Rose to Thorn

Many readers have responded agreeing with my views expressed in the last week’s column in which I had argued that it is not proper to compare the past days in our lives to waste papers. Expressing complete agreement, Mr. Ramachandra from Mysore wrote, “Your argument has been totally accepted by the ‘Full Bench’ of the elitist readers. Yes, the past mistakes/actions shall be taken as learning experience and provide opportunity to face tomorrow with confidence and tomorrow can be faced as it comes without fear.” Chandru, another young reader from Bangalore responds, “The patience, the boldness, compromisability and the mental stamina to face up to the future are, of course, the outcomes of what we call life’s wastepaper,” and has penned a poem to express his views:


Life should be sensed through pleasure and pain

Sweet incidents like the light of the full moon

Bitter incidents like the darkness of the new moon

Both we need in life like the sun and the moon

To perfectly ripen the human life….


If there is anyone who can live in the present without yesterday’s worries and tomorrow’s awareness, they could only be the children. Elders who complain that children are inexperienced in life and do not know anything should in fact learn from them how to live in the present. A folk lyric referring to the captive attractiveness of the children goes like this:


A dozen young ones like my baby

Play in the shade of the rosewood tree

And the monk forgets his lines to meditate!


This illiterate village mother is saying that there can be no meditation that supersedes the company of the children. It is not an exaggeration to say that her words coming out of sheer experience are far better than the so called Veda Vedanta scriptures.


Children can melt the toughest hearts of even the vicious rogues. A robber likely will harm the grownups while robbing the house, but seldom does he hurt the children. He might hurt them if there is intent to put halt to a family propagation or if there is an inherent danger to his own existence like in the case of Kamsa, the demon king or King Herod. What did the butchers do when the minister Dushtabuddhi handed them the baby boy Chandrahasa with instructions to kill him? Didn’t their hearts melt? They just cut the extra sixth finger of the little kid as evidence of killing him to show to Dushtabuddhi. This emotional episode is beautifully narrated by the poet Lakshmisha in Jaimini Bharata. No matter how cruel a person is, a child’s lovely face and the mesmerizing smile will soften him out in an instant.


A child has been profiled as, “an undried picture freshly painted by Nature.” That beautiful picture gets tainted by the dark ink of worldly affairs. Our late senior Guruji used to say, “Children are like empty bags, youth are like bags with holes, and the aged are like completely filled bags.” Everything leaks out of those bags with holes in them. There is no space to fill anything in the completely filled bags. They are ready to be stitched up and transported. There is lot of space to fill into empty bags. The heavy responsibility of filling these children’s minds rests on the elderly. Even if they fail to fill anything, let them not fill something rubbish!  At birth, World is a family for all children. The elderly fill up rubbish in their minds and make their family a smaller one!


As he gets older, man loses the drive to live and goes into depression. One should look at children and get that spirit to live and live well. There is a lot to learn from children. The famous English poet, William Wordsworth describes the worth of childhood very meaningfully as follows:


My heart leaps up when I behold

A rainbow in the sky:

So was it when my life began;

So is it now I am a man;

So be it when I shall grow old,

Or let me die!

The child is father of the Man;

And I could wish my days to be

Bound each to each by natural piety


The poet compares the child to a rainbow here. The natural beauty inherent in the rainbow is present in a child as well. Just like the rainbow, a child’s simplicity attracts everyone. Such magical power is hidden in them. The entire mankind is inherent in a child; mankind’s future rests in the child. The rainbow from yesterday, one from today, and the next one tomorrow – all of them exhilarate the young and the old alike. Its beauty does not go down day by day. A child’s beauty is just the same as the rainbow. But gradually it is lost, just as the fluffy fragrant flower fades down. The mind that was soft like the flower turns rough. ‘World loses a pretty flower and instead thorn survives’, a poet laments! The flower dries up and only the ugly prickling thorn survives. The poet desires the same simplicity of the child to continue as he matures. The poet’s heart craves for all the days of his life to be filled with joy just as the mesmeric beauty of the rainbow that stays the same all the time.


My good hearted readers! Yesterday’s beauty may not be that intense today. The thrill and joy of the first sighting may not remain the same, the second time around. But beauty does not rest on the surface of the object, but it will on your objective vision. The pathway to success lies in keeping such objectivity fertile in life!


Sri Taralabalu Jagadguru

Dr Shivamurthy Shivacharya Mahaswamiji



Translated by
Dr Annapur Shivakumar