A king plagued by many worries, harassed on all sides, called his wise men for counsel. He asked them to invent a few magic words that would help him in times of trial and distress, prosperity and adversity and would be ever enduring. The wise men huddled together for days together and came to the monarch with the magic words: “This too shall pass away.”

After many years, an American poet, Paul Hamilton Hayne, enchanted by these few words composed a poem and the last two lines were: “Whatever thou art, wherever thy footsteps stray, heed these wise words: This too shall pass away.” Many people after reading this poem have cried till their eyes became dry. I myself carry a piece of paper in my purse, which says: “Nothing lasts, not even pain.”

Life is like a river, on constant flow. If there are boulders on the way, it changes its direction. It produces its own music; it irrigates the land, produces electricity, charges wells, ponds and lakes and ultimately joins the sea. The river carries mud, fallen trees, dead bodies but never stops anywhere unless blocked by a dam or swallowed by the desert or the sea. Arthur High Clough wrote a few lines on the theme: “For while the tired waves vainly breaking, seem here no painful inch to gain, Far Back, through creeks and inlets making, comes silent, flooding in the main.”

I was a student of the Banaras Hindu University, where Dr. S. Radhakrishnan was the Vice Chancellor. He used to give lectures on Sundays on the Bhagavad Gita. The auditorium overflowed and loudspeakers were fixed outside for the extra audience. On the occasion, deviating from the main theme he said: “Progress is the law of nature. It moves in long waves but does not necessarily follow a straight line. Sometimes, it is crooked full of setbacks and reverse, dark periods and dull patches. But in the end the world always rights itself and mankind moves ahead again.”

T.G.L. Iyer

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