Union (A Fable)1An incalculable number of years ago there was a time when man was extremely addlebrained. He treated his consort, the most intimate companion upon earth, as a bond-woman. She was kept, as it were, in iron fetters. She was granted the freedom of moving about inside the house performing all household duties. But she was denied the right of going out of doors.
She accepted her lot without a murmur. No, none was there to read her mind. She would take every care of his room as of the whole household. She would tidy up all her husband's things and keep them trim and safe for his use, and even the floor she would scrub with her own hands. When the day was done and the Sun dozed into a sweet sleep on the Western brim of the world, she would light a lamp fed with clarified butter and, placing it under the tulsi plant in the courtyard, offer prayers to ward off all unforeseen evils. She would arrange flowers for his daily worship and timely serve food and drink to all concerned. The man was certain that she did all these simply because she had no existence without him.
God could not help smiling at the secret thoughts of the man. He wanted to play a trick on the man. However, God's fun-making was of the merry type. One day He removed the man's better half from his house. On entering his house, the man found no food to eat, no water to drink, no flowers to offer to God.
In no time, he flew into a rage. He shouted himself hoarse. He was, as it were, preparing himself to wage a war against somebody. Suddenly God donned the earthly cloak and came into his presence. With utmost innocence, He said to the man: "What has come over you? What is all this commotion?"
"How do you mean?" He was more than angry. "Where is she gone, the one who has been marked for me? Now there is none to serve me with food and drink. Who will collect flowers for me for my daily worship? She used to do all these."
"So it was only to have all these that you needed her?"
"Then for what else?"
"Can I seize upon your word?"
"I give you my word of honour. There, there alone, her importance ends."
"I promise, every day you will get food, drink and flowers, all on time."
By the Omnipotence of God, all the necessities of the man were supplied to him. No, there was not even the slightest flaw in God's management. The man was timely supplied with everything as before. But only his consort's presence was denied to him.
All went well — timely food for the appeasement of his hunger, water for the quenching of his thirst, flowers for his daily worship — all were there. But there was something lacking in his life. The tune that would fill the gap between his food and drink and bring in a wave of satisfaction between his drink and worship was sadly missing. Now his food was simply food, his water was mere water, his flowers were mere flowers. Life appeared to him as cruelty personified. Everything went on mechanically, like the hands of a clock.
One day the man returned home dead tired. He found everything in perfect order — his food, his drink, his flowers, in a word, whatever he actually might have wanted. Yet his anger knew no bounds. He cried out, "Who wants all these? Who can put up with Your cruel mockery? Who can abide by Your mechanical dealings?" Then, with a tremendous kick, he sent all the utensils and the flowers flying pell-mell.
God appeared. "What is wrong with you again?"
In lieu of a meet reply, the man blurted out: "You are clever enough to guess the reason. How long will You keep up this farce? Who wants all these services from You? Take them all back. Who wants Your insipid gifts? Give her back who was absolutely my own. My heart is in hot haste to see her. I have had no heart for anything else. I cannot lure my heart away from her."
A subtle smile played upon the eyes of God. He made the man feel for himself that his wild anger was the malady of his own heart. So now God returned his wife.
The sight of her sent the man mad with joy. He was overwhelmed with a tremendous emotion. In the twinkling of an eye, he released her from her fetters. He decked her wrists with two gold bracelets and placed round her neck a pendant of snow-white pearls. His heart was ravished with love. He hugged her impetuously. "It does not behoove me to treat you as a bondwoman anymore. You are my peer in every respect. You are perfection's model. You are the Purna [the deity of Fulfilment]. By your magic touch, the empty hearts become filled with the richness of delight. You eclipse Lakshmi's matchless pride of beauty. It is you who complete the incomplete."
That was the day when the gods were awakened by the redolent smell of the flowers offered by man.
TRN 2. This story was written by Suresh Chandra Chakravarty. It was translated by Sri Chinmoy from the original Bengali.↩