Friday, April 16, 2010

Seven Robbers: A Parable from Tibet

Once a group of seven robbers came across a dead elephant lying in a valley. The robbers were delighted. "Just look at the meat, we will stay here a few days and eat," they said. But they must have water too and nobody wanted to go and fetch it. Each wanted the other to go. Finally they got three of them to go. They had to go a long way over the mountain after the water. In the meantime, the four who were left said, "We will fix up three nice pieces of meat and put some poison in it for them when they get back, and we four will have all this meat." So they fixed up the poisoned meat for the three men who were gone. The three who carried the water said, "Those four fellows are bad men, we are doing all the work carrying this water for them, so we will put some poison in it, then we can have all the meat." When they got back the others were very thirsty and took a big drink, and in a little while they were all dead. "Now," said the three, "we will have all this meat and stuff to ourselves." So the three took the meat already cut and ate that, and in a little while they too were dead.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna talks of Daivi Sampad and Asuri Sampad – the noble and demonic qualities. Daivi Sampad is described as qualities such as fearlessness, inner purity, generosity, sense restraint, sacrifice, austerity, honesty; nonviolence, truthfulness, absence of anger, renunciation, equanimity, compassion for all creatures and so on and what constitutes Asuri Sampad is hypocrisy, arrogance, pride, anger, harshness, ignorance and so on.

Daivi Sampad and Daivi people create a Daivi world – a world love, of laughter, of dance, of music, of joy. Asuri Sampad and people endowed with Asuri Sampad create an Asuri world. In their blindness, Asuri people believe they can be happy at the cost of others. But the truth is that in an Asuri world no one is happy, there is no possibility of happiness for anyone.

What we have in the Tibetan parable of the seven robbers is a picture of what happens the Asuri World.

The death may not always be a physical death. But spiritual death is worse than physical death.

There is only one possibility in the Asuri World: everyone’s unhappiness. Both the perpetrators of Asuri acts as well as their victims become unhappy.

Gunther Grass’ The Tin Drum shows the life of Germans in Nazi Germany. And as we go through the book, we realize that it is not only the Jews of Germany [and neighbouring lands] that are plunged into a world of darkness by Hitler’s Asuri ambitions and policies, but also the German’s themselves. They too sink into unspeakable darkness, and there is no light anywhere.

This is precisely what Krishna means when he says he shall throw people endowed with Asuri Sampad into hell. Unfortunately, it is not only they that go to hell; they take the rest of the world too with them.

There is no joy in the Asuri world. There is no light there. There is no music or poetry there. There is no love, no dance, no laughter, nothing that makes life worth living.

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