An awesome, inspirational true story in today’s material, social media driven world
SV Prasad, Chairman RetyrSmart Advisory
What I am sharing now is a true story wherein the names, places etc have been changed, keeping in mind the privacy of the people concerned. I have also taken the liberty to fill in some gaps which have in no way diluted the essence of this wonderful real story, which restores one’s faith in humanity.
A Swayambhu Temple in Eastern India
In the Eastern part of India, in one of the major cities, there is this well known Temple, with a ‘Swayambhu’ Murti. Swayambhu, for those of us who do not know, is a Murti which has come up naturally and is not man made.
A pious, noble, young man from a nearby village with priesthood in his DNA and genes comes to the city.
For quite sometime, the Temple has not had a good, reliable priest to do the Poojas in the Temple and maintain it, owing to which it was struggling. One of the Trustees of the Temple is from the same village as the budding priest. A village elder who knows the Trustee well, gives the address of the Trustee in the city along with a letter of introduction addressed to the Trustee, to the young man. He mentions therein that the lad is fully versed with all the Poojas and besides, a pious person too. Therefore, he is the ideal Priest for the Swayambhu Temple.
The Hunt for the Priest for the Swayambhu Temple
The young man locates the Trustee’s abode after looking for it high and low. He hesitatingly gives the letter of introduction given by his benefactor, to the Trustee. Excited to receive someone from his village, the Trustee leaves the letter unopened on the side table and excitedly asks a lot of questions about the village, various people there he knows and more particularly about the village elder. Knowing that the young man would be hungry, the Trustee’s wife thoughtfully offers him food and water which he shyly partakes.
The Trustee almost forgets about the letter which he has placed on the side table and continued to badger the young man about “his” village, the river, the verdant fields, the people, the Temple there etc. It was getting dark and the lady of the house reminds her husband that he should offer dinner to the young guest and also insist upon the young lad staying with them for the night.
The young, noble soul hesitatingly requests his gracious hosts whether he could have a wash, carry out his evening prayers before joining them for dinner. Pleasantly surprised that a person so young so very pious, the Trustee and his wife show him the well in the back of their home from which the young man draws fresh water, has a bath and then offers his evening prayers to the Lord Almighty.
While he was doing all this, the wife sees the letter and gives it to her husband. He then realises that in all his excitement to receive someone from his native place he had completely forgotten about the letter. He then quickly opens it and reads the contents. Rubbing his eyes in disbelief, he rereads the contents. The Trustee then proceeds to tell his wife about the glad tidings. It looks like the search for a good Priest for the Temple is over and truly God has sent the young man for the same.
He contacts all the other Trustees over the phone and informs them about the young man who has come from his village. He excitedly tells them that he appears to be the right person to be the priest for the Temple. He requests that all of them meet the young man tomorrow itself and satisfy themselves about his suitability.
Early next day, the young man is the first to wake up and after his morning ablutions, bath and Pooja, joins his hosts for breakfast. Soon thereafter, the The Temple Trustee and the young man go to the Temple.
The other Trustees too are impressed with the credentials of the young lad and immediately offer him the Head Priest post for the Temple. They inform him that he may stay in the humble abode attached to the Temple. The young lad is happy and relieved and hesitatingly asks them as to when he may start. Almost in unison, all the Trustees urge him to start immediately.
The Temple gets a Head Priest and starts flourishing
The young man performs all the Poojas with a lot of shraddha and sincerity and keeps the Temple spotlessly clean. No wonder, the Temple quickly starts flourishing and more and more devotees throng there every day. It has started generating a surplus which the Trustees could then put to a lot of Dharmic Purposes.
As the workload increased quite a lot, the Head Priest requested the Trustees whether he could get his younger brother to assist him in performing the Poojas, other rituals and in the maintenance and upkeep of the Temple. He informed them that his sibling is equally well versed in all the Pooja vidhis etc.
Entry of the younger brother as the Junior Priest
The Junior Priest got appointed. Over a period of time, both the brothers acquired their own small homes close to the Temple.
They then decided to get their respective wives and children from the Village. As the abode attached to the Temple was not that big to accommodate all of them, the Head Priest proposed to the Trustees that every year, one of them with his family would stay in the Temple abode and the other reside in his own home with his family. The Trustees were happy to accept this arrangement which appeared practical.
