Thursday, September 22, 2011

It was just not Bheeshma alone...

Bhagavan Sri Krishna refers to, among other things, "Karma Yoga" in Srimad Bhagavadgeetha. We call  many achievers as "Karma yogis". But many Karma yogis are never known outside their homes. This is the life story of one such Karma yogi.

Mysore was the capital of Old Mysore State before independence, and Wodeyars were ruling the state. Krishna Raja Wodeyar IV was the King who ruled between 1904 to 1940. He was known as a Philosopher King and Mahatma Gandhi called him "Rajarshi". After Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV, his nephew Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar became the king and ruled from 1940 till the state merged with the Indian Republic. Jayachamaraja Wodeyar was also a popular ruler and an acknowledged philosopher. He was a respected figure in music circles both in India and abroad. He has many music compositions to his credit and was the first President of Philharmonic Concert Society, London. After Independence, he was the first Governor of Mysore State and then Tamilnadu till 1966. 

There was a Sanskrit-Kannada Pundit in the undivided Mysore District, a few miles away from Mysore City. This pundit was a highly respected astrologer as well and was consulted by these Maharajahs in times of need. Though the Pundit commanded respect from one and all including such illustrious Maharajahs, he kept away from the Capital and continued to lead a simple life in his small town. His family consisted of his wife, son, daughter-in-law and grand children. In course of time both the Pundit and his wife became very old. My father once told me that his maternal uncle and himself had been to the Pundit's house for some astrological consultations. Even at the age of 90 years he was active and had a very sharp memory. His wife was 85 years old, but she still cooked the daytime food for the entire family. Their son had also retired from Government service as a Teacher. Daughter-in-law will be in charge of the kitchen for the evening session. The pundit and his wife took only fruits and milk in the evenings. It was a well knit family and they lived happily.

The Pundit's daily routine would start at 5 AM. After his daily bath he would perform his pooja for about an hour and spend time with his students, teaching Sanskrit and Astrology, for two to three hours. He would meet the visitors till noon. After lunch he would relax for some time and again meet visitors till evening. Later hours were reserved for his own studies, even at the advanced age. After a cup of milk and some fruits he would retire to bed around 9 PM. Routine for his wife would start half an hour before the Pundit got up and end half an hour after he retired for the day. Her "Tulasi Pooja" would be done before the Pundit's regular Pooja. The couple lived in perfect harmony and the people of the surrounding areas would come to seek their blessings, especially for the new born and newly weds.

The couple got up as usual one morning and went about their daily routine. After the students left at about 9 AM, the wife came to pundit and drew his attention.

"This is the season for Sampige flowers", she said. (Sampige flowers are also known as  as Champaka or Shenbagam or Ylang Ylang flowers)

"Yes, I know that. What about it?", Pundit asked.

"Can you get me some Sampige flowers today?" 

"You never asked for Sampige flowers all these days. You were saying that you get headache due to its strong smell. Even though I liked those flowers you never used them. Why do you want them today?"

"I felt I need those flowers today. Hence I am asking"

"I will go to the market now and get them before lunch"

The Pundit went out and brought the flowers. Lunch was promptly served at 12 Noon. While having lunch the Pundit observed that the wife did not have the flowers on her. "What happened to the flowers? You are not wearing them." he asked. "It is kept for a specific purpose. Not for my use", she said. The Pundit left it at that.

After Pundit's lunch, the wife had her lunch and went for her daily nap. She returned at about 4 PM. The Pundit was lying on his cot reading some book. She asked him to get up and sit in his usual chair. Though surprised, he obliged without murmur. The wife brought her plate of Arisina-Kunkuma  (holy Turmeric and Sindhoor powder plate), paid her respects to him by performing "Paada Pooja". She spread all the Sampige (Champaka) flowers on his feet. She asked the husband to bless her and  bowed to him by placing her head on his feet.

Since she did not get up even after two minutes, the Pundit asked her to get up. She did not respond. He tried to lift her. She was gone. Gone for ever.

Bheeshma Pitaamaha of Mahabharata had a boon of Icchamarana (One who can die when he wants). The Pundit's wife was no less "Karma yogi". She was also a Icchamarani and lived and died the way she wanted. And when she wanted. There are many others like her. Only we do not know them.


  1. First time, I am hearing this story from you. No doubt, it touches your heart. How many couple have such love and respect for each other, I wonder? My salutes to that karmayogini.

  2. Heart touching incidence. Hats off to yogi couple and for the beautiful narration given by you.