Living in the Present

There are many a time we put off doing or experiencing something for a later date. It may not always be money. We reserve our best clothing, crockery, candles, and accessories among other things hoping to use them at a premium occasion in our lives. Our usual excuse for doing so is usually a feeling that the present moment is not ideal for the activity.

A tale from the Panchatantra speaks about the dangers of being in the saving mode all the time. Once a hunter shot a wild boar, the wounded animal pounced on him and ripped his flesh apart. The agonised hunter was shocked to death by the boar before it breathed its last. A jackal which was passing by was beside himself with joy when he saw the corpses of the wild boar and the hunter. He realised that he need not go around scavenging for food for several days to come. He circled his newfound treasure and saw the bloodstained bow. He decided to save the bulk of meat for future. He proceeded to lick the life fluid off the bow and in the process triggered the arrow that was ready to be shot, right into his open mouth.

Almost immediately, the jackal fell dead beside his feast. The jackal died in his earnest bid to save the best for the coming days.

Those of us who are at least a couple of decades old must have realised that the precious moment that we have been waiting for may have come, but we may not have always had the time or the mind space to dig into our paraphernalia and fish out what had been saved for the red lettered day. It is also quite possible that our prized possession may not really rise to the occasion or we may have come across a better and a more contemporary and practical substitute to the stowed away goodies.

While it is pragmatic to save for a rainy day, it will do us a world of good to overcome our magpie syndrome and live each day to the fullest. It is said that yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery but today is the present. It is impossible to discount the valuable content of the saying.

When True Colours are Exposed

When true colours are exposed

S Radha Prathi, Nov 11, 2016:

A casual look around us will reveal that we are living in an increasingly hypocritical world. Our costu­me drama consists of clothes, accessories, make-up, hairdo, et al, which has to be synchronised in accordance with the person, venue and situation, not necessarily in that order.

In other words, people have started believing that the social value and attitude of the people is reflected not so much as in their character as against their appearance and standard of life.

It is interesting to note that while most people work hard on their external appearance they rarely tarry to groom their intrinsic values. Faking appearances and attitudes have assumed the status of an elevated form of art in the make believe world.

What is more bothersome is the fact that most of us do not even have any qualms about pretending to be who we are not. This trend normally works well as long as it lasts. However, when one’s true colours are exposed, the results can be disastrous.

A story from the Panchatantra drives home this point. Once there lived a jackal called Chandarava in a forest. One day he ventured into a nearby village and was relentlessly chased by a pack of dogs.

The jackal’s blind run ended in a tub of blue dye. When the coloured animal emerged from the tub the dogs were terrified and ran away. The jackal decided to cash in on the change in the colour of his skin. He called for a meeting of animals and informed them that he was sent to live in their midst by their creator.

The inmates of the forest extended their hospitality to the newcomer. Life was a cakewalk for the jackal for a while. One day it so happened that when he was in court, he heard a pack of jackals yodeling. He forgot his pretentious existence for a moment and yodeled away.

The animals around him imm­ediately saw through the fraud and he was ripped apart. Those who practice deception rarely realise that they will have to face dire consequences when they are exposed in an inadvertent moment.

Eventua­l­ly, they will lose the trust and regard forever in their social circles. The ripple effect of th­eir exposure will affect not only their future but also that of their families and well-wishers.

Dealing With the Dubious

When cheating cases are investigated, it is interesting to note that everyone of them has been based on trust.

The individual or organisation works hard at winning the confidence of the people whom they propose to swindle. The evil masterminds devise ways and means to
play fair or at least appear fair. They leave no stone unturned, plug in all the loopholes and put on their best behaviour to woo the people whose wealth they plan to deceive.

A story from the Panchatantra teaches us how to deal with such dubious people or organisations.

Once an old crane realised that he was no longer agile and alert to fish for food. He was too conceited to seek help. Therefore, he made a devious plan.

He stood on the edge of the lake and started shedding tears. A crab who lived in the pond wanted to know the reason for his sorrow. After much coaxing, the crane divulged that he was privy to a prophecy of a drought that would strike the region for the coming twelve years.

He said he was grieving for the helpless souls who would be losing their lives for no particular fault of theirs. Soon, this dreadful news was updated to all the inmates of the pond. They approached the crane one by one and asked him for a suitable solution.

