I give the gist of an interesting story by Naftali Silberberg that I read about an illiterate and not so smart farmer in a remote village who hit a treasure trove to become very wealthy. He had to go a distant town that was more than thousand kilometers away on some urgent business. The nearest station to catch the train was itself a little away and the farmer who had never seen a train or a railway station before was very diffident and confused. Goaded by others, he went three hours before and asked for a ticket in the counter. When asked for which class, he did not know. The clerk advised him to take first class if he wished to travel in comfort and dignity. Since money was no issue, he took a ticket accordingly
He waited in a corner of the station where he found a few people also waiting like him. He shuddered in fear when the train led by monstrous sized black engine bellowing dark smoke entered the station with great noise. He did not know where to get in but followed the others who got into the last coach. There were some passengers seated and some were found sleeping. These men who boarded the train along with him crawled under the seats and hid themselves completely. The farmer also did like them after safely putting the ticket in his underwear. He.He could not stretch his legs and they protruded a little outside the seat. He dozed off tired as he was.
In a short while, he was rudely woken up by the train conductor with his gentle kick on the sides and was accused of travelling without ticket. The farmer protested and retrieved with great difficulty the ticket from his under garment. When the conductor saw an authentic first class ticket, his manner and tone turned deferential as he asked “Sir, Why are you travelling in third class coach crouching stealthily under a bench when you can travel in first class coach in great comfort with many amenities?”
He replied “That is what others who boarded the train with me did. I just followed them not knowing what else to do” he said in innocence
The message is this story is that we are all like the unlettered farmer travelling in our life’s journey crouched under a dark bench very much like others although we have been given by God a first class ticket in the form of Bhagavat Gita,Holy Bible, Quran or Granth sahib or such to travel in comfort and confidence. We are not utilizing the tickets to what we are entitled to or read the terms and conditions of our journey as given in these tickets. We simply follow what others do without exercising our minds and run the risk of being offloaded somewhere only to start the journey again. At the end of the day the Great Conductor will want to know why we have not used the first class tickets given to us for the life’s journey like the foolish farmer.
The analogy is compelling and forceful to highlight the need to make our journey in the right way. Life’s journey is a mixture of happiness and hardships. It is not smooth throwing up challenges not infrequently. When the problems are daunting they may test our courage and question our faith. It is the way we react then to the problems faced that would determine the way our journey through life would be and the likely outcome. Herein the teachings in our sacred scriptures help us wade through the storms of life. It is not that we should lead a life of recluse but lead a normal life but by following the teachings of our faith. The burdens may not seem heavy or the joys intoxicating. One will then get the confidence that comes from total reliance on god and being in communion with Him through constant prayers. The bottom line of course is to use the first class ticket that has been given to us and not seek refuge under dark benches.