AATMANIRBHAR: Efforts and Faith
“Mumma, Dadi keeps telling me that Kanha will help people when they are in trouble. Why does He not help me? Does He not like me?” Naina hugged her mother’s photo to her chest. She felt abandoned because Kanha had not come to her rescue.
“Mumma, you are with Kanha now, right? Please ask him to help me. You know Ajay, right? He stays in our neighborhood. He keeps troubling me, Mumma! He tells me that Kanha does not like me that is why he took you away from me. Is it true?” Naina broke down.
“No! It is not true,” Naina looked around.
A chilling terror crept over her when she could not find anyone.
A sparrow flew towards her through the window and sat beside her.
“Hey! Do not be afraid of me. I will not cause any harm to you,” the sparrow spoke.
Naina stared at the bird for a moment.
“You can talk?” Naina asked the bird in astonishment.
“Of course, I can! But only a few people can hear me,” the bird replied.
“Wow! You are so cute! What is your name?” Naina asked.
“I’m Chanchala. You look cute when you smile like this. Why were you crying Naina?” the sparrow asked her.
Before Naina could answer, another sparrow flew in through the window and asked, “Where were you Chanchala? What are you doing here?”
“Dhriti Dadi, I was on my way returning from the river, but I heard Naina crying, so I came here,” Chanchala replied looking at the elderly bird.
“Why were you crying sweetheart?” Dhriti asked Naina.
Naina seemed to be upset at being reminded of her misery again.
“Ajay tells me that Kanha hates me. That is why he took Mumma away from me and he does not even help me,” Naina answered. She was on the verge of crying again.
“Naina, Kanha does not hate anyone. As far as helping is concerned, He helps those who help themselves,” Dhriti spoke looking at the two little ones.
“How can I help myself Dhriti Dadi? I’m still a small child,” Naina said helplessly.
This made Dhriti think. What if Chanchala too was in the same line of thinking?
Now that Chanchala had learnt to fly, Dhriti was aware of the perils of flying. They were always at the risk of being troubled by vicious vultures and the harsh climatic conditions. Dhriti wanted Chanchala to learn to be self-reliant as well as a bellwether. So, she took this as a great opportunity to guide Chanchala while helping Naina.
“Naina, do you like to listen to stories?” Dhriti asked.
“Of course! I love it!” Naina exclaimed.
“So, I will answer your question through a story,” Dhriti declared.
“Yaay! Story!” Naina and Chanchala exclaimed together.
Years ago, when the battlefield of Kurukshethra was being prepared, large trees were being chopped off to clear the ground. My neighbor, Parul and I were so scared, we had just laid eggs.
We were left homeless when a huge elephant knocked down the tree on which we had built our homes. However, miraculously our eggs were safe.
Both of us were baffled. We did not know what to do. In fact, Parul was paralyzed by fear. After a few minutes we saw Kanha. He had come there, with Arjuna, to examine the battleground.
With all my might, I flew towards him.
“O Krishna! Please save us! We will be crushed when the battle starts!” I could not help crying out loud.
“I hear you Dhriti, but the Wheel of Time moves indiscriminately, I cannot interfere,” He said.
“You are the Wheel of Time, O revered one! I surrender to you,” I bowed to Him.
He smiled at me and said, “Stock food for three weeks in your nests.”
I thanked Him and flew back to my nest.
Parul was waiting for me anxiously. I informed her about the task at hand. Though she was a little reluctant initially, I convinced her to have faith in Him. And we followed His instructions.
Two days later, the armies were lined up. The battle was just about to begin.
Krishna was holding a bow and arrow. A moment later, he aimed at the elephant under which we along with our nests were present. We looked on.
He had aimed at the elephant’s bell. The elephant’s bell became our shelter.
We heard the blaring of the conch shell. The war began and we could hear screeching metals and the whimpers of humans and animals hurt in the battle.
It was depressing, but we trusted Him.
A few days later, our little ones emerged from the eggs. This lightened our mood for the next few days. However, the happiness did not last long as they felt uncomfortable staying inside the bell, their constant chirping was the evidence for the same. But all we could do was to trust Him.
It seemed like an eternity had passed by.
“Arjuna, could you lift this bell for me and put it aside?” we heard Krishna say.
“Is this not the same bell that had come off the elephant’s neck you had shot at?” Arjuna asked Krishna.
“Yes, it is the same bell,” Krishna replied.
Finally, we could spot rays of light.
“O Kanha! I do not know how to thank you enough!” I swirled in circles around Krishna while Parul sat on His shoulder.
“Forgive me for not trusting you initially Kanha,” she apologized.
“O Kanha! How silly could I be! That day, I made fun of you for missing your target. I thought your target was the elephant. But your aim was to protect these families. Forgive my foolishness, Sri Krishna!” Arjuna apologized to Kanha.
Krishna just smiled in turn and walked on.
Dhriti completed narrating the story and looked at Naina and Chanchala.
“You have seen Kanha?” Naina looked surprised.
“Yes, but were you thinking of only that all this time? Did you not listen to my story?” Dhriti sounded a little disappointed.
“No, Dhriti Dadi! I have understood that no matter how small we think we are; we should help ourselves and when we do that, Kanha will help us,” Naina replied.