Once the old crony was sure that all their attention was focused on him, he
generously offered to shift them all one at a time, once a day to another large water body which would not dry up despite the famine. The eager creatures lapped up his offer gratefully.

The old crane commenced with his charitable act of helping the fish migrate. He would fly a while with his passenger and then polish him off for lunch, only to make a meal of another fish the following day. No one suspected anything foul in the happenings.

A couple of days later, the crab requested the crane to shift him. The crane who wanted a change of taste, happily agreed to help the crab. The following day, when the old bird was flying along his regular route with the crab on his back, the crustacean saw a number of fish bones piled on a rock.

He was intelligent enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together. He felt sorry for his gullible pond mates. He decided to avenge their unfair death and also save his own life and promptly strangled the crane to death.

The common man who has been conned will be able to trace a pattern in the  crime if he pays enough attention. If all the victims of the fraud come together and expose the malefactor, the law of the land will take care of the rest.

Money Can Mess Our Lives

With each passing day, the world around us is becoming increasingly materialistic. We are possessive and avaricious about our worldly wealth and go through indescribable stress to earn, own and retain it against all odds.

Sometimes, it is the very riches that we have worked hard for end up paving the way to a host of other problems like breach of trust, selfishness and lack of discretion.

A tale from the Panchatantra highlights the problems of hoarding excess wealth. Once lived an intelligent Sanyasi called Deva Sharma. People often solicited his advice and paid him for the offices. Though Deva Sharma had renounced the world, he did not hesitate to collect a sizeable amount of wealth his way.

His altruistic way of life did not permit him to use the money. Nevertheless, since he was very fond of his assets, he bundled the money and checked on it every single day. Whenever he went out for some reason, he made it a point to carry the bundle along with him.

A malefactor called Ashadhabhoothi sighted the treasure and hoped to own it someday. He ruminated on the various options to siphon off the riches and finally decided to cheat Deva Sharma off it.

He approached the Sanyasi; spoke about the ephemeral nature of human life and expre- ssed his desire to be initiated with the Shiva Mantra with the hope of attaining emancipation. Deva Sharma bit the bait unwittingly. He accepted Ash- adhabhoothi as his disciple and allowed him to stay with him.

Over a period of time, Ashadhabhoothi won the confidence of his Guru. One day, when the duo set out to honour an invitation, they came across a river. Deva Sharma decided to bathe. He instructed Ashadhabhoothi to guard the treasure when he bathed.

The hypocrite who had been waiting for this opportune moment all along nodded his head roundly and took custody of the loot. When Deva Sharma entered the water, he tiptoed away, robbing the Sanyasi of the money and also the trust that he had reposed in him.

Most of us are like Deva Sharma. We are making money or stowing it away, dreading to lose all the time. This syndrome can become detrimental to our physical and mental health in the long run for money can mess our lives.

Weak Minds, Emotional Exploitation

The qualities of introspection, reflection, retrospection, soul-searching are commendable traits in man. In fact, these characteristics enhance the emotional and spiritual quotient in us. However, some people wallow in self-doubt and confusion due to insecurity and lack of self-confidence. Such people lose clarity and get befuddled and eventually end up as losers.

A story from the Panchatantra outlines how people without conviction can get carried away and meet failure, which can be avoided effectively. A certain Brahmin called Mishra Sharma was walking through a forest carrying a goat on his shoulders. Three hooligans observed him. They realised that the Brahmin was apprehensive about walking alone in the forest with his treasure. They sized up Sharma’s psyche as they saw him muttering away to himself. They decided to play a psychological trick on the poor man and gain from his confusion.

Accordingly, one by one, they waylaid him at different intervals of time along the way. The first thug who approached Sharma asked, “Why are you carrying a dog on your shoulders?” The Brahmin was miffed. He shed light on the latter’s doubt rather gingerly and carried on. A little while later, the second ruffian accosted Sharma, he questioned, “Why are you carrying a calf on your shoulders?” Sha-rma, who was considerably shaken by now, quavered in reply. However, when the third hooligan enquired about the donkey he was carrying, the poor man shrieked with fear. He dropped the animal and ran for his life. The rogues emerged gleefully from the foliage and picked up the abandoned creature.

