Strange Memorial Stones
Bramin was passing through hard times. He found it difficult
to survive and maintain his family in his own village. So he
decided to look for a prosperous place to resettle. During his
search he arrived at the outskirts of a very pious-looking village.
On entering it, he noticed a strange scene. Many memorial stones
had been erected in memory of the dead. This was normal. The
bizarreness was that the life span of each deceased person was
beautifully written in gold foil: 'He lived for two years',
'He died at the age of three,' 'She survived for two and a half
''My God!'' the Brahmin worried, ''People in this village don't
live long. What use is it to settle in a place where one is
destined to die quickly.'' He was about to leave in haste when
the village-folk saw him.
They welcomed him to their homes, served him delicacies to eat
and made him comfortable. Their genuine hospitality won his
confidence. But the question of death at a young age was gnawing
at him non-stop. When evening came, the whole village turned
out for the spiritual discourse. They had come with books and
diaries to make notes.
They listened to every word spoken with unbroken attention.
The Brahmin was convinced of their piety and was eager to settle
there. It seemed like a holy paradise - except for those life
spans on the memorial stones. They robbed him of all joy and
depressed him. He stayed in the village for a few days but never
quite got over his gloom. One day one of the villagers questioned
his sadness. He confided his worries, ''I am touched by your
love and hospitality. You are good pious people. I also wish
to settle here. But what good would it do to us if we are to
die within a few years?'' ''What makes you think this way?''
''Not just think, I've read those memorial stones on the village
outskirts. Not one person seems to have lived more than five
The villager laughed and said, ''You are learned but not wise.
Just look at my father. He's sixty years old. If everyone here
died by the age of two or three then why would he still be healthy
at sixty?'' He pointed at his father and then at other old people
in the village. ''Then, what must one understand by the life-spans
on the memorial stones?'' the Brahmin questioned.
''It is a custom in this village,'' the villager explained,
''that whenever we sit in a spiritual discourse each one of
us notes down his or her time spent in the discourse in a personal
diary. Perhaps you have noticed this in the past few days you've
been with us.'' The Brahmin nodded and the man continued, ''Well,
we believe that our real life-span is only that which we spend
in spiritual discourses. If a man spends one hour a day in the
discourses, then it is thirty hours or one and one quarter days
per month. By the end of one year he has said to have lived
for fifteen days. And even if he survives for sixty years, his
life comes round to about two and one half years. This is how
the life span is calculated.''
We must also think in this manner. Only that part of our life
which we have spent in worshipping God has been really lived.
The years spent in worldly activities have gone to waste. All
of us should pass more and more time in spiritual discourses
and the Lord's work. Gunatitanand Swami often asked the devotees
to donate a part of their life-span for spiritual activities.
In twelve months, one full month should be spent in the company
of the True Sadhu, listening to his wisdom and serving him through
mind, word and deed. This is what will add up to make our real