Thursday, 24 April 2014

Lessons from eashwaramma

Eashwaramma ...  her saga is hers, her sleepless nights. She tells me that when i am there she chats and laughs and forgets some worries ... but that she worries into the night about the two small grandchildren left in her care ... about her own poor health, and what will happen to them after her - abandoned as they are by one parent, and the other dead ...

Though I have given but very little to her, I have got immeasurably from her.

I am slowly learning what it is to believe, as the village people believe, that there is a god above on whose thought alone we act. That any act of good or ill happens only after he puts the thought in our mind. They live in that belief. Because of years in their company I get glimpses now of what they mean.

I  am learning what 'dharmam' is - to give when asked, and also when not asked - spontaneously, and of the last seer of rice at home. I am learning that dharmam means that to earn a living one is not deny to another his livlihood. And much more.

To practice that dharmam as they do, i cannot do. i cannot give away my last meal to a man who come asking for food. i cannot maintain honesty and faith in god, were i to see my child ill and have no money for medicine. But i see what the 'dharmam' they say is ... and know that it can be practised and is practised ... in faith, and charity and goodness. And that it is this dharmam that they practice that is saving our country against all wrongdoings ...

Eashwaramma was serving food to some very poor ladies who had come asking for food. There is no term 'begging'. 'Adukkone thinnedi', means to 'ask and eat', and is accepted normally. The hungry are fed. I asked her later which community they were from. She told me, "If someone comes and asks for food, we seat them serve them. We ask them which ooru (village) are you from. Why will we ask which kulam/ jati (caste) are you from ?" The person who comes and ask for food is seated and fed and spoken to respectfully. Even in this poorest of dalit households.

Eashwaramma ran out of rice. A mendicant came, and Eashwaramma gave her a glass out of the last two glasses. The lady asked if she could give her some groundnuts, and Eashwaramma threw up her hands and asked her wherefrom she would get groundnuts. The lady pointed to the heap pf groundnut leaf stacked before her house. Eashwaramma explained to her that she had bought it for money (yet to be paid) for her cow as there was no grass in this drought. (It was while carrying this load, that she came down with a severe fever two months ago, the after effects of which are still with her.).

When we admire the wisdom of Eashwaramma, we need to remember that it is wisdom followed in practice. She gives away one meal when she has only rice for two more meals.

Unless and until we practice reaching there ... through giving more and more and more ... - all that wisdom that we hear from her is sterile and will not take root in our hearts. I direct this observation more to myself than to others ... as i sadly need this awareness and this practice.

Is Eashwaramma poor ... I dont know ... she has more to give and share than many much better endowed. As years go by, I know less and less of anything ...

Eashwaramma tells me that if dharmam is followed then god will also be with us, and rains will fall. This is the law of karma.

All of us who, with our insecurities,
do not share wherever the need is more, are responsible for the failure of rains. 

Thereby, I learn from Eashwaramma, though she does not say it in these words, that man is god and god is man. And that even rains is finally in our own hands.

Eashwaramma, "If we wish for the good of others, god looks on us also with grace ('with a cool gaze'). If we envy others, then the god pushes us also down ..."



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