I still carry the fragments of a story from the lanes and by-lanes of my childhood and those pieced together weave a heart-touching tale. Far away, in the halcyon days of growing up when my hands could not touch the distance of door-bolts to open up, then I asked my grandma to stop the story for a jiffy because I wanted to pee. I would stand on my fingers of the feet and breathing hard, open the door bolts and while going out, I told my grandma not to utter a single word from her unfinished story. While pushing open the door of the toilet and keeping it ajar to catch even the faint whisper of her voice, I peed and rushed back to her outstretched legs, to listen to her untold part.
While she narrated, our eyes would communicate empathetically with the utter of every “hmm” from my mouth. She narrated the tale of a wood-cutter who sold wood for his livelihood. He had an iron axe that he preserved for years to axe trees. He was poor but pious.
One day while wandering in the dense forest, he saw the breathtaking sight of a waterfall and a tree nearby.
“Ah, that’s an age-old Banyan tree, squatting on such a big piece of earth. I would take a few branches and those would be enough for my two square meals in the day”- He decided.
While climbing the tree, he saw the small statue of a God in a hole of the gargantuan tree. Before hacking, he touched the body of the tree and asked to forgive him for his crime. He brought the axe down, throwing his entire weight to chop off a big branch.
But something hitherto unprecedented took place. The axe slipped from his hand and fell in the flowing currents of the water-fall. The wood-cutter was surprised for this had happened never before. He had too much confidence in his skill and experience to execute his task.
As he looked at the water and drifted into childish sobs and after awhile became aware that he was crying from the effect of losing his axe, which he so fondly kept for years. Alas, it was gone in the flow of water for good. The poor old man was crying hysterically.
Then at the instant his sobs shook the woods, an illuminated figure materialized out of the thin air and smiled at the crying old man.
“Who are you”-The bewildered woodcutter still choking in his sobs asked?
“I am a God”-The divine presence said-“from the pantheon of millions of Gods and Goddesses of your scripture.
The old man blinked his eyes, still unable to catch the purport of the words coming from the divine mouth.
“What are you doing here”-The old wood cutter asked?
“I am sorry because I stay in the tree, which you were cutting. Hopefully you saw my statue while climbing the tree. I am sorry because my invisible hands snatched the axe from your hands and threw it in the water. I was afraid that if you cut a big branch from it today, you would cut the entire tree within a month for your income. I have been staying here for more than a million years”-The divine figure said.
“Now I want to compensate you for the loss you have incurred for me. Tell me what you want.”-The voice of the illumined self commanded.
“I want nothing, return me the axe”- The old man said, sulking.
He saw the gross body of the divine figure grew into a subtle figure and fell down the height, while diving in to water. After awhile he emerged with a sparkling axe and offered it to the old man.
“What is it”-The old man said, blinking his eyes once again?
“A silver axe, enough for your today’s earning”-God replied.
“I do not need it. Where is my iron one”- The old man said, surprised at God’s offering?
Then again the old man saw another miracle. The celestial body of God materialized another axe, again shining like Gold.
“Take it. Once you sell this, it would be enough for a year’s needs. This is made of pure gold.”- Again the old man was offered.
“I do not want it. Return me my old, iron axe”-This time the old tree-cutter’s voice was commanding.
The divine body of God looked shocked for a few minutes. He thought a while and made another offer.
“Take this. This is an axe made of diamond. Be sure that you will live like a prince for the rest of your life”- He said.
The woodcutter burst into tears, leaving the divine body in a dilemma. He had never heard nor seen anything like this before.
“Don’t Gods have heart? How you speak like this? Being a God, you evaluate every thing in silver, gold and diamond. You do not keep any relationship from your heart.”- The old man blurted out.
“I can not forget the help rendered to me by my old axe. I cut trees by that for years. It was so dear to me. I love it from the pit of my heart. I can not live without that. Give that back to me. Do not show me all these pranks of divine offers. I am really fed –up”- The old man insisted.
The divine figure listened, spell-bound. Now it was his turn. His eyes moistened as he heard the words of the old man. Tears welled up in his eyes.
Now he was narrating his tale.
“Oh, great man, I am giving you back your old axe right now, but listen to my story. Behind one million years, I was also getting worshipped in a majestic temple. I took too much pride because people stood in long queue for my grace. I was tempted with various offers from my devotees and in return I ensured that they received in silver, gold and diamond through my miracles. The crowd in my temple went on swelling”- The divine figured explained.
“Oh, I was ignorant. How could I know that humans were made inhuman with my favor?
They came under various pretexts only for material riches. I nourished their greed. One day I got a call from the supreme lord.”- The divine body explained.
“Do you know what harm you have done to my beautiful earth? You have made everybody so selfish, greedy and evil that people have come to forget their human qualities. You have judged everything from your own pride and made the human race forget its virtues.”- The supreme lord shouted.
“I curse you that henceforth you will live on a tree for aeon.”-The supreme lord said.
“As I cried and sought his pardon, he assured me that one day I would meet a good human being, who would show me the real worth of heart and how it judges everything with empathy. Today I am truly liberated because real divinity lies in qualities from a good heart”-The divine body explained.
My grandma died fifteen years back. She told me before death that every thing in our civilization progressed except heart.
“Now like that God we have become cursed in materialistic, cynical living and only way to bail us out is judge life and related things from heart’-She told me before she breathed her last.
HIG-1/60, BDA Colony,
Kapila Prasad,old town , Bhubaneswar