Once upon a time in a country called Buffoonistan there was a Swami (and there were hordes of them) called Mokshaprapta (one who has attained salvation). One day he decided to pray to Lord Shiva for a boon. So he stood on one leg for 1,000 years with both hands raised and eyes closed (which is the classic method of obtaining nirvana in India), praying for Lord Shiva’s darshan (revelation).
Pleased with his indefatigable devotion, Lord Shiva appeared and blessed him. He then told the Swami to ask for a boon.
The Swami said, “Mahadev, I am deeply dejected because while all countries in the world have invented wonderful weapons, my country Buffoonistan has invented none. The Chinese have invented gunpowder, the British warships, the Germans tanks, the Japanese kamimaze pilots, and the Americans atom bombs, my country has produced nothing.”
At this Lord Shiva said, “Do not be dejected. Your country will produce an Amogh Astra [invincible weapon] which none can match.”
“What is that?” enquired the Swami.
“It is anshan [fasting]” replied Lord Shiva. “No weapon can match this.”
The Swami became very happy, and asked for details of this wonderful weapon.
Lord Shiva said: “This weapon has no match because none can equal its spiritual power. However, there is a secret key for using this weapon. And that is this: whether you fast for 3 days or 10 or 20, at the end of it your weight must be more than what it was before you started fasting.”
The Swami felt a bit disturbed. “How is that possible?” he asked. “That is possible only by cheating and eating on the quiet.”
“Chee, chee, chee” said the Lord. “Can I advise you to cheat? No, I will tell you a miraculous method by which you can gain weight while fasting. You should close your eyes, open the third one, which, as Yogis have explained, is on everyone’s forehead, and while doing transcendental meditation, imagine seeing a lot of delicious dishes there. Then you must in your imagination eat that. That will really fill your stomach, and increase your weight.”
The Swami was delighted and he fell at the feet of Lord Shiva, who then disappeared.
The next day the Swami began his fast for abolition of corruption in Buffoonistan. Buffoons from all over the country had assembled in the shamshanghat (cremation ground) where the Swami always held his meetings. He chose this place rather than Jantar Mantar or the Ramlila ground because he wanted his followers to develop a spirit of detachment, forgetting about this world and thinking about the next.
The Swami stood up on an elevated platform before the huge crowd of buffoons and declared that if a law for abolition of corruption was not passed in 3 days his peaceful protest would turn into a revolution.
Now this word ‘revolution’ is dicey. It can mean different things to different people.
In the audience a rakshas (demon) called Charvak was sitting, and he was known to be a mischievous fellow. He had the nasty habit of asking uncomfortable questions. He got up and said, “As far as I know, a revolution seeks to totally transform the entire society, like the French Revolution. You have never mentioned what kind of revolution you want. I think you are a fraud.”
Now saying such a thing, particularly in a crowd of Buffoons, is extremely dangerous. The crowd has a mob mentality, like the Roman mob in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. When Mark Antony incited the mob against Caesar’s murderers, the mob went around seeking them. They caught hold of a poet called Cinna, who was different from Cinna the conspirator, and although he kept protesting that he was Cinna the poet, and not Cinna the conspirator, they lynched him saying, “Hang him for his bad verses.”
Something equally sinister may have happened to our rakshas friend, but the Swami, who is a benevolent person and above petty feelings, beckoned Charvak to the dais, embraced him, and whispered smilingly in his ears, “One more word and I will hang you here upside down.” But no one heard him say this, and people thought that out of magnanimity the Swami had forgiven Charvak.
The Swami then said loudly, “Our brother has raised a valid point and we must consider it seriously,” and having said so he let him back into the crowd, from where he disappeared post haste before the Swami or his followers could change their minds.
The Swami said, “Our brother has raised an important point. How do we make revolution? Can any of you answer? After a revolution Buffoonistan will become a land of milk and honey, there will be no more corruption, or poverty, unemployment, price rise, sickness, etc.
“To achieve all this we must realise that this world is Maya, that is, illusion, as our Vedanta philosophy teaches. So we must realise that corruption, poverty, unemployment, etc., are all illusions. Once we realise this, the revolution will have been achieved.
“So I request all of you to stand on your heads and contemplate the world as Maya.”
Everyone in the crowd then performed the yogic headstand (sheershasana), and that is the last they were seen doing by this observer.
The moral of this story is that everyone in Buffoonistan must have implicit faith in Babas and Swamis to achieve salvation and total revolution.
(The writer is Chairman, Press Council of India and a former Supreme Court judge. His email id is firstname.lastname@example.org)