Saturday, January 16, 2016


Domby was there and not there - something of the Cheshire cat about him. 

Domby was getting onto 26 years of age. Dark, with short  woolly hair, bright dark eyes, an enigmatic smile, blue shirt and jeans - came from Madagascar. Father, an Indian businessman - oh, must have settled there generations ago. Domby had the itch to come to India - his father always spoke about some place in south India from where their first ancestors came.

Domby studied a lot about India; his parents were Muslims; though the ancestors were Hindus. One day, a couple of years back he had a dream: Domby saw himself as a devout Hindu Prince - stolen in infancy by his nurse and sold to pirates - he saw huts, caves, elephants, boats, palm trees and temples. He confirmed later that quite a few Indian princes were changelings, and Domby believed he was one such. As a child he found himself more at home with Hindu children and their temples. As a devout Muslim he knew his prayers, but he was equally at home with mantras. His father wanted him to study commerce and administration, but Domby chose anthropology and psychology.

All this was not important for Domby; what consumed him was the desire to visit India - that is where he belonged, he said, belonged by history, his personal history. His eclectic attitude to religion was not liked by his parents, and they also did not see any sense in Domby wanting to go to a poverty ridden India - all taxes and no profits. For Domby India meant differently - it was not politics or profits - his parents had leanings towards Pakistan - or even religion. It was a call he had to obey. His parents, at last, gave in, and let him go: A few days stay in India would cure him of the itch.

But Domby stayed on. Right from the minute he set foot in Bombay, he felt he belonged here. His parents gave him enough money, more than enough. They opened an account for him with a bank in Bombay; they gave him letters of introduction to business friends in Bombay. He did not call on either. With the little money in his hand a guide book and help of casual acquaintances, he traveled widely visiting sacred and historic places, from Badrinath in the north to Rameshwaram in the south. 

Already two years in India and he had no intention of ever going back. The little money he had - little in Madagascar - went a long way in India, and he had no occasion to write to the people in Bombay or his parents, excepting to briefly tell them about his welfare to stop them from worrying.

In all these travels he found people helpful and friendly. He met sadhus and swamis - some helpful and some not so helpful. He learnt enough Sanskrit to enable him to read a few verses in the original texts. He did not really set out for religious interest - but his travels inducted him into this direction. Maybe religion was the real soil of a country, and he belonged to this soil, and was naturally drawn to it.

“I found something unique,” he said, “so much tolerance even to intolerance! Nowhere else have I met it to this degree. Tolerance to the cows and dogs in the markets, tolerance to the chaps who cruelly beat them up, tolerance to diseases and ugliness - not the mad rush to destroy everything and anything that doesn't please the eye, or one does not like in the name of civilisation. Gradually, ‘Soham’, ‘He is I’ became my Mantram, even before I had it from a guru - it is the mantram of this soil, this India.”

“A mantra is said to be a secret, isn't it?” asked Joan. “You seem to like it. I too was given a mantram, but it does not seem to work for me, it is too common a word, maybe. Anyway, I, too, have heard this world, Soham? How does it help you? How many times do you utter it in a day? Gosh, I was told that you could hardly reach a million times a year even if you repeated it for 2 hours a day! I have tried! And given up!”

“Mantra’s strength lies in your belief, I suppose, said Ram, “Or maybe there is something in this vibration business. If you repeat the sound constantly the vibration sinks deeper and deeper and sort of magnetises your system, develop 
a field of force. 

“You must have seen the physicism people - they have good gadgetry, we must admit - they demonstrated something. They had a drum surface covered with fine sand and fed a mantram, OM, or something, and found that the sand arranged itself into a pattern resembling OM. Something similar must be happening to the body at more subtle levels. But who has patience?”

Domby heard patiently, all the while making signs in the air.

