Tomorrow is a Mystery
At one time when the 5 Pandava brothers were living incognito in a small town, someone knocked at their door. Yudhishtar, the eldest, opened it to a beggar seeking alms. He felt annoyed, for it was very early in the morning and he had just woken up. He told the beggar to come ‘tomorrow.’
‘Ha ha ha’ came a sound from inside the house. It was his younger brother Bhim laughing as if he had heard the best joke of his life. Yudhishtar shouted, “Stop Bhim, have you gone mad? What are you laughing about? It is too early in the morning for your silly pranks.”
Yudhishtar was son of Dharmaraj and thought he knew all about dharma, but as he tried to practice it his scholarship often blurred his vision. Confusing words rose as screen in front of his nose. This morning was one of those times. He was irritated at his crude brother and repeated, “Bhim, why do you laugh?”
Bhim, still laughing, answered, “Brother, I laugh at you, who else? How do you know that there is going to be a tomorrow? Even if tomorrow comes, how can you tell whether you or that beggar will still be alive? Who knows where you or he will be? But you told the beggar to come tomorrow as if you were certain about it. I am going to announce all over town that my brother has become so wise that he can tell what is going to happen tomorrow. Ha, ha, ha.”
Yudhishtar ran out of the door, caught up with the beggar and brought him back. He gave him some food and money and sent him off. His ‘dull’ brother’s clear vision had removed the haze of book learning from his eyes. “You are right my brilliant brother Bhim. Thanks.” Said Yudhishtar.
Bhim asked him to sit down and hear a brilliant story. Once a very prominent minister fell out of the emperor’s favors. The ruler was so put out that he ordered that the minister be hanged to death the following day. At the minister’s house the women wailed, his wife loudest of all. Neighbors and relatives gathered to commiserate. No one doubted that the news of the minister’s death would come soon. For all of them thought that they knew what would happen ‘tomorrow.’ But instead of bad news the minister himself came riding on the king’s most prized horse beamed from one end of his mouth to the other.
Seeing this all men and women froze where they were. They did not know how to react. The man’s wife stopped wailing and asked her husband how he had escaped the gallows. The Minister explained:
As the hour of my death approached the emperor came to visit me. For that is the tradition. On seeing me cry he said he did not expect me to fear death so much. I told him it was not death but the loss of great art inside me that concerned me. I can train a horse to fly in the air and I know just the right animal for it in the royal stable. The emperor bit the bait and asked how long it would take. I said one year. He set me free saying; if the horse flies you will not only live but also win 1/4th of my kingdom. So I am here with the horse.
The Minister’s wife protested: you have no special skill of training horses, why did you lie? It is worse for me, for I will have to worry a whole year and at the end of it still become a widow. Everything happening all at once right now would have been better.
The Minister scolded her: foolish woman, who knows if the king will live for another year, or I for that matter. Besides, circumstances might change. I may win the king’s favor for something else and be forgiven. Don’t you see that future is unpredictable? Stop worrying, live in the present, and enjoy yourself.
July 28, 2007