Just another story…

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Dec 17, 2013

“What are stories but a way of helping us see the world and each other better.”
I heard this in one of Pavi’s talk on giftivism and was amazed by the simplicity yet the deep meaning of it 
I was part of one such story telling session (it was actually a class on upnishads at Shivananda ashram). When I was going for the class, I was a little apprehensive. I thought it will all be in Sanskrit and most is going to go over my head! But I still went because a friend had asked me to, and I can’t thank him enough. :)
Gopi ji (the Vedanta professor) was talking on renunciation. And he said nothing but share this beautiful story.

Once upon a time there was a kingdom which had a unique way of choosing its king. The ministers will let go of the royal elephant with a garland in the kingdom. The person to whomsoever the elephant puts the garland on is chosen to be the next king. It is taken to be a divine decision by all in the kingdom.
One day a sadhu was passing through the kingdom and he saw an elephant coming near him and a big crowd following him. He stood still waiting for the elephant to pass so that he can move forward.  To his surprise the elephant stopped in front of him and put the garland around his neck. Immediately, the people following the elephant bowed down to him and started saying "O Noble king, we put ourselves under your patronage. Please come to the palace and rule us". The Sadhu at first thought it was a mistake and they are confusing him with someone. He explained that he was a sadhu and no king. When the people didn’t let him go, he became angry and said they were disrupting his saadhana and that he has renounced the world. He cannot rule anyone. The people then explained him the kingdom's way of choosing the ruler and said that God has sent him to this place. The sadhu then conceded, wondering what plans God wants to implement through him.
He went to the palace. Took the throne but always maintained his simple clothing and lifestyle. One day when he was looking at the accounts, he found a lot of money went into the upkeep of the army. He wondered at the need for keeping an army and decided to dismantle it, saying “we need our men in the fields and the factories”. Soon the kingdom prospered with no shortage of food or commodities. Trade flourished as they started selling their surplus to other kingdoms.
As the news of their prosperity spread to other kingdoms, one ruler sent his spies to this kingdom to find out the strength of their army so that he can wage a war on them. The spies went in the kingdom. They were surprised to see everyone was so happy and greeted them. Nobody asked them what they wanted or where they came from instead people welcomed them for meals and stay in their homes. Soon they learnt there was no army in the kingdom. They returned and gave the news to their ruler, who then set out to capture this prosperous kingdom and bring it under his empire. For 3 days he camped outside the kingdom's boundary and when nobody came out to fight, the king with a few of his ministers went inside the kingdom, to the king's court.
He was surprised to see a man clothed in white dhoti on the throne running the events of the day. He told this man that he has come to fight and win his kingdom. Hearing this, the Sadhu smiled. He got down from the throne, took his walking stick and water pot and went to hug the king. He said "Dear brother! Finally God has sent you. I have been waiting for you since so long. Please take the kingdom and rule these people as your own. I shall go back to my saadhana". And he left with just the two things he had walked into the kingdom the day he was garlanded by the elephant.
The other king was spellbound. He went down his knees and held on to the Sadhu's feet saying “My Lord, forgive my ignorance. Please accept my kingdom and bring light to all of us"

Gopi ji left us with this story and I was wondering how when we have something then that is all that we have and when we have nothing, we have everything :).
And I have been able to experience it in a little way in the last 3 months.  In August I packed my home and kept everything in a storage container. Sikander left for Angola and I started traveling with a backpack and a few belongings. At first when people asked where my home is, I would say "I don’t have a home right now. My home is in a storage container." But soon I felt and started saying "My home is where I am right now” In the last three months I have had more homes than I could have ever imagined having :).
And this answer was so natural when I realised how I was being taken care of. In Uttarakhand, Archana’s mother treated me like her daughter. We were living in the school and their home was on top of the hill. No matter what time I went to her place, she would feed me. Just like mother’s do. She would touch my forehead and say “you have slight fever, sit here I will make tea for you”. It’s amazing how big a mother’s heart is. Pratyush and Joseph ji were the brothers that I never had. I remember the 10 days when I had a horrible cold – how they would bring hot water for me to take steam; how they would made a natural concoction for the cold; how they would confine me to my bed for the whole day to take rest! But this doesn’t mean they weren’t mean as brothers usually are! Pulling my legs; teasing me – they were guilty of all! And I love them for doing that. :)

After Uttarakhand, I spent time traveling meeting friends and family. And even though it was friends and family I had earlier only either visited them in transit or for no more than 4-5 days but this time it was totally different. For the first time I connected with Udaipur as a city. Normally Udaipur visits will be busy with family gatherings; but this time I just decided to take off every day. Meeting strangers at fateh sagar and sharing chai and stories. After a long time I spent 15 days with my sister and her kids. We have always been more friends than sisters but this it was almost like reconnecting with her. We shared our college time with each other – a time when we were both teenagers and not too much into sisterly stuff; a time which we had missed from each other’s life being in different cities and in different phases of life.

And then Ahmedabad was the gem in all the visits. It’s one place where my mind, body and soul are in complete harmony. There is no expectation of being and one can just be. One of the days I was sitting under a tree in Sugad, thinking about the move to Angola and how life would be there. And suddenly I feel a hand stroking my head and I look up and Jayesh Bhai is standing behind me and he says
“Take care of my son when you reach there. Don’t trouble him with thoughts like I don’t know what to do here or I am getting bored. Every land is God’s land and you will soon find your own way there. Bloom wherever you are planted!”
Where did he suddenly come from? How did he know this was exactly what I needed at that time?
It’s just so wonderful to open oneself to the abundance of the universe! Feeling a lot of love and gratitude.

Posted by Ashima Goyal Siraj on Dec 17, 2013 | permalink

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  • Drishti wrote ...

    Wow ashima didi !! Awesome ! Thanks a lot for sharing :)
    Its really touching :)

  • sheetal wrote ...

    What a beautiful sharing.. The sadhu's story reminds me of a beautiful Kabir doha which says
    "The one who is free of desires, is a true emperor"