He Holds the Key

By Jyothi Bathina

On a hot summer afternoon in a small village in Odisha, India, a little brahmin boy named Triloki Dash sits under the spreading branches of an ancient banyan tree. He sits poring over his school books in the quiet shade and behind him stands the village temple to Lord Shiva, the supreme yogi, closed now in the midday heat. The priest has performed his morning worship and the temple is padlocked until evening.

But little Triloki holds the key, and whenever a devotee comes late and panting, tired and dusty in the afternoon, hoping to catch a glimpse of her Divine Beloved, carrying milk and curd and ghee to perform abhishek, he does not have the heart to turn her away. He sees her disappointment, watches silently her desperate efforts to rouse even one brahmin priest in the village to help perform the puja and finally when she returns and sits dejected on the temple steps, muttering disconsolately to herself, he asks her what is the matter. The woman turns to him with new hope, asking if he is a brahmin boy and if he can help her with the puja. With a mischievous gleam in those bright black eyes, Triloki nods yes, and from his hand emerges the heavy key to the temple doors. In a flash, he changes into an orange dhoti which he keeps beside him just for such emergencies, and runs up the stone steps. His nimble fingers unlock the doors and he pushes them wide open. Small and fragile though he seems, he valiantly struggles to fetch the heavy buckets of water to give Lord Shiva his ritual bath and with great devotion and ardor, he himself performs the abhishek, decorates the lingam with flowers, givesarati and offers it to the ecstatic devotee. She blesses him with tears in her eyes, giving loud thanks to the mother who has borne such a son.

That Triloki Dash is now Paramahamsa Prajnanananda, no longer a schoolboy, he is well-versed in all the scriptures, no longer sitting under the village tree, he travels three continents, teaching the gospel of love and truth and divinity. Many things have changed, but one thing has not. He is still waiting and watching, ready to unlock the doors to untold spiritual riches, to union with the Divine. No matter how late the traveler, no matter how weary, if our desire is strong and our motive pure, he will never turn us away. Willing to share the secret of love, willing to unlock the mysteries of yoga, willing to carry the immense burden of all our sins and sorrows upon his own frail back, washing them away with the purity of his love and compassion, decorating our path with the wisdom and beauty of his presence, he offers us the arati of salvation with a generous heart.

The school boy is now a teacher, a teacher who gives everything he has, putting everything aside to serve us, his students, to enable us to walk steadily on the path to God. On this auspicious day of his birth, let us echo that devotee of long ago, in giving thanks to God and to his human mother Vaidehi Dash, who bore such a beautiful son.