew into a ball of light and was gone. “I give you nothing,” spat Gabriel, “but I will leave you with this The Father is all merciful and all forgiving. It was not the Father that banished you. You were favoured, even before Michael you were closest to him”. Gabriel leaned in and whispered into Lucifer’s ear, “You were banished by to Hell not by the Father but by those you call brothers. So go back Devil and take your throne of darkness, give me a reason to end you.” Like Michael, Gabriel was gone. “Father, Gabriel speaks the truth, I have always known this.” The Devil took to his knees and clasping his hands looked to the Heavens. “Father for so long I have waited to enter your house again for so long have I fought to bow at your feet. Father I seek only your grace. For long have I suffered separation from you Father, please end my service. May I come home, Lord, Almighty God, The Father, My Father, and My Light.” For a brief moment the universe went silent, even the air stood still. A brilliant, illuminated beam shot through the heavens and penetrated the maternity ward of St. Johns hospital. Lucifer dropped his head back his arms becoming slack at his sides and tears escaped his angelic eyes as the light engulfed him and he disappeared. A feint whisper rushed through the universe, a simple statement, “Come home son.”
DEATH BY ANNOYANCE There I was standing at the counter at the coffee shop waiting for my Chai Latte when this prissy blonde woman arrived at the counter. “Good morning, how are you today? She said to the big black assistant behind the counter. “I’m good Mam, thank you. How can I help you?” He replied then exposed all thirty-two of his teeth in a ridiculous smile. “What cakes do you have today?” She asked. He recited the range of available confectionary to the blonde-haired woman without paying me any heed. “...and Death by Chocolate.” He concluded with a smile. “Ooh Death by Chocolate, my favourite, ooh goodie.” She clapped her hands like butterfly wings and giggled. “I’ll have a slice of that thank you.” The assistant proceeded to assemble a box for the woman’s cake as she continued to chant gleefully, “Death by Chocolate, Death by Chocolate.” “Oh please God, make her shut up.” I whispered through gritted teeth assuming no one would hear. “Sorry, did you say something. “ She suddenly asked. “What? Me? No.” I lied and offered a smile for reinforcement. “No, I think you said I must shut up.” She glared at me for a while in disgust then turned her head back to the confectionary bar to observe as the assistant sliced the cake. “Rude little man she whispered audibly.” “Sorry, did you say something. “ I asked. “What? Me? No.” She said followed by a snarl. The assistant wrung up her purchase and gave her, her change. “Enjoy” “I will,” she said, “I love Death by Chocolate. “Yes we know I interjected, I’m just grateful you got your cake and can leave and spare us a Death by annoyance.” She looked at me, a fury blazing in her eyes then turned back to the bar. “Maybe I’ll have another slice of Death… by…Choc-o-late.” She said dragging her words to annoy me. “And I will have a cup of cappuccino as well, thank you.” “Sorry, but how much longer do I have to wait for my latte?” I asked, not attempting to hide my irritation. I received my order and proceeded to leave the coffee shop. “Good riddance, run along little man.” The petit woman commented as she took her seat. I told myself to carry on, ignore the woman and just leave but rebelliously my body moved towards her and pulled out the chair opposite her. I found myself sitting with a beautiful yet strange woman who did not look too impressed at my joining her. “What do you want now, please go. You sourness is making my cappuccino curdle.” She said as I made myself comfortable. “You Mam, are rude and annoying.” I replied. “The name is Julie and you mister are obviously not getting enough.” “I beg your Pardon!” “Beg away but you will get nothing from me.” “The name is Frank by the way and how dare you assume to know about my personal life, Julie?” “Well you obviously have issues Frank. Why else would you be so glum and caustic. A lack of sex was just my first assumption. Or maybe you are a closeted homosexual, is that why you are not getting any?” My jaw unhinged and remained dangling. Here was a woman I just met. An annoying, girly, giggly woman who went as far as analysing my sex life all because of one stupid comment which I whispered a little too loudly. “Who the hell…” “Death by annoyance indeed. I am surprised you haven’t died from stress the way you are going. You do realise that they lied when the said it will make you blind.” She smirked as she jerked her fist in the air. I had nothing to say. Her lack of decorum left me dumbfounded. She took a piece of cake in her mouth, and as she chewed I thought it was safe for me to retaliate but as I began she raised one