Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ideal Worshipers and Not Idol Worshipers

This is a simple story to prove Hinduism is not about idol worshipers but ideal worshipers.

Once there lived a rich textile merchant called Manikam in the city of Coimbatore, TN. He was undergoing some financial crises which started to affect his personal life and his health. To overcome the stress he went to a sage for some advice who had a small ashram in the outskirts of the city. Manikam begged the swami to tell him a ritual by which he could make his mind and his life more calm and stable. At first, the swami asked him to do some meditation and yoga to relax his mind and body respectively. Manikam wasn't satisfied with this answer and wanted the swami to tell some other ritual to appease the Gods. The swami told him to pray to his ishta devata (favorite form of God)  for peace at least twice a day. But manikam wanted some other ancient ritual that will get him money and good health at a faster rate. He needed no introspection or meditation. So swami was forced to give him an old idol of shiva and asked him to say mrityunjaya mantra 1000 times daily for a month. Manikam agreed and took the idol home.

Manikam spent most of his time praying hoping he will find some hidden treasure somewhere. He ignored his work and family and as a result both suffered. After a month he got dejected and went to the swami again and complained that Shiva wasn't a God at all. He was being relentless to his prayers. Swami smiled and gave him an idol of durga and told his to read durga suktam 2000 times a day for a month. Manikam went home, shifted the shiva idol on top of the puja shelf and started reading durga suktam. He went dejected to swami again and was in tears. He told swami that Gods are implacable. He wanted to pray to a God who was kind to his devotees. Swami gave his Balaji's idol and told him he was the God of Kali Yuga and he will for sure relent if manikam read the vishnu sahasranamam twice every day. Manikam thought his life couldn't get better. Only twice compared to 2000 times to appease a God? This one is easy.

He went home and started to pray to Lord Balaji twice a day. He spent more time sorting out his business. He prayed in the evenings together with his family. His life was getting better.

One day during his early morning prayer, he noticed that the fumes of his incense stick was reaching all the way to the old Shiva idol that was now covered with dust. He got furious. He shouted, "why should you enjoy the sweet smell of the sandalwood incense when you did nothing at all to get my life better?". He got up and stuffed the nostrills of the Shiva Idol with some cotton. With a flash of light Lord Shiva appeared before him. Manikam was shocked. He prostrated to the Lord and asked, "Oh Lord, Why didn't you appear in front of me when I religiously prayed to you? Why do you show me your kindness when I treated you so badly?" Lord Shiva smiled and explained, "Manikam all the while you prayed to me, you had money in your mind and not me. You thought I was like a maths formula. You solve it  1000 times and I appear. No Manikam, I reside in you. All this while you treated me like a carved stone capable of understanding mindlessly recited slokas. Manikam, I understand love and faith that comes from within. Even if you acknowledge me with a simple prayer but with full of love and faith I will answer your prayers. Today by stuffing the nortrills of the idol you gave me an identity. You showed me that you believed that I existed. You were just an annoyed devotee and I had to come to allay you. It doesn't matter whether you pray to Vishnu,Shiva or any other God form. When you pray and believe in the Goodness in this universe you are free to give this energy any form you want. All you need to do is to be honest,devoted and faithful. Don't run from your problems. You are here to solve it and we will give you the energy and confidence to overcome it. You prayed with your family, you gave time to your work which is your karma bhoomi and today you explicitly showed that you believed that I existed in that idol. Hence, here I am in front of you".

Manikam was in tears. He prostrated to his Lord and asked hime," Lord, always be with me and show me the right way. Be my ideal in the form of Shiva." Lord Shiva blessed him.

Manikam had realized the all pervading truth and nothing could give him more joy and peace. He worked without greediness. He was kind to his servants and loving to his family. He prayed with belief and sincerity. As a result he was liked by everyone and his business flourished. He got twice of how much he gave.

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