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A Child’s Insight

by Swami Veda

[This passage has been taken from the yet unpublished book Pearls of Wisdom by Swami Veda Bharati.  This book is currently in manuscript form and will soon be published by Himalayan Yoga Publications Trust, Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh, India.]

As you go from Rishikesh towards Delhi you pass many sacred, beautiful islands of peace and sanctity. One of my favourites is a place called Shuktal. This is a spot where the grandson of Arjuna, Parikshit, had seven days left of life. So he invited the sage, Śhuka, to recite to him the text of Bhāgavata-purāṇa – the stories of the incarnations of God, and left as a liberated being.

There is a tradition in India of inviting priests to read such texts. There was a king who listened to this text many times over year after year, and he was still not liberated. So he called his chief priest who was also the chief minister.

The word for minister in our country is mantri, the mantra holder, and the common word for the prime minister is pradhān mantri, the chief mantra holder. That is a commonly used word even now in speech or in print. I don't know how many mantras he [the modern one holding this post] keeps, but the tradition continues. Even in Indonesia, Malaysia and sometimes in Thailand the same word is used. It's a common tradition. A minister is a mantri, a mantra keeper, a mantra holder because the chief advisers to the kings, the prime ministers of the kings were also keepers of the mantras. They would not only give political advice but also advice through the power of the mantras.

They used to have others alongside them known as mantra-dhara, with their own seals. Those seals have been found in archaeological digs. So if anything goes wrong in the kingdom it's his fault. [He] didn't give right advice or didn't use the right mantra.

So the king called his chief minister, priest and mantra keeper. He said, ‘Parikshit, the grandson of Arjuna, listened to this text for one week and [left his body] without fear, as a liberated being. I have been listening to this from you for years and I don't see myself close to liberation. So would you please explain to me what is the matter?’

The priest was lost. He didn't have an answer.

So the king said, ‘Okay, I give you three days to give me the answer.’

So the poor minister goes home dejected and worried. He is irritable and troubled as he doesn't know what to answer, what to do. He has three days left.

His little daughter asks, ‘Father what's the matter with you?’

‘Oh, nothing, nothing.’

‘No, something is the matter. You are irritable; you are never irritable and you are worried. You're just not yourself.  Tell me,’ the child insists.

He says, ‘Oh, you won't understand.’

‘No, tell me.’

Having no other recourse and having passed two of the three days already, he tells the child.  

She says, ‘I want to see that king.’

‘What will you do with the king?’

She insists, ‘Please take me.’

So the father takes the child to the king who, on seeing the child, gives her a hug and puts her on his lap. After awhile the child as a child would do begins to fidget and then begins to cry. The king asks, ‘What do you want?’

‘I want to play.’

‘All right,’ says the king, ‘let's see if there are any children around.’

She says ‘No, I want to play with you.’

‘All right, we'll play.’ The king leaves his throne. ‘Well, what game shall we play?’

‘It's a secret just between you and me. I don't want anybody else around.’

So the king, to placate the child, agrees.

She says, ‘You stand by that pillar.’

She makes him stand by the pillar and asks for two ropes. She also asks others to tie them because as a child she can't really tighten the ropes around the king. So the king is standing there tied with a rope to the pillar and she stands against an opposite pillar. Now she asks them to tie her. So they tie her and, as it's a secret game, she asks the king to send everybody away. Then after a while the child starts crying.

The king asks, ‘Well what now?’

She says, ‘Please loosen me. I'm tired.’

He replies, ‘But child I can't loosen you; I am already tied up myself. You got me tied like this, and you sent everybody away. There is nobody here to loosen us.’

Then she laughs at him and says, ‘The sage who recited the text to Arjuna's grandson was a liberated being. Only a liberated being can loosen the bondage of somebody. Here you are standing tied up and I am standing tied up. How do you expect me to loosen your ropes or you to loosen my ropes?’

That was the child's answer.

Editor’s Note:

To pre-order your copy of Pearls of Wisdom and for all Swami Veda’s published works, please visit www.yogapublications.org or email us at [email protected].



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