What began as a wonderful day suddenly turned into a nightmare for one man. The event sparked off a battery of questions and suspicions in his village.
"How did it all happen?.... Why did she do it?... Wasn't she happy?....
Soon, this din of curiosity receded. There was silence. And in that silence was a man tortured by deafening voices from his conscience. He was alone. He remained seated, pinned by his guilt. His eyes downcast, his heart anchored in grief. The man knew the damage had been done and he was to blame.
His name was Lavo.
His crime - driving his wife to suicide.
This was how it all began.
Lavo was a poor man. A tailor by profession. He toiled hard for his boss. One morning his boss gave him a few fresh brinjals he had received from his farm. Lavo was delighted. He loved brinjals. He thanked his master, excused himself and scurried off home. He handed the brinjals to his wife and instructed her to cook them for lunch. When he returned for lunch his wife served him thick brown chhapatis and lentil soup (daal). But there were no brinjals.
"Where are the brinjals?" Lavo asked.
"I haven't prepared them," his wife replied.
A red pallor stole the calmness on Lavo's face. His smile of expectancy curled into a snarl.
"Why not?" he roared.
"Because I've made the soup," she replied sheepishly.
Lavo's wife had already prepared the soup when he came to give the brinjals. She thought it wise to cook them in the evening. But Lavo was blistering mad. He was in no mood to understand. All he wanted for lunch was brinjals, and the plain truth was it was not on his plate. What he wanted was not there! Lavo lashed out harsh, stinging words. His tirade climaxed when he told his wife that it would have been better if she had plunged to her death in the village well. And so saying he stamped out. Lavo's wife sank to the floor and burst into tears. Her husband's flash of anger cut a deep gash in her heart. Never before had her husband been so harsh to her. Then, in a tide of emotion she placed an empty brass pot on her head and went to the village well. There, she placed the pot on the ground and took the suicidal plunge.
H.H. Yogiji Maharaj often narrated the above anecdote. It sadly expressed the problem that divides and destroys thousands of families and human relationships even today. Blurting out viciously when things don't turn out the way we want them is a common failing of human behavior. We pay heavily for our reckless criticisms and rash judgements - where years of trust, love and friendship dissolve instantly into suspicion, hatred and enmity. Just one bitter word can spark a cold war at home or work or with a friend.
Don't get high strung when someone you trust didn't do something the way you wanted it. First ask him why he couldn't do it and you'll find he's probably got a genuine reason. Hearing his part of the story will often disarm your illfounded fury. You'll find yourself sympathizing with him and positively guiding or helping him.
Tongue - An Agency of Sin
We rarely believe our tongue to be responsible for some of the thorny problems in life. Normally, we think of other parts of our body as agencies of sin, but not our tongue. We sin with our eyes and ears by seeing and hearing what is immoral and evil. The tongue too, sins by speaking what is unholy and corrupting. Swearing or using lewd language lowers one's personality. God does not shower His grace upon those who use foul language for verily it reflects upon their corrupt heart.
Once Bhagwan Swaminarayan was in His quarters with a few devotees and sadhus in Gadhada. A sudden clamor rent the silent air. Maharaj asked Naja Jogiya to enquire what had happened. The servant went out and returned back laughing.
"Maharaj," he said, "today is the day when people throw stones on the roofs of homes. This is believed to relieve one from personal hindrances or obstacles. In this regard Somba Fuee (the aunt of Dada Khachar) was furious when someone threw stones on her rooftop. She swore and rained vulgar words."
"Somba Fuee swore!" Maharaj exclaimed. "Even after hearing My sermons Sombaa Fuee has still not abstained from swearing." Maharaj was visibly agitated.
He got up, left his small room, saying he didn't want to stay anymore. Dada Khachar ran behind Maharaj, fell at His feet and pleaded for forgiveness.
"How could Sombaa Fuee utter such vulgar words? I can't stay here. One who speaks such abusive language is a sinner and one who hears it has also sinned." And so saying Maharaj went to the house of Harji Thakkar.
Sombaa Fuee knocked at the door of Harji Thakkar. Maharaj told him to see who it was and instructed him not to allow anyone to enter. Seeing Sombaa Fuee, Harji Thakkar told her that Maharaj was in no mood to see anyone and it would be unwise to talk to Him.
"But until Maharaj returns I have decided to fast. If I die then I shall die here in your courtyard."
Harji Thakkar allowed the resolute woman inside. When Maharaj saw her, He instantly got up to retire to another room. Sombaa Fuee halted Maharaj by telling Him to stop in the name of Dada Khachar. Then, she nervously approached Maharaj and with folded hands and wavering tone said, "Maharaj if you forsake me, then I shall be a vessel of contempt for all. Life for me would be harsh. I have erred once, forgive me, Maharaj! Forgive me! I shall never make the mistake again."
There was pain in her tone. Her soul was in agony for having displeased her Lord. Consumed with grief, her words rang with a feeling of intense repent. But the Lord of her heart remained unperturbed. His non-chalance touched off a spring of tears. Sombaa wept profusely. Maharaj remained silent. He wanted her to repent a little more. After a while Sombaa spoke again. But this time she asked for her death.
"Maharaj you may leave but administer poison to me so that I may die. How can I live when You have forsaken the family of Dada because of me? It was because of my tongue that Dada will now remain unprotected from his enemies. Maharaj, You were his protector."
Her last words struck a note of sympathy. The Lord came nearer to Sombaa Fuee and told her He would return for Dada's sake.
And with this Sombaa said, "Maharaj, I shall cut my tongue for having sinned."
"There is no need for that. Restrain your tongue and use it with prudence. Discipline your speech and your devotion will blossom to excellence."
Maharaj then returned to the courtyard of Dada Khachar.
Another serious element of concern and speculation is the use of discouraging words. They block the progress and confidence of others. Saying, "I know you'd fail. You can never do anything right..."can break someone's self-confidence. It shows you never had faith in the person. Have faith and appreciate his or her effort. Say a few words of encouragement. Even in matters of Satsang don't make the mistake of saying discouraging words when you are feeling spiritually low. In Vachanamrut Gadhada I-17, Maharaj delivers a hard hitting sermon on this point."... I have observed that those who preach often indulge in dispiriting talks. They say, 'Who can fully observe the spirit of God's words? And who abides strictly to the codes of moral conduct? Observe as much as you can and God will redeem you because He is known to have redeemed the worst of sinners!' And they also say, 'God cannot be meditated upon in our heart by mere personal effort. Only through the abundant grace of God is this possible.'
"Such discouraging talks leads an aspirant to relax the code of spiritual behaviour, devotion to God and other means of pleasing God. Therefore, I desire that from this day, nobody should indulge in discouraging talks and anyone who does, should be regarded as spiritually impotent. Anyone who talks thus even unconsciously should observe a fast."
Whenever you feel spiritually low or uncomfortable talk it out with someone who can understand you and positively help you. Don't bottle up your feelings or go on infecting others with your frail thoughts. It would be a great disservice to Satsang or the society.
A Rolling Story Gathers 'Moss'
We often hear that a rolling stone gathers no moss, but a rolling story gathers something fresh every time you say it. Every time you repeat it, the general tendency is, something is added and something is taken away. After repeated verbal butchery the story becomes stripped off its facts and essential truths. Similarly, a little bit of gossip swells gets distorted leaving somebody heartbroken.
Bipin, in his mid-twenties, worked as a screen designer for a textile mill a year back. Initially the winds of fate were in his favor. His honesty, punctuality, perfection and swift pace at work won the confidence of his peers. They entrusted him with a newly constructed Design Studio worth over Rupees five-hundred thousand. Bipin and his team of skilled men produced design screens for the fabric made at the mill. Then things suddenly went awry. It all began at the end of one month when Bipin was dishing out the pay. He paid each of his men according to their skill and amount of work. One of his senior most men, jealous of him, lashed out later to the others, "I should be paid the same as him!" The others chorused an approval. They decided to oust him by means of false gossip. But it wasn't going to be easy. Bipin had a clean and flawless record. They started floating a false talk that Bipin was stealing valuable chemicals and materials from the studio. Eventually they marched to the boss. But he wasn't convinced. The team was hell bent on removing Bipin. Out of spite they spun further yarns on the character of Bipin. Eventually they bribed the boss' secretary, expecting the boss would believe his word. Their prediction turned out true. Bipin was summoned and relieved from duty.
Talking ill of others, finding faults in others, corrupts and destroys the peace within and around you. One suffers as Bhagwan Swaminarayan says, "One who hurts a devotee of God either in speech or mind suffers great agony No other sin brings such agony. And if one serves a devotee of God with mind, body and speech he is blessed with happiness which no other service can bring."
Finally in concluding, nourish your mind with good wholesome reading (especially Satsang publications), see only what is morally good and keep good company. A little contemplation and discipline will help you avoid repeating harmful slips.