Chapter 8: This World Is a School
“When Shankara was very young his mother would not give him permission to take sannyas.” And remember, you may grow up to any age, but for your mother you will always be a child. You can never be older than your mother; you will always be younger than the mother who has given birth to you. You may be seventy years old, but for your mother you will always remain a child. “Shankara was very young,” means that whenever a seeker asks his mother for the permission to take sannyas, his mother will always stop him from doing so, thinking that her child is very small and he wants to tread a difficult path.
“When Shankara was very young his mother would not give him permission to take sannyas. But one day, as he was bathing in a river, he was caught by a crocodile.”
In the river of life misery gets hold of you sometime or other. You meet death in this river of life. You don’t go into the river to meet death, you go there to bathe, to enjoy swimming, to enjoy the freshness of the morning. Nobody goes into the world to die, nobody goes into the river of life to meet crocodiles. One goes into life in search of happiness, in search of treasures - success, fame, prestige - but in this process gets caught by crocodiles.
Death takes hold of you sooner or later. And if a person is wise he understands soon that this river is the surface, death is hidden inside - “crocodile” means the hidden death. On the surface the flow of the water seems so pure and peaceful, but deep down death is waiting. On the surface it looks very attractive, and the river also seems very innocent. Inside death is waiting quietly. Anyone who is clever, wise and conscious will be able to under-stand this quickly.
Shankara saw it at once. If you cannot see this for a long time, then it means that you have very little intelligence and understanding. Your mirror is covered with dust. Your intelligence is full of smoke, otherwise you could see it earlier.
In this story the only thing conveyed is that Shankara realized that in this life one gets nothing except death. And one cannot be free of the love of the mother, until the realization of death. Try to understand this a little. On one end is the mother - “mother” means birth; on the other end is death - death means the end. Freedom from the mother is possible only if death can be seen; birth can be meaningless only if the end can be seen. So sannyas means, realization of death.
We go on postponing death in this world; we go on saying that it is always others who die, “I will never die.” Every day you see dead bodies being taken to the graveyard or to the cremation ground; you help others carry these dead ones there, but it never occurs to you that you will also die. You always think that you are going to live forever and only others will die. But one day others will also carry your body to the graveyard when you are no longer alive. But man lives on false hopes.
Sannyas means, the awakening of the awareness that “death is mine; the news of the other person’s death is actually the news of my death. The death of the other is pointing towards my death. And with the death of everyone, I also die a little.”