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THE TUSKER’S TEARS Published by Cinnamon Teal Print and Publishing Services (A division of Dogears Print Media Private Ltd.) Goa, India. This is a work of fiction inspired by the Narayaneeyam and the Bhagavad Gita. All rights reserved Copyright © 2009 by Velayudhan Menon Cover art, illustrations and design by Vidya Menon ISBN: 978-93-80151-17-5

Printed in India

Price: Rs. 225/-


THE TUSKER’S TEARS

Velayudhan Menon


This book is for Vidya, …because her questions needed answers


See the truth beyond the temples’ glow, Unzip the light and see the rainbow.

I am the Self seated in the hearts of all beings. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.

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Like the visible part of light and the audible portion of sound, our lives on earth, from birth to death, are probably only a part of the entire spectrum of Life. This earth too is simply one bead in a cosmic garland of stars and planets. We have many questions to ask about the purpose of our lives on earth and about the concept of God. There are no evidence-based answers to these questions. What we have are possibilities and we are free to choose what we wish to believe in. It is remarkable that some of the findings of quantum physicists about the nature of the world echo the assumptions of mystics who tell us that the world is not as it appears to be. This book is an attempt to explore the concept of God from two spiritual sources – the Bhagavad Gita and the Narayaneeyam – both from India. The Narayaneeyam is a poem in Sanskrit written by Melputhur Narayana Bhattadri.

This poem is

composed of more than a thousand stanzas, and was written as a prayer for the relief of the poet’s crippling rheumatoid arthritis. It describes stories of God and His creations, and of the birth and exploits of an incarnation of God called Krishna. Legend has it that 3


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Bhattadri used to recite each completed stanza of his poem in front of the statue of Krishna at the Guruvayur temple in India and that he was cured of his disease when the final stanza was recited. The Bhagavad Gita is a symbolic record of a dialogue between God and Man and represents the wisdom of the spiritual texts called the Upanishads. This book, the Tusker’s Tears, draws on the stories in the Narayaneeyam and the philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita in an attempt to clarify the concept of God in a meaningful way. It is not a translation or an explanation for either of these books. It is merely the author’s view of the truth that lies out there.

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~ 1~

The birth and death of a Tusker * The king sat in his garden under the shade of a tamarind tree, his eyes closed. He was meditating. He focused on his breathing, and concentrated on the sensations within him. In the silence of his mind, he felt warm and happy. He smiled involuntarily. The king was Indrayumna, a kind and just ruler loved by his subjects. He had fought many battles, conquered many lands and achieved glory and fame. Yet he was dissatisfied. Something within him made him feel as if all that he had achieved was of little significance. Which explains why he took upon himself another battle: to know himself and his purpose on earth. This was a battle fought not with weapons, but with regularly scheduled 5


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sessions of silent awareness of his thoughts and emotions. It was a battle that was more difficult than the others. As he meditated in the garden that day, he was unaware that someone stood beside him, waiting for his attention. It was Agastya, a sage with a terrible temper, who waited there for the king’s hospitality. Agastya saw the king smile and misinterpreted it. He assumed that the king was aware of his presence. He shouted at the king, “How dare you ignore me when you know I am standing here? Proud, are you? Curse you! You will be born an elephant in your next life.” Elephants, as you may know, are proud animals. The startled king opened his eyes and tried to understand what was going on. He attempted to explain and apologise for having kept the sage waiting. But

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Agastya was furious and would not listen to the king. He left the place in a huff. Many years passed; the king died after a prolonged illness, and Agastya’s curse took effect. Indrayumna was reborn as an elephant called Gajendran. Gajendran was born on a tropical island with large forests and plenty of delicious bamboo shoots to eat. It was heaven for him, and he roamed free with the others in his herd. A strong and powerful tusker, he soon became the leader of his herd. One hot and humid day, Gajendran and his herd found themselves in a part of the island where they spotted a lake. They waded in for a swim and were enjoying themselves in the water when tragedy struck. A crocodile clamped its jaws on Gajendran’s leg and began to pull the tusker deeper into the lake. The elephant trumpeted in pain and struggled to free himself. The more he struggled however, the deeper became the gash in his leg as the crocodile’s teeth cut 7


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through his muscles like a serrated knife. The water turned red with blood and the other elephants scrambled out of the lake in panic. Gajendran struggled hard to free himself but the crocodile simply would not let go. Soon the elephant began to tire from loss of blood. The crocodile slowly pulled Gajendran deeper and deeper into the lake until only its eyes and trunk were above the water. From the shore, the other elephants watched in fear and confusion at this struggle between elephant and crocodile. In those final moments before he was pulled completely under, Gajendran remembered a hymn that he had learnt in his previous life as Indrayumna. Reciting that prayer in his mind, he grabbed a lotus flower with his trunk. And that was how the other elephants watched him drown - with a lotus flower held aloft in his trunk.

