A Monk of our Order returned a few days back from a pilgrimage to the northern parts of India. He narrated to us an interesting incident that took place in the train he was travelling in. An old man, he said, occupied the berth opposite to his. At night the man's wallet slipped down from his pocket during his sleep. A co-passenger found it and next morning enquired whom the purse belonged to. The old man said it was his and cited Sri Krishna's (Lord Krishna) picture inside the purse as a proof that the purse really belonged to him.
After the purse was restored to him he began on his own to relate the history of the purse. Soon he had a cluster of eager passengers around him as he began to narrate what eventually turned out to be a candid confession of an honest man. Lifting up the purse in his hands for all to see, he said: 'This purse has a long history behind it. It was given to me by my father years ago when I was a mere school boy. I kept my little pocket-money in it and also a photograph of my parents. Years passed by. I grew up and began pursuing my university studies. Like every youth, I became conscious of my own individuality — my own appearance, "my own personality. (The world changes)
The photograph of my parents was replaced by my own photograph (The world changes). I would look at it often. I had become my own admirer. Then came marriage. Self-admiration gave way to the consciousness of a family. Out went my own photo and I replaced it by my wife's. During my duty hours at the office I would open the purse many times and gaze at the photo; all weariness would vanish and I would resume my work with enthusiasm. Then came the birth of my first child. What a joy I experienced when I became a father! I would eagerly rush home after work to play with my little child. Needless .to say, my wife's photo had already made way for my child's.' (The world changes)
The old man paused. All the listeners leaned closer. Wiping his eyes which had slowly accumulated tears in them, he looked around and said in a throbbing voice, 'Friends, my parents passed away long ago. My wife too died five years back. My son — my only son — is now married. He is too busy with his career and his family. He has no time for me. I now stand on the threshold of the next world. I do not know what awaits me in future. Everyone has gone away. Everything I loved, everything I considered my own, has left me. A picture of Krishna (Lord Krishna) now occupies the place in my purse. I know He will never leave me. I wish now I had kept His picture with me right from the beginning! He alone is true; all others are, at best, just passing shadows.' (The world changes)
A slow learner he was, this old man. And we too — most of us. It takes us a lifetime to realize even faintly some of the basic facts of life. The evanescent nature of life is too obvious to elude our attention, really speaking. Curiously enough, there is nothing we tend to forget more than this. We read about it, we hear people speak about it, often we too philosophize about it — alas, we rarely feel it. Some inner mechanism of the mind swings into action and tries to cover up the feeling when on some rare occasions we too feel the transitoriness of this world. (The world changes)
About the author
This article is an excerpt from Swami Tyagananda's “The Passing Shadows" which reveals a person's realization of the fact of the transitory world.