Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Passenger and the Train

He is standing anxiously on the platform for the arrival of the train. He is aware of the long journey ahead. He is checking his luggage and is satisfied that things are in order. He is verifying the ticket and making a mental note of his coach and berth. He wants to make sure that he gets into the proper coach and reaches the right berth. He rushes towards the coach even before the train comes to a full stop on the platform. With luggage in both hands, he jumps into the coach and moves fast towards his berth. He heaves a sigh of relief after placing all the luggage items below the berth. He checks the items and is now satisfied that arrangements are proper. There are others around him who are doing the same thing, may be a little differently and according to their own taste and liking. He is now seated and looks forward to the long haul with expectation and anxiety on the one side and excitement and hope on the other.

He makes every effort to keep his berth and its surroundings neat and clean during the journey. All waste items are immediately removed from his presence. Proper care is taken of the berth and the surroundings. He makes friendship with the people around him. All have their own stories and plans. Many of these are shared. Bonds develop between the co-passengers. Some invite others to visit their places and assure that all arrangements will be made by them for a pleasant trip, when their place is visited. Addresses and phone numbers are exchanged. The journey goes on. Some co-passengers get off from the train when their stations come. Other co-passengers come in and the journey continues.

All good things have to come to an end. Entire life cannot be lived and spent on the train. His station is about to come in a few minutes. He is no longer interested in making new friendships now. He is not that worried about keeping the berth and surroundings clean. He is aware that he has to move away from the train to further destinations. He picks his luggage items and prepares to get down. Waste material is thrown on the berth and near it. This berth has no use for him now. He is now concerned about the next berth in the next train. He moves to the door of the coach even before the train comes to a full stop on the platform of his destination. He gets down and moves away towards the next train and the berth in it. He does not spare a minute to look back at the berth that carried him this far and for so long. He does not look back at the train standing on the platform, that helped him come this far. His eyesight is now firmly set on the next lap of journey..... 

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Indian philosophy revolves around the concepts of Body (Deha), Soul (Atma) and the Supreme being (Paramatma). A concept is often defined as "an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars". There are many schools of thought that explain the relation between these three concepts. They base their arguments on the same texts but the same texts are interpreted differently by each school. But each of the schools of thought swear by the same sources! Each of these interpretation makes interesting reading and appears to be the best when you are reading it. Ekavada (Monoism), Adwaita (Non-dualism) and Dwaita (Dualism) base their theories on the premise of the Atma and Paramatma being one, not-two and two separate entities. Much of it stands on different logical interpretations. The difference lies in the secret that all schools of thinking do not accept the same yardsticks and the force of their arguments depends on their postulates. A postulate is something that is assumed without proof or taken for granted. It is generally believed, save for rare and exceptional schools of arguments, that soul is eternal while body is not permanent. Soul changes bodies from time to time and continues its eternal journey.....

One question that crops up during such discussions is about the relationship between the body and soul. A soul lives in a body for a certain length of time. In the case of human beings such time span stretches to several years and decades. What is the bonding between the body and soul? Does not the soul feel the pain of separation from the body when it finally leaves the body forever, in which it stayed for such long periods? The above example of the Passenger and the Train is given to explain the relationship between the body and soul. Just as the passenger does not look back at the berth and the train when his destination arrives, the soul does not feel the pain of separation from the body and the surroundings. In other words, the soul does not feel attached to the body and hence there is no pain of separation.
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There are many interesting questions on such topics and they are wonderfully answered through similar simple and yet satisfactory examples. Many scholars have given us gifts of such interpretations and explanations. One may not agree with some of them and may not agree entirely with many of them. But a reading and contemplation on these voluminous literature widens our own horizons. Vinoba Bahve is one such thinker who has contributed through his discourses.

Vinayak Narahari Bhave (1895-1982), popularly known as Vinoba Bhave was a Gandhian and freedom fighter. He is well known for his contributions through "Bhoodaan" movement. Many consider him as a spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi. He lost some popularity when he called the period of Emergency (1975-77) as "Anushasana Parva". 

Vinoba was jailed for participation in freedom movement and held in Dhule Jail in Maharashtra between January and July 1932. While in jail, he gave discourses on "Bhagavadgita" every sunday. Many jail inmates and even prison officials attended his discourses. Jamanalal Bajaj, noted industrialist and philanthropist was one of the regular participants. Sane Guruji, Marathi writer and freedom fighter kept notes of the discourses. A small book titled "Geeta Pravachan" was brought out later on which contains the summary of the discourses of Vinoba in Dhule jail. This book contains many interesting and apt examples that convey answers to questions of seekers, given in simple language and logic. Original book in Marathi language, published in 1950s with a cost of one rupee, has been translated to many indian languages as well as English. A reading of this book is indeed useful and interesting.

11 comments:

  1. A fine analogy of body and soul and the passenger and train. Human relationships too are mostly self serving and last only as along as the purpose is served.

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  2. Well explained about the human journey.

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  3. very informtive about Sri Bhave who was known at latr stage a mothpiece of amma Indira

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  4. Dear Sir, the conceptualization of idea is brilliant and contemporaneous. This idea actually reminds me of the idea preached by Shaivism - Sthavara and Jangama (Body and Soul).
    Thank you very much for the article.

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  5. It is not clear whether the example of passenger and train is found in the book (Or) the blog-author's making, as we know from his posts that he is capable of making out an apt fable to explain/summarize a difficult concept. Thank you: keep posting.
    2. The details of English translation of Bhave's book please.

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    1. You can read it in English and other English languages by clicking on the link given below:

      http://www.vinobabhave.org/index.php/geeta-pravachan

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  6. Pretty good explanation of the whole philosophy of human life. The information about Vinobha Bhave is good.

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  7. Concept of soul and body is well explained. Keep posting such blogs.

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  8. It is well explained that Life is like a train journey so also our interests, likings etc.

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  9. The concept of relationship between soul and body is well brought out with an apt example. Will definitely read the book "Geetha Pravachana". Thank you for such a wonderful article.

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  10. Very good as usual. Thnaks for the link on English translation of Vino Bhave's discourses.

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