Thursday, 14 April 2016

Sunday, 30 November 2014

There is an inspiring story in the Kath Upanishad about a little boy named Nachiketa. He was the son of Udalak rishi. Once Udalak organized a yagna to please the deities. It was customary in those days to donate cows to Brahmins at the end of the yagna. Udalak was a miser and he donated old and weak cows to the Brahmins. None of the cows yielded any milk. This disturbed Nachiketa. He asked his father about it, "Father, to whom would you give me in charity?" This made his father very angry, but he decided not to say anything. When Nachiketa repeated the question, Udalak lost his temper and said, "I give you to Yama." Yama is the king of Yamapuri-hell. Hearing this Nachiketa went to Yama's kingdom. It was his father's command. It would not be proper for him to disobey his father. 'I should fulfil his wish,' thought Nachiketa, even if it means leaving home.
However his father realized his mistake and tried to stop him but Nachiketa did not stop. He reached Yama's kingdom and was told by Yama's guards that he had gone out for three days. Nachiketa decided to wait at his doorstep till he returned . He waited for three days. No food, no water. Three fasts ! Yama returned on the fourth day and saw little Nachiketa at his doorstep. He felt pained for keeping a Brahmin waiting without welcoming him, without food and water. It was a sin not to welcome an atithi -guest at the doorstep. He scolded his wife Yami for not welcoming him. Both rushed around the house to serve Nachiketa. One went to fetch water. The other brought a mat for him to sit on. Yama still did not feel completely satisfied in serving him. So he told Nachiketa, " Dear child, I have offended you by keeping you waiting for three days. To wash my sin I request you to ask for three boons."

Nachiketa declared, "My first wish is, when I return home may my father welcome me lovingly. My second wish is to grant me the knowledge by which I can be worthy of living in the heavens. My third and last wish is to grant me Atmagnam -knowledge of the atma ." Yama granted the first two boons immediately and tried to convince Nachiketa to give up his third wish. He offered him gold, pearls, coins, horses elephants and even the happiness of Swarg -heaven instead. "No, I do not wish for anything else," replied Nachiketa firmly. Finally, Yama granted him the third boon too, and Nachiketa was enlighnered with the knowledge of the atma .
Nachiketa inspires us to be kind to all creatures, to respect one's parents, to be strong willed to do something one has decided, even in the face of difficulties and obstacles and to seek for eternal happiness.

In ancient India, there once lived a sage named Shantunu and his wife. Both were very old and blind. The couple had a young son named Shravan. Shravan had devoted his life to serving his blind parents. He took care of each and every wish of his parents. Shravan's whole life centred around serving his parents.
Once his parents said to him, "Son, we are old and do not have much time to live. Before we die we wish to go on a pilgrimage to Bharat's holy places." Shravan agreed at once to fulfill their wish. He made a kavad, a special carrier, for his parents. He carried the kavad on his shoulder and they left on the pilgrimage. Shravan was so devoted to his parents that he did not feel their weight. A few months later, they reached the outskirts of Ayodhya, the holy birthplace of Shri Ramchandra Bhagwan.

Shravan's parents were very thirsty. Shravan put the kavad on the ground. He took a waterpot to fill the river Saryu flowing nearby. As he bent down to fill pot, an arrow pierced his chest. King Dashrath had hit him by accident. The king was in the forest hunting for a deer. In the fading light of the dusk he mistook Shravan for a deer because of the gugling sound from the pot. As soon as the arrow hit him, Shravan cried out in agony. Dashrath realized his mistake and he ran to the young boy. Shravan was lying in a pool of blood. He was hit badly in the chest. Dashrath was immensely pained at the sight and asked forgiveness.

Shravan told him, " My old parents, are very thirsty. Please take this water to them and quench their thirst." After saying this he died. Dashrath took the water to the blind couple. He told them about his mistake and about their dear son's accidental death. The parents were very sad to hear this and wished to be taken to Shravan. Dashrath carried the kavad and took them to the body. The old couple grieved at their son's death. Dashrath bowed at their feet and begged for forgiveness.

Shravan's Father said, "King, we do not want to curse you, as the power to curse is only in God's hands. But we can see your future. As we shall die shortly longing for our son, you too shall die longing for your son." Soon they died, longing for their dear son. The couple's words later turned out to be true for Dashrath. He, too died, longing for his son Shri Ram.

Today, we remember Shravan for his sincere service, duty and devotion to his parents.
Explaining the Indian Election System

Thursday, 28 August 2014