My elder brother came, tired from office, yet again. He was in a rush and whisked out of the house almost as fast as he had come in.
“What happened, son?” Granny asked when he finally came back home, late again for dinner.
“Nothing!” The grumpy scowl said it all.
“What happened at the doctors?” My Mother’s stern voice could not be ignored.
“He said my life was too fast-paced. I have to slow down.” The scowl turned to a frown.
“That’s good, Bro.” I chimed in trying to lift his spirits, only to be greeted with a gnarl.
“Whether it is good or not. It has to be done.” It was Granny’s turn to take charge. “Don’t worry son, it will be beautiful. Mahadev will help you.” She patted my brother on his back, and he smiled with hesitation.
“Mahadev? How Granny? How will Mahadev help?” My curiosity voiced itself.
“Mahadev is the Supreme Gyaani. Lord of all wisdom. He resides in each of us. He guides us. We just have to be clear on our goal, and He takes over.”
“What?” This was a shout in unison, from me, Mother and brother.
Granny paused and smiled. She seemed to be taking pleasure in having all our focus and attention, for once.
“You know we have a trinity of Gods, right?” We nodded.
She raised her eyebrows, and as the youngest, I answered. “Brahma the Lord of Creation. Lord Vishnu who helps sustain and nourish all of creation and then Mahadev the Lord of dissolution.”
She patted me gently, and I felt blessed to report back what I have learnt from her, as a little girl.
“So it is in each of our lives.” Her hands were on her lap. I looked with wonder at Granny with wisps of grey hair flying in the breeze of the ceiling fan, her piercing eyes behind the gold-rim spectacles. Why was she speaking in riddles today?
“What about our lives?” Brother was the most impatient of us all.
“What are our lives? A play of Mahadev’s dance. He makes us dance with desires after desires and then dissolves them. If we let Him.”
“Granny, I am tired.” Brother got up to leave, but Granny caught his hand and pointed to the chair next to her. She made him sit by her side and touched his cheeks, with tender love. She used to do this to us when we were little children and fell down or got hurt in our play.
Brother softened and asked, “Tell me, Granny, how will it help? Mahadev in my life?”
I felt it was a scene from the Gita, Arjuna saying to Sri Krishna, “I am your disciple, teach me, Oh Lord.”
Granny clasped my brother’s hands, and I wished my smartphone was with me to take a photo. But the moment was too precious to get up and disturb the sublime vibration.
“Son, you make some goals. Plans for your work, your exercise, your food. To help you. To be happy. Body, mind, and soul.”
Brother nodded in agreement.
“Let us take food first. Shall we?”
“Yes!” A sigh of relief from Brother surprised us all.
“You have to eat healthily, son, don’t you? Isn’t that what the doctor said?” Granny’s tone was dripping with compassion.
“Yes, no more midnight snacking.”
“On junk food.” Ouch, Mother could not help reprimanding Brother. But he did not look up to see Mom as Granny’s tender smile had made his heart soft.
“So when midnight comes. The snack food beckons.” Granny whispered. “Who looks at it and asks for it?”
Brother, “Why me? Who else is there? I have so much work, I feel I need to eat that.”
“But, I always keep a packet of nuts for you, in case you get hungry.” Mother seemed to be on a trip of her own.
“Brahma.” Granny’s answer stunned us.
“Brahma? The Creator?” Brother turned his chair to sit face to face with Granny.
“Brahma, the creative energy with you, creates that desire. The desire for eating your snack.”
“And not the nuts?” Mother was on a rampage.
“Yes, darling,” Granny smiled at Mom and said, “We will come to that. The choice between chocolate ice cream and nuts.” We all laughed at the choice-less choice. All means my brother and me. Our Mother was grim and worried, anxious about brother’s health. Granny alone remained calm.
“Then?” I asked to get back to Granny’s message for us.
“Brahma creates the desire, and Lord Vishnu nourishes it. Lord Vishnu as the energy that sustains and nourishes.”
“Why would our Lord do such a thing? It is it bad for Brother’s health, I don’t believe our Lord would do that.” I had to speak up on behalf of the Lord of my heart.
Granny shook her head and said, “Little one, don’t get lost in labels. Look beyond emotions. There are energies within us that create the dance of our lives. With mindfulness, making conscious choices, we can create the dance. If we do not have awareness, life makes us dance. We become overwhelmed, unwell, and unhappy.”
All three of us perked up. This was such a great description of each of our lives in different ways.
“So, so what is all this? What is the way out? How does mindfulness come into play?” Brother was the first to speak up.
“What about Mahadev?” I chimed in.
“Coming to that.” Granny actually took off her glasses as if seeing us was an obstruction to sharing her wisdom. “Mahadev is the intellect. He tells us what choice to make – what to do and what to skip.”
“Well, he is not operating in me. Because I am only gobbling chocolate ice creams.” Brother grimaced.
“He is indeed there. You are not connecting with Him. You never made a goal to eat healthily. Once you do that and impress it upon your intellect, Mahadev begins dancing and leading you to that place of health. Of balance, happiness. He is the energy of knowledge and discrimination.”
“But what about Brahma and Vishnu.” For once, my Mother also seemed interested in the story.
“We need all three to run our lives. First, Lord Brahma creates a desire.” Granny began.
“I should eat this chocolate ice-cream.” Brother jumped in with his own example.
“Yes, or I should play video games, skip the gym, work late, and get up late.” Our Mother had many more examples to add.
“Lord Vishnu nourishes that desire with feelings of how good it will be to eat the ice-cream. If you don’t invoke Mahadev, that will be the end. No conscious choice. You open the fridge and gorge on what is not good for you.” Granny looked around to see if we were tracking her.
“How do you invoke Mahadev?” I asked.
“Remember Him. Take a breath. Say ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’ Is this action in line with my goals? Immediately your intellect will come into play and tell you – ice-cream at midnight is not healthy for you.”
“Eat nuts instead, if you are starving.” My mother was all smiles.
“Our life is a series of actions aimed to fulfill desires. The desires and our actions define our lives. Why get carried away by fleeting desires and regret later. Is it not better to have Mahadev by our side and design a life of joy? Health? Happiness?”
Three heads were nodding vigorously at Granny’s magical proposition for life.
“So? So?” Brother stammered.
“Begin now. Make a beautiful plan for your life – whatever you like and however. It is Shivaratri tomorrow. Offer it at the Feet of Mahadev.”
“Plan? Life?” I asked.
“How you want to be within – happy and calm. What you want to do for the world – work, health, family. Mahadev’s Grace will pour into your heart, and He will guide you. But remember, you have to start with clarity within first.”
“Yes, Granny. And then?” Brother had already taken out a notepad and pen.
“And then remember Him.” Granny’s voice was dripping with the certainty of her real-life experience.
“When?” We asked in unison.
“As much and all the time. Chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ amidst your actions and decisions. Chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ in the morning after you get ready for work. Chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ as you are driving, before sleeping, eating. As much as you connect with Him, that much you will feel Him, within and without.”
“And that much sweeter will our lives be!” Mother added with a smile.
“That much happier, healthier, easier….oooh! I could go on and on.” Brother exclaimed. “But I am going to stop now and write my goals to offer at Mahadev’s Feet tomorrow. Om Namah Shivaya.”
Har Har Mahadev ki Jai!
Happy Shivaratri everybody!
With prayers for Mahadev’s Grace upon us, our lives and our beautiful Mother planet Earth and all beings in all worlds. Om Namah Shivaya
Sri Krishna Sharanam Mama