of Holy Lives
God Does Is for Our Own Good’
was a farmer who lived in a small village on the banks of
the Narmada. A man of staunch faith in God’s mercy, he was
fond of repeating his favourite maxim: ‘Whatever God does
is for our own good.’ By God’s grace, Girivar enjoyed favourable
circumstances: his old parents were undemanding, he had a
dutiful wife in Gauri and his young son Uday was always obedient.
‘What more can a man ask for?’ Girivar’s neighbours would
talk behind his back. ‘In his place, anybody could say “Whatever
God does is for our own good!”’
right. A devotee must never make much of his reliance on God
until it is put to the test and he passes.
made its presence felt for the first time in Girivar’s contented
life when he lost his parents in quick succession. ‘One gets
the opportunity of serving one’s parents in their old age
as a result of great good karma,’ he mused sadly. ‘It is my
misfortune that I could not serve my parents for a longer
time. But then, these things are in God’s hands. Whatever
God does is for our own good.’
real test, however, was yet to come. And it came soon.
as Girivar was getting over the pain of bereavement, fate
snatched his son too. The eight-year-old was bathing in the
river with his mother, when a crocodile caught the boy and
carried him away before anybody had a chance to help. Shouting
‘Oh, God! Save me!’ little Uday disappeared under water. And
they brought an unconscious Gauri home.
did his best to assuage his wife’s anguish, but she was inconsolable.
‘Gauri my dear, do you think I don’t share in your suffering?
But try to understand. It is futile to wish things had happened
differently. This world is but a wayside inn. Every individual
comes to this world to work out his own karma, and when that
is done he departs. Really speaking, people are not related
to one another as we imagine. Did we know who Uday was before
he came to us? Do we know where he has gone now? But we can
be sure of this much: our son has certainly gone to a better
place. After all, he called to God to save him - he did not
call out to you or me - and the Lord will never forsake such
remember what the sadhu told us the other day. This world
is God’s pleasure-garden and we are His servants. We may have
grown a beautiful flower, but that does not mean the flower
belongs to us. On the other hand, it should be a matter of
great joy to us if the Owner of the garden should want the
flower we have grown.
again, how can we take it for granted that Uday is dead? What
evidence have we of that?’
I, but Thou’
you are right,’ said Gauri in between sobs. ‘Deep inside,
something tells me my Uday will come back to me, no matter
that is quite beside the point. Why should you expect to see
him again!’ exclaimed Girivar. ‘The thing to understand is
this: If we consider ourselves God’s servants, we must be
ready to serve Him in whichever way He likes us to. Until
now God accepted our service in one way, and now if He wants
us to serve him in a different way, we must be prepared for
it. A servant cannot have preferences. He who hesitates to
serve his master wholeheartedly is an unfaithful servant;
and he who regards his master’s things as his own is even
worse - he is a thief! Don’t you see, Gauri, nothing in this
world is really ours: God gives, God takes away. We have accepted
Him as our master, so let us not flinch from our duty; let
us forget our happiness for His sake. But believe me, whatever
God does is for our own good.’
Girivar saw no point in spending time on his fields. He leased
out all his land and the couple gave themselves up totally
to worship and meditation. Before long, their devotion started
to show results. Gauri, especially, began to experience a
kind of peace she had never before known in her life. Noticing
the change that had come upon his wife, Girivar observed one
day, ‘How can man hope to understand the Lord’s inexplicable
ways? Could we even imagine He would draw us to Him in this
manner? Maybe you can appreciate it now - a son is a son,
no doubt, but our attachment to him might have led us away
from the only thing that is to be loved.’ Gauri nodded quietly.
‘See? That is why I say, whatever God does is for our own
good,’ concluded Girivar.
a mother is a mother. Memories of her beloved Uday continued
to haunt Gauri.
away down the river, the crocodile that made off with Uday
was challenged by another crocodile and lost its grip on the
boy in the ensuing struggle. But Uday was already seriously
injured and too weak to save himself. Luckily, some people
in a boat passing a little distance away spotted his limp
body bobbing listlessly in the water. As they pulled him aboard,
Uday lost consciousness.
Chandrasen, the ruler of the territory that straddled the
Narmada, was childless. Recently he had lost his young wife
too. The suddenness of her death hit the king hard and he
was contemplating giving up everything to embrace the monastic
life. His sense of obligation to his subjects, however, was
making it difficult for him to decide. At last, unable to
make up his mind, Chandrasen approached his father’s guru
guru was a yogi who possessed occult powers. ‘It is not right
for a king to neglect his royal duties, to leave his kingdom
uncared for,’ he advised. ‘Moreover, I know you are destined
to find a worthy heir - and I also know a secret rite that
can make it happen very soon.’ The king’s face brightened
up. ‘Educate the boy, train him well, and when he comes of
age, hand over the reins of the kingdom to him. You may become
a sannyasin only then.’ Then the guru added, ‘But the boy
will remember his antecedents on the day of his coronation.’
Chandrasen decided to go ahead with the rite. It was the custom
to feed the fish in the Narmada after the ceremony. The king
was doing just this, when his officials caught sight of a
bleeding figure drifting downstream. As karma would have
it, it was Uday.
turned out just as the guru had predicted.
Uday regained consciousness after twenty-one days, he had
forgotten everything except his name. He was taught that he
was Prince Udayraj, son of King Chandrasen, and that his mother,
Queen Kamaladevi, was dead. Gradually, under the tutelage
of qualified instructors, the boy learnt all the skills a
prince would need to run an efficient administration. And
when Uday grew up, the king arranged for his marriage with
the princess of Vijayanagar.
had discharged his responsibilities. Only one last thing remained,
Uday’s coronation, and the king, after consulting his ministers,
fixed an auspicious day for it too. Now at last, he could
give it all up and become a free sannyasin.