The years went by and the eldest sons of both the brothers started taking interest in becoming Priests and learnt all the various Poojas, rituals etc. They assisted their fathers and the Temple consequently flourished even more.
Many of the devotees requested the Head Priest to perform special Poojas such as Satyanarayan Pooja, Ganesh Chaturthi etc in their homes. As he did not want his attention to waver from his main responsibility of overseeing the Temple, he sent his son for performing them.
This is how one of my friends who regularly goes to the Temple got to know the father as well as the son.
The younger Priest’s paralytic attack and the demise of the Head Priest
Unfortunately, one day, the younger brother had a paralytic attack and one side of his body became non-functional. This was when it was his turn to be in the Temple Abode. The kind Head Priest requested the Trustees that the younger brother be allowed to continue to stay in the Temple Abode even after the usual one year was over.
Shortly thereafter, the Head Priest died peacefully in his sleep.
Yes, the Head Priest was indeed a noble, kind soul. He ensured that the Swayambhu Temple became flourishing and besides, got his brother as the Junior Priest and was kind and compassionate to him by suggesting the alternative year Temple Abode arrangement and most importantly, suggested that the brother continues to stay there when he had the paralytic stroke.
The Head Priest’s son was more than a chip of his father
Shortly after the grieving son performed the last rites of the departed soul, he went to have a chat with his uncle and cousin saying that they could continue to stay in the Temple Abode till his uncle has sufficiently recovered to move to their own home. He further said that whilst he would take over his father’s responsibilities as the Head Priest for that year, he would continue to live in their home. Also, he would inform the Trustees about this arrangement.
The devious cousin
The devious cousin, son of the hitherto Junior Priest was in the meanwhile hatching his own evil designs. He started befriending some of the new Trustees. Further, he slyly started telling them that his knowledge and experience of the Temple formalities, Pooja etc were much better than his cousin. As he was older by a year or so, the evil man implanted this thought in their mind and further that he is more mature in handling the onerous responsibilities.
The unsuspecting young man, still struggling to grapple with the irreparable loss of his departed father simply had no clue as to what was happening. His wife’s brother who knew one of the Trustees very well, was alerted about all these machinations. He then immediately informed his brother-in-law, the young grieving son of the late Head Priest.
Death of the Junior Priest
Shortly thereafter, the paralysed Junior Priest passes away. His son quickly seized control of the Temple, having first got most of the Trustees on his side. Nonchalantly, he informed his hapless cousin that he could continue to do Poojas at the Temple but that he as the older person would now always live in the Temple Abode and be the Head Priest of the Temple.
The Noble Younger Priest
My friend and other well-wishers of the younger Priest urged him to not keep quiet and quickly meet with the Trustees. Many of them knew some of the Trustees and were happy to take the initiative and speak with the Trustees on his behalf. The Trustee who was instrumental in his father becoming the Head Priest was still around and was happy to help the young man even though he was quite old now and therefore no longer a Trustee.
After deliberating on the matter for a few days, the noble younger Priest took a firm decision to not to remonstrate to the Trustees and did not want anyone to speak on his behalf either.
He was firm in his resolve and no amount of convincing by his wife’s brother, his other well-wishers worked on him. He quite simply informed all of them that he would not like to ‘fight’ with anyone, let alone his cousin, to wrest control of Temple matters. He found the whole proposition quite ridiculous. Further, he also clearly said that his father would not have at all liked him to have anything to do with such shenanigans.
The Present Scenario: A worthy son to a noble father
The young, noble Priest even today happily does various Poojas in the homes of all his well-wishers. This largely is his source of income.
Whilst he is “allowed” to sit in the Swayambhu Temple, he has been quickly and quietly been sidelined there.
Yet, in spite of all these betrayals, he holds no rancour for his cousin and continues to have a good relationship with him and his family. Many people, including my friend, insist that there is a “Tejas” in the noble soul’s face, much like his father had.
The world clearly needs more such noble souls who have the ability to forgive and forget and get on with their lives in their simple, humble manner, setting a shining example for one and all.