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Gajendran died that day by drowning. But his spirit, cleansed of Agastya’s curse, went back to God.

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~2~

Gajendran talks to God * After death, the soul or spiritual energy of Gajendran went to God. This soul of Gajendran was earlier the soul or spiritual energy of the king Indrayumna. It is possible that it might have been many others, with different names and forms, before being born as Indrayumna. For the sake of simplicity, however, it will be called Gajendran, because that was its last physical manifestation on earth. One of the first things Gajendran told God was, “What you did was not fair. Why did you allow me to be born as an elephant and suffer in that lake? I did nothing wrong to Agastya.” God answered: “There are many reasons for the suffering that takes place on earth. You had to become 11


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an elephant because I needed your help to liberate that crocodile in the lake.” “You needed my help to liberate that crocodile?” asked Gajendran. “Yes. That crocodile was there because of its sins in a previous life. It was time for its suffering to end and I needed you for that purpose.” “But the crocodile killed me!” “Of course it killed you. You had to die on earth before you could come here. What you don’t know is that the crocodile too died from its injuries after its fight with you and its soul has now assumed another form on earth.” “But was that fair? Making me suffer in order to help another creature?”

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God simply said: “That was the reason for your birth as Gajendran.” After a while Gajendran asked, “Why is it that I came here while the crocodile had to be reborn on earth?” God answered: “You had progressed far enough on the spiritual path. The spirit of the crocodile, on the other hand, still needs to learn and mature before coming here. So it gets another life on earth.” “But not everyone knows they have to travel the spiritual path.” God said: “If people will only look at the way the natural laws operate on earth, they will realise that life on earth is not a destination but a transit point. That should make them question and search for the truth of their lives on earth. Coming to me is an act of free will. In fact, it is to enable them to learn the truth that I allowed life to evolve into human beings.”

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Then God told Gajendran: “I want you to hear what I had once told people on earth about God. It is recorded in the Bhagavad Gita. I will give you the opportunity to listen to what I, as Krishna, told the world.”

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~3~

What is the Bhagavad Gita? * The Bhagavad Gita is a record of the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. Krishna is an incarnation of God while Arjuna is a warrior who does not want to fight. The conversation took place at the beginning of a war called the Kurukshetra War. This war was the result of Arjuna and his clan being denied their rightful inheritance by their cousins. The story begins with a blind king asking his minister to tell him whether the war has started. This minister, a man called Sanjaya, has the unique gift of being able to see and hear everything that happens in the war even though he is nowhere near the battlefield. He tells his king that the two groups about to fight each other have already assembled on the battlefield with their elephants and weapons. Arjuna’s enemies have superiority in 15


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manpower and weapons while Arjuna has Krishna on his side. Then Sanjaya describes how Arjuna instructs Krishna to take his chariot closer to their enemy, wanting to see the faces of those who would deny him his rightful inheritance. When Arjuna sees the people in the enemy camp, he is filled with sadness because he sees there his relatives and those who were his friends. That makes him feel guilty about fighting. He decides not to fight because he reckons that the human cost of the war is too terrible a price to pay for getting back his inheritance. When he tells Krishna this, Krishna tries to motivate Arjuna to fight because it is a war against injustice. In the process, Krishna makes Arjuna understand what life on earth as a human being is all about. No one is sure who actually wrote the Bhagavad Gita but scholars have suggested that it was the revered Indian sage Vyasa, and that it was written as an allegory for life itself because of the challenges that have to be overcome in all our lives. The blind king symbolises our inability to see the truth that is God. Prophets and sages 16


are like Sanjaya because they seem to know the truth about God. The war represents life’s challenges, and like the combatants in the Kurukshetra War, we use either wealth and power, or the strength that comes from God, to meet these challenges. Arjuna’s sadness is symbolic

of

the

human

dilemma

where

the

consequences of doing the right thing can be painful.

