The battle of Mahabharata was on. Except his head, every inch of Bhishma Pitamah’s body had been pierced with arrows. Markedly, no arrow had hit his back- a testimony to his bravery and the esteem in which he was held by both the Kauravas and the Pandavas. He lay on a bed of arrows that had pierced his body and which now supported it substantially above the ground. He was waiting; waiting for Uttarayana: for he had been granted the boon of willfully choosing the time of his departure from the material world. Bhishma Pitamah had resolved to choose Uttarayana as ‘the moment’, for liberating his self from the gross body.
Even as he lay there the battle continued. At the end of each day, leaders of both the warring sides would come to Pitamah, to seek his blessings.
One such day Pitamah said to the gallant warriors, “My body is supported by the bed of arrows, but my head hangs backwards. Will any of you arrange for me a pillow?” Veneration to the Pitamah made all warriors take his wish as a command. Duryodhana and his men immediately swung into action and soon soft, velvety pillows were presented. But Pitamah would not even look at them.
“Where is Arjuna?” he asked.
“Here I am, Pitamah”, Arjuna stepped forwards, his head bowed in reverence.
“Can you arrange a pillow for me?”said the Pitamah, looking at him.
“As you command, Pitamah”, said Arjuna.
Stepping backwards, he picked up his bow and got ready, as if to shoot.
Everyone looked on with curiosity. What is he up to? They watched with utter surprise, as Arjuna shot an arrow at the Pitamah’s forehead. The arrow, shot with calculated force and precision- so characteristic of Arjuna- pierced through Pitamah’s forehead with its tip resting firmly on the ground. Now, like the rest of his body, the Pitamah’s head also had the support of an arrow.
Pitamah was elated. “I am glad you have given me a befitting pillow. Only a gallant warrior can offer such a pillow. Had you also offered me a velvety pillow, I would have cursed you, for such an ordinary pillow would have been nothing but an insult to me.”
Days passed. The battle was on. Uttarayana was yet to come. Bhishma Pitamah continued to rest on his bed of arrows.
One of the evenings, both the warring sides would come to seek Bhishma Pitamah’s blessings. The Pitamah expressed another desire, “My throat is parched. Will some one arrange to quench my thirst?” Everyone was keen to serve; especially the Kauravas who were eager to amend their previous mistake. Duryodhana was there again- this time with jars of different kinds of water- cool, medicated, scented etc. However, no luck this time too. Pitamah would not even look at all that he had brought. His eyes turned towards Arjuna yet again. Arjuna stepped forward, bowed in reverence, mounted the arrow on his bow, invigorating it with the intonation of the powerful Vaarunastra, and struck it powerfully on the ground, aiming it with such dexterity and precision, that a thin stream of water spurted from the ground straight on to the parched lips of the Pitamah, who drank it with great ecstasy!
This water was the only thing that Pitamah ate or drank in the twilight of his present life, but what grandeur and pride did he drink it with! A true warrior’s delight! For him the flavour of this stream outdid everything else-the sumptuous, wholesome and invigorating food he had consumed during his life in the royal palaces. Those were the foods offered by Duryodhana with the selfish motives of pleasing Pitamah, for wooing his support for the war. But here was this simple water dedicated to the great Pitamah, by his gallant adversary in the battle, Arjuna. Here was the water befitting the valour, the pride and the grandeur of this great warrior.
Bhishma had spent all his life in the royal palaces. The grand old man revered by all for his wisdom and valour, he commanded deference of the kings like Pandu and Dhritrashtra. However, he valued a bed and a matching pillow that was made of arrows. For him the luxuries of palaces were of no value as compared to the great pillow offered by Arjuna.
He did drink water; he did accept a pillow; but how?
With an unprecedented grandeur, and with an unprecedented pride!
The importance of work lies not in ‘What’ has been done, but ‘How’ had it been done. Something done with dedication, selflessness and pride is way more important than the same thing, or even better, done unwillingly or forcibly.
Even a single step taken by you can revolutionize the world if taken with dedication and conviction. Otherwise even a marathon of miles could be fruitless.
It is easy to run on a smooth way chosen by yourself for convenience. But blessed is that stroke of your foot which opens a path which was closed and difficult for others to tread. Blessed is the step that smoothens the path for others who follow you.
A small Satyagraha initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa transformed into a movement which awakened the masses of India and eventually forced the British to quit India.
It may be important to cross a river; but much more important is the way you cross it. Still more important is your motive. Why did you think of crossing the river? What was your purpose? How and Why are related to each other. Did you cross the river to plunder the village across it, or to help it flourish? If you swim it across, you also awaken the power sleeping within you. This awakened power will give birth to a revolution.
Place – Kanyakumari.
Swami Vivekananda wanted to reach the temple built in amidst the seas.
