PARABLE OF THE PIANO
“In one of the smaller towns in North America there was a church which had a custom-built piano. It was a much treasured piece and played only on very special occasions and that too by acknowledged experts. On a particular Sunday, a stranger who was in his late eighties approached the priest with the hesitant request that he be allowed to operate the instrument for a while at the conclusion of service. The priest explained to him gently, ‘I am sorry to disappoint you, Sir, but the fact is that the piano is very precious to us. If it were to show any fault, there is no artisan today who can repair it.’ The gentleman retired to the pews and the service commenced.
“After prayers and sermon the flock was dispersing and the priest was at the door to see them off with a blessing for each. Just then mellifluous and soul-uplifting piano-music filled the air. The bhaktas stood spellbound and the priest himself was entranced. After an hour the strains of music tapered off; and only then it occurred to them all to look in the direction of the dais. Imagine the pleasant surprise of the padre when he saw at the piano none other than the elderly stranger whose request to play he had earlier turned down. In contrition, the priest approached the senior citizen to congratulate him respectfully for the deep spiritual experience he had provided to them all. ‘I did not know you were a Master-musician, Sir,’ he said. To which the stranger replied. ‘I am only a piano-maker, Father, and I was residing in this town 50 years ago. I made this particular piano specially as a gift to this church. I took great care in selecting the wood, in tempering the metal and even in preparing the varnish. I am familiar with every inch of this instrument and know all the nuances of music it is capable of yielding.’
“What I have related in detail is based on a parable by Swami Rama Tirtha (1873 – 1906) to convey the profound message: ‘Surrender to the Maker; and divine music will flow out of you in a natural sequence.’ The Swami had himself done just that and hence the power of his word which we can feel in our heart to this day.
“Now, who is this mysterious Maker to whom you are enjoined on to offer yourself up? He is not a person with ten heads and twenty arms, but the formless state of Omnipotence from which this Universe comprising objects and appearances came into being and in which the Universe would eventually subside at the close of its drama under the entropic Laws of Thermodynamics.
“How is it
possible to surrender to a state not personified in any manner and how are we
to identify it in the first instance? Thayumanavar
comes to our aid in this investigation. He takes up the
animates – those beings that crawl or walk or fly. Are they not
compounded out of the five elements viz., energy-particles, air, fire, water
and earth (solid matter)? What has been assembled at a particular point of time
would resolve into its components at a later point of time. That brings things
back to the five elements which in turn have to subside in, and be absorbed in
their origin and source. That is the
“Now I am speaking and you are all listening. We are functioning in the state of Becoming which is an evolution from Being. Laws of functioning come into play only in the realm of Becoming. Remember the example I gave you once before, about the road-traffic with all its tensions impinging on you and involving you in its whirls only when you enter into it. In the state of functioning you do an act and you cannot escape the consequence, whether it is pleasurable or painful. You kick your front door because it won’t open readily and you wince and squeal in pain as a sequel. Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi was once seen with a bandage around a finger. When enquired about it, he said in a matter-of-fact way, ‘Oh, my hand touched the knife.’ The knife is an inanimate object remaining where it is as per Isaac Newton’s First Law of Motion. The hand of sentient man strayed out and tampered with the knife and a bleeding cut is what it got, not as a punishment, mind you, but only as a consequence in the functioning state of the Universe. Has not R. G. Ingersoll said, ‘Under Nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are only consequences’?
“When Consciousness is cribbed and cabined by attachment to material objects, it has a tendency to slip into emotional moods, this leading to deeds producing pain to others and self. Further it would not be aware of the value of the life-energy, depletion of which would weaken both body and mind.
“Repeated and continued suffering, extended to many generations even, impels the mind to investigate the cause for misery. Clarity gained through this investigation renders the mind to probe into its own origin and what does it find except that it itself is only a phenomenon, a projection of the life-energy circulating within the physical system. This finding represents the second level of Consciousness or informed and experiential awareness of the Spirit that is life.
“Virtue dawns at this level since the mind, from now onwards, would like to conserve and not squander its capital. Not causing pain is the surest means to guard against misery, and is the lesson learnt here which has to be translated into practice. There is unmistakable awareness of the inexorable niyati of Nature working as the Action-and-Result Principle, as much in human life as in the wide space of the Universe where the two balancing forces viz., Attraction and Repulsion hold the stars and planets in their appropriate orbits. After observing the night-sky, Thayumanavar, wonders how he had missed this lesson till then!
mind proceeds to trace the origin of the life-energy. Going beyond universal
gravity, it has to locate the base and the grand cause of the panorama. This
very exercise broadens and elevates the mind which now encompasses the whole of
the Universe and extrapolates beyond. And what does it alight upon other than
the Permanent Principle, the Static Substratum – that which was the same
yesterday, which is the same today and which would be the same tomorrow.! That is Brahman,
Meiporul, Truth – call It by any name. There is nothing to compare It
with; and it is in this flash of elevated Consciousness that Jesus the Christ
exclaimed in wonderment, ‘Whereunto shall we liken the
“We started the evening with the piano and have we come a long way from it? No, Sirs, the piano is very much with us and it is waiting for the touch of the Master, its own Maker so as to give forth its best in terms of music. Music is only harmonized sound; and it is this divine music that Sant Thiagaraja had in mind (read ‘piano!’) when he sang, ‘other than the knowledge of music and deep-rooted faith, there is no noble Path.’ "
— Sage TGN