CHAPTER – 22
I have spent all my days in introspection. I have also been eager to put into practice the decisions arrived at then.But the delusions that beset every man enveloped me also occasionally.
At times I have been led into some hasty action, which has brought on remorse as a consequence. Whenever I acted under the influence of such delusions the results were naturally adverse. I have been guilty of such acts, twice in my life. On both occasions, I was in the grip of sudden emotion in a fit of anger. The memory of these acts remains indelible. I taught for a year at an elementary school. I was then twenty-two. In the class, there was a small boy, aged about eight. He was a dunce. Because he did not pick up his lessons properly.One day I beat him with a cane.
The sight of the child, trembling, smarting under pain and crying piteously, tugged at my heart. “Sir! Sir! It hurts terribly. I can’t, I can’t bear the pain!” he begged and cried. Suddenly I came to my senses.
I clasped the child in my arms. The other children looked on, open-eyed. I flung away the cane. Tears welled up in my eyes.
“No! I won’t beat you hereafter”, I said, “You should be more careful in your studies from today. Watch me well while I teach you”. Once again I began teaching him the lesson. With my arm around him and hugging him tightly, I pointed to each letter in the book. I could not control my tears. I found that I had lost my voice. I could not stay on my feet. After seeking leave from the Headmaster, I left the school earlier than usual.
That whole day the scene kept haunting me. I could not sleep that night, I could not also control my tears. I could not hurt any child from that day. I have cherished children ever since, showering my affection on them. Wherever I find them. I was guilty of this act because I forgot myself in a fit of anger. Again: I was to blame a second time. I was thirty-seven. My wife Lakshmi came into assisting me while I was bathing. It was the heart of winter. I was shivering with Cold. I always preferred cold water to bathe in. It was my habit to first “acclimatize” myself to the cold by pouring water little by little on my body to start with. Only after that, I would pour water over my head with a dipper. I was halfway through this process when Lakshmi entered. She filled a bucket with water. “Why are you timid like this?”, she asked, “If you empty a whole bucket, all of
a sudden, over your head, cold gets dispelled at one stroke!” She suited the action to the word and emptied the entire bucket over me.
It was too cold. I almost froze. My reaction was instantaneous. I seized the bucket and filled it with water. “It is for you to see for yourself now what this cold is like,” I said and poured it all over her head. She did not utter a word. She stood petrified. She just wiped the water dripping from her head. Only, her tears burst forth. She sobbed as she mopped up her tears with the front of her dress.
The fit of anger passed as quickly as it took hold. I was myself again. I realized how heartless I had been. It was not so much because I gave her that ducking. My case was different. She was entitled to take that much liberty with me. As a wife, she did have that privilege. She had exercised that.It was all in fun. But what about me?
It was Anger that took complete possession. I became conscious of my error. I spoke to her and comforted her. But I myself was beyond all comfort. Nothing could soothe me.
I made it a point not to give way to anger anymore. I tried several courses of self-education. It was as a result of the clear judgment I arrived at then that I formulated a six-point plan of reformation for the benefit of all humanity.
To err, of course, is human. All are not gifted with the power of reflection, the capacity to think profoundly on matters like this. So they persist in error. There are others who deeply consider pros and cons and cause and effect. If they err once, they will not err again. They also discover ways of saving others from a similar predicament. Now read the verses, that this endeavor of mine gave rise to:- Day after day I trained my mind through my senses sharp and keen. In consequence, my passions won. My intellect wore thin and lean.
I changed my mode. I trained my mind with Reason as my tool, And side by side set senses working. They became quite calm and cool. Higher, higher, did soar my mind and stand secure in Space.
It proves awake and amenable. It is a blessing in my case.
There is a joy in conquering sense by means of Reason bright and clear. All those who do for Peace aspire, come there with me come! Draw near!