Monday, March 2, 2009

The recluse in my class

by KParthasarathi 02 Mar 2009
There was a class mate of mine may be in seventh standard in my younger days. I have forgotten most of the other boys but I distinctly still remember his face for the prominent beak shaped nose. He was slightly built and had a constant puckered smile on his soft face. He never talked and rarely mingled with others. He did not participate in sports. He was happy to be left alone to his devices. He wore his caste mark of ashes on his face. He was not distinguished in his studies. Except in Sanskrit, History and moral sciences, he had no interest in other subjects. He just scraped through I think. I remember one incident when .the class teacher asked us to write in one page of what we wished to be when we grew old. Some of us wrote about our wish to be engineers, while some wanted to be teachers and some others business men and such like callings. When the boys were discussing excitedly amongst themselves, this boy stood aside without showing any interest. We did not know that this boy was different till the afternoon. We came to know when the teacher called him softly by his side and asked him to tell the class on what he wished to be. He kept quiet feeling embarrassed. The teacher goaded him telling that there was nothing to feel shy about and that he was proud to be his teacher. Thus prompted, the boy said, “I wish to be a monk and recede to forest to meditate on my God and do Tapasya till I have His darshan.” There was a stunned silence as all the boys saw the teacher wiping his tears from his eyes.
Later after the class was over the teacher patted the boy gently on his shoulders and told him “Please take me along with you to meet your parents this evening. I wish to pay my obeisance to the fortunate couple.”
The boy immediately said “Please, Sir, do not mention about this essay of mine to them. They are already unhappy with me about my poor marks and my ways.”
“Why are you not studying well? What is it that you do that displeases your parents? Should you not listen to them?” he gently asked.
The boy said, “I am a great devotee of Sri Ramachandra and Sri Anjanaya swami. I have their idols and do puja both mornings and evenings. I wish to do nothing else except thinking of my Lord. My father is against all these as he considers them a waste of time to the detriment of studies. He wants me to stop all this and go out to play with other boys. He beats me if he sees me sitting before my darling idols. So I have hidden them in the terrace and do the puja unknown to him.”
The teacher kept mum and later learnt from his parents that what all he had stated was true. Both the parents were dejected and had given up hopes of ‘reforming’ the boy. He did not mingle with his siblings except a little with mom and spent all the waking hours before the idols and deriving pleasure in dressing them and singing bhajans.The teacher knew that here was an uncommon boy who had a goal in his awareness, that he gave it his all time attention and had no doubt in achieving it. The teacher kept quiet though he knew that it was best not to interfere with the boy’s ‘progress’.
Years had gone by. I lost touch with the boy after I came out of the school but the school essay remained fresh in my mind. It was some decades later I accidentally met his younger brother who was also in the same school.
I learnt that he did his graduation in Sanskrit and did not marry. He became a Sanskrit pundit in a school. After his parents died, he stayed alone and had his food brought from a nearby temple on payment. He spent all his leisure hours in Sri Ramakrishna Mutt and Sri Gowdiya Mutt and tended to the sick and needy persons. No one knew what puja he did and when. He lived a life of recluse and did not participate in family functions. He gave away his share of the property to charitable institutions. The last the brother heard about him was that he had joined an old age home in a temple town spending his last days in the temple. He discouraged any contact with him. He had obviously discovered his real identity, he knew his true nature and felt the presence of spirit in everything and everywhere..
When I think back, I am convinced he is no ordinary soul. He is an evolved person who belonged to this world and yet not part of it. I could remember his penetrating look that at once appeared distant. Life for him was a voyage that he had to undertake to liquidate his past karmic debts. I could only proudly tell my children and grandchildren that I had the privilege of studying together with a karma yogi who had realised himself.
The winds of grace are always blowing; it is for us to raise our sails.”


  1. Really well-written. It is difficult to follow your true calling in face of ridicule. But, if a person can do so, he/she gets peace in heart.

    The beauty of life is to be found in being oneself, no matter what.

    Best wishes.

  2. Its really difficult to follow your heart, the one who do are the ones who are able to find the true meaning of life.

  3. The boy makes me think of other great people like Paramahamsa. We choose the way of our life. Most of us end up being materialistic. It is very rare for someone to realise their true self. This boy happens to be one of those great souls. Very well written.

  4. Beautiful story. Some people reach the higher plane of existence faster in life than others who either delay in doing so or dont at all. This boy was indeed remarkable for depicting spirituality at such a tender age.

  5. Wonderful story sir. I am so inspired by reading this....Such determination, persistence and clarity, at a tender age is indeed very've beautifully built the character and excellently crafted this story. This nameless yogi is now etched in my memory. Thanks a lot for creating such a nice character.

    It makes m eremember of Balakumaran's books, which I treasure :)

  6. inspirational and thought provokening.loved reading it though it took me to another level of think, which i am not able to pen down.