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''Oh no! It's a snake!'' cited Jones.
''What? Damn it Jones, there are a lot of hungry cannibals behind us, and you're scared of a snake? shouted 'Shorty' his intrepid little companion.
''But I hate snakes! I hate ''em...!''
Shorty pushed Jones aside and nonchalantly threw his jacket over the snake and jumped over it. ''Come on Indy! Hurry!''
Jones held his breath and jumped. ''I made it Shorty! I made it!'' Jones looked for his friend but could see him nowhere, ''Shorty! This is no time to play hide and seek...'' Jones felt a hard grip on his shoulder. He spun around and looked straight into the eyes of a cannibal! He was trapped..
Scenes like these and many more have made Indiana Jones into one of the most loved action heroes, alongside such legends as Superman, Luke Skywalker and Batman. Jones is portrayed as a very normal, quiet archaeologist, who seems to land into all kinds of trouble every time he goes on an expedition. It is this ''down-to-earth''-ness which enables people to relate to him and always crave for more.
...The cannibals formed a ring around Jones, and gestured menacingly at him with their long knives. ''Oh, you wanna play, huh?'' said Jones pulling out his gun, ''O.K. but I get first shot!'' He fired a round into the air, dazzling the primitive cannibals who dropped their knives and ran helter-skelter. ''I guess they lost their appetite!'' quipped Jones. Just then, Shorty ran up to him and clamped his arms around his waist.
''Why do you do it Indy? You could have been killed. What's it all about?''
Jones looks into the horizon, he tips his hat back, a shooting star races across the sky above, ''Fortune and glory kid. Fortune and glory.''
Fortune and glory. Everyman's innermost desire. Throughout the history of civilization men have ventured to far off lands, toiled, even killed to attain them. Men such as Alexander the Great, Christopher Columbus or Michael Jackson. They attained fortune and glory, but that was not all they had in common. For each of them, power and wealth was not enough. They felt a need for something more intimate, more spiritual. They searched, but none found the source of the vacuum in their hearts. What was it that eluded them? Why was their fortune and glory not enough?
Worship of the goddess Sharda is common throughout South India. It is here that there was once a pure and devout man called Magniram, who had left home in search of God. Under his guru's tutelage he had learnt how to induce the goddess Sharda, who bestowed special powers upon him. The guru was very proud of his disciple and thought him to be an ideal match for his young daughter. He put the proposition before him, ''Magniram, you are a pure and worthy disciple, I see a great future ahead of you. Thus I wish you to marry my daughter. You will make a fine husband for her.''
Magniram was stunned, ''Guruji, I am glad that you are pleased with me. But I am a celibate and intend to remain so. How can I marry your daughter? Besides, the guru is like a father, thus she would be my sister. I'm sorry, but I cannot accept your proposal.''
''Very well. As much as it pains me to say this, you must accept the offer or you will have to leave the ashram.''
The next morning an embittered Magniram left the ashram. His aim was clear, he didn't want a wife. He wanted God! He wandered from place to place, weeks became months, seasons changed, yet he was no closer to his goal. Contemplating his life, Magniram felt he had achieved nothing. He was in the same position as when he first left home.
Resentment soon turned into anger. Anger at his guru for failing him, anger at himself for wasting so many years, anger at God, for eluding him. His lower self began to get the better of him. He decided to hit back, to show the world the true value of Magniram.
Using his spells and powers, Magniram began to terrorize people and extort money from rich men, even kings. None could stop him, and anyone who dared stand in his way would suffer the brunt of his powers. He and his followers travelled everywhere, striking fear into the hearts of innocent people.
Former U.S. President, Harry Trueman once said, ''Men often mistake notoriety for fame and would rather be remarked for their follies and vices, then not be noticed at all.'' Magniram made this mistake. True, people knew of him wherever he went; his reputation spread like the plague, yet in this he found great satisfaction, ''Now I am someone. No-one is greater than me!''
And so the terror continued, until he came to Mangrol in Gujarat. As usual he demanded Rs.5,000 from the king. However, the king was a brave man, he challenged Magniram, ''If you are as great as you say, then I will gladly honour you. But first let me see some of your power. There is a man here who people say is God incarnate. If you defeat him, I will give you Rs.10,000! His name is Jivanmukta.''
''Very well. I accept your challenge. But you'd better have the money ready when I come back.''
