Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Trivial Pursuits


Where There is a Will: An old man lived in Minnesota. He wanted to spade his potato garden but it was very hard work. His only son, who would have helped him, was in prison. The old man wrote a letter to his son and mentioned his situation:
‘Dear son, I am feeling pretty bad because it looks like I won’t be able to plant my potato garden this year. I hate to miss doing the garden, because your mother always loved planting time. I am just getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. If you were here, all my troubles would be over. I know you would dig the plot for me, if you were not in prison. Love, Dad’. Shortly, the old man received this telegram: ‘For heaven’s sake, Dad, don’t dig up the garden! That is where I buried the guns!’ At 4 AM next day, a dozen FBI agents and local police officers showed up and dug up the entire garden without finding any guns. Confused, the old man wrote another note to his son telling him what happened and asked him what to do next. His son’s reply was ‘Go ahead and plant potatoes, Dad. That is the best I could do to you from the prison’

Heart Operation 100 years Back in October 1903: The story of an unprecedented heart operation is telegraphed by the St. Louis [USA] correspondent of the New York Herald.
A 13 year old girl in that city had been stabbed and Dr.Boyle, of the City Hospital, learning that the knife had penetrated the heart, removed the organ with a pair of forceps, elevated it into view and examined it for two minutes. No injury could be found and the heart was put back in its place with no apparent injury to the patient. The actual removal was effected by cutting through two ribs and pushing the lung aside.
[Prabuddha Bharata, Oct 1903]

The Cullinan Diamond: In 1905, Sir Thomas Cullinan, the Founder of the Premier Mines in South Africa, while strolling through the pit, saw the sparkle of what he thought at first as broken bottle. Piercing loose with a stick, he found it to be a diamond as large as a medium sized grape fruit. This remarkable stone, the largest ever found, has since become known to the world as the Cullinan Diamond. It is a pure white stone, weighing one pound and nine ounces. The Transvaal Government in South Africa, who decided to present it to King Edward VII, purchased it.
The question then arose of how a gem of such enormous value could be transported to England in safety. After discussions and a great amount of newspaper publicity, four men armed to the teeth, left the Premier Mines, carrying with them a leather dispatch case. Crossing the 30 miles of open field to Pretoria under very heavy escort, they boarded a special carriage attached to the mail train to Cape Town. In the ship by which they took the passage to London, a safe had been specially installed and in it was placed the dispatch case, two of the security men remaining on duty beside the safe day and night. From Southampton, a special train took them to London and a strong guard of police and detectives escorted them to the bank where the diamond was to be delivered.
When the dispatch box was opened in the presence of a group of expectant officials, it was found to contain nothing more valuable than a lump of coal! The Cullinan itself had been wrapped in cotton wool and tissue paper, put inside a cardboard box and sent to London by parcel post, not even the Post Master General being given any clue that the precious stone was in the mail.

Vidyapathi [1350-1460]: Vidyapathi was a great saint poet of India who lived at Bishpi in Eastern Bihar. His poetry deals with the sublime relationship of Radha and Krishna. His compositions are mostly in Maithili language, a form of Prakrit, with a variation of dialect. He was born sometime in 1350 A.D. His father was Pandit Ganapathi Thakur, a great Sanskrit scholar and a court poet of Raja Ganeshwar Singh of Mithila. It is said that Vidyapathi wanted to die on the banks of the river Ganga. He had a long life of 110 years. He took leave of his near and dear ones, bowed down before the deity of Bishpi and set on his journey towards Ganga. On the third day he reached Bajipur in great exhaustion. He said to his friends “I have been walking for three days to embrace Mother Ganga. Won’t she advance a few Kroshas [a measure of distance: One Krosha is equivalent to 3 miles] to bless her son and take him in her lap?”
It is said that the same night the mighty river changed her course and deluded Bajipur. The last wish of the poet was thus fulfilled. Ganga took him in her bosom.

Madan Mohan Malaviya: Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, the founder of the Benares Hindu University, was once moved to compassion on seeing a street dog suffering from a serious external wound and growling in pain. He wanted to help this dog. Fearing that it may have gone rabid, even a vaidya [doctor] advised him to forget about the dog. Malaviya insisted on helping the dog. He got some medicine and a long stick to the end of which rags were tied and was dipped in the medial concoction. He then managed to apply it to the wounded portion of the poor animal from a safe distance, to the amazement of the onlookers.

Sooty Buddha: In Tibet there is a temple with a thousand Buddhas. A devotee selected one for his worship. Everyday he would bring some costly incense and a ghee-fed lamp and place it before his chosen Buddha. However, he observed that the fragrance of his incense would drift towards the other Buddhas and this upset him very much
As he pondered over the situation with great concern, he came up with an idea to prevent the fragrance from to the other Buddhas. He was a bit of a carpenter and so he procured some boards and created a closed enclosure around his particular Buddha. Now he started burning his costly incense and was pleased to see every bit of the fragrance and the light that he offered was going right to his own Buddha. However, within a week, much to his dismay, his Buddha became black with all the smoke confined within his shrine. He then realized his folly of selfishness and removed the enclosure.
If you are the kind of person who wants all happiness in life to yourself and none for others, you are like that man striving not to let any fragrance go to any of the other Buddhas. Walling yourself with “Me and Mine” constricts your soul and limits your happiness. The Spirit within you becomes sooty with selfishness. When you limit everything to yourself, you find no happiness but only sorrow. On the other hand, if you adopt a process of activity which opens your heart and frees the soul instead of constricting it, you will find that when you turn within, the Buddha within you shines bright and your spirit is joyous.


Created: Sunday, April 27, 2008 4:46 AM


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