Orpheus and Eurydice

I do not know how many of you have read this lovely story of Orpheus and Eurydice that ends in tragedy. I am repeating this story for the benefit of my readers as this mythological incident teaches us something important.

If anyone who reads the story wonders what we learn or why Orpheus failed to regain Eurydice in his memorably journey to Hades or the so called netherworld, it will come back to two simple words.

It teaches us how important it is to use faith and patience as our two legs in our journeys, and if you use them well, you will reach your intended destination with the person whom you set out with…

Source: www.greeka.com

Orpheus is known as the most talented music player of the ancient times. It is said that god Apollo was his father, from whom he took his extreme talent in music, and the Muse Calliope was his mother. He was living in Thrace, on the northeastern part of Greece. Orpheus had a divinely gifted voice that could charm everyone who heard it. When he was presented first the lyre, as a boy, he had it mastered in no time at all.

The myth says that no god or mortal could resist his music and even the rocks and trees would move themselves to be near him.

Humans and beasts alike would be enchanted by it and often even the most inanimate of objects would yearn to be near him. Well into his youth he had mastered the lyre and his melodious voice garnered him audiences from near and afar.

It was at one such gathering of humans and beasts that his eyes fell on a wood nymph. The girl was called Eurydice,who was beautiful and shy. She had been drawn to Orpheus enamored by his voice and such was the spell of beauty in music and appearance that neither could cast their eyes off each other. Something inexplicable tugged the hearts of the two young people and soon they fell dearly in love, unable to spend a single moment apart. After a while, they decided to get married.

There was one man who was despising Orpheus and desired Eurydice for his own. Aristaeus, a shepherd, had plotted a plan to conquer the beautiful nymph. And there he was, waiting in the bushes for the young couple to pass by. Seeing that the lovers were approaching, he intended to jump on them and kill Orpheus. As the shepherd made his move, Orpheus grabbed Eurydice by the hand and started running pell-mell through the forest. The chase was long and Aristaeus showed no signs of giving up or slowing down. On and on they ran and suddenly, Orpheus felt Eurydice stumble and fall, her hand slipping from his grasp. Unable to comprehend what had just happened, he rushed to her side but stopped short in dismay, for his eyes perceived the deathly pallor that suffused her cheeks. Looking around, he saw no trace of the shepherd for Aristaeus had witnessed the event and had left. Few steps away, Eurydice had stepped on a nest of snakes and had been bitten by a deadly viper. Knowing that there was no chance of survival, Aristaeus had abandoned his try, cursing his luck and Orpheus.

After the death of his beloved wife, Orpheus was no more the same carefree person he used to be. His life without Eurydice seemed endless and could do nothing more than grief for her. This is when he had a great but yet crazy idea: he decided to go to  the underworld and try to get his wife back. Apollo, his father, would talk to Hades, the god of the underworld, to accept him and hear his plea. Armed with his weapons, the lyre and his voice, Orpheus approached Hades and demanded entry into the underworld. None challenged him. Standing in front of the rulers of the dead, Orpheus said why he was there, in a voice both mellifluous and disquieting. He played his lyre and sang out to King Hades and Queen Persephone pleading that Eurydice was returned to him. Not even the most stone-hearted of people or Gods could have neglected the hurt in his voice. Hades openly wept, Persephone’s heart melted and even Cerberus, the gigantic three-headed hound guarding the entry to the underworld, covered his many ears with his paws and howled in despair. 

The voice of Orpheus was so moving that Hades promised to this desperate man that Eurydice would follow him to the Upper World, the world of the living. However, he warned Orpheus that for no reason must he look back while his wife was still in the dark, for that would undo everything he hoped for. He should wait for Eurydice to get into the light before he looked at her. With great faith in his heart and joy in his song, Orpheus began his journey out of the underworld, joyful that he would once again be reunited with his love.

As Orpheus was reaching the end of the Underworld, he could hear the footfalls of his wife approaching him. He wanted to turn around and hug her immediately but managed to control his feelings. As he was approaching the exit, his heart was beating faster and faster. The moment he stepped on the world of the living and was in the light, he turned his head to hug his wife. Unfortunately, he got only a glimpse of Eurydice before she was once again drawn back into the underworld. When Orpheus turned his head, Eurydice was still in the dark, she hadn’t seen the Sun and, as Hades had warned Orpheus, his sweet wife was drawn back to the dark world of the dead…. In conclusion, when one runs out of patience, he loses faith and vice versa…

 

Dharma Questions

 In the Indian philosophy and religious texts, the word Dharma signify  ethical conduct or righteousness.

