"THE SAFFRON ROBE"
(Length: Words: About 125000. Chapters: 36)
By A.K.VIJAY BHANU.
A Hindu monk takes all his inspiration for life and action from the Bhagavad Gita, the famous classic of the Hindu Vedanta which Edwin Arnold has called "THE SONG CELESTIAL".
He models his life on its philosophy which says that God is in each and every creation, and there is absolutely no distinction between one creation and another. One should see Him in every object and offer ones worship. The whole cosmos itself was just a part of one infinite, eternal Rhythm that was called Brahman, the ultimate God, the Stuff and the Non-Stuff, the Being and the Non-Being. The classic consists solely of the theme of Non- Duality. It is called the "Advaita".
This is the story of that Hindu monk and his disciple, a young woman who is an outstanding beauty as well as a talented musician. The Guru and the disciple act from the most sacred of motives and keep their chastity intact. The young girl, orphaned at a tender age but later adopted as a daughter by a very poor temple priest and his wife, is brought up by the couple as a treasure. The monk involuntarily builds up into a deity, the presiding deity of her life. She sees in the terrible force of his personality a means to her own salvation.
From their life of absolute innocence and purity, Fate leads them into circumstances in which they are helplessly torn between fleshly drives and a longing to fortify themselves against sin. But every moment is a moment of trial and tension. They are ever in fear of being outbalanced and tripped into the final, fatal error. They are not aware they are already on the brink. There is a war between the Flesh and the Spirit. Nature overtakes them before they could consolidate themselves in virtue. They couldn't help sinking and they sink, but still stop short. And in their determined bid to save themselves and to entrust their souls again to God, they meet with a tragic end.
The monk also happens to be a well-known painter. He runs an Artists' Colony within the Ashram premises, and helps the upcoming painters who are poor and needy. But he is steadfast in his opposition to the painting of Nudes. This causes resentment. Then Fate works its purpose through a painting he makes.
The monk, not being able to resist his passion for Bharathi, drowns himself in the Ganges.
On Krishna Jayanthi day, the birthday of Lord Krishna, which fell after a fortnight, there was puja in the Krishna temple, Ceremonial worship amid a wild clanging of bells, waving of camphor-plates, with heaps of flowers and a profusion of incense sticks that give off fine scent. But the disciples perform the worship amid tears and sobs.
An unusual sight is witnessed by one of them on a tree at a distance. But that is soon blotted away.
The disciples, when the worship is getting finished, sing in a chorus the prayer that Swami Jitendra loved most. It was from the "Brihadharanyaka Upanishad":
Lead us from Untruth to Truth,
Lead us from Darkness to Light,
Lead us from Death to Immortality,
OM Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi"