The Monk

The monk was staying in a temple at the outskirts of the village. These itinerant monks usually do so. They beg for their food, and advice the householders about true religion. It is believed that the householders, who offer such noble souls food etc., get a share of rewards from their spiritual austerities. These monks, on their part, take to such wanderings from one place to the other to cultivate the virtues of non-attachment, non-covetousness, and frugality. In the process they also learn many things from varied experiences and interactions with the people. Indian culture owes much for its glory and tradition to such monks.

Radhabala heard the plea: "O mother, give some alms." She was busy in her cooking, and her ailing husband occupied the bed in the next room. Her son was probably not in the house; he must be busy in playing with his friends. 'It seems a monk has come for food,' Radhabala talked to herself, 'How many days have passed by that no one has come to my house for food. This day seems to be an auspicious one.' Speaking loudly to her husband, she said, "Dear me, look, a monk has come to our gate. How sad that you won't be able to come out and salute him!" saying this, she took some food and came out in the verandah.

The monk put his lone bowl in front and the lady poured the food in it. Usually monk collected food from five houses, all mixed in one container. He would then eat the food as it is, irrespective of the taste it acquires. Such a routine helped these ascetics in conquering their sense of taste, one of the most compelling bondage of human being.

"Baba, from where do you come?" Radhabala asked to start a talk. "I am from Omkareshwar, Mai," the monk replied.

"Baba, is it necessary to suffer in this world? Can anything be done to overcome the misery?"

"Yes, Mother, suffering is but a part of our existence. Birth brings with it the idea of death, attempt to seek joy juxtaposes sorrow alongside it. It is difficult to avoid pain when one has body consciousness, when one considers oneself to be a body."

"What do you consider yourself, Baba?"

"I am trying to consider myself what I really am, the soul. But I have not yet succeeded in this attempt. Therefore, I also suffer, like everybody else, from joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure."

"Baba, my husband has broken his leg. He is bed-ridden now for last six months. Doctor says it is the sepsis that does not allow the bones to unite. Drugs have failed. Is there no hope for him, and for me?"

The monk knew such questions would be coming. It is natural for a common man to think of how best he or she can run the family. Such accidents do not easily allow these people to accept high talk of Soul and consciousness beyond body and mind. What would monk say? What could he say? "Mai, God is gracious and kind. Pray to him and your husband would soon recover," said the monk and left the house. He did not feel like going to other place for more food. He had suddenly lost his appetite. Day in and day out, village after the village the monk heard similar stories. But he could not find clear answer to alleviate the suffering of this world.

The villagers saw the monk for a couple of days before he left for some other village.

Meanwhile Radhabala continued with her household duties, she served her husband and took care of her son. The third day, the doctor came to her house. He examined the patient and was absorbed in some thought. Radhabala asked, "What are you thinking doctor." The doctor beckoned her to some privacy and said:

"Radha, would you do one thing. Now that the wound does not heal, and the limb shows no sign of recovery, the best thing is to prepare your husband for amputation of the leg. That at least will allow him to come out of his illness, and he would be able to move around. He would be able to earn a few rupees by doing some sedentary job. But, you will have to take him to the district hospital for the surgery."

Remembering the words of the monk, 'Mai, God is gracious and kind. Pray to him and your husband would soon recover', Radhabala accepted the verdict as God-sent solution to her problem. She started making arrangements for the treatment, and left for the hospital in a week's time.

About six weeks later, the monk again came to that village and went to Radhabala's house. The door was closed, and it appeared no one was inside. "Mai, are you home?" the monk tried to announced himself. After shouting for the second time, as he prepared himself to leave, the door
opened and a boy appeared in the door. "Yes, what do you want Maharaj?" the child inquired.

"Are your parents home?"

"No, sir; they have gone to the hospital for the treatment of my father. They are likely to return in a few day's time."

"Very nice, my boy. Take these crutches, and give them to your mother when she returns. Your father will need them. Tell them that a Baba had come, she will understand everything."
While the monk was on his way to the temple, the doctor appeared and prostrated before him, and said: "Gurudev, why don't you permanently stay here and start an ashrama? The villagers will be much benefited."

"I will come, provided you promise me to start a free dispensary for the villagers."

The doctor agreed, and today after ten years of the incidence, in the premises of tranquil and serene ashrama, a small hospital has come up as a result of dedicated efforts of the doctor, Radhabala, and her husband. 


More by :  Dr. C.S. Shah

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