This morning, I hurried to her, earlier than usual. I was worried sick. It had been four days and there seemed to be no change in her condition. I had not slept well the whole night. In fact, I had not slept well for the past several nights.
I checked her bed and my heart sank. Her drooping posture told me all.
I collapsed into a chair and looked at her in resignation.
I was not the kind who took interest in such things. But on that fateful day, at the floral exhibition, I happened to see her, and it had taken me but one second to fall head over heels in love with her.
For this rose tree was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Her blood red flowers stood pouting, full of youth and virility, smiling at the Sun above. Her branches and leaves, a soothing and yet refreshing shade of green,gracefully arched in different directions, elegant in their splendid, artisticasymmetry.
She was Beauty, personified.
Five minutes later, she was mine, and 60 minutes later, she was nestled in her own special private flower bed in the corner of my garden, which received the best portion of the sunshine, with no other trees around to compete with her beauty.I felt that she deserved nothing less.
And there she stood, tall and elegant, her flowers in full bloom, dazzlingly beautiful. She would spread sunshine and happiness throughout my house.
Mohini, I named her, for she would captivate my senses with her beauty and fragrance.
I would sit on a chair in front of her and gaze at her for hours, marvelling at, and revelling in her delightful glow. I was filled with joy just by looking at her.
I was convinced that I had finally found true happiness in my life, in the form of Mohini.
But soon there came periods when she fell ill. Stains of some illness would creep onto her leaves or stem, her colour would run and threaten to fade away, and the gorgeous petals of her flowers would fall away.
I would then go into a state of panic and consult the best gardeners. I would give the costliest and best treatment which would then restore her health and beauty, and in consequence, my peace of mind.
But there would also be times when despite every treatment, I could only watch helplessly and wonder what I could do to get her well and make her become cheerful and happy as before.
And today was one such day.
I was shattered. I had tried every treatment in the book and nothing was happening. It was like an unearthly darkness had cloaked my entire house.
I stood up and nervously paced around the room like a caged lion. Once in a while, I would glance at her and feel even more depressed. Morning became noon and I felt neither hunger, nor thirst. My mind was in a state of acute turmoil.I could not think of what to do next. My thoughts, just random, incoherentnoise.
My depression slowly gave way to a smouldering rage. Like a terrible volcano, anger and frustration began to boil inside me. I started to breathe heavily, my vision blurred and I clenched my fists so tightly that my nails dug into myflesh. I could hear the gritting of my own teeth and my heart pounding againstmy chest.
Before I had realized it, I had sent my fist slamming into the glass window pane close by, shattering it into hundreds of pieces. Ignoring the pain and the rivulets of blood that were streaming down my knuckles and fingers, I turned andscreamed at the rose tree,
‘Damn you Mohini! You are not being fair to me...NOT FAIR AT ALL!!’
Like a drunken man, I staggered towards Mohini and cried out to her,
‘What have I done to deserve this? Where have I faltered, where have I neglected my duty?! Have I not given you the best, the very best? Mohini, answer me!!’
I scooped up the various tins and boxes from the floor, ‘Look! The finest fertilizers and nutrients from abroad, the best soil, even your water comes from a special source. See...see these lamps! Providing you with light closestto natural sunlight, even when it’s cloudy. I have done every possible thing onearth to keep you happy. What more do you want? What more can I do for you??!’
Tears of rage, frustration and sorrow ran down my cheeks as I continued, ‘I cherish you...treasure you. Don’t you understand? You are the very source of my happiness...how can I be happy when you are in this condition?’
With that, I laid my head down in my arms and began to sob quietly.
Emotionally and physically exhausted as I was, my eyes began to close...
The voice was gentle, as could only be expected from a delicate, elegant rose tree.
I looked up slowly in astonishment.
My beloved Mohini continued softly, ‘Yes, Ramesh, it is me, Mohini. And you are right. You have done everything possible for me, probably even much more than I deserved. And I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you for that.’
‘Then why can’t you remain happy? For always...’ I blurted.
Mohini smiled as best as she could, ‘How can you expect that, Ramesh? Do you really think you are the source, the controller of my happiness? How can you be so egoistic?’
I was taken aback. ‘What do you mean, Mohini? You have just said that I have done everything possible to make you happy...’
Mohini said, ‘You have done so, Ramesh, but does my happiness entirely depend on you?
See this fungus that infects my leaves. My body being mortal, such things are bound to happen to it.
Or these thorns on my stem... Very often, they hurt my own self. And yet you cannot separate them from my body without causing me pain. For they are a part of me. Just like my destiny is a part of my life. You cannot separate mydestiny from me. And my destiny, like that of every living being, has both joysand sorrows in store for me. Happiness will be followed by sorrow, and thenagain by happiness and so on...
Everyone is destined to suffer and enjoy as per his destiny, Ramesh. And neither you nor I can influence that very much.
So as you can see, Ramesh, I am sorry, but in spite of your best efforts, I cannot remain happy for you, all the time.’
I felt crushed by what she was saying, and yet what she was saying was absolutely true.
Mohini continued, ‘Take yourself, Ramesh. You had thought you could be happy forever, by bringing me into your life. Are you happy now...always happy?’
I slowly shook my head.
‘Then Ramesh, if you cannot keep your own self happy at all times, how can you expect to keep me perpetually happy? Please understand Ramesh, you can only do your duty in your efforts to keep me happy,but you cannot ensure my eternal happiness.’
‘But Mohini...I can’t bear to see you like this!’ I cried. ‘Seeing you sad makes me sad. Your suffering causes me immense sorrow...’
