(Illustration: Govinda Joshi)

There was once a guru who had taught his shishya to be happy, always. Even though he had been poor, he never shed a tear, never was unhappy.

Understandably, people were jealous of this man. How could he be always happy? One of his friends, who was never happy to see him always happy, presented him with a ‘magic cup’ and told him that if he wept into the cup, his tears would turn into pearls.

That changed all. He started finding ways to make himself unhappy, so that his tears could make him rich. As the pearls piled up, so did his greed grow.

His guru, on his return from a pilgrimage, to his utter dismay, found his favourite shishya sitting on a mountain of pearls, weeping helplessly into the bowl. People also informed him that the man, in his desperate attempt to find ever new ways of being unhappy, had also murdered his own kin and wept his heart out so that he produced enough tears to add to the pile of pearls.

The guru, naturally, was greatly pained to hear all this. Ordering the shishya to get down from the mountain of pearls, he gave him a sound dressing down. ‘You are an idiot,’ roared the guru. ‘You could have enjoyed all this wealth without being unhappy. There was no need to shed real tears. You could have just kept on smelling onions. That would have served the purpose. There would be enough tears and lots of pearls. And, you would have remained the same ‘happy man’ that you were.

Only a true guru can give such an advice. To all of us, who, like the man who effortfully cried in order to produce pearls of tears, our sadguru – Shri Martand Manik Prabhu Maharaj, chastises in the sternest fashion – ‘बंध मुगति नहीं ब्रह्म तू साचा क्यों रोता रंडा’ (for you, neither is there bondage, nor liberation; then, why do you make yourself miserable, when YOU are verily the Brahman – the inexhaustible source of all happiness). Always forgetting that happiness is ‘intrinsic’ to our nature, we tend to find newer ways of being unhappy, shedding tears, in the greed that we may have pearls of material happiness.

How fortunate we are, to have a sadguru like Shri Martand Manik Prabhu Maharaj, who always comes to our rescue in our times of despair and dilemma, with a reassuring advise to treat the maya like an ornament and wear it gracefully without allowing it, instead, to become a noose around our neck – तव भूषण ही माया, तुज मंगल शुभ हो.

So, the next time someone presents you with a ‘magic cup’, just remember your guru, and, instead of shedding tears of grief, look for an onion peel.