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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. 

13 comments:

  1. I knew from the out-set there is some profound message in your story. Yet another example of the awesome force of destiny!!

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  2. And I knew from the outset that ND would be the first to comment and the words "awesome force of destiny" would figure!

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  3. And.... I.... knew from my 'charts' that ND will be very prompt in his reply and also ...... Mahen will follow with an equally quick reposte!!!
    We all 'have' some foresight, you know!!


    Hindsight--- certainly we all possess but not prompt----- needs some thought.
    So we all are clever???
    'Slangeva'-- Cheers & Happy New Year

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  4. Hmmm! Very interesting. I have a soft spot for palmistry though. My mum asked a 'renowned' palmist 'Will I fly?' She had never travelled by air before. He said, yes you will fly,fly, till you die. I went abroad soon after and she visited me twice. The second time she died here (abroad) and her body had to be flown to Sri Lanka. One of my brothers remarked, she flew, flew till she died and even after she died.
    Zita

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    1. It is a good bet to take, I mean that the mother of a doctor daughter is likely to fly!

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    2. Since I entered this comment , you and I have had our own discussion on this subject and I can reveal that you have for the moment won the argument on this and I have to say, I agree with you, although niggling doubts at the back of my mind, keep cropping up, having gone through a life in Sri Lanka all those years. I hope this discussion goes on with others enlightened people entering the debate.
      Zita

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  5. I was hoping to see more views on this subject and just to be provocative here are my views on Astrology.

    Astrology has no credible basis and is so subject to error and interpretation, it is a wise person who will not make use of it for making decisions in life and for seeking guidance about the path to follow in the future. It is a huge Industry and millions of people make a living on it and will do their utmost to propagate it . It is embedded in our culture and is very much part of Sri Lanka.

    We especially as Doctors trained in the scientific method, trained in dismissing unwarranted and unproven miracle cures and in the science of controlled clinical trials to exclude bias, chance and the placebo effect, should lead in casting doubt on this highly questionable system, which is sometimes labelled as a "science"!

    Even if there was something in it ( I personally don't think so), it is so imprecise, prone to different interpretations by different experts, so inconsistent and so full of errors that it is not wise to rely on it when making decisions.

    Just to say that "I believe in Astrology because the Human mind cannot explain everything" is not a rational statement. We can all examine what is presented to us and decide on the evidence available that some things are fact and others are fiction. I doubt whether anybody in his senses would say "just because you haven't seen Santa Claus, you can't say he does not exist!". I have not seen light being bent in its path by a gravitational mass but I accept it on the evidence.

    Lastly , many people accept it on the basis that "it couldn't have been a coincidence" -coincidences do occur in life. Just like chance, coincidences are a feature of existence.

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  6. Mahen
    We have lived long enough on this planet. Our years of lifes experiences have allowed us to form opinions some of which are contrary to known logic and reason. You are not going to change that. It will only cause discord, friction and even anger. I am aware you are merely trying to start a healthy debate but I am afraid some beliefs are too deeply entrenched and not for negotiation.
    My "awesome force of destiny" means much more to me than what those words convey. So I will not take the bait but withdraw into my own world. If this world is to work according to logic and reason I expect a far better life for everyone on a level playing field.

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  7. Fair enough ND. What you say is true and my comments were certainly not an attempt to change people's minds but to draw them into a discussion with the hope of getting a better understanding of different viewpoints but in the end, this will prove to be just an intellectual discussion with no useful outcome. The time spent on this would be better spent I am sure. We all find comfort in different ways and I am not going to argue about that! Wish you the best.

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  8. We have a lot more in common than we have differences. Listening to your wonderful music and poetry gives us such great pleasure. The lack of comments for our efforts does cause some concern. I have learnt to accept that as the norm.

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  9. I have wanted to write a story about a petite village girl. Podimanike from a sleepy village in SL called "BAKANAHUDUWA". Her daily job was to eke out a living from the family plot of land, so she walks around with a kattha so she was called "KATTHAHUSSANA" Podimanike........ so on it goes.
    If you think that this story is 'naughty', I shall not proceed any further.....

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  10. Naughty? Of course not Raz! Did you know that her best friend was Red A Usanga?

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  11. I like to go back to the horoscope discussion. It is so interesting. Like Nihal, I feel that having lived in S L in our formative years, we cannot but be influenced by its culture, myths, beliefs and even absurdities. My feeling is that some people get comfort from pronouncements and explanations of their life events by reference to a horoscope. If these explanations make inevitable things bearable and acceptable, where is the harm in that? Life events are not all based on fact and science, and there's a large subjective overlay. As long as it does not cause harm to others or to themselves, I feel we should go along with people holding these beliefs. In Mahendra's story Channa became a priest not a doctor. If he felt fulfilled as a priest and lived happily ever after, I have no grumble about him not being a doctor.
    Zita

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