hand to stop me as she waved her fork around. “What now, I don’t understand waving utensil. I was told it is a rare language that no sane individual would ever have to use.” I said. “Seriously, why are you so grumpy anyway?” she asked. “What, sexually frustrated doesn’t fill your psychological analysis of me anymore?” “So you are sexually, frustrated?” “No, that’s not what I am saying.” “You woman are so frustrating!” “So then, you’re gay.” At this statement, everyone in the coffee shop turned to stare at me. I buried my head in my hands and kneaded my forehead with the tips of my fingers. “What is wrong with you?” I growled. “I am not the one with the problem, you are the one in denial and frustrated because of it.” She stared at me her eyebrows raised as she took in another piece of cake. “Look, Julie. I apologise for being rude earlier okay, I’m sorry. It’s just that I woke up with a headache this morning and I just wanted a cup of Chai Latte before I had to go to work. Your incessant clapping and chirping coupled with the time it took to get my order did not help they way I felt. I am not gay and as far as my sex life goes, that is none of your business. Thank you for your concern anyway.” I picked up a fork that was sitting on her box of cake and dug into the slice from which she ate. She obviously had no problem with it, because she said nothing. “Apology accepted, so why are you so rude and grumpy? Oh and I’m sorry too, for all the assumptions made. I just hate rude people, especially when they dampen my good day.” We spent hours at the coffee shop. We both called in sick for work. We left the coffee shop and walked to the park where we stayed until sunset. I discovered that she was actually a psychologist. She happened to be single. She loved art, appreciated good design, and found the fact that I am a Graphic designer highly exciting. When we returned to the mall, that housed the coffee shop, we strolled around together window-shopping and imagined each other in garments we saw on display. Eventually we got to the car park and I escorted Julie to her car. “I am glad I was rude.” I said. She smiled, “Why is that?” “If I was polite we never would have argued and today would have been like any other boring day.” “Okay Frank, so what as so wonderful about today.” “Today, I met a rude, giggly, girl of a woman, who is terribly beautiful and who I think has stolen my heart.” “She blushed. “Terribly beautiful am I? You’re not that bad to look at either Frank. The jury is still out on the little part though.” We both laughed and exchanged naughty looks at each other. “Oh for God’s sake Frank stop being so bloody coy and kiss me before I die from annoyance.”
LOVE I wanted to be in love, but I didn't want to reveal my big secret. I twirled my finger in your hair as you rested your head no my naked chest. I had fornicated with many women since I was fifteen years old but never before was there anything besides raw sex. As you draped yourself upon me our skins kissing, I knew that I had fallen, and fallen hard. You brought calm and joy to my turbulent life, a life that you were only partially privy to. “Sukh, why are you so quiet?” You asked me the one time. “Just thinking about my life, that’s all.” I replied having very little to say at the time. “Aha, what about your life?” you persisted. “Why do you ladies always get so deep and philosophical after a good shag?” I motioned to kiss you but you clearly had no appreciation for my humor. I honestly had no idea why you got upset. “Other women! I didn’t expect you to be a virgin Sukh but you don’t have to remind me that I am just another number on your bed post.” You turned away pulling the sheets with you. You wrapped the Egyptian cotton sheets around your slender body and stormed out of the bedroom. You went to the bathroom and slammed the door. I came to the bathroom but you had locked the door. I remember saying “Lisa, come on baby, I didn’t mean anything. I was joking. Please let me in so we can make up under the hot shower. Besides it’s cold out here.” I stood there caressing the door in the hope that you were standing on the other side, able to feel my affection. All I received for my efforts was the sound of shower pouring down. I waited in the corridor for a few minutes in hope of an invitation into my bathroom but none came. Dejected I walked back to my room. A few months back and I would have been furious at you for your behaviour. A few months back nothing would have stopped me from breaking down the bathroom door and beating some sense into your stupid head, a few months ago I would have kicked you out onto the street with nothing but the smell of our time together. A few months ago I would never have imagined falling in love with you. Lisa, when I left that day I left behind many things that matter. I left behind my calm and joy, my house, all my possessions, but