Awaken the Bodhichitta within YOU
Updated: Dec 24, 2021
Today is Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. On this divine occasion of Janmashtami, let me narrate an amazing story about Lord Krishna. The battlefield of Kurukshetra was being prepared to facilitate the movement of mammoth armies with large cavalries. They used elephants to uproot trees and clear the ground. On one such tree, lived a sparrow, a mother of four young ones. As the tree was being knocked down, her nest landed on the ground along with her offspring. They were too young to fly, but were miraculously unharmed. The vulnerable and frightened sparrow looked around for help.
Just then she saw Krishna scanning the field with Arjuna. They were there to physically examine the battleground and devise a winning strategy before the onset of the war. She flapped her tiny wings with all her might to reach Krishna’s chariot. “Please save my children, Oh Krishna, ” the sparrow pleaded.” They will be crushed tomorrow when this battle starts.
“I hear you,” said Krishna, the omniscient one, but I can’t interfere with the law of nature.” “All I know is that you are my savior, Oh Lord. I rest my children’s fate in your hands. You can kill them or you can save them, it’s up to you now,” the sparrow cried.
“The wheel of Time moves indiscriminately, ” Krishna spoke like an ordinary man implying that there wasn’t anything he could do about it. “I don’t know your philosophy,” the sparrow said with faith and reverence. “You are the wheel of time. That’s all I know. I surrender to thee.” “Stock food for three weeks in your nest then,” Krishna told the sparrow.
Unaware of the ongoing conversation, Arjuna was trying to shoo away the sparrow when Krishna smiled at the bird. She fluttered her wings a few minutes in obeisance and flew back to her nest.
Two days later, just before the conchs announced the commencement of the battle, Krishna asked Arjuna for his bow and arrow. Arjuna was startled because Krishna had vowed to not lift any weapon in the war. Besides, Arjuna believed that he was the best archer out there. “Order me, Lord,” he said with conviction, nothing impenetrable for my arrows.”
Quietly taking the bow from Arjuna, Krishna took aim at an elephant. But, instead of bringing the animal down, the arrow hit the bell around its neck, and sparks flew. Arjuna couldn’t contain his chuckle seeing that Krishna missed an easy mark. “Should I?” He offered.
Again ignoring his reaction, Krishna gave him back the bow and said that no further action was necessary. “But why did you shoot the elephant Keshav? Arjun asked. “Because this elephant had knocked down the tree sheltering that sparrow’s nest.” “Which sparrow?” Arjun exclaimed. “Also, the elephant is unhurt and alive. Only the bell is gone!” continued Krishna. Ignoring Arjuna’s questions, Krishna instructed him to blow his conch.
The war began, numerous lives were lost over the next eighteen days. The Pandavas won in the end. Once again, Krishna took Arjuna with him to navigate through the muddy field. Many corpses still lay there awaiting their funeral
Krishna stopped at a certain spot and looked down thoughtfully at an elephant-bell. “Arjuna,” he said, “will you lift this bell for me and put it aside?” The instruction, though simple, made little sense to Arjuna. After all, in the vast field where plenty of other things needed clearing, why would Krishna ask him to move an insignificant piece of metal out of the way? He looked at him questioningly. “Yes, this bell,” Krishna reiterated. “It’s the same bell that had come off the elephant’s neck I had shot at.”
Arjuna bent down to lift the heavy bell without another question. As soon as he lifted it though, his world changed, forever. Four young birds flew out one after another followed by a mother sparrow. The mother bird swirled in a circle around Krishna, circumambulating him in great joy. The one bell cleaved eighteen days ago had protected the entire family.
Some of the lessons are of the myopic Arjun being humbled and of the sparrow's implicit and unwavering faith in Krishna.
Also, the bell and bow & arrow provide a very thought-provoking metaphor. Aren't we all like the bow and arrow that Krishna used or the bell which became the refuge for faith of the sparrow? We must never underestimate our role in the scheme of things.
There are scores of opportunities to help and to ask for help. We must awaken the Bodhichitta within oneself. Bodhichitta is the desire to achieve enlightenment so that he/ she can lead others to the same state. We must be compassionate enough to help others out of their sufferings.
As many contemporary philosophers say, we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. Our spiritual journeys on this planet can be summed up with this beautiful metaphor. We all are climbing the same mountain. Our aim is to strive for the pinnacle or 'Nirvana'. The goal is very clear. However we climb from different faces of the mountain. Some find the journey extremely difficult while others find it a breeze.
Some are ahead and some have fallen behind. Some lend a helping hand to others, while some reach out for help.
Both these types of people are equally important. If you feel you have some insights or the knowledge, do share of it freely. It might help someone else, knowingly or unknowingly. Its just as important to ask for help. You thus provide someone an opportunity to be god's instrument in this spiritual journey!
Leaving you to ponder upon this idea, I am signing off for today. May we learn to be peaceful, still and humble like Lord Krishna. May the Lord make us his instrument and awaken the Bodhichitta in us.