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Attachment Brings Grief

We come across a lot of instances when we have to say happy journey or bon voyage to our loved ones. And when it comes to children or grand children, we tend to get sentimental.  However knowledgeable or philosophical we may be, we tend to worry during such times, hoping and praying that they reach safely, without any untoward incident , accident etc. I experienced the same when my children travelled recently from Bangalore to Chennai along with my little grandson. They were driving down in the safety of their own car. Yet with every passing hour, I was anxious to know of their progress, wishing them a safe journey. They reached safely as usual but my thoughts were taking me through all the possible permutations and combinations until I saw them arrive.  I remember few of my relatives sharing similar sentiments in such situations, including my parents during my younger days. 

Deep in thought, I remembered Kavi Kalidas who wrote Abhigyaana Sakunthalam. There he talks about MaharishiKanva , who found a little girl surrounded by birds in the forest. He named her  Sakunthala and brought her up as his own daughter.  She grew up into a beautiful maiden. One day, King Dushyant came hunting to the forest and struck Shankuntala’s pet deer. Moved by her love for animals, the King was keen to make amends by caring for the wounded animal.  They both fell in love and got married. Soon she got pregnant, but due to unrest in his capital city, King Dushyant had to leave. He gave Shankuntala  a royal ring as a sign of their love, promising her that he would return for her. Shakuntala was always lost in the dreams of her king, so much so that unknowingly she incurred the wrath of Sage Durvasa. He cursed her that the King would forget her. And so he did.

When King Dushyant did not come back for her, Shaknthala decided to go to him. She approached Rishi Kanva to seek his permission and blessings. He sent two of his sishyas to take her safely  through the forest and leave her with the King. Fully aware of the dangers enroute, he cautions them all to travel safely. As soon as they left, Maharishi Kanva began to worry about the safety of his daughter. He was unable to focus on his daily activities and found his thoughts going back to his daughter’s safety. What if they faced an obstacle during their journey? What would they do if they needed help? 

Poet Kalidas writes:अतिस्नेहः पाप शङ्खि this means excessive attachment to a person forces us to think about all the negative incidents that can occur to their loved ones, making them worry even more. Even an enlightened sage as Maharishi Kanva was plagued by this feeling. So it is but natural for mere mortals like me to feel the same. I took solace in this knowledge and was able to calm my mind.

My father used to chant this Anjaneyar shloka: 

वीरः श्रीमान् हनूमान् तव मनसि वसन्  कार्यसिद्धिं तनोतु,  (The original shloka says मम instead of तव ). He used to say that of all puranic persons, Hanuman undertook one of the toughest journeys in search of Mother Sita. He flew to Lanka, an alien land, on a very important mission. And even though he faced problems, his journey to and from was successful. So seeking His blessings will ensure a safe and successful trip.

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