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~4~

Gajendran sees Arjuna’s despair * Arjuna came ready for war, filled with righteous anger at the way his cousins had cheated him and his brothers of their rightful inheritance. He asks his charioteer Krishna to take him closer to the enemy camp and looks closely at those who wait to fight against him. He recognises many of those waiting to fight him and, seeing them, he is filled with sadness. “These are people who are willing to kill me for the sake of money and wealth,” he tells himself. “Affection, loyalty and respect are less important than money and status for them.” And then he realises that he is no different from those he sees in the enemy camp. After all, he too had come there ready to fight and kill for money and property. 19


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Thoroughly confused about what he should do, Arjuna wonders whether regaining his share of property through the war will give him happiness. He cringes at the thought of the death, destruction and suffering that the war will cause and wonders if he should fight at all. He turns to Krishna and tells him, “I am not going to fight. It does not matter if we lose our inheritance. I do not want to commit a sin by being the cause of death and suffering to others.”

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~5~

Gajendran listens to Krishna * Krishna told Arjuna: You worry about those whom you need not worry about. The wise grieve neither for the living nor for the dead. Do not imagine death to be some kind of loss. All people die, and death is nothing to be frightened of. The human spirit is pure energy and it never dies. Death is merely a change from matter to energy. Every person on earth was a mass of energy before being born on earth and will return to that energy state after death. So why are you sad for something that involves no loss? You became sad after seeing your friends and relatives in the enemy camp. Such emotions, provoked by one’s sense organs, can make a person behave irrationally. Do not make decisions while gripped by emotions, for sensations and emotions are not permanent and change over time. Do not be overwhelmed by them. Simply do your duty on earth. 21


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As a warrior, your job is to fight against injustice, and this war is a battle against injustice. That is why you must fight. Doing your job with courage and faith is a sure way to travel the path to God. If you do not do your job, you will incur sin and people will speak badly of you. Never be afraid of doing what you must do. Look at it this way: if you die in this war, you will get spiritual merit because you died while doing your duty, and if you win, you will enjoy the earth. A person who is at peace does not crave for happiness. He is not overwhelmed by pleasure or pain. He simply does his duty at all times. He knows that the sensations he experiences will always provoke either pleasant or unpleasant emotions and he learns not to react to them. Those who react to their emotions are those who fall prey to anger, fear, and unreasonable behaviour. Only the person who can handle his sensations and emotions is tranquil and happy.

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~6~

Gajendran sees the creation of the world * Gajendran asked God how human beings first came to earth. To show him, God took Gajendran across space and time to show him how Brahma, the Creator, did his job. “Look, that is Brahma,” God told Gajendran, pointing to an elderly, bearded man sitting

cross-legged on

the ground. As they moved towards him, Gajendran noticed something strange about Brahma’s face. It seemed to be looking at him directly, no matter the direction. Then Gajendran remembered that Brahma, the Creator, did indeed have four faces. He commented on this to God. God said: “He manifests those four faces only when he is in deep concentration. When I first sent him to earth 23


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to create human beings, he did not know how to do his job. He sat on a bed of lotus flowers and continuously kept looking in all directions for the knowledge he needed. I gave him those four faces to make it easier for him to see everywhere at the same time.” When Brahma first arrived on earth, Gajendran learnt, he had found the whole planet submerged in water and in darkness. The only light there came from a luminescent lotus that cast a radiant glow all around. He tried for many years to find the source of that lotus, but failed. Finally he decided to seek God’s help and spent many years praying to God. Pleased with his sincerity, God showed him how that lotus sprang from a primal energy source. Once Brahma understood that the source of life on earth was God’s energy, the rest was easy. He strengthened himself with that energy, and drank a great deal of the water off the earth’s surface. Then,

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he set about creating life forms like plants and animals and finally, human beings. Initially he created men one by one, and assigned specific duties and responsibilities to each one. The work was slow and laborious for he had to do everything himself. He experienced anger, sorrow, guilt and a whole host of other emotions while doing his job and these emotions attached themselves to his creations too. He laboured on slowly in this manner until God showed him an easier way to do his 25


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job by creating a man and a woman and enabling them to reproduce through their union. And that was how the earth’s population grew steadily without Brahma having to exert himself anymore.

