Chandra Shekhar/Part 3/Chapter 1
THE TOUCH OF VIRTUE
here had been living, for some days, a Paramahansa in a monastery, at Monghyr. His name was Ramananda Swami. The good hermit, whom we have spoken of before, was conferring with him in a very humble and respectful manner. Many believed that Ramananda Swami had, by spiritual exercises, freed himself from the fetters of flesh and blood and could hold communion with the spirit-world. However that may be, he was undoubtedly a man of unrivalled knowledge and wisdom. The common belief of the time was that he alone knew the dead philosophies and sciences of ancient India. He said,
"Listen to me dear Chandra Shekhar! you must always carefully apply the sciences which you have learnt from me. And do not under any circumstance give sorrow a place in your heart. I say so because in this world there is no distinct reality as sorrow. To the wise, happiness and sorrow are one and the same thing. If you make a distinction between them, then those who are universally known as happy or virtuous shall have to be said to have been unhappy throughout their life."
After this Ramananda Swami briefly referred to the anecdotes of Jajati, Harish Chandra, Dasharatha and some other ancient kings. He then alluded to the events of the life of Sree Ram Chandra, Judhisthir, Nala and some other great kings of high eminence. He proved that those pious kings were unhappy throughout their life—they were seldom happy. He then briefly related the incidents of the life of Bashistha, Biswamitra and other great sages of sacred Hindusthan, and proved that they were always unhappy. He next referred to the cursed and persecuted gods like Indra, and showed that even the celestial beings were not free from sorrow. Lastly, calling up his heart-captivating heaven-born power of speech, he began to examine the unknown, the unknowable and the infinite mind of the Great Creator. He said with magic eloquence, "God, who is omniscient, must have been perceiving in His mind the endless sorrow of the endless universe, through endless time. Is it possible that He, who is all-merciful, perceives in His mind the immense sorrows of this universe and yet does not feel unhappy on that account, or how can He be all-merciful? Mercy is inseparably associated with the feeling of sorrow—the existence of the one necessarily means the existence of the other. Therefore, God, who is merciful, is unhappy through eternity, on account of the eternal sorrows of the unlimited universe; or He is not merciful! You may ask, how can He suffer from sorrow when He is not affected by any influence, in spite of His universal consciousness? The answer will be, that He who is immovable is certainly unconcerned in the great work of creation, preservation and destruction, and so He cannot be accepted as the creator and the dispenser. If there be any one as a creator and a dispenser, He can by no means be said to be indifferent and impassive—He is full of sorrow. But that cannot be as well; for He is ever joyful. The inference, therefore, is irresistible that there is no such thing as sorrow. On the other hand if the existence of sorrow is admitted, are there no means to prevent this all-pervading misery? No, there is none. But if we all set ourselves to the mitigation of each other's distress then certainly the existence of sorrow can be done away with. Just see that the Creator himself is always busy in removing the sorrows and afflictions of His creation. The mitigation of the misery of this world removes the sorrows of the Divine mind. All the deities of heaven are also continually engaged in removing the pains and sufferings of the animal world, and that affords contentment to them; or else those heavenly beings, who are not transmutable by passions and emotions, would have no pleasure or happiness." Then Ramananda Swami eulogised, with fervent eloquence, the ancient sages for their active love of mankind and alluded in graceful terms of praise to the beneficent self-abnegations of heroes like the great Bhisma. He proved in a convincing manner that he alone is happy who lives for others, and none else. He then extolled, times without number, the noble virtue of philanthropy and benevolence. He traversed the Scriptures, the Vedas and the Mythologies and cited from them, in unbroken eloquence, numerous instances in support of his arguments. To emphasise them he ransacked the vast stock of words and gave accent to a long and unbroken series of phrases and phraseologies, agreeable to the ear and pregnant with deep meanings—he plundered the invaluable treasure of literature and eloquently poured forth poem after poem, rich with deep thoughts, happy sentiments and flowery rhetorics. Above all, he cast upon the mind of his hearer the enchanting halo of his genuine love of virtue. Those rare and wonderful words, accentuated in a silvery tone, with skilful intonations, resounded in Chandra Shekhar's ears like the sound of a trumpet. Sometimes, it seemed, they resembled the roaring thunder and again they made a delightful music for the ears, as soft and sweet as the melody which flows from a lute! The hermit was struck with admiration and became spell-bound. His hairs stood up on their ends. He rose up and made a profound obeisance to Ramananda Swami. He said, "My noble preceptor! I am now initiated in your faith, and from this day forth I shall be guided by the gospels you have preached to me. Ramananda Swami embraced Chandra Shekhar.