most of all I left you and a large number of unanswered questions. I’m sorry Lisa, I have been a down right prick to you and you don’t deserve that. I never answered your calls or returned your messages for the last three months. If I have hurt you I am terribly sorry. If it helps, the moment I walked out the door that day I started hurting. Ironic isn’t it that my name is Sukhraj, the king of happiness but all I seem to have done is cause hurt and pain to you and myself. I woke up this morning longing to be in your arms and realized that I had to fill in many of the blank spaces that I left in our short yet meaningful relationship. Let me start by answering the question that you have been asking since that morning of the argument, why I left. It had nothing to do with our argument. The only thing your tantrum did was give me time to think. Lisa, I have done a lot of things in my life that I am not proud of, things I wish I could change, but you knew all of this while we were together. You changed me. When I met you I began to respect life and people again. You gave me happiness and never asked why I did everything I did before we met. Thank you for that. I met you in October last year. I was angry and drunk out of my mind and you were shy and bored in that club on the corner of St Peter Road. When I collapsed on your lap at the club you didn’t slap me, nor did you get up and abandon me, you held my face and caressed it at which point you changed me. Six months prior to our meeting something happened which resulted in me being so angry and hateful. It is also the reason I left you that morning. Lisa I have terminal stomach cancer. It is a gift from my family. It was detected too late and other complications made any attempt at fighting it risky. I accepted it as a death sentence and lost all regard for life. Sleeping around and abusing others was my way of feeling alive for just a little while. When I met you I wanted to live again and bring love and happiness to somebody else, you offered me life. That night when you gave me your virginity, I didn’t run away because I got what I wanted but because I could not tell you about the cancer. For some stupid reason I thought that I had to hide it from you, I think it helped me to hide the reality from myself. When I looked at you all I saw was a future filled with joy and love. A future I knew I could not have and that is why I ran away because it hurt too much, being happy with you. I hope that you have moved on and found the love that you deserve. This letter comes to you now that I am dead as part of my wishes stipulated in my last will and testament. That which I kept secret can no longer be hidden. Thank you for giving me life. Eternal Love Sukh.
Om Sri Guru carana saroja raja nija man mukar sudhaar Baranau raghubar bimal yas do dayak phalacar Buddhi hin tanu jani ke sumirau pavan kumar Bal buddhi vidya dehu mohi harahu kales vicar Having cleansed the mirror of my mind with the dust of the lotus feet of Sri Gurudev, I now proceed to describe the untarnished Glory of Sri Rama which bestows the four fruit of human life, Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha. Realising the inadequacy of my intellect, I meditate upon You Hanumanji, grant me strength, intelligence and true knowledge, and renounce all my afflictions and blemishes. Om Namo Narayanaya Hanuman the Embodiement of Dasya Bhakt When we think of God, we often conjure up images of a mighty patriarch seated upon a throne enshrouded by fluffy white clouds. The renaissance artist Michelangelo painted God this way thus presenting us with a western model for God. The ancient Greek, Egyptian and Norse Gods were all depicted as strong, powerful beings to be feared and revered. Hinduism also has a large pantheon of various forms of God. Lord Brahma the creator, seated upon his Lotus presiding over Brahmalok, Sri Vishnu reclining upon Sheshnag in Vaikuntha, Maheshwar Shiva, meditating in Kailash. Name any aspect of the Hindu pantheon and you will find a grand Master or Mistress, strong, powerful and majestic. Yet there is one aspect of God that, despite His greatness, His extreme strength, wisdom and intellect is portrayed humbly kneeling before another aspect of God; Mahavir, Bajarangabali, Pavan Putra Hanuman. Despite all his greatness Hanumanji offers his entire being at the feet of Lord Rama. He exemplifies the ideal path of a devotee towards God. The Srimad Bhagavad Gita lists the various sacrifice or yogas that one should perform to reach God. Hanumanji is the ultimate yogi, Karma, Gyana, Bhakti he is perfect in all. Verses 32 and 33 of the Hanuman Chalisa read: “Rama rasayan tumhare pasa sada rahau raghupati ke dasa Tumhare bhajan Ram ko bhavai janam janam ke dukh bisaravai” The essence of devotion to Sri Ram is with You, Hanumanji; may you always be the servant of the Lord. Through devotion to you one