Once there was an ashram near Kurukshetra.The ashram was home to many a disciples.
Amongst them was one disciple named Ram who had entered his adolescence stage.
Given the traits that adolescents show during this period of life, Ram was beginning to learn what life is all about.
During one of the lectures conducted, Ram came about a new topic ‘religion’.
He tried very hard to understand what constructs a religion. However to his utter dismay he was unable to make inroads in this subject.
The next day he seeked his Guruji’s help in this matter.
Guruji was a very learned man. He smiled as he looked at Ram.
“Go and venture deep into the jungle, my son. You will find your answers there”, said Guruji smilingly.
“But Guruji how will that teach me about religion”, asked Ram.
“You will succeed in finding your answers. However make sure that when you start your journey you sleep under a tamarind tree and during your return journey under a Gulmohar tree”, said Guruji smilingly.
“I will do as you say, Guruji”, said Ram with folded hands and left for the jungle.
As instructed Ram started his journey in the jungle with lots of enthusiasm.
He tried his utter best to make out how nature would reveal secrets about religion, but to no avail.
As the day passed and darkness glared upon him, Ram seeked shelter under a tamarind tree.
Within hours, he fell sick.His breath was getting hotter with every passing minute. He became restless and immediately left for the ashram.
However, he had strayed too far from the ashram. Thus, the return journey was going to be a long way.
After walking at a sedate pace for a long time, Ram noticed a Gulmohar tree.
He remembered his Guruji’s advice.
He instantly seeked shelter under the Gulmohar tree.
And in a matter of minutes he started to feel relaxed. His breathing became normal as he slipped into a deep sleep.
The next morning Ram resumed his journey and reached the ashram by afternoon.
“Namaste, Guruji”, ushered Ram.
“Bless you son. Did you Find out about religion”, asked Guruji smilingly.
“No, Guruji. I failed in my attempt to find out religion. But I did obey your orders. I slept under a tamarind tree but fell sick instantly. However on my way back slept under a Gulmohar tree and returned to my natural self in a few hours”, narrated Ram as Guruji listened to him patiently.
“What was the point in sending me to the jungle, Guruji. Please tell me”, begged a helpless Ram.
Guruji got up from his seat, cleared his throat and said,”let’s go for a walk, Son.”
Ram nodded in agreement.
After walking a considerable distance, Guruji started,”This is life, son.Religion is an extrinsic part of life that humans tend to follow intrinsically.
God never preached about religion. He preached about humanity. It’s the humans who constructed the prophecy of religion”.
“So is religion good or bad, Guruji”, enquired a confused Ram.
Guruji laughed and continued,” Religion can never be bad. Religion teaches you the basics of human life and humanity.However, the propogator of the religion is very important.”
“I am still confused Guruji. Why is the propagator important?”, asked a curious Ram.
Guruji took a deep breath and continued,”Ram, when you slept under the tamarind tree you fell sick. Do you know why?”.
“No Guruji”, said Ram apologetically.
“Because Tamarind trees are known to produce hot air.When the hot air entered your body, your temperature rose and you fell sick. On the contrary when you slept under the Gulmohar tree the cool breeze swaying around normalised your pulse rate and you started feeling better”, replied Guruji.
“Oh, that’s how I fell sick and recovered in a short span of time”, replied a logic-stricken Ram.
“Similarly in the context of religion it is important to recognise who are the faithful propagators of religion.”
“If a religious propagator is like the tamarind tree then the propagation will be negative. There will be a constant uneasiness in your thought process.You will become rigid and tolerance levels will significantly diminish.”
“However if a religious propagator is like the Gulmohar tree then the propagation will be positive. You tend to become more flexible and tolerance level towards other religions increases significantly”, replied Guruji as he plucked flowers from a nearby tree.
“But why did you make me sleep under the trees Guruji. You could have explained all this to me merely in the ashram”, asked Ram.
Guruji smiled and replied,” Sometimes it is necessary to understand what is being preached. Following something diligently without knowing what it actually means is foolishness.”
” A religion always unite. It promotes brotherhood. It liberates the follower. And any religion that claims opposite of this is not a religion. It’s an unjust malpractice”, answered Guruji.
“Then Guruji which religion should I choose?”, asked Ram immediately.
” Religion is just a path that leads you to God.
Choose that religion which prevents you from stagnation and helps you prosper”, said Guruji.
Ram bowed his head in respect and touched Guruji’s feet.
He understood life. He understood religion.