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~7 ~

Gajendran listens to Krishna * Krishna told Arjuna: There are two paths to God. One is the path of knowledge and the other is the path of work. You can choose either path but, even if you choose the path of knowledge, you still have to do your obligatory work and your duty on earth. Doing your work, without being emotionally attached to it, is equivalent to prayer and is an easy way to God even if you do not study the scriptures. People commit sin because they do not do the work they are meant to do. It happens because their desires lead them astray. Desires arise through the sense organs and you cannot prevent them. You should however, be aware of your desires and not be controlled by them. If you find it difficult to work without attachment, simply dedicate all that you do to God. Imagine yourself working for God. Work done without attachment will ensure that you remain 27


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balanced in success and failure. Always have faith in yourself and in what you do. Success on earth comes only to those who have faith in themselves. Similarly, faith in God is necessary if you want to succeed in your quest of knowing God. When your work becomes your prayer, you will easily succeed in knowing the truth about God. This knowledge about God is the goal of every human birth.

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~8~

The story of the boy with devotion * God told Gajendran that people have free will to decide whether they want to believe in God or not. Belief in a God whose existence cannot be proved is called devotion. To show Gajendran the power of devotion, God told him the story about Prahlada. There was once, on earth, a king who considered God an enemy. The king performed rituals and sacrifices to Brahma, the Creator, until Brahma appeared before him to ask what he wanted. The king asked for the gift of immortality but Brahma did not have the power to give him that. So he asked instead for a boon that would protect him from death by any man or beast on earth. Brahma granted him that. As an afterthought, he also asked that he should never be killed in the morning, afternoon, evening or night. Brahma granted him that too. 29


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These blessings from Brahma made the king invincible to his enemies. So, with the intention of killing God, he began to search for God throughout his kingdom. He destroyed temples and objects of worship, wanting to provoke God to a fight with him. He searched everywhere but could not find God. He boasted to everyone that God was afraid of him and was hiding from him. Around this time, the king’s wife bore him a son. The king wanted to mould the young prince into a ruthless and cunning warrior. When the boy was big enough, the king arranged for him to be taught the science and art of warfare by the best teachers in the kingdom. He did not know that his son had already experienced the love of God while in his mother’s womb. That made the boy, who was called Prahlada, refuse to believe and follow much of what his teachers taught him. The boy laughed in their faces when his teachers told him that his father was more powerful than God. When told that physical strength was the most important thing in the 30


world, the young boy said: “Devotion to God is the most important thing in the world.” The teachers were amazed by this little boy who did not care for what they taught. Soon the king too began to feel ashamed when his son praised God in public. In spite of changing the boy’s teachers many times, Prahlada’s devotion to God remained firm. Finally, to avoid the embarrassment of having a son who loved God, the king decided to secretly kill the boy. His men were given instructions on various ways to kill the boy and make it look like an accident. But the boy survived all their attempts and remained alive and defiant. One day, the king caught his son singing praises of God in front of everyone. Furious, he strode up to the boy and shouted, “You are a traitor to our race and I am ashamed to call you my son. Why do you keep praying to God?” I pray because God is the source of everything in this world. Everything comes from God. All strength is from God,” his son replied. 31


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“What is the name of this God?” “God has many names and you can call him by any name.” “Where is this God of yours?” shouted the king. “He is everywhere,” replied Prahlada. The king drew his sword and struck angrily at one of the pillars in the room. “Is God inside this pillar?” he asked sarcastically, and moved forward to kill the boy, saying, “let me see if God will protect you.” That was when it happened. With an explosive sound, the pillar burst open and a strange being stepped out. The creature that came out of the pillar was neither human nor animal. It had the head and upper body of an animal with the legs and lower body of a man. Its eyes were golden in colour, its teeth were long and pointed, its hair was like a lion’s mane and its open mouth was as wide as a cave. It had a sword-like tongue 32


and razor-like claws on its fingers. It emitted a terrifying roar and rushed to protect Prahlada. “So this is God, huh?” the king muttered and turned to fight the creature. He was not afraid for he knew Brahma’s boons would protect him from death. It was a savage and bloody fight. The king used all the tricks of combat he knew but could not overpower the strange being. The creature finally caught the exhausted king in a deadly grip, laid him across its thighs and dug its claws into the king’s chest. Tearing the chest apart, it drank the blood that gushed out. One of the last thoughts of the king was: How can this be happening? What happened to the boon Brahma gave me? What the king did not realise was that none of Brahma’s boons had been violated. His attacker was neither human nor animal and he was killed at twilight,

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which was neither morning, afternoon, evening nor night. When the creature’s fury had subsided, it threw

the body of the dead king on the ground and stretched itself. Smeared with blood and flesh all over, it was a terrifying sight. It went to Prahlada and blessed the boy. Then it disappeared.

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“That is the power of devotion,” God told Gajendran. “And that beastly form was just to show the world that I sometimes do my work through actions that appear terrible and frightening.”

