Monday, November 14, 2011

The Quest to learn what cannot be taught--My article that appeared in the inauguratory issue of High Priestess Monthly Journal.

What cannot be taught and must be learnt can only be meditated upon. So we are going to tell you a story hoping that we learn along with you in the process.

Amidst lush vegetation and flanked on two sides by two beautiful rivers was a kingdom ruled by a wise old king whose name we have forgotten.Well, That is alright as names are unimportant in the quest of ‘The Absolute’.Taking the story forward, in THAT kingdom ruled by The Wise King there was harmony, peace ,plenitude and most important of all Happiness.The king ruled for several years and the Praja( His people) could not have been more content.

The king wise as he was, had sent his only son ‘The Prince’ to Guru-kul to prepare himself for the mammoth task of stepping into his father’s shoes when the time came. The prince had been gone for over 20 years now (he was sent at the tender age of 5) and had been working really hard to learn The sacred texts, gaining mastery at various weapons, sword fighting, Archery, gada ,bhala and malla-yudha, along withHorse riding as well as the literature of various law givers from Manu to Vidur to Chanakya.

He read them all..and learnt them all and was now raring to go back to the palace to show his father his various talents and impress him and gain his love and respect.

So the prince set out for the palace armed with his knowledge of ALL—all that could be taught.There was a self assured gait to his walk—the demeanour of a young man who has mastered it all.

He rode his horse to the palace gate and then walked purposefully inside. The king who had been watching from a distance unseen,observed his son coming in.Observed it all--Observed too well and refused to see The prince.

The palace keeper respectfully informed the prince of the same, Prince was taken aback, but before he could ask any of the hundreds of questions that came to his mind, he was ushered outside and told in no uncertain terms that his education was so very incomplete and so he should go back to the Guru-Kul—‘To learn what prey??’ The prince asked, his face getting red--To learn that what cannot be taught—the old servant informed him in his calm, collected voice.

With his face getting redder by the minute the Prince turned back without a word and rode at the speed of lightning back to his Guru-Kul to ask his Guru what his father had denied him---Answers.

As the king entered the Ashram of his Guru—he found his guru sitting at the front porch—as if expecting him—he smiled an all-knowing smile and said –so you have come back—and before the Prince could ask his questions—can u tend a herd of sheep?—I need a shepherd—Now, we will digress from the story for a while to bring a very important point to your notice—It is no coincidence that all the prophets have been Shepherds—coming back to the story, the Prince with his perplexity increasing said ‘but I have come to learn that which cannot be taught—God only knows what that means’

The Guru rebuked him and said all in good time—first go tend the flock—so the prince dragged his feet to the sheep and went about his business with them…every moment was a torture for him. As he was dragging himself about the task, the day passed very slowly for him.At dusk he arrived at guru’s humble abode and asked impatiently when is it that he is going to teach him what cannot be taught. The guru looked at him reproachfully and said that there is a time for every thing and that the time is not right and how he was an impatient man and what is wrong with the young generation and that sheep needs tending—all that just seemed like an old man’s blabbering to him and then the only thing that he understood—that the guru will teach him what cannot be taught when the sheep have multiplied to a count of 100—now this made sense to him—he finally had a figure to concentrate on---a number to focus his energies on—rest of The Guru’s wise talk fell on deaf ears as The prince did a quick calculation as to when will the sheep be let’s see there are already 15 and two of them are big with a child…that makes it 17..another 6 months or so may be I could get them to mate and reproduce—in 2 years I will have about 30—he kept on calculating with simple mathematics and dozed off to sleep with dreams of she-sheep becoming plump with babies and reproducing and his herd growing and growing and growing..

The next morning he woke up with his mind buzzing with ideas on how to make the sheep mate and his herd grow---he applied them—failed at some and then succeeded at some—six months went by and the count was still so much short of hundred—but now the prince knew how to take care of his herd. he knew all the sheep by their names..the babies that were born he had named himself—he knew when a sheep was hurt or sick or had indigestion—He knew how to shave them, feed them and in general tend them---another 2 years went by--Some of the old sheep had died and there were a lot of young ones—The prince’s knowledge on shepherding had improved manifold---He knew how to soothe their sentiments and ward off their insecurity, he knew which one liked to be caressed where and how they ate their grass and drank their drink and he knew which male liked which female and if his attention was welcome or not.

Another 3 years went by---the prince now had got over his habit of counting the sheep first thing in the morning to see if they had increased in no. miraculously overnight…and Now, he loved his sheep…he knew how to lick the young ones…how to let them lick you and he knew how to read their mind…he could sense the danger as fast as them…and their troubles troubled him and quite honestly he had also eaten their food and drank their drink…another 5 years went by---now the prince had completely forgotten his reason for being there---he was there only to tend sheep—and he liked to play the flute as they grazed nearby—casting their loving trusting glances his way---He was content with his life of tending sheep---it filled his heart with a glow to see his growing flock---he was now a Shepherd—Only that—and that is All---

THAT Dusk as the Prince sauntered back to his hut after the day spent grazing and tending sheep with his big flock of sheep following him he was whistling a happy tune—there was a careless gait to his walk, he seemed drunk with happiness. Stumbling then catching his step and laughing uproariously at himself—he even danced a silly dance to entertain his sheep on the way—The guru saw him and summoned him—and asked him that had he counted his sheep off late—The prince could not understand the drift of the conversation and laughed gaily and shook his head---Guru looked at him solemnly and asked him to count---The prince started counting the sheep, placing his hands at their backs as he counted them —The prince counted and counted them All—after the last sheep was counted the count came to 99---Just then The Guru lovingly placed his hand on the prince’s back and counted 100--Including the prince now the flock had come to the magical no. of 100—the guru reminded the prince of why he was here in the first place—and told him that he had learnt what he had come to learn and that his father is awaiting him eagerly and that he should rush back to the palace and takeover his duties.

The prince walked back to the palace in his rags, bare-feet—his gait humble as could be—Greeting the old and the young as one, tending any one who was sick or hurt, carrying other people’s burden for them.As he turned the final corner to the palace he came face to face with his father—dressed in all the finery of the world—yet bare feet---The king looked at his Only son like Only a father can---and then embraced him—his tears drenched his son’s sweat stained robe—he smelt the sheep smell on his son—and said---Son!! I am weary…Relieve me from my duties—for you have learnt what cannot be taught!!!

Snigdha Pandey


1.15 am

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