Venky had heard it all. He knew about the legendary king Parikshit Maharaj who was cursed to die within seven days and he chose to absorb himself in hearing Srimad Bhagavatam from his guru Sukadeva Goswami. For seven days and seven nights the king heard with rapt attention from Sukadeva Goswami, and both were so engrossed in the narration that they transcended the bodily needs of food, water and sleep. While that was a historical incident of five thousand years ago, Venky felt a glimpse of a similar absorption this evening.
Venky turned to Kishor, “You know I am amazed after seeing guruji so closely today; he just raised my consciousness to a new high. He was so fully connected to himself, it didn’t really matter if India had won the world cup or not. He was just so happy within himself. That’s what I want”
“You already have that”, Kishor reassured, “You are happy and so am I. We are pure, spiritual beings, eternal, full of knowledge and bliss. Somehow we get covered by myriad distractions of this world that includes cricket or Bollywood or politics and we trade our eternal happiness of being for fleeting pleasures of this world that only titillate our senses for some time. Guruji is simply reminding us that pleasures are external to us while happiness is an internal state, independent of who wins and what happens to us”
“Yes I realized that”, Venky concurred, “Just the way guruji carried himself these three days; he seemed to be so much at peace with himself. He was present. He allowed the cricket news to enter his ears; he was attentive to each word we spoke in his room. He was present as he glorified me in the class yesterday evening. Then he was absorbed looking at the street lights and the bill boards and while talking on the phone with Dr Shah and while answering questions during the morning class. He was just there. And therefore when it was time to leave, he so gracefully left. Wow!!”
“That’s the way to live and leave”, Aki said, as he too joined the discussion.
“What’s that?” both Venky and Kishor asked simultaneously.
“We need to live in the present, and leave the world at death, also being present, connected to the self and the Lord of our heart, totally at one with our spiritual identity. Then it doesn’t matter whether India wins the world cup or not”
“Yeah”, Kishor said, “Just like Venky was so absorbed in the present, he forgot to pass urine”
“We can’t sleep anyways now. The fire crackers and the drums are too loud” Kishor said pointing to Venky, “Why don’t you come to my room and we could speak for some time and then you could retire”
Venky nodded his head and both of them quietly walked to Kishor’s room.
Kishor mused in the small room, lit by a table lamp. “It’s an odd feeling really, Venky, I can’t tell you. I am happy India won, but I know my life is different; it’s not meant for such petty emotions connected to sports”
“But you seemed so different to me”, said Venky, “I always thought you were a no nonsense monk who cared less about any sports leave alone cricket”
“Shh”, Kishor urged, “Speak softly, our neighbors are sleeping”
A thin plywood door separated the rooms of the seniors in the ashram. Most of the younger monks, including Venky shared the open ashram space for sleeping.
“What makes you think I am attached to sports or cricket?” Kishor probed.
“Let me be honest”, said Venky, “You were vulnerable. You looked little disturbed at the cricket event. I thought you were getting nostalgic. After all you played cricket and must have wished India win the world cup so many times but now as a monk you were confronting your own desires with what is expected of you”
“Yes Venky, I must confess I was agitated by the world cup finals. I was all right till yesterday but the fact that the match was held so close to our ashram, at a stadium where I myself played for years and I haven’t missed watching a single match there, and right there we had this mega event and I wasn’t part of it. I was torn inside but knew it’s all insignificant. I knew the hollowness of it all but was recalling my own dreams and desires of what now appears a past life of a bygone era. I wished so often Indian team wins the cricket world cup. And now India did win but I wasn’t there. I was miserable yet I feel comforted now”
To be continued…..