Magniram decided to return to his camp. On the way he spotted a small congregation at the edge of a pond. At the front was a small man dressed in white and sitting on a simple wooden cot. ''That must be Jivanmukta'' thought Magniram. ''Look at him, he's nothing but a simpleton. No rich clothes, no fanfare. I have more disciples than he does, and he doesn't even have a beard! How can anyone call this ''child'' God? I'll show them the might of Magniram!''
''Jivanmukta,'' he roared. ''I have heard that you claim to be God. Prove yourself before me. Let me see your powers.''
The Lord smiled softly, ''I do not exhibit powers. I educate people to live pure and devout lives according to their dharma and thus lead them to salvation.''
''Ha! I thought as much. You're no God, you're a hoax! I am the great Magniram. I have many powers, even the goddess Sharda obeys me. Now, pay Rs. 10,000 or I'll destroy the whole village, and you along with it.'' Calmly the Lord replied, ''We have no money. We can offer you only food and shelter. But if that should not satisfy you, then by all means, use your black magic.'' The Lord stared into Magniram's eyes and his body stiffened. ''We fear no one and nothing!''
Hearing this, Magniram was infuriated, ''You'll regret this!'' He stormed off back to his camp and began to chant spells to destroy the village. Strangely, nothing seemed to work. Finally, he invoked the goddess Sharda and beseeched her, ''Oh Devi! Destroy the village and it's inhabitants. Let them see the power of Magniram!''
''No, Magniram,'' replied the goddess. ''Do you remember why you left home? Why you refused to marry your guru's daughter? Why you have remained celibate all these years? To attain God. Yet today, He was seated before you and you failed even to bow before Him.''
''What? I don't believe it. But, he looks like an ordinary sadhu.''
''Appearances can be deceiving. He may look simple, but he is in fact the Supreme Godhead. Goddesses like me worship him and pray for a chance to serve at his lotus feet. Therefore repent Magniram, open your eyes and see the light. Go and ask for forgiveness and seek refuge at his feet. Your search is over now.''
That night sleep deserted him. He became restless like a child on his birthday, eager to see his presents. Gone were the emotion of resentment and bitterness, now only harmony pervaded his heart.
The next morning he went before Maharaj, ''Please Lord, forgive me. I have been such a fool. Accept me and bind me so I may never stray from you.''
''Magniram, a true saint is one who discards his ego and hoards no wealth. You have both in abundance. How can you be my sadhu?''
''That is past now. I want none of it, all I desire is your grace.''
''Then prove it. Surrender your fortune and relinquish your glory by shaving your head clean. A long beard and matlocks are signs of vanity, remove them.''
At once, Magniram gave his money to his disciples and told them that he was no longer their leader. His parting advice was that they too should, like himself, seek refuge at the Lord's feet. He then shaved his head and returned to the Lord. ''Now, accept me Lord.''
''Not so fast. It's no easy task to discard one's ego. I'm not totally convinced that you have done so. Collect the shoes of all these saints, place them on your head and circumambulate the congregation five times.''
He didn't waste a second. ''Now, accept me Lord.''
He was named Advaitanand.
Man fritters away his whole life chasing his own fallacies, in doing so, he becomes oblivious to what's important in his life; his family, friends, God. Wealth and power are the biggest barriers betwen man and his creator. It is an arduous task to cast away one's wealth and status and become servant, where he receives no honour or praise, rather there is only insignificance and immateriality.
Rabindranath Tagore once said, ''The consciousness of a great inner truth lifts man from his surroundings of petty moments into the region of the eternal. It is the sense of something positive in himself for which he renounces his wealth, reputation and life itself, and throws away the scholar's book of logic, becoming simple as a child in his wisdom.''
So many men, who had attained their wealth, who had earned their status, readily renounced all for Lord Swaminarayan.
Brahmanand Swami was a very famous and talented singer. Kings would offer him huge sums of money to hear him perform in their court. Once he was offered gold and 25 villages by the king of Bhavnagar.
Mahanubhavanand Swami rejected offers to be the head of the temple at Kurekshetra, scene of the great Mahabharat war, and then an offer to be head priest of the famous temple in Dwarka, the city built by Lord Krishna, one of the four holiest shrines for Hindus.
Anandanand Swami had his own ashram in Ayodhya.
Swayamprakashanand Swami had his own ashram in Bengal.
Nrusinhanand Swami had his own ashram in the east.
Each had tossed aside their ''wealth and status'' and settled for the simple life of a paramhansa.
Now their fortune and glory was of an eternal and spiritual dimension, it was the fortune and glory which had eluded so many great men before them.
Their fortune was their happiness, their glory was their master.
They cast off their old feathers and began a new flight.

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