There is a pleasant narrative about the King Yudhisthira who was the son of dharma  in the Indian epic, Mahabharata, meeting his father Yama ( Dharmaraja or the God of Death) in the forest when they were in exile. Yama wanted to test his son and decided to set up a meeting.

A deer took the fire kindling kit of a  sage and ran away. The sage pleaded with the Pandavas ( the 5 sons of Pandu) who were living in exile at that time. All of them ran in pursuit of the deer who dodged them skillfully for a long distance and then vanished from sight. Yudhisthira , the eldest of them all, asked the others to look for a water source to quench his thirst, and the youngest Nakula upon his instruction went out in search and did manage to find a beautiful lake with crystal clear water and standing cranes. He was going to quench his thirst first when a voice alerted him.

“O Nakula! The water will turn into poison if you take it without satisfactorily answering my questions”.  Nakula, in arrogance, did not pay heed and he fell dead instantly. Nakula’s twin Sahadeva, coming in search of his brother, also found the same lake, saw Nakula dead, and was warned by the voice. But Sahadeva too ignored the crane and died after drinking the water. In the same manner, both, the great Arjuna and Bhimasena met the same fate.

When Yudhisthira , steadfast in dharma,  reached the scene, he was mortified to see his dear brothers dead. But when the invisible being told him what had happened, he was not angry and calmly asked for the questions, knowing fully well that this act could have been carried out by a mighty yaksha, or a  gandharva  to test him.

These were some of the questions asked of, and answered by Yudhisthira.

Question.  “What is heavier than Earth, higher than heavens, faster than the wind and more numerous than straws”?

Yudhisthira answered, “One’s mother is heavier than the Earth, one’s father is higher than the heavens, the mind is faster than the wind and our worries are more numerous than straws “.

Question . “Who is the friend of a traveler? Who is the friend of one who is ill and one who is dying”?

Yudhisthira responded, “The friend of a traveler is his companion. The physician is the friend of one who is sick and a dying man’s friend is charity”.

Question . “What is that which, when renounced, makes one lovable? What is that which is renounced makes one happy and wealthy”?

Yudhisthira replied, “Pride, if renounced makes one lovable, renouncing desire one becomes wealthy and to renounce greed is to obtain happiness”.

Question . “What enemy is invincible? What constitutes an incurable disease? What sort of man is noble and what sort is ignoble”?

And Yudhisthira responded, “Anger is the invincible enemy. Covetousness constitutes a disease that is incurable. He is noble who desires the well-being of all creatures, and he is ignoble who is without mercy”.

Question.  “Who is truly happy? What is the greatest wonder? What is the path? And what is the news”?

Whereupon Yudhisthira replied, “He who has no debts is truly happy. Day after day countless people die. Yet the living wish to live forever. O Lord, what can be a greater wonder? The truth about Dharma and duty is hid in the cave of our hearts, therefore that alone is the path along which the great have trod. This world full of ignorance is like a pan. The sun is fire, the days and nights are fuel. The months and the seasons constitute the wooden ladle. Time is the cook that is cooking all creatures in that pan (with such aids). This is the news”.

and now to end the story, I quote from the original source, the translated work in English available at the site link pasted at the bottom of this post.

The Yaksha asked,–‘Thou hast, O represser of foes, truly answered all my questions! Tell us now who is truly a man, and what man truly possesseth every kind of wealth.’ Yudhishthira answered,–‘The report of one’s good action reacheth heaven and spreadeth over the earth. As long as that report lasteth, so long is a person to whom the agreeable and the disagreeable, weal and woe, the past and the future, are the same, is said to possess every kind of wealth.’ The Yaksha said,–‘Thou hast, O king truly answered who is a man, and what man possesseth every kind of wealth. Therefore, let one only amongst thy brothers, whom thou mayst wish, get up with life!’ Yudhishthira answered,–‘Let this one that is of darkish hue, whose eyes are red, who is tall like a large Sala tree, whose chest is broad and arms long, let this Nakula, O Yaksha, get up with life! The Yaksha rejoined,-‘This Bhimasena is dear unto thee, and this Arjuna also is one upon whom all of you depend! Why, then, O king dost thou, wish a step-brother to get up with his life! How canst thou, forsaking Bhima whose strength is equal to that of ten thousand elephants, wish Nakula to live? People said that this Bhima was dear to thee. From what motive then dost thou wish a step-brother to revive? Forsaking Arjuna the might of whose arm is worshipped by all the sons of Pandu, why dost thou wish Nakula to revive?’ Yudhishthira said,–‘If virtue is sacrificed, he that sacrificeth it, is himself lost. So virtue also cherisheth the cherisher. Therefore taking care that virtue by being sacrificed may not sacrifice us, I never forsake virtue. Abstention from injury is the highest virtue, and is, I ween, even higher than the highest object of attainment. I endeavour to practise that virtue. Therefore, let Nakula, O Yaksha, revive! Let men know that the king is always virtuous! I will never depart from my duty. Let Nakula, therefore, revive! My father had two wives, Kunti and Madri. Let both of them have children. This is what I wish. As Kunti is to me, so also is Madri. There is no difference between them in my eye. I desire to act equally towards my mothers. Therefore, let Nakula live?’ The Yaksha said,–‘Since abstention from injury is regarded by thee as higher than both profit and pleasure, therefore, let all thy brothers live!”