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~9~

Gajendran listens to Krishna * Krishna told Arjuna: God can be worshipped in many ways and as long as you have devotion, it does not matter how you pray to God. For those who dislike symbols and images, God can be worshipped in an abstract way through chanting and hymns. Simply offering your work to God can also be a prayer. Do not keep performing rituals without trying to understand the truth about God. Meditation is better

than

book-derived

knowledge

because

meditation helps you know the presence of God within you.

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~ 10 ~

The Milk Ocean * “How many Gods are there?� Gajendran asked one day. To answer that question, God took Gajendran to the south of the earth where God was worshiped as a creature that was half man and half beast called Narahari. Then they went west and found people worshipping God in the form of a handsome man with a seductive smile called Kamadeva. In the north they found a place where God was worshipped in the form of a fish while further north God was in the form of a big and stunning tortoise with a back strong enough to hold a mountain. In yet another place people worshipped God in the form of a huge boar. Here, God told Gajendran the story of how God, in the form of a boar, once saved the Earth. They also found a place where God was worshipped as a human being called Rama and a place 39


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where women worshipped God in the form of a large serpent with a thousand heads. Seeing all these various ways in which God was worshipped, Gajendran was confused about what constituted God’s real identity. God told him, “People make images of Me for worship based on what they have experienced or what they have heard from others. But all these are only pointers towards God. I am present in everything on earth.” Gajendran wanted to know why people worshipped God as the giant tortoise he had seen. So God told him about the existence of the Ocean of Milk in the Universe and the story connected with it. Once upon a time, there existed in the Universe a group of people with superhuman powers. These people were called Devas if they were good and Asuras if they were not. It so happened that the Devas lost their super powers after being cursed by an angry sage. To help them regain their powers, Brahma, the Creator, told them to churn the Ocean of Milk and get from it 40


the

nectar

that

would

give

them

back

their

superpowers. The Milk Ocean is to the universe what the mind is to the human being. It is huge and filled with good and bad things. The Devas obeyed Brahma’s advice and made preparations to churn the Milk Ocean. However, they could not do it alone. It was too big for them. They needed the Asuras to help them too. A deal was negotiated between these two warring groups by agreeing to share the gifts that came out of the Milk Ocean. They used a mountain as a churning rod and a huge serpent as the rope. The Devas positioned themselves at the tail end of the snake while the Asuras stood at the head end. The churning began with great enthusiasm and the Devas and Asuras pulled the snake back and forth, spinning the mountain and churning the ocean. “But they could not churn fast enough and the mountain began to sink,” God told Gajendran. “I had to help them. I assumed the form of a gigantic tortoise and dived into the Ocean to bear the weight of the mountain on my back.” 41


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Once the churning rod was stabilized on the back of the giant tortoise, the Devas and Asuras were able to spin the mountain easily. As the churning progressed,

various things began to come out of the Milk Ocean. A large jug of poison was the first thing to come out. The Devas had to take it, for that was the agreement. After that, a large cask of alcohol came out and it went to the Asuras, who immediately gulped down huge quantities of it. Subsequently many wonderful and fascinating things came out of the Milk Ocean and these were shared equally by the two groups. 42


Many exhausting hours later, the pot of nectar that they were all waiting for came out. The Devas and Asuras had agreed to share the nectar between them but, foolhardy with the liquor they had consumed, the Asuras snatched the pot of nectar and ran away. The Devas could only stare in dismay. At this point, God intervened by appearing in front of the Asuras as an attractive young woman with alluring eyes. The Asuras, intoxicated with the liquor they had consumed, were immediately filled with lust and longing for her. To woo her, they asked her to help them distribute the nectar equally amongst themselves. They readily agreed to her suggestion that a little of the nectar should also be given to the Devas. So the woman made both the Asuras and Devas sit in separate rows while she ladled out the nectar to them. The Asuras were so completely infatuated with her that they did not notice her distributing the nectar to the Devas first. The woman served equal helpings of the nectar to the Devas and disappeared from the scene when the pot was empty.

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The Asuras did not get any of it. Seeing the Devas regain their strength, the Asuras ran away. God told Gajendran, “The churning of the Ocean of Milk is symbolic of churning the human mind through meditation. The mind holds the key to health, wealth and knowledge. It also has within it the seeds that lead to man’s destruction. Only when the mind is churned through meditation will it be possible to rid it of all its negative traits and get at the nectar it contains. But as the story shows, human beings may not be able to do it by themselves. They will need the help of others and they will also need My help.”

