#4680 - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz
- #4680 - Wednesday, August 15, 2012 - Editor: Jerry KatzThe Nonduality Highlights http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights/Featured is the beginning of a story by Paresh Chandra Mangaraj.Mangaraj writes about himself, "I accept life wholly both in its dual and nondual aspects. Whatever rough edges I still have, I hope, will not survive the polishing at the hands of life, so that I may render a better account of myself at the time of being handed back to my maker. Just have to remember always that everything is as it should be. This book of life needs no editing from me, it is there to be read correctly. I express my gratitude for having been born to this unique arrangement called life. May the show go on and may the glory of it be sung on."Shankar: The Best Of Rural Indiaby Paresh Chandra Mangaraj
Of all the people in my village Shankar seemed to stand out as someone different from the rest. He was the only one among the lower caste people of my village who had never worked in my fathers farm or anybody elses farm as laborer. His elder brother as well as the younger brother worked in our farm but he never did. Instead he worked for the Public Works dept of the government as a laborer in their road projects. This fact alone proved his uniqueness. Subsequently by dint of his intelligence, personality and sincerity at work he became the head coolie -cum-watchman-cum-caretaker of the fair weather wooden bridge constructed on the river Sona that flew beside our village.
This bridge connected two towns situated almost fifty kilometers apart on either side of the river and also the innumerable villages with thick populations situated on either side of the road for six months in a year from December to June. At the beginning of the winter season each year towards the end of November when the rainy season had already gone and with it the swollen river had begun to shrink down to its sober and humble size and self the construction of the wooden bridge started. That was why the bridge was called a fair weather bridge. Shankar oversaw the construction of the bridge, arranged laborers to work for its construction and looked after the comforts of the townsfolk who came to our village only during this time of the year as engineers or overseers to supervise the construction. After the bridge had been constructed everyone engaged in its construction dispersed except Shankar who remained as its caretaker day and night for the whole period of its existence. On 15th of June each year, at the start of the rainy season, the wooden bridge got dismantled and woods used in the bridge were stacked in a neat pile on the river bank on which Shankar constructed a makeshift tent house in which he stayed in the nights to guard over these woods for six months till these were again used for the construction next season. Otherwise he mostly stayed in a very small hut he had constructed on the river bank on government land just a few feet away from the makeshift tent.
He was very rarely employed for any other duty. So virtually he led a very laidback, leisurely life unlike his brothers who had to work arduously on others farms. Most often I found him sitting in a nearby chai-shop sipping chai and chatting with others. He was of my fathers age and for a long time it seemed to me that he had a stern countenance which was sufficient to dissuade me from making any conversation with him. I was comfortably mixing with his brothers as I used to do with all other laborers who worked on my fathers farm. But Shankar seemed to me a different kind of person altogether. He intrigued me. He was an enigma for me. He never feared anyone in the village. Though he didnt own even a decimal of land except the small cottage in which his family lived yet he was completely without fear of even the biggest landowners. Though he belonged to a low caste yet he was never a great respecter of higher caste Brahmins. But he also didnt pick unnecessary quarrels with anyone. He just kept to himself. He had a royal, leonine manner which made him a mystery before my eyes.
I can vividly recall an incident from my childhood which made him a hero in my eyes.~ ~ ~Read the rest of this wonderful portrait of Shankar here: