Aug 30, 2013

"Mental Equanimity" from Sermons in the Storms

Some fourteen years back I was a guest at the place of an acquaintance of mine In Bombay. He was a well-to-do businessman enjoying good mercantile connections with foreign countries. He was popular in the locality where he lived and all those who knew him, most reverentially addressed him as Dadaji. Not because he was an aged old man; but because of his ripe wisdom. Because he lived an ideal and practical life - a life which was very much different from the ordinary run of people.
On a Monday afternoon his devout wife brought cocoa for us and after setting the tray on the table, she was leaving the room—all of a sudden, however, "she gave out a shrill cry of 'ahh' and fell flat fainting near the door. While I watched on Dadaji got up at once, lifted her up and laid her on the cot in the room. Thereafter, he switched on the fan, loosened her tight clothes, sprinkled water on her face and began, rubbing her soles briskly. After ten minutes or so, he got up and phoned his family physician asking him to come at once.
That done, he came up to me and said 'Swamiji, all that which I should and could have done, that I have done, what now remains to be done is in the hands of the Doctor and Lord God. While we are waiting for the Doctor, let's drink the cocoa before it gets cold."
Free from traces of any anxiety and apprehensions, Dadaji served the cocoa and we were sipping it discussing the language of birds. Just then, Dadaji's widowed sister who was also staying with him, came in to call her sister-in-law. In select sentences Dadaji told her how his wife fell unconscious, asked her not to worry and resumed his talks with me after informing her that the Doctor had been called. With visible countenance of annoyance over our seeming indifference, she went up to the bedside and began feeling the pulse of the silent figure lying on the cot. In the meantime, the Doctor came in hurried paces with an attendant close at his heels.
The Doctor examined her thoroughly, gave her a couple of injections and waited studying the reaction. We all could see her stiffening and somewhat struggling for breath and after that she became completely still. Our fears were confirmed by the Doctor who offered his condolences to Dadaji and left.
Dadaji's wife passed away and his sister at once flooded the silent apartment with her bemoaning cries interspersed with pointing accusations against our carelessness. She also questioned the wisdom of God over his having created cold-hearted people like me and Dadaji. Dadaji tried to console her saying that :—appearance of everything which we dread, disappearance of everything which we hold dear diseases, old age and death are all inevitable events in the game of life and that, human life itself is a journey from the cradle to the grave. And that, that being so, it is never productive to throw one-self to despondency, on such occasions. But, all his philosophic efforts to pacify her only made her cry more and much louder than before
Leaving his sister to herself, Dadaji busied himself sending messages to relatives and friends and making other arrangements' for the cremation of the dead body. His only son Suresh kumar who was connected with some sugar factories was then away somewhere near Sholapur. He was also informed per express telegram about the sudden demise of his mother and about the performance of the last rites that very evening.
Saying that it would serve no useful purpose except fostering the binding ignorance, Dadaji outright refused to concede to the incessant pleas of his sister that the funeral ceremony should be postponed till the arrival of Suresh kumar. By about 9 p.m. Dadaji, came home after the completion of the cremation rite.
On the following day afternoon, Dadaji was seated with several of his out-station friends who had called in to offer their condolences. At that time, Shri. Sureshkumar came in running and catching hold of and shaking his father, he brusquely demanded of him as to why he had disposed off the body of his mother without waiting for him to come. But for the timely intervention of those present, Sureshkumar would have become very violent in that unbalanced state of mind.
 Normally, the rich who are generally too egoistic can never, silently tolerate rough handling and insulting behavior - much less, when in the crowd - no matter from which party it came. But Dadaji was made of a different stuff. Addressing Sureshkumar, he very calmly said, “Suresh, my son, why all this mad excitement and nonsensical conduct? Your mother, like all the dead, was to die and she left-this world in a natural way. Your weeping and wailing can never bring her back. By sorrowing over the past event, you are only harming your own self and that's not good. Come on, now, collect your-self, ……….discriminatively view the realities and serenely pray for the peace of your dead mother. By doing so, you will please both God and the departed soul”.
Dadaji was always dutiful and affectionate both as a husband and father. At no time did the neighbours, relatives or servants see or hear about any difference or quarrel between Dadaji and his noble wife. Their house was a noted citadel of harmony and understanding. They were very much, in demand and useful as trustworthy mediators in diverse family disputes to many persons.
As a result of that day's emotional outburst and excitement added to the previous day's shock over the premature death of his mother, Sureshkumar developed high temperature by sun-set. The Doctor came and attended. Sometime after midnight, Suresh's condition was found to be worsening and the Doctor had to be summoned again. The Doctor and his attendant came and remained by the side of Suresh for the whole night treating him. It was a very sad surprise for everyone when at 6 a. m. on Wednesday death cut short Suresh's newly married life. He went the way of his mother. It was a lamentable day for the assembled relatives and the neighbors — much more so, to the teen-aged wife of Suresh. The only person to remain unaffected by the incident was Dadaji. As before, the funeral ceremony etc., was gone through as per family custom.
By the force of his mental composure, he, as before, astonished many who had come to console him over the twin losses. Dadaji was of that mental mould.
As early as Sunday, we had planned to go to Lonavla on Wednesday and seats were also reserved by the Deccan Queen leaving in the evening. When Dadaji   made known of this program to his sister, she began to remonstrate and added that because of the doable death in the house, many friends and relatives were expected to call and that it was therefore desirable that Dadaji, the only male member of the house, remained present at home. When she found Dadaji adament, she sobbingly sought to go and remain with the parents-in-law of the late Shri Suresh during the absence of Dadaji. She was permitted to do so and we locked the flat and left.
On the way, we met some intimate friends of Dadaji who casually enquired   about the welfare of his family. In a tone and gestures characteristic of describing an ordinary event that death really is, Dadaji informed them all how according to God's plan both his wife and son had recently left the world with but a day's interval between them.
We reached Lonavla and spent 3 days in the soothing company of one Swami Shri Suryanandji and our other associates there and returned to Bombay on Saturday morning.
On reaching home, we found that it was sealed. Taking advantage of the owner's absence, some bad characters broke into the house and decamped with some woolen clothes, silverwares, a time piece and a small amount of cash. On Saturday morning, the neighbors and other occupants of the building noticed signs of the house having been broken into and the occurrence of theft; they informed the Police. The Police came and sealed the house and left behind a message requiring Dadaji to call at the Police Station on his return.
Accordingly, Dadaji went to the Police Station and came back with a Police Officer and a few constables. A written complaint enumerating therein the aforementioned missing articles was lodged and the Police left.
Dadaji who was a victim to triple tragedies all happening in succession, remained absolutely impervious and uperturbed. By his demeanor he proved beyond all reasonable doubt that he had attained mental equanimity. With Dadaji's type of philosophical and realistic attitude towards the imminent incidents and intricate issues of this earthly life, the tormenting pangs plus pains could be obviated and LIFE LIVED LAUGHINGLY.
Rendered into a couplet, Gita's description of the state and conduct of a man of mental poise contained in verse 56 of canto II would read as under:—
Unaffected by sorrows who does ever remain, with no thirst for worldly pleasures vain. Free from passion, anger and terrible fear, Of stable mind is he Oh! Arjuna dear.