“Absolutely! You need to learn to help yourself. It will make you self-reliant as well as help you be a bellwether. You will be able to guide others when you take the lead,” Dhriti was happy that Naina had understood the importance of being self-reliant.
“But Dadi, Kanha should take care of the entire universe, right? That means, he should help everyone who help themselves. Will he not be tired Dadi? And, what if many of us are stuck in a problem at a time?” Chanchala asked.
Dhriti smiled at the question her pensive granddaughter posed. Chanchala, as always, looked at the deeper aspects of this story too.
“Let me answer that question with another story,” Dhriti said.
Vedhika, one of my friends had laid her eggs on the shore of a vast ocean. She went in search of food for a few hours. When she returned, she was shocked on not finding her eggs. She realized that the ocean had carried away the eggs.
Vedhika was upset. She had trusted the ocean with her eggs but, all she got in return was betrayal. She furiously asked the ocean to return her eggs.
However, the ocean did not even consider her appeal. She grew mad at the ocean and decided to dry it up. She picked out the water in her tiny beak and started emptying the ocean. Most of us were shocked looking at her actions, it was not possible for us to empty the entire ocean.
When we expressed our views to her, she replied, “Karmanye Vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani. My dear friends, one must do all work but without attachment; work for work’s sake, never for oneself. To work you have the right, but not to the result.”
Vedhika continued to make us understand the importance of working without attachment, “I am but a small bird. All I can do is to pick water drop by drop and try to empty the ocean. I may or may not find my eggs but, if I do not do this, I will always feel guilty for not trying. It is my right to try to find my eggs and I shall utilize my right.”
After a while, she spoke again, “My dear ones, what would you have done if you were in my position? Would you stay quiet? Please let me do my work. If you wish you can join me.”
She got back to her work and that got me to thinking. What if I was in her position? Is it right to keep quiet in such a situation?
I looked around. Every one of us was lost in our thoughts. Then, I looked at Vedhika, she was completely involved in her work. I followed her actions and started trying to empty the ocean. One by one, all of us were onto the task. The task went on for days, but nothing could falter our determination to complete the job at hand.
After a few days, Garuda, the gigantic bird carrier of Lord Vishnu came to see us.
“My dear little sisters, what are you doing?” Garuda asked us.
Vedhika narrated the happenings and Garuda seemed disturbed.
A moment later, Garuda said, “My dear ones, I will help you.”
He asked the ocean to return her eggs. He said to the ocean, “Return my sister’s eggs at once unless you want me to take up her work of drying you up!”
The ocean was frightened. Thus, it returned the eggs to Vedhika.
In a few minutes, Lord Vishnu too came to see us.
He smiled at all of us and thanked Garuda, “Thank you for taking care of my devotees when I was busy, Garuda!”
“I hope everyone is happy now,” He said looking at us.
“O Almighty! Thank you for helping us through Garuda,” Vedhika expressed her gratefulness.
“Vedhika, you have been a great bellwether to your fellow birds. I am pleased with your determination and perseverance,” He said to Vedhika.
Vedhika flew towards him and sat on his forefinger.
“It was my duty, Shri Hari. Thank you so much Garuda and my dear friends for helping me find my eggs,” she expressed her gratitude.
Garuda flapped his wings in acknowledgement while we smiled at her.
After a few moments of silence, Chanchala asked, “That means even if Krishna is busy, he sends help in some or the other form, right Dadi?”
“Correct! But we first need to help ourselves before expecting help from others,” Dhriti replied.
“Yes, Dhriti Dadi, I have understood that God loves everyone. And, more importantly, He helps those who help themselves. So, we need to become self-reliant, we need to put in our efforts and have faith in Kanha. Also, we should take initiative and be a brave bellwether when we find ourselves in a bad situation,” Naina summarized.
“Great!” Dhriti exclaimed.
“We shall leave now, it’s quite late,” Dhriti said.
“Bye, Naina. Take care,” Chanchala bid adieu.
Naina smiled and waved at them.
“Kanha does not like you Naina,” Ajay said trying to make Naina cry. He loved bullying her.
“Ajay, Kanha loves everyone. He loves me too. Stop troubling me,” Naina said fiercely.
“Really? Then why did He take your Mumma away from you?” Ajay asked.
“He loves my Mumma more, maybe He wanted her to stay around Him, so He took her close to Him,” Naina thought out loud.
“That’s true Naina, Kanha loves your mom a little more, so now, she stays around Him,” Naina’s Dadi, Janaki spoke walking towards her.
“Ajay, it is not a good habit to trouble others,” Janaki advised caressing his cheek.
Naina looked at her Dadi for a moment. She realized that her beloved Kanha had sent help in the form of her Dadi. She smiled happily and thanked her Kanha.
“Sorry Dadi,” Ajay lowered his head.
“Don’t apologize to me, Ajay. Apologize to Naina,” Janaki said.
“Sorry Naina. Friends?” Ajay held his hand out in front of Naina expectantly.
“Friends!” Naina happily shook hands with him.
Janaki smiled looking at her granddaughter befriending Ajay.
Dhriti and Chanchala, who were sitting on a nearby tree and watching Naina, were glad that she stood up for herself.
Dadi – Grandmother
Kanha – Name of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu
Lord Vishnu, Shri Hari – Hindu God. The preserver.
Garuda – Vahana (vehicle) of Lord Vishnu