Not the post I had in mind to write when I got up today morning. However news that I received through social media first thing in the morning last week, not once but twice, and one of them today morning, made me change my mind
Whenever I have faced emotional issues, I have found myself going back to reading the Indian epic Mahabharata. Its stories had helped to calm my mind, providing solace and answers to many questions I have in my mind. It’s amazing that an epic that was written thousands of years back are replete with stories addressing issues that are contemporary.
Today morning as I woke up and looked at my Whatsapp messages, I was greeted with a message from on of my friend back home in India regarding the death of one of my ex-colleague. He was in the ICU for an week prior to his death. Another ex-colleague who was admitted to the same hospital around that time had passed away couple of days. None of the deaths were age related. These back to back string of bad news were depressing to say the least but also made me reflect on a story that I had heard first from my maternal grandfather when I was a mere child and had gone back to read that story several times during my adult life.
This story is from Bana Parva( Bana : forest, Parva : chapter) in Mahabharata when the Pandava’s were in exile in the forest for twelve years with their wife Draupadi. As they were roaming around in the forest, they were tired and King Yudhisthira, the eldest Pandava, sent his brothers one by one to search for water to drink. None of them came back and after some time Draupadi also went to look for water. When she also did not come back, Yudhisthira went looking for them. After some time he arrived at a lake surrounded by a beautiful garden. He also saw that all his brothers and wife Draupadi were floating in the water, all dead. At the sight of his dead brothers and wife, Yudhisthira fell down to the ground crying and fainted. When he regained consciousness, he thought his life was useless without his near and dear ones and he decided to give up his life. At that time a crane, who was none else but the god of death and truth in disguise, Yamaraja, asked Yudhisthira to stop and said that if Yudhisthira can answer four questions correctly, all his brothers and wife will get back their life and he can then drink water from the lake without fear.
The four questions were as follows : what is the news, what is the most surprising thing, what is the path and who is the happiest in this world.
The answers from Yudhisthira is the essence of the philosophy of life.
I am still unable to fathom the answer to the first question fully but in a nutshell I think it basically points to the fact that we are puppets on a string dancing to the tune set by almighty. This is my reading of the answer, learned people may clarify.
The answer to the second question is the one that had literally hit me when I was a child and I still contemplate it in a regular basis. This answer is the most relevant to my post today. Yudhisthira’s answer to the question regarding the most surprising thing was that every moment, all around us, people and animals were dying but we who were left behind think that we would live forever. So profound. Death is inevitable and it’s the absolute truth once we are born but we are still so fearful of death.
Answer to the third question was that the path is the one that great souls tread. Seems simple but how many of us can sincerely say that we have followed on the footsteps, without deviating, of the saints and prophets that we revere.
The fourth answer was that the happiest person was the one who in his own home, without any debt can have a simple meal of his own.
For me these four answers have been guiding lights in leading my life. I will not boast that I have not deviated, by temptation, from these philosophy of life sometime or other but these have helped me to keep grounded to my roots.
Yes, I am saddened to receive the news of the passing away of my ex-colleagues but I know in my heart that when the time comes, I will be ready to face the inevitable. Who knows what adventures are in store in the next journey.
Featured image from Wikipedia