The gift of life is to be used to serve

The Sunday Guardian - - & Comment Analysis - By Davin­der P.S. Sandhu

Be­tween 998 AD and 1030 AD, Mah­mud of Ghazni gath­ered an em­pire, based on cru­elty, and plun­der and loot. His in­flu­ence ex­tended from Kan­da­har to Cen­tral In­dian sub-con­ti­nent.

He ul­ti­mately died of malaria and tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, a sick and trou­bled soul. His king­dom faced a bleak fu­ture, as his two sons were de­feated in bat­tles with Tur­kic in­vaders from Cen­tral Asian tribes. When he heard news of the lost bat­tles, he or­dered his en­tire plun­dered wealth laid out in the field. For a whole day, he in­spected the ill-got­ten trea­sures from his char­iot. He al­ter­nated be­tween hap­pi­ness at see­ing the riches, and grief that this may be lost soon to in­vad­ing armies, and that he may soon die from his ill­ness, and be sep­a­rated from the trea­sure.

That night, he suf­fered a ter­ri­ble night­mare. He was still on a char­iot, and a very high one. But as far as his eye could see, the trea­sure had been re­placed by a sea of peo­ple. He saw rot­ting bod­ies, and wounded peo­ple cry­ing. Their hands wanted to reach out to him, and he rode about try­ing to evade be­ing smeared with blood.

On wak­ing, he called for the scribe, and asked that in­stead of his will, the wasi­hat­nama, he would like to leave a guid­ance note, a pandhnama. After his death, his hands should be left out­side the shroud, and the pandhnama be read aloud: See my hands as I leave:// I go empty handed, even as my hands were drenched in blood.// My hands curse me:// I could have used them bet­ter in my four days of life.// Curse me, and learn from me.

Life is a gift to be used well, in ser­vice of oth­ers, and in mov­ing on His path. Saint Kabir re­minds us thus in the Guru Granth Sahib: Kabeer, this body shall per­ish; save it, if you can.// Even those who have tens of thou­sands and mil­lions, must de­part bare-footed in the end.

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