Theme: Spirituality

The Touchstone

( From the Bhaktamal )
On the bank of the river in Brindaban
With rapt attention
Sanatan was saying his prayers
A Brahmin came
And touched his feet in salutation.
Sanatan asked him,
'Who are you,
Whence have you come?'
The Brahmin replied,
'To meet you I have travelled long,
My name is Jivan
And my home is at Mankar in Barddhaman.
None is more unfortunate than me
I have a little landed property,
The income is small
And I live in extreme poverty.
Yet there was a time
When I was far famed
For doing janjas
And observance of similar rites
Today I am a pauper.
To improve my lot
I worshipped Lord Shiva
And asked his boon
One night he visited me in a dream
And granted my prayer –
He told me,
'You go to the banks of the Yamuna
You will find there Sanatan the Vaishnava monk
Pay respect to him as your father
He can tell you how to get rich.'
Hearing this Sanatan thought hard –
'Today what do I possess!
Whatever I had I left behind
Now I depend only on begging.'
Suddenly he remembered something
And said,
'Yes, in the sands of this river
I had once found a touchstone
To gift it to someone sometime
I kept it buried there
You take it
And as soon as you will touch it
All your miseries will end.'
The Brahmin hurried to that spot,
Dug in the sand
And found the stone.
As soon as he touched with it
His two iron amulets became golden.
In awe the Brahmin sat down on the sands
And began to think.
The murmurs of the Yamuna
Whispered myriad thoughts
Into the ears of the thoughtful Brahmin,
On the bank of the river
The sun, tired at the end of the day,
Set in the glowing evening sky –
The Brahmin then got up
And fell on the feet of the saint
And said in tears,
'Please grant me the smallest share of the jewel
That has made you think of this precious stone
As no jewel at all.'
Saying this
Into the river he threw away the touchstone.

Transcreation of the poem 'Sparshamani' from the collection Katha by Rabindranath Tagore. Compare no. 27 of Fruit Gathering. The original in Bengali script may be viewed at


More By  :  Kumud Biswas

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