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~ 11 ~

Gajendran listens to Krishna * Krishna told Arjuna: Only if the mind is serene will a person experience peace and happiness. The mind can be serene only when sensations do not overwhelm the mind. The serene person regards friends and foes equally. To make the mind serene, you should practice the art of meditation where you concentrate the mind on a single thought. This may be difficult in the beginning because the mind is notorious for its inability to be still. Yet, it can be attained with persistence. It is very difficult only for those who are given to excesses, like eating too much or too little, and sleeping too much or too little. Once the mind is serene, you will find that the world cannot hurt you because you will be able to generate your happiness from within you. This is the kind of happiness that is not affected by external circumstances. Yoga means disconnection from pain and any practice 45


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that helps you make your mind serene can be called yoga. Also, when the mind is serene, you will find it easy to learn the truth about God.

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~12 ~

The story of a happy man * “Prayer does not always bring immediate results,” God told Gajendran. “I know that,” Gajendran answered. “But tell me, why do good people who pray regularly still have difficulties and problems?” God said: “Difficulties and problems on earth are part of the landscape. Like a game of golf, it is part of the playing field. Everyone has to experience them. Some have difficulties with money, some with health, some with relationships and some with their own emotions. Do not pray to avoid problems. Instead, pray for the help needed to navigate your way through these problems when they happen.”

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God then told Gajendran the story of Kuchelan to show him how problems in life can be the forerunner of great blessings. Kuchelan was Krishna’s classmate in school. He was a good man but he was always poor. He never seemed capable of earning enough money. He had a wonderful woman as his wife who never complained about their lack of comforts or the occasional need to go to bed hungry. Both Kuchelan and his wife lived their lives cheerfully, with faith in God, in spite of their hardship and financial difficulties. One day, during a particularly difficult time, the wife told Kuchelan, “Why don’t you ask your classmate Krishna for help? I am sure he will help us.” Kuchelan agreed, and the next day he got up early and set out on his journey to Krishna’s house. He took with him a little beaten rice as a gift. Krishna was delighted to see his old friend. They spent the whole evening talking and reminiscing about their school days. When

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Kuchelan gave Krishna his gift of rice, Krishna immediately ate a handful of it with relish. Kuchelan stayed the night in Krishna’s house and returned to his village the next day. He recalled happily his conversation with Krishna as he travelled home. Then he realized that he had not asked his friend for any help. He wondered what he would tell his wife. He hoped his wife would not be angry. He had a surprise awaiting him when he arrived home and found his house stocked with food and his wife looking radiant, wearing new clothes and jewels. “Krishna sent all these for us,” his wife explained to him. Kuchelan wept with gratitude, overcome by Krishna’s generosity. “I want to emphasise a point here,” God told Gajendran. “You must be worthy of receiving My blessings and you must not be disappointed if your 49


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prayers are not answered immediately. And when I accept what you offer Me, you will be filled with abundance in your life.�

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~ 13 ~

Gajendran listens to Krishna * Krishna told Arjuna: Birth and death to a human being are like the coming of day and night on earth. Energy manifests itself on earth as birth and retreats as death. This interplay between energy and mass is responsible for the repeated births and deaths that occur on earth. There is a state beyond this constant flux where energy is tranquil and steady. This is what can be called the home of God. This is not a place but a state of existence. Attaining this state of God is the goal of human life. But to attain this, you must have faith that such a state exists. Everything that you do on earth either brings you closer to this state or further away from it.

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52


~ 14 ~

The story of Vamana * God told Gajendran the story of Vamana to illustrate the point that suffering always has a purpose. Bali was a powerful king who ruled over a large kingdom on earth. He was a good man but had slowly become very proud and arrogant because of his power and strength. That made him behave rudely towards the Devas, a group of people with supernatural powers. To help the Devas and to teach Bali a lesson, God took birth on earth as a young man called Vamana. Everyone liked Vamana. He was handsome and had twinkling eyes. He soon became well versed in spiritual matters and used to travel around the country, meeting and talking with people. His trademark attire included a staff in one hand and an umbrella in the other. He was invited once, for a religious ceremony, to Bali’s house 53


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along with many other great priests and teachers. There, even though he was treated with great respect, shades of Bali’s arrogance were evident. At the close of the ceremony, Bali asked all his guests to request what they wanted from him, telling them that he was the master of the Universe and could give them anything they wanted. When it was Vamana’s turn, Bali asked him, “Young man, what do you want? Gold, money or land? Or all three? Don’t be shy. I can give you anything in this world. I am the master of this universe.” These words showed Bali’s pride, and it was this pride that needed to be curbed. Vamana told Bali, “I would like to have a piece of land equal to what I can cover in three steps.” Bali laughed in contempt when he heard this.

