Free Press Journal

The Art of Sacrificing

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The son was on the ventilator. The mentally distraught father, who had once been a brawny boxer, was pacing the floor of an estimable hospital in an agitated state of mind. The single parent had lost his wife to a grave illness a few years back. And now his son lay comatose. Young interns kept working to fortify the stripling from the vice-like tentacles of the angels of death.

Seeing his only son slipping away to another world, yet sporting a beatific smile, the ringster demanded the presence of the celebrated cardiologist immediately. Distress calls were being made from every available smartphone in the hospital. Suddenly there was an abrupt hush as the eminent surgeon tiptoed his way to the operation theatre. The father let go of all control and squawked at the doctor, “Where the hell were you all this while? My son is on his way to meet his maker.”  “Relax and calm down,” remarked the doctor and at a frenzied pace commenced with the procedure with remarkable élan and composure.

The five hours of surgery seemed like aeons. After a while, rather abruptly calm descended on the precincts of the hospital. The qualified medical practitioner soon emerged from the operation theatre and smiled at the swivel-eyed parent. “Your son is in fine fettle,” remarked the doctor and soon disappeared through the doors. The father could barely conceal his happiness, but was taken aback at the brazen attitude of the doctor. “He appears to be quite an uppity and pretentious individual. How come he did not display a modicum of magnanimity of merely commiserating with the trauma of a shattered father,” mentioned the legendary pugilist to a nurse.


“The doctor lost his only son in a car crash last night. He left the funeral midway to attend to this operation and now he is on his way back to complete the formalities of the deceased son,” ventured to add the caregiver. This left the judgmental father deranged and overwrought. The pathos of the situation stared the pugilist in the face. The depths of the doctor’s sacrifice were not lost on him and left him shaken to his very core.

We are all familiar which sterling examples as to how Prince Rama at the directive of his father accepted fourteen years of exile or how Eklavya severed his thumb at the feet of his Master Dronacharya when he so commanded. These are acts of hardihood and gallantry which make them intrepid warriors. These acts of hecatomb are etched in our memory banks. In more recent times renunciation seems to have been in the DNA of Sardar Patel. As a strapping youngster, he provided his elder brother Vitthalbhai Patel necessary financial support to pursue law in London, while he was the chosen one. Later in life when the entire Congress Working Committee chose him to become the President of the party, which would have ensured his suzerainty over India, he surrendered the post at the peremptory order of the Mahatma.

The element of sacrifice as per Buddha entailed shunning violence, and adopting the path of peace, compassion, dispassion, expatriating emotions such as fear, guilt, arrogance, ignorance and become instruments of peace, wisdom, internal strength, knowledge and thus becoming agents of divine transformation and peaceful revolution.  By such a scrutiny and examination, humans move from cacophony to symphony, transport from noise to noble silence, transfigure and metamorphose themselves from chain of thoughts to a state of authentic mindfulness, eventually coming to rest in a state of ‘no’ mind.

Thus emperors, sovereigns despite enjoying remarkable opulence, in order to discover their true selves, were willing to pick up the begging bowl, as they traded battle fatigues and royal regalia for ochre robes. That one moment of becoming ‘nobody’ from being somebody bestowed all the bounty of the Universe. Kings, queens, princes all became embodiments of genuine love and compassion.

Once upon a time, there lived an erudite scholar who was blessed by the Universe with a prodigious and a wondrous mind. In the Temple of Knowledge, he was to master all the scriptures and become a proficient Zen Master. He became an ascetic and had a substantial following of disciples. One day, the Zen Master took a walk through a thick forest along with a group of disciples. There they saw a famished and a ravenous tigress which was about to devour her own cubs to satiate her craving for hunger.

The Zen Master chose to offer himself as the partaking for the tigress so that the precious lives of the cubs could be saved. He feared that the group of students would prevent him from sacrificing his life. The silver-haired and perspicacious Zen Master sent his disciples away on an errand. The tutees with many protestations left the scene fearing for the life of their insightful and beloved Master.

As the disciples departed the Zen Master placed himself in front of the tigress. “Grr…,” growled the tigress and ripped the Zen Master apart. She and her cubs fed on him ravenously and delightfully savouring human flesh. After a while the tutees returned and saw their master’s blood-stained clothes, and screamed in terror, “Oh Enlightened and Compassionate One! These are the very robes which had adorned by our beloved Master.”

“Regretfully and woefully this implies that these feral creatures must have fed on him!” Plagued with agony, the students returned to the Temple of Knowledge to narrate how their intrepid master had sacrificed his own life out of charity and compassion. Charity and compassion form the bedrock of the art of sacrifice. A genuine act of sacrifice makes our lives light as a feather and we rejoice every moment in divine reverie and jollity.