The difficulties encountered by the fox which went in between the fighting rams, and by Āshādabhooti, and by the messenger girl, were all self-made.
Karataka said-“How is that?”
The story of the messenger-girl, the fox and Ashaadabhooti
There existed a monastery a little far away from a deserted town. A sanyasi named Devaśharman lived in this monastery. He used to sell the expensive pieces of cloth that were gifted to the monastery by visitors, and over the years, had accumulated a tidy sum of money. He now started to distrust everybody, and kept this money on his person at all times. It is well said…
अर्थानाम् अर्जने दुःखम् अर्जितानां च रक्षणे ।
नाशे दुःखं व्यये दुःखं धिग् अर्थाः कष्ट-संश्रयाः ॥ १७४ ॥
arthānām arjane duḥkham arjitānāṃ ca rakṣaṇe |
nāśe duḥkhaṃ vyaye duḥkhaṃ dhig arthāḥ kaṣṭa-saṃśrayāḥ || 174 ||
Earning wealth is painful, and protecting the earned wealth is painful. Gaining wealth is painful and spending wealth is also painful. Wealth is indeed the cause of pain every time.
A thief named Āshādabhooti had observed Devaśharman for a long time, and noticed that the latter kept his money on his person at all times, tied to his dhoti. Āshādabhooti started to think of ways in which to steal that money.
He thought…”The monastery has thick walls, and solid doors; so it would be tough to break into it. I cannot enter through the roof as well. There seems to be only one way – I will have to convince him to accept me as his disciple. In that manner, I can win his trust and one day, all that money will be mine! It is said…”
निस्पृहो नाधिकारी स्यान् नाकामी मण्डन-प्रियः ।
नाविदग्धः प्रियं ब्रूयात् स्फुट-वक्ता न वञ्चकः ॥ १७५ ॥
nispṛho nādhikārī syān nākāmī maṇḍana-priyaḥ |
nāvidagdhaḥ priyaṃ brūyāt sphuṭa-vaktā na vañcakaḥ || 175 ||
A man without passion cannot be an authority on any subject. A man without desire does not need to groom himself. A man who is not learned does not speak pleasantly, and a man who speaks clearly cannot be a cheat.
With these thoughts in mind, Āshādabhooti approached Devaśharman and greeted him. “Om Namah Shivāya!” he said and touched Devaśharman’s feet. “Oh holy one! This world has no meaning. Youth flows away like a river in the mountains, and life itself burns away in a moment, like a blade of grass set on fire. Worldly pleasures are momentary, like dark clouds in the rainy season. Relationships are false, like dreams that we have at night. Having realised this, what do I need to do to go beyond all these materialistic things?” Āshādabhooti joined his hands and pleaded.
Devaśharman was pleased to hear this, and replied ” You are indeed fortunate to have come to this realisation so early in life. It is said…”
पूर्वं वयसि यः शान्तः स शान्त इति मे मतिः ।
धातुषु क्षीयमाणेषु शमः कस्य न जायते ॥ १७६ ॥
pūrvaṃ vayasi yaḥ śāntaḥ sa śānta iti me matiḥ |
dhātuṣu kṣīyamāṇeṣu śamaḥ kasya na jāyate || 176 ||
He who is at peace in his youth, in my opinion, is truly peaceful. In old age, when you do not have much energy left, who isn’t peaceful?
आदौ चित्ते ततः काये सतां संजायते जरा ।
असतां च पुनः काये नैव चित्ते कदाचन ॥ १७७ ॥
ādau citte tataḥ kāye satāṃ saṃjāyate jarā |
asatāṃ ca punaḥ kāye naiva citte kadācana || 177 ||
In good people, the mind becomes old first, and then the body. In wicked people, the body gets old, but never the mind.
Good people realise, early in their lives, that materialism does not matter, and hence they attain peace. The body gets older later in life. Wicked people, on the other hand, don’t realise this even when they get older.
“You asked me about going beyond materialism. Then listen…”
शूद्रो वा यदि वान्यो ऽपि चण्डालो ऽपि जटाधरः ।
दीक्षितः शिव-मन्त्रेण स भस्माङ्गी शिवो भवेत् ॥ १७८ ॥
śūdro vā yadi vānyo ‘pi caṇḍālo ‘pi jaṭādharaḥ |
dīkṣitaḥ śiva-mantreṇa sa bhasmāṅgī śivo bhavet || 178 ||
A man, however cursed or wicked, if initiated in the right manner, and guided by a proper Guru, will indeed become like Lord Shiva.
षड्-अक्षरेण मन्त्रेण पुष्पम् एकम् अपि स्वयम् ।
लिङ्गस्य मूर्ध्नि यो दद्यान् न स भूयो ऽभिजायते ॥ १७९ ॥
ṣaḍ-akṣareṇa mantreṇa puṣpam ekam api svayam |
liṅgasya mūrdhni yo dadyān na sa bhūyo ‘bhijāyate || 179 ||
He who offers even a single flower to the Linga with his own hands, and chants the holy mantras, will never be born again.
The key to redemption, lies not in what has been done, but what you can do to overcome it. Surrendering to the right Guru, having faith in the greater consciousness, and taking the first step towards self-discovery, set you along the right path.
Hearing this, Āshādabhooti held Devaśharman’s feet tightly and begged him” Oh great saint! Please accept me as your humble disciple!”
to be continued…