152. The Bandage on the Nose

There was once a sadhaka who approached a guru for guidance. The guru gave him an idol of Vishnu and also necessary instructions for daily worship. But the sadhaka found that, even after some months of meticulous puja, he did not get any spiritual reward or elation. So, he reported his dissatisfaction and the guru gave him another idol, this time of S'iva and asked him to have another try. The disciple came after another six months demanding another idol, because even S'iva had failed him. This time, he got a Dûrgâ idol, which he duly installed in his domestic shrine. The two previous idols, were standing, dust ridden and neglected, on the window sill. One day, while Dûrgâ-puja was going on, the disciple found that the perfumed smoke from the incense stick was being wafted by the breeze towards the idol of S'iva on the window sill. He got wild, that the ungrateful stonehearted God who was deaf to his powerful entreaties should get the perfume intended for his latest idol! So he took a piece of cloth and tied it round the face of S'iva, closing up the nostrils that were inhaling the perfume.

Just at that moment, to his immense surprise, S'iva appeared in His splendor and glory before the sadhaka! The man was dumb-founded. He did not know how the ill-treatment had induced S'iva to give him darsan. But what had really happened? The sadhaka for the first time believed that the S'iva idol was alive, conscious, chaitanya-full (intelligence, spirit) and it was that belief which forced him to tie the bandage on the nose. The moment he realised that the idol was full of chith (consciousness), he got the realisation he was struggling for.