God knocks the door thrice

A man was sitting in an easy chair on the first floor of his house. The floods started rising. One hour later a boat came and said, “Come on, get in!” The man said, “No, I’ve full faith in my God. Lord Siva will save me!” The boat left.
Two hours later he was forced to move to the second floor.

Another rescue boat came and said “Come on, get in.” Again the man said, “No, I’ve faith in my God. Lord Siva will save me!” Three hours later he was forced to move up to the terrace. A helicopter came and said “Come on, get in.” Again the man said, “No, I’ve faith in my God. Lord Siva will save me.”

Four hours later he, drowned and went to heaven. He asked Lord Siva why He did not save him. Lord Siva said, “I tried! I sent you two rescue boats and a helicopter!!!!”

A Practical New Year Resolution

A nation-wide survey has brought out findings which are, if not shocking, not very complimentary to the state of elementary education in India, which is aiming to put every child in school by the year 2010. The survey was conducted by an NGO in Mumbai, Pratham, for the Planning Commission. Now, for some figures. The survey, confined to two age groups–7years to 10 and 11 to 14 years–and conducted in a cross-section of nearly 30 districts in as many States, shows that one-sixth of the number of girls joining schools at the beginning of the academic year drop out within a few months.

On an average, one-fourth of the number of students–both girls and boys–are not able to write down a full sentence by themselves, not even when it is dictated. The survey had tested children’s abilities in writing, reading, and arithmetic. In Allahabad and Lucknow districts of Uttar Pradesh, nearly 80 per cent of children between 7 and 10 years, studying in government-run schools, could not read. The situation in private schools is only marginally better.
The country, which eradicated scourges like small pox and malaria, and is on the threshold of similar success against polio, is fighting yet another–illiteracy. We have to view the survey findings against this backdrop. Success may be far away, but that does not mean that we can delay taking efforts any longer. Any resolve in this regard need not wait for an auspicious hour or day. However, now that we are about to usher in a New Year, let us take advantage of its shade and decide that in 2005 and in the following five years, we will first prevent drop-outs, and then revamp the educational system at least to help children acquire functional literacy.

We are reminded of our President Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam’s exhortation: Each one teach one. Nothing can be simpler or more straight forward.

January 2005.

AMBARISA – The king who could wield Vishnu’s Sudarshana

Ambarisa was a great king, but his greatness was more due to bis devotion to Vishnu than to his power or wealth. He was so deeply devoted to Vishnu that Vishnu gave him a rare boon. By that boon the king 1oould summon Vishnu’s invincible weapon, the Sudarshana Chakra. However,very few knew of this privilege granted to him.

Once the king observed ,a certain spiritual discipline for a full year. At the end of the period, he fasted for three days. The third day was the Ekadasi or the Eleventh day of the lunar fortnight, an auspicious day. The king was to have food after offering it to the gods.

Just before he was to end his penance, the sage Durvasa reached his palace.. In fact, he had been instigated by Indra who wished to harass the king.

Durvasa was notorious for his short temper,. The king was as courteous with him as possible. “Wait for me,” said Durvasa. “I’ll be back after a bath in the river. then we will have food together,”

The king waited for long, but Durvasa did not return. Other sages and priests advised the · king to break his fast before the auspicious moment was past. The king took only a sip of water, no food, to abide by their advice.

The king had just done so when Durvasa was back. Durvasa was furious. “You have insuited me by breaking your fast without waiting fot me!’ he shouted. Not only that, he tore a lock of his mounting hair and dashed it to the ground. A terrible being, sprang up. It adv­anced towards the king to des­troy him.

There was no time to lose,  King Ambarisa remembered the Sudarshana. Out of his forehead emerged the luminous weapon. It beheaded the tarrible being and then flew towards Durvasa.

The angry sage was not pre­pared for such tum of events. He took to heels. He went to
Indra’s abode and banged on his door. But Indra was too scared to open it. Durvasa ran to Brahma and then to Siva. Both said tat they won’t be able to protect him from the Sudarshana.

Durvasa ran to Vishnu. ”Frankly,”‘ said the Lord, “I can­not come to your rescue because I have granted the right to use the Sudarshana to Ambarisa. He alone can withdraw the weapon”

Durvasa was obliged to take refuge with the king. The king withdrew the Sudarshana and was as courteous to the sage as, ever.

After some y,ears King Ambarisa handed over the king­dom to his sons and retired into the forest for Tapasya.