obtains Sri Rama and the sorrows of life after life are culminated. May you always be the servant of the Lord. What an odd prayer but the reason is simple. Hanumnji is a friend to those who worship his beloved Lord Sri Rama. Vibishana, the brother of Ravana was rescued from Lanka and taken to Lord Rama because Hanumanji saw in him a great devotion to Lord Rama. Hanumaji delights in the glory of the Lord and those who worship the Lord sincerely spread forth that joy. Hanumanji protects the devotees of Sri Rama and carries them safely to the feet of the Lord and eternal Bliss. Dasya Bhakt refers to a servant devotee of God. The word servant has negative connotations if we were to analyse it in isolation. Servant conjures up images of domestic workers on their hands and knees cleaning the floors or washing windows and while there is no shame in doing such essential work it is not a desirable job or rather no one aspires to be a servant. This however is the result of our pride and egoism. Hanumanji was a servant of Sri Rama. His love and service was so immense that in the Hanuman Chalisa it states that Sri Rama declares that Hanuman is as dear to him as his own brother, the devout Bharath. Before we proceed, let us establish what certain words actually mean according to the English dictionary. A servant is a person employed to do domestic work in a household or as a personal attendant. A devoted follower or employee. Bhakt refers to a devotee; a devotee is a person who is devoted to something or an enthusiast. Devotion is a great love or loyalty, enthusiastic zeal or religious worships. Sri Hanumanji was the devoted attendant, follower and employee of Sri Rama. Hanumanji performed his every action as an offering to Sri Rama. In the Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter nine, verses 27 and 28, Lord Krishna proclaims: “Yat karoshi, yadashnasi, yaj juhoshi dadasi yath Yat tapasyasi kaunteya tat kurushva mad arpanam. Subhasubhaphalair evam mokshyase karmabandhanaih samnyasa yoga yuktatma vimukto mam upaisyasi” Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer in sacrifice, whatever you give away, whatever austerity you practice, do it as an offering to Me. Thus shall you be free from bondage of actions yielding good and bad results. Being free, and with your heart steadfast in the Yoga of renunciation, you shall come to Me. How beautiful is the synergy of the Great epics of Sanathan Dharma. The Mahabharat gives us the Srimad Bhagavad Gita which gives us the word of God, assuring us that the offering of all actions at His feet will result in bliss. This teaching is given in the Sri Ramcharitmanas through the example of the Hanumanji. When Sri Rama and his army got to the banks of the ocean, a hero was needed to cross the ocean and find Mother Sita, to see how she fared and to take word to her of Sri Rama’s approach. That hero was Hanumanji. To cross the ocean and overcome the numerous obstacles in his path Sri Hanuman invoked the name of Sri Rama. With his mind and heart on the task set before him by the Lord, Hanumanji overcame many distractions and obstacles along his path and reached the Asoka grove of Lanka where Mata Sita was held. Distressed as she was Mother Sita’s heart was lightened on hearing the tale and message delivered by Hanumanji. He assured Mother Sita that when Sri Rama arrived the demons will be destroyed. It is here that Hanumanji makes a statement that epitomises his devotion to Sri Rama. So great and powerful is Hanumaji but he is devoid of ego and arrogance, he follows only the wishes of Sri Sita Rama. He says to Mother Sita, ‘Mother I would take you to Him this very moment but I swear by Rama, I have no such orders from the Lord. When Sit a Mata questions the abilities of the monkey troop over the forces of Lanka. Hanumanji offers the following explanation: “Listen Mother; monkeys possess no great strength or intelligence either; but through the Lord’s might, the most tiny snake might swallow Garuda, the king of birds.” Sita Mata is pleased with this response and blesses Hanumanji. Moved by Her blessings Hanumanji prostrates to the Mother. He then declares that he is hungry but will only eat the fruit of the trees in the Asoka grove if Mother Sita allows him to. The mother knowing Hanumanjis devotion to her Lord replied, “Go my Son, and enjoy the luscious fruit with your heart fixed on Sri Rama’s feet. “ When Sri Hanumanji burnt down Lanka he returned to Sri Rama with word of Mother Sita’s well-being. Sri Rama was overjoyed and responded that he will never be able to repay the debt to Hanumanji. As Hanumanji listened to Sri Rama’s words he was filled with joy, but he prostrated to the Lord and cried, “Save me, save me from the tentacles of egoism my Lord.” Sri Rama asked Hanumanji how he was able to burn down the mighty city of Lanka. Hanumaji replied: “Nothing is unattainable, my