‘And you alone are responsible for that, Ramesh!’ Mohini shot back firmly. ‘Did I ask you to make me your source of happiness? I too am a living being, destined to suffer and enjoy throughout my life, like you. How can I bring youeternal happiness?’
‘Then what do I do, Mohini? What do we do? Can we never become permanently happy?’ I looked away and ran my uninjured hand through my hair in frustration.
‘We can, Ramesh, we can.’ Mohini’s voice was gentle again. ‘But first you must understand two things. One, that the happiness that we have spoken about till now is worldly and therefore temporary in nature. It is impermanent,short-lived. There exists another kind of happiness, a permanent, genuinehappiness.
And secondly, we must seek this genuine, everlasting happiness not from mortal beings, but from the original Source of everything. The supreme Lord Himself.
Surrender unto and love that almighty Lord, and become His Devotee. Devotion to the Lord never goes in vain. In fact, attaining pure devotional love for Him is in itself, pure lasting bliss.
And when this happens, these cyclical changes of temporary, worldly joy and sorrow will cease to confound and disturb you.’
Her last few sentences brought me hope and peace of mind. All my anger, frustration and sorrow began to slowly drain away.
‘Mohini, have you achieved this everlasting happiness? Have you attained pure devotional love for the Lord?’ I asked her.
Mohini smiled, ‘I don’t know that, but I can assuredly tell you, that irrespective of whether I am healthy and in full bloom, or wilted and depressed as I appear now, my Lord is always in my thoughts...and yes, that is why inwardly, I amalways happy. Genuinely happy.’
I asked her softly, ‘Mohini, is it possible for me to reach the position that you have?’
Mohini replied, ‘It is possible for anyone to become a Devotee of the Lord. Ramesh, in that small old cupboard in your bedroom, you will find a book describing a conversation between a warrior andthe Lord that took place about 5000 years ago. Read that book. It will be thestarting point of your journey.’
I vowed to her that I would do so.
‘But before that, we had better do something about that injured hand of yours. Before the wound gets infected and causes you some more worldly sorrow!’ Mohini joked.
I laughed at that. I would seek medical treatment for my hand, but a little later. Her words had brought me a sense of peace and calm, and I wanted to savour that for a while longer.
After all, I had just been told the secret to everlasting bliss.
I heaved a long sigh, closed my eyes and sat back in my chair.
‘I’m telling you sir; something has to be done about these darned monkeys!’
The voice of my portly housekeeper Mrs Sharma awoke me and I opened my eyes.
What a fascinating dream, I thought. And yet, what I had learnt from that dream was enough to change my life.
I absently turned to Mrs Sharma, ‘You were mentioning something about monkeys...’
In response, Mrs Sharma pointed in disgust at a shattered window pane behind her, ‘Look at their latest accomplishment!’
I stared at the broken pieces of glass and then at my hand. There was no sign of even a scratch on the latter.
‘But the good news is sir, as you must have realized, your ‘Mohini’ is looking in the pink, rather, in the red of health, if you’ll pardon my perversion of the expression!’ Mrs Sharma smiled.
I jerked my head towards Mohini.
A dozen brilliantly crimson-coloured roses, delicately attached to branches abound with lush green leaves, were looking up proudly at the clear blue sky.
‘And when this happens, the cyclical changes of temporary, worldly joy and sorrow will cease to confound and disturb you.’
I smiled and paid my obeisance to Mohini. Then I went inside the house to look for the old cupboard in my bedroom.
1. Incidents like the one in the above story occur in most of our lives. We slave and work hard to satisfy our loved ones, our wives and husbands, children and parents etc. We do everything in our means to make them happy hoping that theywill always remain eternally happy and healthy. We forget that there are forcesfar more influential in our lives, that affect our worldly happiness andtherefore, we by ourselves can never really ensure the eternal ‘happiness’ ofour loved ones. We are but a small, insignificant part of that great big Plan.
We do have our roles to play of course, and we must never neglect the same e.g. providing our children with education, discipline and love, our spouse with love and support, our parents with care and affection. We must make our sincereand full-fledged efforts to provide for our loved ones. But we just CANNOTexpect that because of our efforts alone, they will be eternally happy.
And so if in spite of our best efforts, if our loved ones are still unhappy, we must understand that there is a higher influence at work, which is responsible for the same. The unhappiness of our loved ones is therefore a part of theirdestiny, and it is something that is probably occurring for their own good,according to some higher plan that we cannot be aware of. The best course ofaction in that situation perhaps, would be to lend our love and support to ourloved ones as best as we can, and most importantly, to surrender to that MasterPlanner and Controller Lord Sri Krishna and pray to Him to give us and ourloved ones the strength to bear with that situation.
Perhaps that is what is meant by that famous ‘Serenity Prayer’ which is as follows:
“O Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
2. The sequence of emotional events that Ramesh goes through at the beginning of the story, is perfectly described in the Bhagavad Gita (2.62-63).
“While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. From anger, complete delusion arises, and from delusion bewilderment of memory. When memoryis bewildered, intelligence is lost, and when intelligence is lost, one fallsdown again into the material pool.”
We get attached to something or someone so strongly, that if that object of attachment does not give us the happiness that we expect from it, we succumb to anger. This makes us jump to false conclusions (delusions) and we can’t think straight. Then welose our sense of discrimination of what is right and wrong, which prompts usto do wrong actions, which further entangle us in the cycle of Karma. It isonly by the Mercy of Lord Krishna and His Devotees that we are made aware ofour position and we begin to see things in the right perspective, and take theright course of action.
As with all my writings, the above story, views and realizations are mine alone and therefore may be ridden with discrepancies and misinterpretation of philosophy. Senior Devotees are welcometo correct the same and add their feedback.