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“You are a simpleton,” he told Vamana in front of everyone, “to want only three steps of land when I am able to give you the whole world.” “If I am not satisfied with three strides of land, then I will not be satisfied even with the whole world,” retorted Vamana. Bali rolled his eyes in amusement and shrugged his shoulders in a gesture of contempt. “Okay, I will give you what you want,” he told Vamana. To seal his promise, he began to pour a little water onto Vamana’s palms.

Just as he was about to do that,

however, Bali’s chief priest called out in a loud voice, “Don’t do that. Do not promise to give him anything. That man is God in disguise.” Bali hesitated only for a second before saying, “If this is indeed God who is begging from me, then I am the happiest man in the Universe.”

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The Tusker’s Tears

So, ignoring the priest’s repeated entreaties, Bali sealed his promise to Vamana. Then he asked the young man to measure his three steps of land. In front of the surprised Bali, Vamana grew enormously and became a giant. His first step covered half the Earth and his second step covered the other half. “Where is the place for my third step?” asked Vamana in an angry voice. Bali realized the truth then. This was indeed God who stood before him. He bowed low before Vamana and, without the slightest display of fear, requested Vamana to place the third step on his head. Accordingly, Vamana placed his foot on Bali’s head and pushed him deep into the earth. While doing so, he told Bali, “You are dear to me. This is done only because of your pride and arrogance. Do not be afraid. You will be born again as the king of the Devas, and after that, you will come to me.”

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When the story was over, God asked Gajendran what he had understood from that story. Gajendran answered, “Power and riches make people arrogant and proud.” “True. The other lesson here is that, though people are punished for their transgressions, they are also rewarded for their goodness. And the suffering that Bali experienced was the prelude to great blessings later.”

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~ 15 ~

Gajendran listens to Krishna * Krishna told Arjuna: Everything that you see in this world arises from God. You can see God in the radiance of the moon and the sun as well as in the life energy of all beings. But know that all these are only a reflection of God and not God itself. People mistakenly attribute qualities to God based on what they see on earth. You must try not to do that. People worship God for many reasons. Some pray because they are in distress; others pray because they want knowledge, or they want wealth. God generally gives people whatever they want provided they are worthy of receiving it. But the wise person prays to God because he wants to know the truth about God and find a way to reach God.

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~ 16 ~

The birth of Krishna * After listening to Krishna’s advice to Arjuna, Gajendran was curious to know how Krishna was born on earth. He asked God about it and was told the following story. Krishna was born on earth at a time when there was a great deal of cruelty and injustice there. His mother, a woman called Devaki, was the sister of a cruel king named Kamsa. His father was a prince called Vasudeva. At the time of Devaki’s marriage to Vasudeva, the king, Kamsa, had a dream in which he was told that his sister’s eighth son would kill him. That made him so frightened that he wanted to kill his sister on the day of her marriage itself. He relented only when the couple promised to surrender their children to him.

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The Tusker’s Tears

Devaki had many children after her marriage. She was forced to surrender each one of them to the king, who secretly killed each child. Krishna was born as Devaki’s eighth child at midnight during a thunderstorm. His parents knew that he was a special gift from God and that they had to protect him. So, Vasudeva took the newborn infant secretly to a village nearby in the dead of night. It is said that the father and son were shielded from rain and lightning by the hood of a giant serpent that protected them from harm. Vasudeva had no idea where to leave the child until he saw a house with its door ajar. He peeped into that house and saw a woman sleeping on a mattress on the floor with a newborn female infant beside her. There was no one else there. Quickly and silently, he swapped his son for that baby. Keeping Krishna beside the woman, he took the female baby back home with him. No one noticed what he had done. Back in his own house, Vasudeva wrapped the baby in warm clothing and handed her to his wife. Soon, the infant’s cries alerted the king’s spies and Kamsa himself 62


came for the baby. Kamsa was particularly concerned about his sister’s eighth child because of the prophecy. Vasudeva showed him the newborn and asked him to spare the child’s life because it was a girl and not a boy. But Kamsa decided to kill the baby anyway because he wanted to take no chances. He grabbed the baby and, like an elephant dashing a coconut on the ground, he threw it against a large stone nearby. To everyone’s utter amazement, the child slipped out of Kamsa’s grasp and transformed itself into a burst of light. And Kamsa heard a voice telling him to mend his ways because the boy who would kill him had already been born. Meanwhile, in the nearby village, Krishna cried and the woman beside him awoke from her sleep. She picked up the baby and put him to her breast. She had no suspicion at all that it was not her child for she had slept fitfully immediately after giving birth and had no idea that her baby had been a girl. She claimed Krishna as her own son and the village celebrated the birth of her baby boy. 63