“Will this ascetic have enough to pay me?” the boatman refused to oblige.
But Swami Vivekananda was determined. He swam his way across. The manner in which he reached the temple carries all the importance. This grand way to reach the temple became a matter of pride not only for Swami Vivekananda but for the entire country. He used his power within to swim across. The latent power within him was awakened and for three days he stayed there in a state of awakened consciousness-the samadhi, unified with the divine antarnaad-the music within. His fearless lap in the sea became a harbinger of a socio-spiritual revolution.
That he managed to reach the temple in the sea is not important. No big deal-thousands visit that very place everyday today. What is important is the majesty
with which he reached there; the magnificence with which he jumped into the sea. Rather than compromising his pride, beseeching the help of some boatman, he chose to jump into the sea and ultimately succeeded in reaching the temple.
Similarly, whether you become a Doctor, an Engineer, a scientist or whatever, it may be important. But more important is, ‘How’ did you achieve your aim? What kind of means did you use to fulfill your objective!
Every one aspires to be a ‘somebody’- may be a Doctor, Engineer, officer, pilot etc. Only a few of them are able to pass the requisite examination. There too, many of them pass by either mugging up, coaching from others or even by cheating. Toppers are still fewer, much fewer in numbers. And just think how many of these toppers befit the status and magnificence of their profession? Agreeably, very, very few!
That you become a successful Doctor, is immaterial. What is important is your motive- Your motive for becoming a Doctor! Is it for money? For fame? If yes, then you have sold your profession, literally. In that case, could you become a Doctor in the true sense, or a scientist etc. for that matter? No. You have just become a salve. A slave of mundane worldly possessions!
On the other hand if you have chosen to become a Doctor with a motive to serve the suffering humanity, then you have definitely become a true human being though your profession.
If driven by the urge to serve, you delve deep into research related to your profession, you have truly succeeded in your mission. In such a case, you have started developing your consciousness; you have established your pride and magnificence within your profession.
Bhishma Pitamah did not allow his valiantly earned bed of arrows to get corrupted with the touch of soft velvety pillows. He drank only water and that too with pride and magnificence. In today’s world, can you think of anyone who does not let his/her profession get corrupted with the allurements of name and fame. Can you think of anyone who is not willing to compromise his/her pride and magnificence even if it amounts to living in penury!
You may be sick. Nothing out of ordinary has happened! The wish to get rid of diseases is very natural. Maintaining good health is your right as well as a duty. However, the means you use to maintain good health, do matter. Do you feel broken? Is your wish to recover accompanied with dejection and negativity? Then perhaps your ‘being’ itself has become sick. How can the poor body flourish when the ‘being’ itself is sick?
Are you ever imploring the Doctors to cure you? Be careful. If such is the state, then you are not only a patient, but also a slave. You have stopped trusting yourself. If you value your medicine more than your self confidence, more than your own self, more than the power within you, then you are in trouble for sure. In such a case, no medicine will ever be able to cure you. A disease will be suppressed only to give rise to the other.
Go to the physician if you must, but not with dipping spirits. Go to him with confidence.
Take the medicine if required, but take it with confidence. Take it consciously, awakened with that power within you. Do not let your pride and magnificence be weakened by feeling sick. Do not let your being be diseased even if the bodily ailments afflict you. Do not let your duty, your conduct, your thoughts be diseased. Do not compromise on your strength, pride and your magnificence- hope, even if you lie on a bed of arrows.
Be a sadhaka if you want to attack the disease afflicting you. Establish yourself in the divine truth- I Am a Yogi; I Am a Surya Sadhaka; I Am a Part of God Himself.
You cannot allow frailty, dependency on others and despair to flourish within you, if you really wish to tread the path of divinity, of seeking nothing less than the everlasting boundless bliss – God. “Naymatma balhinen labhya’, Self realization is not for the frail- proclaim the Upanishidas. True renunciation is the hallmark of a sadhaka. Attraction for worldly objects, howsoever grand, is against the dignity of a sadhaka. His/her dignity lies in marching ahead even in the face of greatest adversity. An elephant hardly bothers about the dogs trying to chase him, but retaliation against the dogs is unbecoming of an elephant. After all, dogs do not deserve to be compared with the majesty of the elephant.
Where do the material possessions stand in the face of the grandeur of a sadhaka. Even millions of temptations cannot sway a sadhaka away from his/her avowed path. Be it success, be it failure, the magnificence of a sadhaka reflects in his/her perseverance, his/her determination to continue his/her expedition.
The determination of a sadhaka and the ability to tirelessly follow the avowed course, is his/her pride and dignity which itself is the manifestation of the godly bliss.
Whatever you do, ask yourself
– DOES IT BEFIT MY PRIDE, MY DIGNITY?