November 27, 1998
Friday Meeting

Sukha or happiness is a duality, the opposite of dukha or sadness. Dualities originate from the mind, and thus happiness is relative as well. Aananda or bliss on the other hand has no opposite. Bliss is a quality of the soul. Lord Swaminarayan's saints thus had "anand" in their names (such as Gunatitanand, Gopalanand, Muktanand, etc.).

Tukaram (b. 1608, Maharashtra) was a poor and humble devotee of God. Once, the townspeople decided to make fun of him by shaving his head off, rubbing his head in lime, putting a garland of vegetables on him, and parading him around the town seated backwards on a donkey. Seeing this, Tukaram's wife was enraged that her husband was put through such humiliation. Tukaram however explained to her, "My head has become totally disinfected, we have one week worth of free groceries, we have been given a donkey for transportation, and I have become more popular than even the day of our wedding procession!"

One day, Tukaram went to collect sugarcane from the fields. While returning, a group of small children were playing in the street and upon seeing him and his sugarcane they asked him to share. He kindly gave them everything except for one last stick. When he finally reached home, late for lunch, his wife asked him where he had been. He responded that he had gone to the field and while coming back, had shared his sugarcane with the children. Tukaram's wife was very upset that he had neglected his own family in his generosity. She grabbed the remaining sugarcane and struck him with it, splitting it into two halves. Tukaram suddenly began laughing. He explained to his wife that all this time, he had been worried that there was only one sugarcane left and both of them to feed. But her action brought about a solution to the problem!

In this way, Tukaram saw everything that happened positively and as a gift from God, and thus always remained blissful. His poetry continues to inspire devotees to this day.



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