Lord, to him who enjoys Your grace. Through Your might a mere shred of cotton can surely burn a submarine fire the impossible can be made possible. Therefore, be pleased, my Lord to grant me unceasing Devotion, which is a source of Supreme Bliss” Hanumanjis’s devotion to Sri Rama is expressed through many episodes. On returning to Ayodhya, Hanumanji stayed with Sri Rama and Mother Sita following them devotedly. Sri Hanuman was so devoted to Sri Rama that even at his core there existed only Sri Rama. One of my favourite stories associated with Hanumanji, is that of the pearl necklace. On returning to the kingdom of Ayodhya, amidst a grand coronation celebration, Mother Sita gifted Hanumanji a string of pearls. Hanumanji although a monkey in appearance was immensely wise and spiritual. He proceeded to bite each pearl and then discard it. When his actions were questioned, Hanumanji answered that he was searching for Sri Sita Rama within the pearls for without Sri Sita Rama the pearls were worthless and of no use to Him. When his respect and devotion to Sri Sita Ram was questioned, Hanumanji ripped open his chest and there seated in his heart was the divine couple Sri Sita Ram. Thus we see that Sri Hanuman had immersed his entire existence in devotion to Sri Sita Rama. On one occasion Sri Rama and Sita Mata were entering the palace and Hanumanji was about to follow, Sri Rama stopped him and said that he was not allowed. Hanumanji then questioned why Mother Sita was allowed into the palace but not him. In an attempt to find and answer Sri Rama pointed to the sindoor on Sita Mata’s head. “This,” he said, “entitles Sita to enter with me.” That was an acceptable answer for Hanumanji but only temporarily. In an attempt to prove his immense devotion to Sri Rama, the following day Hanuman covered his body in sindoor and waited for Sri Rama at the palace entrance. Understanding the actions of Hanumanji, Sri Rama acknowledged the supreme intellect of Hanumanji and allowed him to enter the palace. It is for this reason that Hanumaji is often depicted as being completely red. “lala deha lali lase, aru dhari lala langur, vajra deha danava dalana, jai jai jai kapi sur.” Red is your body, red is your radiance and red your massive tail. Your body is like the thunderbolt which brings destruction to the demons. Hail, hail, hail,O Heroic Kapi! There is no doubt that Hanumanji was/is a Great bhakt. The question that arises though is; Was Hanumji the bhakt of Sri Ram exclusively? This was the question that Sri Rama and Sita Mata once pondered over. Sri Rama declared that Hanuman was his devotee alone. “How did you deduce that,” asked Sita Mata, “for surely he is my devotee exclusively. The divine pair debated this point before deciding to ask Hanumanji to answer the question. When Hanumanji arrived he dutifully began to massage the feet of Sri Rama with one hand and the feet of Sita Mata with the other hand. Sri Rama asked, “Hanuman, whose devotee are you, are you not mine exclusively?” The same question was posed by Mother Sita. Hanumanji being the repository of knowledge and wisdom sensed the game at hand and replied that he is neither the exclusive devotee of Sri Rama nor of Sita Mata. Sri Rama asked for an explanation for how could Hanumanji then serve them so devotedly if His loyalties lay elsewhere. Hanumanji laughed, “I am not exclusively Ram’s devotee or exclusively Sita’s devotee. I am and will always remain Sita Rama’s devotee!” Sri Rama and Sita were delighted. Sri Sita Rama is one aspect of the same Supreme entity, two sides of the same coin, Shiva Shakti, the masculine and the feminine aspect of the Supreme. Hanumanji, a monkey, a seemingly lesser life form to human beings was able to achieve and overcome great trials and obstacles by offering everything at the feet of the Lord. We must learn to do the same, so that through faith, devotion and love of God we may overcome our trials and obstacles and reach God. Swami Vivekananada said: You have now to make the character of Mahavira your ideal. See how at the command of Ramachandra he crossed the ocean. He had no care for life or death! He was a perfect master of his senses and wonderfully sagacious (showing insight or wisdom). You have now to build your life on his great ideal of personal service. Through that, all the other ideals will gradually manifest in life. Obedience to Guru without questioning, and strict observance of Brahmacharya - this is the secret of success. As on the one hand Hanuman represents the ideal of service, so on the other he represents leonine courage, striking the whole world with awe. He has not the least hesitation in sacrificing his life for the good of Rama. Only the carrying out of Shri Rama's best is the one vow of this life! such whole-hearted devotion is wanted. May we learn from the example of Hanumaji and humbly offer our lives in service to Lord.