Wednesday, July 15, 2009


By Brigadier Chitranjan Sawant,VSM
Pashyema Sharadah Shatam – the Vedic prayer for Perception for one hundred years flashed across my mind when an eye surgeon suspected Glaucoma developing in my right eye. O God! Save me from darkness and lead me unto light, I silently prayed. Haven’t I been praying for an unclouded perception and a clear vision all my life? Indeed I have lived a life for scores and 15 years and lived well. Also, I have been entertaining hope of an additional score and five years to help me achieve the goal of becoming a centenarian. And now a verdict of suspected blindness was looming large. My dreams came crashing down; a sinking feeling set in, more than that of men, women and children on the Titanic. I found shelter in the lap of history.

Milton came to my mind. I recalled every line of his poem ``On His Blindness.’’ Like Milton I thought I thought perhaps there was no way out but to resign to the will of God. I shuddered. Will inertia grip me now? Wouldn’t I hear birds sing unknown sweet songs on my morning walks because I won’t be able to go on a morning walk. I shall not be able to emulate Hazlitt in singing and dancing while walking in the midst of suburban flora. ``Depression’’ a word banished from my life style long ago now made a surreptitious backdoor entry. Not for long, though.

John Milton came to my rescue rather quickly. On going blind in both eyes, he found the bright world turning into a dark abyss. Thereafter, he could not perceive a role for himself in the divine scheme. Nevertheless, he did not let the monster named ``depression’’ have the better of him and sought solace in his new philosophy of life that gave birth to comforting words ``they also serve who stand and wait.’’

Cheer up old boy! so said my soul, overriding the body. In the Vedic Sandhya pronounced twice a day we pray for Perception. I comforted myself by my own thought that if I am shut out of the outer perception the inner one is still mine. The ``Inward Eye’’ has the capacity to perceive much more than the outer eye. I just prayed for Perception. Someone whispered into my ears that prayers are answered.

Not long ago, I had visited the Lake District in the United Kingdom to be close to my favourite poet William Wordsworth. Now it was his turn to encourage me with his perception of the Inward Eye. Wordsworth too had bouts of ``vacant or pensive moods,’’ and then it was his inward eye that brought the cheering and dancing daffodils to him. Indeed, the Dancing Daffodils lifted his spirits. Wordsworth danced with the dancing daffodils when he saw ``ten thousand daffodils at a glance.’’ Indeed, his inward perception was powerful to bring about a change for the better. It is the inward perception that exhorts all of us to believe in the thought ``tomorrow will be another day.’’ Of course, one may add tomorrow maybe a brighter day.

Bharat is a country rich with folklore of Rishis and men of letters who were visually challenged. Some were born blind and some became blind early in life for one reason or the other. Nevertheless the inward perception of a spiritual life remained with them as bright and clear as it could ever be. Rishi Virjanand guru of Swami Dayanand Saraswati (founder of the Arya Samaj) was foremost among blind men with rich spiritual perception. He was a seer capable of interpreting Ved Mantras for the common man. Born in Punjab, he found Mathura as his karmbhoomi where he rose to find an honourable place in the galaxy of grammarians who interpreted Ashtadhyayee of Panini. The maturing of his inner perception to the dizzy heights was through Tapasya. Magnificent indeed!

Surdas, doyen among Hindi poets of the Bhakti cult was blind by birth. He developed his inner perception through Sandhya, Sanyam and Sadhna. His was a selfless devotion to the Almighty whom he received in the form of Bal Krishna. It is said that Surdas realised and felt the presence of the Parmatma around him through Upasna – sitting close to God through meditation. Surdas prayed for perception of the highest order and indeed the Lord answered his prayers. His poems on Bal Krishna are sung by men and women as an invocation and also for showing the path to attain Moksha through Bhakti. Inward perception works wonders when the outward perception is conspicuous by its absence.

God is kind. After I have had a bird’s eye view of what life would be minus the light in the eye, I suddenly found that my prayers were answered too. It is through meditation and pranayam that the bug bear of blindness is receding. Of course the Prayer for Perception – both inward and outward goes on in the right earnest. PASHYEMA SHARADAH SHATAM.
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