It is said that bread is more important for a hungry person than to think about any other aspect of life. But, spirituality is such a thing that even a man of abundance may not devote his attention to divinity, because he remains happily indulged in his materialistic pursuits. He remains happy accumulating a vast store of objects of his fancy. No problem as long as he manages continuous gains. If it happens contrary to his expectations, then a sort of disgust turns the mind fully 180 degrees. Following are some examples that turned a worldly attitude of mind of aspirants to spirituality, on account of the realization of misconceptions:
A great sage, the first poet of Sanskrit (said to be the mother of all major Indian languages), and author of an epic, Ramayan, Balmiki, used to be a dacoit by profession. Once he came across a group of saintly personalities going together through a jungle and he wanted to rob them. The saints asked him the purpose of this sinful act, to which he replied that he was doing it for the sake of his family. The saints asked him to bind them and then go and ask the family members to share the sins incurred through his occupation as a dacoit. Realizing no one would be interested in sharing his sins he realized his great folly, which was a misconception, and he became a sage.
Saint Tulsidas is renowned for his attachment to his wife. Even after a few years of marriage he was upset when she was going to visit her parents house. He followed her after 3-4 days, not being able to tolerate the separation. His wife rebuked him for this behaviour saying, “Had you this much attachment at the Lord’s feet, you certainly would have crossed the river of great sorrow.” He understood his real goal in a moment and became a great devotee who composed an epic, Ramayan, in the Hindi language, which is widely read by Hindus.
Bilvamangal, a young man after finishing the rituals connected with his father’s death anniversary at his home could not stay back. People advised him not to go on such a day to his beloved prostitute that night. But he didn’t stop and in a storm crossed a river to reach here. When the prostitute realized his intense mental attachment to her body she happened to express that if such an attachment to flesh could be changed to the Lord’s feet he would become a devotee of eternal beauty. He accepted her as a spiritual teacher and started penances and sustaining his body through begging alms. One day he happened to get alms through a beautiful lady. He remained there for another glimpse of the lady. The husband came out after sometime and asked the reason for his standing at the door, which he told honestly. Feeling no harm, the husband went inside to fetch his wife. But, in the meantime, Bilvamangal realized he was still attached to female beauty. Finding fault with his eyes he poked them with a thorn and went away praising the Lord for saving him just in time. Later God asked him to restore his eyesight, which he politely refused fearing that he would again be trapped by the beauty of the flesh.
An aspirant for spirituality was going to take a bath in the river. He saw a red coloured object in the sand sparkling in the sun. Considering it a precious gem he wished to have it but his hand only grabbed a splodge of paan-spit left by someone (Indians are famous for eating paan, a kind of leaf). He felt disgusted for such a folly.
We carry a misconception that whatever pleases our thinking, senses, ego, whims and fancies, will remain forever in our possession for enjoyment. Usually indulgence related to carnal pleasures is always the cause of disgust. We seem to enjoy desired objects forgetting that it costs us our health, wealth and character.
The true spirit of spirituality demands removal of misconceptions, and awakened ones emphasize its essentiality to the aspirants. One is not supposed to compare and say that spirituality is better followed alone. That would make us forget that even incarnations of God did lead a family life and were seen behaving in worldly ways, in order to attract more and more worldly people to righteousness.
SP Sharma, India