On the hot, dusty but fertile plains of the south Deccan Plateau in India a son was born to an orthodox Hindu family. They called him Madhu, and proceeded to shower on the young child the love and devotion Hindus give in abundance to their children. They were double blessed as this was a boy! Village life was very pleasant, though people with a western upbringing would never comprehend it that way.
Madhu enjoyed his elementary school years, the constant round of village activities, festivals, and the religious nature of his environment with all its satisfying Hindu rituals. He enjoyed most of all the time of day when buffalo keepers would bring their animals down to the village pond. He’d join village boys as they rode on the backs of these large animals floating about in the water. He could not imagine a better life, and plans for the future centered round this village where his ancestors had lived.
Madhu’s parents had other plans for him. While they were strict Hindus they recognized for their son to achieve great things he‘d have to leave their village for an education. Casting about for the highest quality education they could give him they were referred to a Christian school in the city of Bangalore nearby.
As the young lad diligently applied himself to opportunities given him in his middle level education a whole new world opened to him. His mind expanded to drink in knowledge offered him from every source. Ambitions and possibilities he’d never dreamed of before danced before his eyes, and he determined to aim high in life.
While all these exciting possibilities were opening to him, Madhu came face to face with the Christian religion. He stood amazed at the concept of a God who gave more than He received, and daily compared what he learned to stories of gods he’d served up to this time. He decided to embrace the principles of this new religion.
Madhu’s parents were appalled when they realized their son had come under the influence of the Christian God. Christians may have had an excellent educational system, and Christian nations were obviously prosperous but they were a low form of existence in the mind of Hindus. Madhu’s parents reasoned this would inhibit their son’s progress toward union with the eternal spirit, and he’d be reincarnated in the next life as a low life form.
How could they stand by and see this happen to their son? Who would perform the funeral rites as they should be followed? How could they face their caste members and relatives and confess their son had deserted the ancient ways. The loving parents forbade him to have anything to do with the Christian God, and Madhu, with an aching heart chose to disobey them. Forsaking ancient ways was an almost unheard of thing in village India and the parents angrily and sorrowfully withdrew their support!
But there were those among the Indian teaching staff who’d watched Madhu grow and could see he’d great potential. From their meagre savings they pooled resources and helped him through his final years of preparatory education until he could find work and continue to pursue dreams himself.
Madhu the village boy eventually became a highly educated professor and an administrator. Some time later he had the joy of reconciling with his parents. When they saw his prosperity and noted the importance of his position in society they decided their gods were not displeased with the decision made after all. His benefactors during years when he had no parental support rejoiced that their sacrifice had not been in vain.
One day Madhu and I were driving past a village in a remote area of India similar to the one he was raised in. Our conversation lapsed as he gazed out the window and watched children splash in the village pond with their buffalo friends. Women washed their clothes in the pond and men sat on their charpois at the entrance to their mud huts waiting for crops to ripen and the possibility of work from the large landholders.
Madhu suddenly broke from his introspection and turned to face me.
“How fortunate I was to have parents who wanted a better life for me even though they didn’t comprehend at that time where their choice would lead. Would you believe my only ambition as a child was to live the life of a villager? There’s nothing wrong with that but I’d no understanding of the potential that lies within the human soul if opportunities are given and grasped,”
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2014 All rights reserved”
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