“A large minority grows past the ignorant stage. They learn and become knowledgeable. But human society confuses knowledge with wisdom; places these people on pedestals. The adulation triggers passion within these learned men.

“But the distance between the head and the heart is the longest and most difficult journey to cover. For these people, it will be easier to reach the sun. They become slaves to passion; self-important; and quick to anger and hatred. They do not suffer fools. That makes them the greatest of fools. They reserve their love and empathy for their immediate kith and kin. They accumulate more than they need; be it wealth or power. Unfettered wealth and power births all the evils committed by man on fellow man.

“When they leave the Third, they sink lower than the ignorant ones, for it is easier to fill an empty cup than to scrub clean a tainted one.

“The last group, a definite minority, surmount obstacles all their lives. They suffer in silence; but always keep plodding forward, one painful, lonely step at a time. These people come from all walks of society; even from among the wealthy and the powerful. They shun praise and adulation. Most often, the world does not know them. He could be a king who sneaks out at night to help the poor. The powerful warlord who in secret eliminates demons that terrorise the weak. But more so, he is the man who has only one grain of rice but shares it with his neighbour. And he is always prayerful; knows that the butter, the flame and the sacrifice all come from without. He attaches no claim to his deeds, for he knows that everything, all his joys and sorrows, are given to him. And so, when asked, he gives it all away. He is the ultimate philanthropist; and is not the one whose name is carved on stone.”

Arjuna stopped; allowed the words to sink in. His eyes teared; and he dropped to his knees and sobbed. Krishna did not console his friend and fellow-avatar, for one had to cleanse oneself every so often and Mother Nature’s tears are the best remedy.

“When you do something, even when it is to kill, do it for others,” said the Blue One. “Not to satisfy some vengeance or to win some accolades; because these emotions and trophies are as transient as life on the Third.”

“What is the purpose of all this killing? Can we not learn our lessons without resorting to bloodshed?”

Arjuna’s eyes were red. He looked up; held his hands up like a beggar. Krishna knelt beside him and said,

“Inhabitants of the Third learn best when under duress. Only when tested to the extreme does one react truthfully. Who is a better man? One who sequestered himself on a deserted island devoid of all temptations or one who lives among whores and all manner of evils but resists the temptations? Who knows better; one who falls and gets up or one who is surefooted all his life? No one reaches a higher plane without first committing some of the most terrible sins. No one.”

The Pandava wiped his tears and sniffed. “Forgive me, O Keshava, for displaying weakness.”

“Weakness? Tears cleanse you. When you embrace Truth, it unburdens you. Tears are the mark of an authentic man. He is shedding the illusions of manliness and embracing the feminine strength within that makes him whole; makes him complete.”

The two men went silent. Even the birds and insects respected Arjuna’s need for silence and solace. His mind kept returning to Krishna’s words about the ignorant, the passionate, and the ultimate philanthropist. As he gathered himself, the sound of flowers popping open their petals reached him. Next came the soft hum of insect wings and the sigh of the breeze. A stream gurgled somewhere out of sight. It was a glorious day. Birds chirped. Simians called.

Arjuna stood up. Krishna, who had remained silent, got up too. They continued with their stroll. The Pandava said,

“Why the fear of death since it is inevitable?”

*** Copyright @ 2021, Eric Alagan ***

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