“I do not utter thousands of times,” he said. “I was told by my guru, the story of a man who wanted a mantram and went to a sadhu. The sadhu promised, and kept the man waiting for over two years doing various services. At the end of it he whispered a word in his ears, and said that it was a great mystic and secret world. The word was Ram. The man got terribly angry for he found that many people were shouting Ram, Ram everywhere - at temples, bathing ghats and even marketplaces. Two years, and all he got was a most commonplace word! He swore at his guru - you and your secret, mystic word! The Guru asked the man to be patient for a few days and do a small job for him: He took a lump of glass from his sack and asked the man to go to town and try to live by it. The fellow seeing that it was a useless piece of glass, took it to a vegetable woman, who abused him for offering such a worthless thing for sale, but since he looked poor and hungry, she give him some fruit freely and returned the thing. At a bangle merchant’s shop he was offered one bangle of glass, and that, too, because the bangle man’s son wanted to play with the glass lump. At a silversmith’s shop , he was offered 10 rupees; at a goldsmith’s shop he was begged to sell it for 500 rupees. When he went to a diamond merchant’s shop, the shop owner and his staff, got up from their seats, offered him courtesies worthy of a prince, and said how honoured were by the visit of such a high person, although in disguise, and that they were honoured by having been allowed to look at the rarest of diamonds of such a size, but that the contents of their whole shop would not be able to pay for the gem, and they gave it back to him, after entertaining him to food and drink, hoping for a good customer. He returned to the Guru, gave back the lump of glass and narrated the events that occurred. The man now understood that a thing may look common, but its use depends on the owner’s necessity to use it and his knowledge of its value.

“So, son,” said the Guru, “Go to the market of the world with Ram and use him; you must feel the need to use it, like your trying to sell the glass for food, desperately need to use it. You know about Ram, his patience, strength and so on. You may desperately need patience or strength and Ram will give it to you. Moreover, like that glass piece, your needs will be met without your having to part with it. It, itself, will determine your needs, and, meet them and yet remain with you - unless you are greedy, unless you begin deciding on your wants and so called needs, wants and needs for which there is no desperate need! You see, how many years it has stayed with me in my sack!”

“So, you see - vibrations theory is good, but for me Soham is a currency that has not let me down; and I am in the  market with it.  Soham, He is I: this determines my needs and meet them! One has to try it - not for greed or power of any kind; it gives the power necessary for your tasks, and it determines the tasks! Soham - He is I. Tvamevaham - You are I; wonderful, magical!” said Domby.

“Have you seen the soul,” asked Sankar. 

“If Soham needs it, it might show me,” answered Domby.

“Look, don’t you meditate? I sometimes see you staring at symbols, sometimes making circles and triangles; excuse me for being inquisitive; but don’t you use any other method at all?” asked Ram.

“Look, friends,” said Domby. “ I felt at loggerheads with the world. I knew my answer lay in India, and I came and I found; and I find it more and more helpful - I and everything else in the world are one and the same - this seemed to be the key.

“All symbols are Soham; all meditation is on this Soham! Soham helps me to remind me of my ignorance and to remove it; the ignorance of thinking that the world and I are different and at loggerheads. It helps me - if it helps others I cannot say.

“As for my sticking to this one mantra, my Guru told me a parable: two men needed to dig a well in their fields. The first one chose a spot, and began digging; two feet, four, eight, and patiently sixteen, he got water. The second man chose a spot, and dug four feet - no water. He chose another spot - dug six feet - no water. More and more feverishly he explored and must have dug a total of sixty or seventy feet, got no water, only pot-holes all over his field. If he dug at one point he might have got water by half the labour! So, it is with this; maybe Soham may show me when to change and to what. Maybe when I strike water! When I really feel oneness. So a mantram is a code word for a whole set of our life and actions, a sort of pole star, or compass, or a cue word for our total behaviour in all situations. But it has to be kept in use, polished and perfected. Maybe, but that is all physiology or philosophy, an afterthought for me.”

“If everything is Soham, then how can you see the differences, won’t life be monotonous?” asked Joan.

“My Soham will see to that. It paints the necessary differences on the canvas of oneness - so said my Guru,” said Domby.

“How did you choose this place?” Joan asked.

“Oh, Soham did it, I think. One more place in search of brotherhood and I came,” said Domby.

“How do you find it?” Sankar asked.

“Find what?” asked Domby.

“I mean about this place, this compass, the people here, and all that,” said Sankar.

“That’s wonderful,” said Joan, “I wish I found it that easy, this brotherhood business, I mean. Oh, well,” she yawned. “By the way, what are your subjects?”

“Divinism,” said Domby.

1 comment:

Manni said...

Enjoyable piece, great story telling, and choice of words to perfection.