in the span of life we mostly learn from our good and bad experiences in life. every time when something happens to us which either was not expected or we were not ready for that gives us a chance to test ourselves. this will let us know where do we stand in life and how do we judge different aspect of life. maximum people learn from their experiences but there are few ones who learn from others experiences too. in this post I am gonna present a story from the life a very famous Indian, M.K. Gandhi who is well-known all over the world for his non-violent resistance and had a great role in Indian independence movement. this story will tell us that there is not so much difference in great people and normal people. great one are those who learns from their experiences and never commit same mistake again. they are very careful about their doings. sometime great people do so much wrong in their life that the process of healing that wrong doing makes them great.
the story goes in the voice of M.K. Gandhi itself….
My father’s death and my double shame:
the time of which i am speaking now is my sixteenth year. my father was bad-ridden, suffering from fistula. my mother and old servant of the house, and I were his principal attendants. i had the duties of a nurse, which mainly consisted in dressing the wound, giving my father his medicine and compounding drugs whenever they had to be made up at home. every night i massaged his legs and retired only when he asked me to do so or after he had fallen asleep.
i love to do the service. i do not remember ever having neglected it. all the time at my disposal, after the performance of daily duties, was divided between school and attending on my father. i would only go out for an evening walk either when he permitted me or when he was feeling well.
this was also the time when my life was expecting a baby–a circumtance which, as I can see today, meant a double same for me. for one thing i did not restrain myself, as i should have ever done, whilst i was yet a student. and secondly, this carnal lust got the better of what i regard as my duty to study, and of what was even a greater duty, my devotion to my parents, sharvana having been my ideal since childhood. every night whilst my hands were busy massaging my father’s legs, my mind my hovering about the bed-room– and that too at a time when religion, medical science and common sense alike forbade sexual intercourse. i was always glad to be relieved from my duty, and went straight to the bed-room after doing obeisance to my father.
at the same time my father was getting worse every day. ayurvedic physician had tried all their ointments, hakims their plasters, ansd localquacks their nostrums. an english sergeon had also used his skill. as the last and only resort he had recommended a surgical operation. but the family sergeon came in the way. he disapproved an operation being performed at such an advance age. The physician was competent and well known, and his advice prevailed. The operation was abandoned, and various medicines purchased for the purpose were of no account. I have an impression that if the physician had allowed the operation, the wound would have been easily healed. The operation also was to have been performed by a surgeon who was then well known in Bombay. But God had willed otherwise. When death is imminent, who can think of the right remedy? My father returned from Bombay with all the paraphernalia of the operation, which were now useless. He despaired of living any longer. He was getting weaker and weaker, until at last he had to be asked to perform the neccessary functions in bed. But up to the last he refused to do anything of the kind, always insisting on going through the strain of leaving his bed. The Vaishnavite rules about external cleaniness are so inexorable.
Such cleanliness is quite essential no doubt, but Western medical science has taught us that all the functions, including a bath, can be done in bed with the strictest regard to cleanliness, and without the slightest discomfort to the patient, the bed always remaining spotlessly clean. I should regard such cleanliness as quite consistent with Vaishnavism. But my father’s insistence on leaving the bed only struck me with wonder then, and I had nothing but admiration for it.
The dreadful night came. My uncle was then in Rajkot. I have a faint recollection that he came to Rajkot having had news that my father was getting worse. The brothers were deeply attached to each other. My uncle would sit near my father’s bed the whole day, and would insist on sleeping by his bed-side, after sending us all to sleep. No one had dreamt that this was to be the fateful night. The danger of course was there.
It was 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. I was giving the massage. My uncle offered to relieve me. I was glad and went straight to the bed-room. My wife, poor thing, was fast asleep. But how could she sleep when I was there? I woke her up. In five or six minutes, however, the servant knocked at the door. I started with alarm. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘Father is very ill.’ I knew of course that he was very ill, and so I guessed what ‘very ill’ meant at that moment. I sprang out of bed.
‘What is the matter? Do tell me!’
‘Father is no more.’
So all was over! I had but to [=could only] wring my hands. I felt deeply ashamed and miserable. I ran to my father’s room. I saw that if animal passion had not blinded me, I should have been spared the torture of separation from my father during his last moments. I should have been massaging him, and he would have died in my arms. But now it was my uncle who had this privilege. He was so deeply devoted to his elder brother that he had earned the honour of doing him the last services! My father had forebodings of the coming event. He had made a sign for pen and paper, and written: ‘Prepare for the last rites.’ He had then snapped the amulet off his arm, and also his gold necklace of tulasi-beads, and flung them aside. A moment after this he was no more.
The shame, to which I have referred in a foregoing chapter, was this shame of my carnal desire even at the critical hour of my father’s death, which demanded wakeful service. It is a blot I have never been able to efface or forget, and I have always thought that although my devotion to my parents knew no bounds and I would have given up anything for it, yet it was weighed and found unpardonably wanting because my mind was at the same moment in the grip of lust. I have therefore always regarded myself as a lustful, though a faithful, husband. It took me long to get free from the shackles of lust, and I had to pass through many ordeals before I could overcome it.
Before I close this chapter of my double shame, I may mention that the poor mite that was born to my wife scarcely breathed for more than three or four days. Nothing else could be expected. Let all those who are married be warned by my example.
P.S. this is a small part from M.K. Gandhi’s autobiography. we can get whole picture after reading it thoroughly so please avoid any misinterpretation.