Mahabharata – Yaksha Prashna

 

 

Arrogance Heights

There are chances that once in a life time, at least if not all the time, man might have a condition where arrogance swells in him and reaches the heights of a tall tower that I would like to name as Arrogance Heights. All this is a mental state of the mind and when it will take seed and cause our ruin, no one knows and therefore this story serves to keep our humbleness or control ourselves when we land in such situations. The post was chosen today when Basheer our driver in Bahrain was harping on this topic of how arrogance spoils an individual  and complemented it with an outline of a  simple story that he learnt in school. I am sure most of us at one point of time would have read or heard, but then there is no harm in narrating it for a reader for whom there is always a first time and for those who chances upon this post in their wanderings in the  WordPress forest of literature. I hope after reading this story, you will not book a residence in Arrogance Heights…

Once there was a tiny mouse, who used to live in holes dug by himself, some on the ground, some in the wall of a house where he frequented at night for dishes forgotten to be tightly closed or some left overs lying here and there. There was no issue of food for the mouse, but he always was in awe and fear of an alley cat who  used to frequent the place where the mouse lived. The alley cat would  try to pounce upon him given the opportunity or whenever they came face to face, but most of the time, he used to give the cat a slip by slipping just in time into  one of the burrows dug to handle such situations. There  was a tree nearby the house, and it used to be difficult when the cat after his sleeping sessions on the tree would come down in a jiffy when the mouse was just loitering around and our poor guy had to scamper with many a wounds which he would lick in private and think how his world would change..

Once it so happened, that a sage visited the house and its inhabitants on his way and blessed them and was just about to leave when the mouse approached him and told all about the miserable life that he was living because of the alley cat.  Sensing what was going in the tiny mind, the Sage asked him, in what form would he like to continue in life, if the cat was giving him so much trouble. I would like to be a cat so that I wont have to dread this alley cat and any others that might come this way, pleaded the mouse. So it be it, said the Sage and walked away.

The little mouse was mighty surprised to see himself as a cat and he ran the whole day in leaps and bounds, climbed the tree and jumped to the window to startle the little boy inside and then back and so forth. He went into the house through the door and no body saw him nor shrieked when they saw him. He was loving the freedom and came out to enjoy the world in his new form. But to his chagrin, the house dog barked at him and chased him and he had to beat a hasty retreat out of that house for ever. He too became an alley cat living in one street a day based on the street dogs pushing him away and he soon became tired of being on the run, leading the life of a fugitive who could barely rest in peace anywhere.

He chanced upon our Sage one day and asked him if he could change him to a dog and the transformation happened much to his joy. But the happiness was short lived when children and adults alike threw stones at him whenever he went his way looking for food around the houses and shops across the street. To cut a long story short, our guy changed many forms till he became a man with the blessings of the sage whom he used to chance upon whenever he wanted a change. Even he became sick of being a human life soon having being subjected to mental torture from all whom he acquainted with, professionally and personally. Finally he told the Sage, human life is also not good enough, let me become a tiger in the forest, so that everybody will respect me for what I am and I can live a peaceful life. So be it, said a smiling sage and vanished.

The tiger roamed about and was happy to see nobody came his way or troubled him. He could kill any of the animal that he liked for his food, be it a nimble footed deer, a lost goat or a troubled buffalo. Days went by and slowly the tiger became more of a trouble maker in the forest. He killed animals with gay abandon even when he was not hungry and hence every animal dreaded him.

The sage thought of making a visit to know how the mouse fared in his newly acquired tiger’s form now that the mouse was not even thinking of him. On the way he saw the forest in disarray as if somebody had created havoc to the eco-system with carcasses of animals lying here and there and rotting. As he walked, some of the gentle animals came to him and said how the tiger had became a menace to the inhabitants and pleaded with the Sage to rescue them from the clutches of an animal gone wild.

