Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The three cotton seeds and Bhaja Govindam - a short story

The story of the three cotton seeds, Andi, Bambi and Candi.
Happy-go-lucky Andi

The spring breeze blew across the lush green trees. The flowers were at their blooming best and the trees had donned their finest leaves. Birds and bees seemed to be everywhere, filling the air with their chirps and buzzing. The sun shone resplendently, spreading its warmth and light, filtering them through the canopy of the foliage. Sweet scents pervaded the atmosphere which had been cleared and cleaned by the recent rains. It was in these happy circumstances that a little cotton seed floated about gaily in the breeze.
“Hum Ho, Hum Ho
Here I come and there I go,
Flying about is Andi’s need,
I am a happy cotton seed!”

As he sang the shrill notes, Andi danced along, unfurling his white fibers. The season had brought a ‘spring’ in his step and sunshine to his countenance. He was always light and also took himself lightly. Today, he sought a wonderful resting place - a spot where he could rest and grow into a magnificent cotton plant that his destiny beckoned him towards. He couldn’t help but whistle in joy because he was sure that such wonderful environs and such a beautiful day were hastening him towards his destiny. That was when he met Bambi. It was a rough and gruff voice.
“Dum Bo, Dum Bo
However I try, there is no place to go,
In Bambi’s thought, word and deed,
I am a hopeless cotton seed.”

The discordant notes and tones of Bambi’s song struck Andi hard. Today, of all days, was not one that deserved such a song! He twisted and turned around and almost came face to face with Bambi. Bambi hardly noticed him and went on, along his way. Andi saw that Bambi had marvellous fibers! They were long and strong and they flapped with such ethereal grace. Andi was spellbound at such handsomeness.
“This is what they call the perfect seed”, he thought, “having it all and lacking nothing.”
But why the discordant notes then?

“Excuse me sir”, he called out as he used the wind to propel himself towards Bambi. Bambi paused to look in the direction of the sound.
“You called me?”
“Yes sir...”
“Call me Bambi...”
“And I am Andi. What a pleasure to meet you...”
“Is it? I am not so sure I would have been pleased to meet myself. Anyway, what is it that I can do for you...”
“You could stop singing for starters”, chuckled Andi, “and then join me for a duet in a song that I shall choose. Your baritone voice will add greater joy to the song!”
“You seem to be a pretty frivolous seed Andi. I am at that point in my life where I have to make some important decisions and you are concerned about singing a song? I am sorry, I have to hurry on.”
The breeze brought the soulful notes of a sorrowful song to their ears.
“Glum Mo Glum Mo,
The world is really cruel so,
A cotton Candi seed I may be,
But in my choices I am never free.”

The sound was followed by a the most beautiful and graceful cotton seed that Andi and Bambi had ever seen in their floating lives. Candi’s hairs were so fine and long. They appeared delicate though in reality they were ultra strong. To top it all, they seemed to have different hues and shades of white. Even Bambi wondered as to what could cause so much sorrow to a seed that had been endowed with everything! It was Andi that broke Candi’s dirge.
“Hello Candi! May life be forever sweet for you.”

Candi was the most beautiful cotton seed that Andi or Bambi had ever seen...

“Who is that?” Candi turned to see Andi and Bambi.
“It’s Mr. Happy Cottonseed!”, said Bambi, “ floating about happily without any cares in the world. Andi is a perfect example of ignorance being bliss...”
That was quite a harsh introduction but Andi did not mind.
“If knowledge and wisdom make one feel as hopeless or morose as you both, I’ll take ignorance any day”, Andi smiled as he patted Candi on his back. He then turned to Bambi and asked,
“What is it that is making you feel so and speak so when the present moment is so full of opportunities, inspiration and bliss?”

Bambi’s story

“Now that you ask, I shall tell you something which I am sure you are not aware of. But please do not criticize me of demolishing your sense of peace and joy.”
“They is no joy and peace which can be demolished by the words of anyone! Joy and peace is the nature of my soul and anything you do cannot change that. So my dear Bambi, please proceed with what you have to tell us.”