The naïve tend to become gullible because they are not able to summon their presence of mind when in crisis. Hence it is no wonder that they become willing scapegoats. The various chit fund scams, astrological deceptions, religious rackets, political pretences, human and drug trafficking, entrepreneurial rip-offs, among other such swindles that are holding our world to ransom, are a direct result of exploitation of the we-ak-minded. A little awareness, alertness and a good bit of faith in ourselves can stand us in good stead and cleanse the world of dupes in the long run.

Even God Helps Only Those Who Help Themselves

29th July 2015, S Radha Prathi

When one walks along the long journey of life, it becomes apparent that we cannot be in control of our lives all the time. We may come across unforeseen obstacles in the form of natural calamities, accidents, death et al which can completely change the course of our actions. Sometimes our best laid plans may end up in shambles. Our dream projects may be washed down the drain. There are times when we may have to simply change our pattern of life. These aberrations usually prompt us to question the need to lead an organised existence. After all, who has seen tomorrow? Besides, it is an accepted truth that no one can change destiny. Whenever we are caught wondering about the uncertainty of our lives, it will do us a world of good to ruminate over a story from the Panchatantra.

Once, a couple of fishermen came to a riverbank around sunset. When they scouted the waters they realised that it was rich with fish. They planned to cast a net for them the following day. Some of the fish happened to overhear the conversation. They decided to migrate to another water body overnight. They spread the word about their plans in the waters they lived. Some of their brethren were ready to follow course.  Some of them approached an elderly fish called Yadbhavishya who was also a philosopher of sorts for guidance. When Yadbhavishya heard about their plans, he said that everything that happens in life is predestined and individuals can do very little about it. Every living being who is born into existence will ultimately die at some point of time.  He added that death is most definitely the final point in everyone’s life and therefore there is really no point in safeguarding life. The followers of Yadbhavishya decided to stay back and accept their fate.  Many other fish migrated despite his counsel. The following day, the fishermen cast their net as planned. The believers in destiny contemplated on the irony of fate as they breathed their last as they were being drawn out of water. It is true that they would all have to die at some time or another as pointed out by their philosopher. Nevertheless, they could have extended their lives to some extent, if they had taken a practical recourse. There is really no point in becoming willing scapegoats and sitting ducks in the name of being submissive to our destinies. We must be proactive, for it is said that even god will help only those who help themselves.

Resourceful Thinking Can Save The Day

Radha Prathi June 13, 2015, DHNS:

It is high time we understand certain undeniable realities in life. A casual look at our day-to-day lives will reveal that we live in a world riddled with the I, Me, Myself syndrome. Most people have retired their sensibilities and sensitivities in order to join the rat race without any qualms.

Consequently, they do not care much about how our thoughtless actions can prove to be detrimental or even hazardous to those who are at the receiving end of the equation. No amount of interaction or persuasion can melt the hearts of the insensitive lot for they choose to spurn the meek entreaties of the oppressed. At such times, lateral thinking can save the day.

A tale from the Panchatantra offers a creative recourse to deal with such situations and people in an effective manner. A pair of crows lived on a large, leafy tree.

A poisonous snake also lived in the groove of its trunk. The reptile helped itself to the eggs of the crow every now and then. The helpless pleas of the crows to spare their progeny, yet to open their eyes to the world, fell on the deaf ears of the adder. The birds were frustrated.

They recognised their inability to deal with their problems on their own. Therefore, they shared their worries with a jackal who was their friend. He counselled them. He proved to be their strength. Accordingly the crow flew to the bathing ghat looking out for an opportunity.

He picked up a gold necklace that the princess had left on the banks along with her clothing and other accessories. The bodyguards who noticed the pilferer followed the bird all the way up to the tree.
The crow tossed the ornament into the hole of the tree and flew away. When one of the bodyguards tried to reach out for the necklace, the serpent slithered out. The men immediately beat the reptile to its death and retrieved the lost property.

The crows were relieved of their continuous anxiety. The crows did try to befriend their threat.
They also considered moving away from the threat. However, they realised that running away from a problem cannot prove to be its solution.
When they found that they were at a loss about finding a plausible solution, they decided to repose their faith in their well-wisher and followed his counsel. Consequently, they were able to iron out the situation in their favour.

When we apply the essence of this tale to our predicaments, we must remember that doing away with an enemy is certainly not a solution to any problem.

However, no one can stop us from extricating ourselves from a sticky wicket resourcefully, while sending an effective message to our tormenter.