Saturday, January 2, 2016
Creative Spot - A Short Story by Mahendra (Speedy) Gonsalkorale
This is the story of Channa, who lived in the rural village of Udurutanne. It begins when he was only 10 years old. He was from a large family and had four sisters and five brothers. His father was a cultivator and a devout Buddhist. The whole family went to the temple every poya day and worshipped the large statue of Buddha. They saw no contradiction in worshipping God Vishnu and Kataragama although he proudly proclaimed that unlike his neighbour Aloysius he did not believe in God. Somapala, for that was his name, never made any decisions without consulting the local Astrologer Punchi Nilame.
Channa always wanted to be a doctor. He was a bright student but was he destined to become a doctor? There was only one way to find out, and off they went to consult Punchi Nilame. Punchi Nilame constantly chewed betel and had an air of importance and wisdom. His ample tummy preceded the rest of his body by quite a margin. After greeting him with a sheaf of betel leaves enclosing Rs 50 they could ill afford, they politely waited as Punchi Nilame did some very complex looking calculations using Channa’s birth chart and some references known as “Lithas”, all the time liberally spitting into a nearby spittoon. Eventually he straightened up and looked at them peering over his round glasses with a steel rim. His next words made Channa cry in despair. He said that this horoscope in front of him was a very blessed one (pingwanthai) but there was absolutely no chance of him becoming a doctor as the planetary configuration quite clearly and decisively shows that he is going to leave the lay life and become a priest. Of becoming a doctor, there was no chance. He could see the future as clearly as he saw them in front of them. There is one slim chance, and he emphasised that it is indeed very slim, and that is to conduct a special pooja to God Vishnu for his powerful benevolence but it would cost them Rs 5000 plus some personal expenses with the total approaching Rs 6000. Somapala asked for time to make up his mind as he will have to get into debt to raise this amount of money. Punchi Nilame very magnanimously offered to give him a big discount which would hardly leave him with any money, and stated that he would perform the whole thing for Rs 5250.
Somapala and family went away and after days of agonising, decided that they cannot go against what is written in the Stars and would not perform the Pooja. Somapala told his son that he must have done some very meritorious things in his past life to be destined to enter the priesthood and this was what he would wish for him as he wanted nothing but the best for him.
And so it happened my friends, that Channa became Bhikku Chandrawansa and it is said that he led an exemplary life and it is common acceptance that he attained Arahantship before he passed away at the age of 80.
Now to end this story, I must bring to your attention that there exists in another village, quite far from Udurutanne with no communication at all between the two villages, another famous Astrologer, Nondi Thuma (he had polio in his childhood and had a limp),who was famed for his pinpoint accuracy in predictions. Would he have predicted that Channa wanted to be a doctor but as shown in his charts, he would become a Buddhist priest instead? Now that, would be something, as he would not have influenced Channa in any way in the path he followed.