That was all the invitation Bambi needed. Candi’s curiosity had made him also stop by the two other cotton seeds. That was all the audience that Bambi needed. He began his narrative:

“I too was a happy seed like you Andi, growing my fibers on my mother’s person, getting ready for life ahead. I nursed great ambitions. I wanted to grow into the best cotton plant ever - a plant which would produce cotton to drape the being of the most powerful in the world. The inspiration I derived from my desire made me a positively charged, enthusiastic seed. However, that was the joy of being ignorant. Seeing my unbridled enthusiasm, my mother, out of concern, made me aware of history - the history of my brother seeds, the other cotton seeds on her.

She told me that the ‘power goal’ I entertained was a genetic desire put within me. She had seen hundreds, nay thousands of seeds start off like me and end up disappointed. It is not as if they did not achieve what they desired. It is just that whatever they did, it was hopelessness in the end. There are examples galore and I shall stick to only one now. One brother-seed, as per his desire, worked his way into one of the world’s finest cotton mills. He became part of a grand suit that was made for the President of the Country! Soon, he walked the corridors of power. Even as he celebrated his elevation to his dreams, he was in for a shock. Bad health forced the President to resign. A few weeks after that, he died! My brother-seed is now a moth-eaten, neglected suit, buried deep in an abandoned wardrobe. Ah! who could have foreseen that? What did my brother do wrong? Life is just so uncertain and cruel. It crushes all hope with its uncertainties. Now you will appreciate the song I was singing...”

Andi now burst into a Sanskrit song (from the Bhaja Govindam),
“Maa Kuru Dhana Jana Youvana Garvam
Harathi Nimeshaath Kalaah Sarvam
Maayamayam Idam Akhilam Hithwa
Brahms Padam Twam Pravisha Viditwa.”
( Dont’ be proud as peacock of all the millions that you have,
And of all those who are with you day in and day out,
And of the strength of youth in you.
Time, the thief is doing its job of stealing them by and by,
All these that exist today will not remain tomorrow.)

M.S.Subbulakshmi's immortal rendering of the Bhaja Govindam.

Candi’s story

“You make fun of Bambi because you have no experience Andi. My mood and my song are easily explained by a similar story that I was told by my mother-plant. As I spent my teenage days on her, I wished to be the most colourful cloth ever. What is life about if not for the magic of colour?  Just like Bambi, I too got to know that this desire was my genetic predisposition and my brother-seeds before me had the same intensity and propensity as me. Again, there are examples galore but I am sure just one is enough to demotivate you!

One of my brother-seeds with his long and dainty fibers was picked for the biggest cotton plant in the world - a plant that manufactured clothes of all imaginable colours. And imagine my brother’s joy when he was integrated into a cloth bearing a hundred colours. There was none brighter than him and his pride gave him added luster. Alas! He had no idea of what was about to happen to him. He was picked to be made into a shirt for a clown in the circus. His life too became like that of the clown - colourful and bright as far as others were concerned but monotonous and lonely as far as he was concerned! As a dirt-ridden piece of cloth, he now wishes to die as soon as possible and take birth as a new cotton seed. But even with that, he knows that he has no freedom of choice because there is no guarantee that even the next birth will give him what he actually desires.”

This time, Andi broke into another song,
“Punarapi Jananam Punarapi Maranam
Punarapi Janani Jathare Shayanam
Iha Samsare Bahu Dusthaare
Krupaya Paare Pahi Muraare.”
(Again and again one is born; And again and again one dies;
And again and again one sleeps in the mother’s womb,
Help me to cross this limitless sea of life,
Which is uncrossable, my Lord)

Andi’s story

“This Andi is a hopeless romantic”, muttered Bambi under his breath to Candi.
“Of course! Added to that he seems to be living in some utopian dream world.”
Andi only smiled.
“My dear Bambi and Candi. I totally understand the cause for your moods and outlook of life. You are right in all that you thought. However, there are some things that I should clear with you. And the first among those is the fact that my bliss is not born out of ignorance. It has taken birth from the wisdom that my mother ‘seed’ed in me.

I come from a middle ‘class’ family of cotton seeds. I and my brother-seeds do not have great genetic predispositions. All our ancestors have led average lives as forgettable pieces of cloths. However, mother never let that come into our dreams. She told us to aspire for the best and the best, she said, is God. She told each one of us to pray and pine to be a cloth for God. For me too, there are examples galore but let me just pick one to motivate you.