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That was how Krishna grew up as the son of the cowherds, Nanda and Yasoda, in their village, safe from the murderous king Kamsa. It would be many years before these two people learnt the truth about the boy they had assumed was their son.

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~ 17 ~

Gajendran’s notes to himself * Krishna removed Arjuna’s misconceptions about death and dying by telling him that death was only a conversion of mass to energy. Krishna emphasized that the concept of ‘I’ or the sense of identity in every human being is the spiritual energy of life and that God is the source of this energy. All living things are formed from this universal energy. This is the energy that enables the eyes to see, the ears to hear, the nose to smell, the tongue to taste and the skin to feel. People can also see evidence of God in the energy that lies within atoms. Though this atomic energy has been described with mathematical equations and people have learnt to harness it for their own use, not many realise that this energy is a window to the presence of God on earth. People often assume God to be a judge of what is good and bad. That is not true. Good and bad are 65


The Tusker’s Tears

consequences of what people do. God is merely the energy that allows things to happen. Sadly, many people do not recognise this unique energy for what it is, because they do not see anything wonderful in the way seeds germinate, or in the way fertilized cells become human beings. People can understand God only by first knowing that the energy of God lies within and around them. That is why scriptures tell people to “know yourself” if they want to know God. People have to be aware of their thoughts, desires and emotions if they want to know themselves. It is in the space between these thoughts, desires and emotions that they will be able to see the link between themselves and God. Many people pray to God only for a comfortable life on earth. However, the real purpose of prayer is to help people find God. If done with the right attitude, work itself can become a prayer. The right attitude is defined as the ability to do the correct thing without being swayed by individual likes and dislikes. The monetary value of work does not matter when work is done as a prayer. The opposite is also true. Work done in the name of God has no spiritual merit if it is done for the sake of money, power or fame. People offer different kinds of

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things to God when they pray. Some offer the chanting of songs and hymns; others offer money and gold. Still others abstain from pleasurable activities or spend time in meditation as their contribution.

In whatever

manner a person may pray, it is important that he tries to understand the relationship between himself and God through prayer. A proper knowledge of God helps to insulate people from pain and distress. Does this quest for the knowledge of God imply that people must not want material comforts or have a desire to make money? No, it does not. It is not wrong to work for material gain because everyone born on earth has both a physical and a spiritual purpose. One’s physical purpose on earth may require the creation of wealth. Therefore, the search for God must not be an excuse to avoid achieving one’s true potential on earth. Instead, the spiritual path must give one the stamina and the drive to excel in everything.

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~ 18 ~

Conclusion * Life on earth gives both pleasure and pain. Every individual has problems to solve and challenges to overcome. These problems and challenges may be physical or emotional. Like the Kurukshetra War, there are personal battles that one must fight on earth. If people can view these battles as milestones in their onward journey towards God, they will have a purpose that makes them able to transcend their circumstances, however difficult these may be. There is a similarity between sleep and death. Sleep is the time when the energy of life goes into its

un-

manifested state and returns refreshed and recharged to the same individual. Death is the time when this energy goes into its un-manifested state but does not return to the same individual. Instead it returns as a new person, a new birth, in order to continue and fulfill its mission. 69


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The process of knowing God is what is called the spiritual path. As one moves in the right direction, one will find meaning in life’s joys and sorrows and will realise that the journey from birth to death is not as meaningless as it may appear. The person who consciously links the energy within himself to the energy of God will find the kind of happiness that is not dependent on external circumstances.

When

people know the truth about God, they automatically stop searching for God because they have learnt to see God in everything around them.

The practice of

periodically recharging one’s energy with the energy of God can be done through the practice of meditation. A simple way of doing this is to periodically focus the mind on different parts of the body and use one’s imagination to see each tissue and organ being energized and connected to its universal source.

THE END

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The Tusker's Tears  

A book about stories from the Narayaneeyam and Bhagavad Gita

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