At a particularly dark ridge on the eastern side of the forest, I saw a flock of deer scamper. The trees shook violently and birds frantically flapped their wings. In an instant, the stillness was broken. Snippets of conversation from my earlier meeting with my friend flooded my mind. “Are these animals running in fear of a Lion?” I asked, worried. My heart was beating fast and as I looked around, I realized I was all alone. I cursed myself for ignoring my friend’s warning.
Ironically, the previous evening I had presented a seminar on ‘Overcoming fear’ where I had delineated systematic steps to tame the wild mind. Eight hours later, I stood exposed; I didn’t remember a word of it. I didn’t even know who I was or where I was. I was desperate to run. But where? If I ran, the animals would discover me and I would be an easy prey. What an inglorious death that would be! Here I am a preacher and a monk, well known to members of our community, who delivered discourses on the mind, soul and God but who would now met his end as a breakfast for a tiger. Maybe it was a herd of tigers! I looked at a giant tree nearby and wondered if I could climb it for safety. What if there was a python nearby?
I recalled years ago reading in the papers that a lion had escaped from the zoo and had attacked a few humans, before he was caught. All these years I never recalled that event. But now I was sure that a lion was lurking nearby.
It was during these frantic moments that I saw this old tribal man, walking aimlessly. He was at home, even as I felt the sword of death hang over my head.
He looked at me from head to toe, his eyes widening, “Oh are you a swami?” he asked noticing my saffron robes – a monk’s attire. “Yes, there are tigers and leopards here,” he added emphatically at first before dismissing it with a wave of his hand. “You needn’t worry though. After all you are a monk. The tigers won’t do anything to you.”
To be continued…