My brother-seed sought God and he achieved everything in life!”

“Did he become an apparel to an heir apparent of the ruler?” asked Bambi.
“No, he was made into a small piece of cloth, 2 feet by 2 feet in size.”
“Ah! That is disappointing. Did he atleast have a million colours on him?” It was Candi this time.
“My sweet Candi! You are rushing to conclusions. But no! He was just white all over.”
“How then can you say that he achieved everything in life. This is a case of very low expectations”, they both chorused.

“Dear Candi and Bambi,

Seeing the bewildered looks on their faces, Andi smiled. He put his short hairs enveloping them in an embrace and continued the story,
"My brother-seed was blessed by Baba in the darshan lines."
“You see, my brother seed became a handkerchief in the hands of another middle-class family man. But this man travelled one day to a place called Whitefield in Bangalore where God had descended on earth! My brother-seed rejoiced as this Lord, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, accepted the handkerchief and wiped His vibhuti-smeared hands to it. Since then, he has never been in any pocket for he occupies a special place in the altar. The man passed away in a few years but his children too revere the handkerchief and worship it in the altar. My brother-seed is happy since for he is right next to God. His life’s desire is fulfilled.

But it does not stop with that. Though he did not seek it, he sits in the seat of greatest power because even the most mighty among men bow before him. And his life is colourful too because, you see, white is an amalgam of all the colours in the world!”
“Gurucharanaambuja nirbhara bhaktha,
Samsarada chirabhava mukthaa,
Sendriya maanasa niyamaadevam,
Drakshyasi nija hrudayastham devam.”

You can cross the sea of life.
And once you cross the sea,
You get everything and can see the Lord in your heart.)

Seek that, seeking which you never have to seek again

As Bambi and Candi listened with amazement and wonder, Andi continued,
“So you see my dear friends, it is wrong to have only a ‘lofty’ goal in life when we are meant to choose the ‘loftiest’ goal! Let us not be satisfied with anything else other than the highest. Let us seek that one thing, seeking which we will never have to seek again! And let us not get fooled into seeking things which are mere trinkets compared to the Lord. For, when we seek the Lord, everything else automatically comes along, unasked! Whatever our 'genetics' may be, this disposition to seek the ultimate is available to all that wish to avail it.

We should be careful to never let down our aims. Let us not go and seek coffee-powder from a Kalpavriskha! I am sure that the stories of hundreds of my brother-seeds are all so beautiful. And so, if I too have such a loftiest desire, I am sure to achieve what I seek. That is my destiny and even the universe will conspire to help me achieve that! Isn't that reason enough to sing along merrily.”

Hum Ho, Hum Ho
It was Bambi who began the song as Andi and Candi joined in.
“Hum Ho, Hum Ho
Here we come and there we go,
We have God to fulfill all our needs,
We are a bunch of happy cotton seeds!”

Even if you have to be a handkerchief, just ensure that
you belong to the Lord! 

And that is the story of the Andi, Bambi and Candi, the ABC of cotton seeds. It is a story that teaches us that if we ‘Always Be Careful’ to choose God and God alone, we will ‘Always Be Cheerful’ too!

If you liked this short story, you may enjoy reading the ones below too:

1. Mukti the lamb comes of age - A short story
2. The Lord's Support - inspiring story of Krishnadasa
3. "The heavenly thief"- A short story for kids
4. Faith and self-confidence - Story of the little bird

For all readers:

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  1. very nice story! loved the story telling too :)

    1. Thank you! Your feedback feels very good because I know what a good story-teller you are! :)

  2. As always a brilliant story with lessons for elders and children alike. Keep marching....

    1. Thank you... Glad that the story serves all age groups. :)

  3. Beautiful.....Great Message

  4. Wonderful story for the youngand elders alike. Aravinda to have an andi like you in life is itself HIS GRACE for bambis and candies like us. Sairam and i am so glad i know you.

  5. I was exactly going to say the same words which sumedha kulkarni has said. God bless you aravind for the lovely story.

  6. Amazing..So beautiful..Thank you Mr.Aravind

  7. very nice story and more importantly very well is so perfect for kids and us write more and more stories for kids..we need them . thanks Aravind...

  8. Fantastic brother. Thank you for sharing :)


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