The sage said he would talk to the tiger on their behalf and ask him to mend his ways for good and the retinue of animals thanked him but still followed  our sage at a safe distance. Sensing some movement, the tiger came out of his dwelling and saw the sage. He just blinked at the sage without giving any respect whatsoever now that he was the king of the forest. The sage put forward his proposition and advised the tiger to come to terms and behave himself for the good of all creatures. The tiger got angry telling the Sage it was no business of his and he should beat a hasty retreat before he got hungry. The sage laughed at this, and the tiger could see the animals in the distance watching all this. How could you laugh at me, when I am ordering you to flee if you valued your life. Why are all of you tired of life and in arrogance, he spoke to the Sage and said that there was no need of him visiting him again with silly advice and demanded him to leave immediately as dusk was fast approaching.

The Sun much as he wanted to enjoy the climax of the unfolding drama below, was beating a hasty retreat behind the dense foliage. On the way down, he saw the rising Moon and told him all about what had happened, so that he could tell him all about the unfinished story when they met the next day morning.The moon ever so eager, climbed fast in time to position himself at a vantage position to see what would be the outcome of the conversation between the tiger and his preceptor, the Sage.  An eagle flying that way also thought of resting his wings and he landed on one of the branches below which the Sage was standing and lent his ears as did other animals in abeyance.

The Sage seemed hurt at the dialogues from the tiger and he warned the mouse turned wild cat that it would be better to be humble rather that destroying himself with arrogance. Hearing this, the tiger who had had enough sprang at the Sage who was standing at a distance of a few feet. As he took off, he knew the Sage would be a an easy prey but to his surprise the Sage easily dodged him while he was in the air and when he landed on the ground, much to his surprise, he found himself having turned into a mouse. These moments didn’t last long, as to his horror, the eagle had already descended from the branch above to pounce on an easy prey in the darkness lit only by the glow of a smiling crescent Moon…

EID Mubarak to All..

eidgreetings
Eid Greetings

Journey of life

All of us are walking on the road that leads us to our final destination. This is the path that everyone takes in their life and which no one can shun. All get pushed on to this road and walk they have to. Experiences that we gather get tagged as luggage on to us. Some are good whereas some are bad and others best to be forgotten.

These experiences and memories cannot be discarded as each event and action gets etched, some on your body and others most in memory. We get our family members to walk with us in this journey of life where some leave us soon and others stick on till the very end.

Friends come in from different directions as they meet us in their journeys. Some give you company  and lighten the travails of the travel. There are others who confront you with negative motives and who are best to be avoided but not everyone can, as some are forced upon you that leaves you weak and tired to continue the arduous path ahead. The journey is long for some who grumble about it and short for others who enjoy the travel.

The sun, the wind and other elements play their parts when they cross your paths daily as you walk ahead not knowing what is in store for you, a journey where the destination marks the culmination of a life well spent or best forgotten…
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The lively professor

A professor when he was on the verge of retirement  dream’t of coaching eager students in his now retired life, so he thought, as he drove back from college on one of his last days.

He called up one of his old students who now worked in the press to put up a classified in the morning newspaper that would advertise his skills in accountancy, a tutor anybody would love and dream’t to have.

A few days back, 3 girls, all pals,  came to his house for coaching as exams were just a few months away but they saw a padlock greeting them on his door. They went away sadly as they could not meet the tutor who dream’t of teaching even in his retired life.

padlock

After a week they came again to inquire and this time they found him waiting and ready to teach. Not wasting much time, he taught the nuances about all he knew about the subject in those few months.

The girls loved him for his knowledge and more than that, the way he imparted it to them, making it look so easy. If only, they thought, all of the professors they met were like him.

On the day of the results, our girls were mighty thrilled and why wouldn’t they as the results outdid their expectations and they hurried to their old mentor to convey the great news but sadly the padlock greeted them this time too and they lingered on for him to arrive, for quite some time.

But arrive, he never did that day, and as it was late, the trio went back sadly each to their own homes. The next dawn they went back again to see the house still locked as they found it the earlier day. This time they inquired about his whereabouts with his not so near neighbors, only to know that he had passed a few months away…

 

Some good souls linger on to complete an unfulfilled wish…

When Life is tough

When you see a poor old woman
looking at her scanty store
she counts them through tears
when she is short by a penny
then life is tough.

When the winds batter you days on
the water having flooded your house
when there is no life in sight
to pull out your drowned self
then life is tough.

When you see a little girl in pain
who picks rags for a living
crying out to her dear mother
when she prods her to pick more
then life is tough.

When the little abandoned dog
in the rain, with nothing to eat
and nowhere to go, knowing not
what to do and looks at you
as a savior, when you ignore him
then life is tough.

When the hungry come to your door
and ask you for a pan of gruel
and you turn them away
saying the meal isn’t  ready
when you just had your fill
then life is tough..