On a “Masala Dosha day” two years ago, in between bhajans, Amma asked us for evidence for Punarjanma, or rebirth. She gave us hints through the example of butterfly’s life-cycle. Butterflies undergo three stages before becoming a beautiful butterfly. Egg, Larva, Pupa and the Insect. It is not like the stages of childhood, adolescence, youth adult and old age, no. None of them resemble the other.
Amma said, “Just because we don’t remember, we cannot say there is no rebirth.” Spirituality comes in at this juncture. Do we want to go on and on, caught in this cycle of birth-and-rebirth, or do we want to take off along a tangent? For the latter to happen we need to undergo a process called transformation. This is the prelude to Sadhana.
Nature embodies these lessons and it is for us to learn from it.
A certain furlly puffy purple-lavender flower in ashram draws our attention for its bright and fragrant presence. Soon we see how its flowers so spectacularly change color – from purple to lavender to snow white, and live on for about a week!
‘Yesterday-Today-Tomorrow’ blooms boldly all over the plant. Once it was about 100 flowers in a single pot! When you see the bush, you find lavender flowers and white flowers side by side. Your face lights up. “Oh! It is these lavenders and whites! How beautiful! How fragrant!”
The insignificant bud of yesterday opens frankly and gives out jasmine like fragrance. All the flowers go through the process of becoming white: Over a week the flower that opens in pretty purple turns into lavender and then into good soft snow-white – crumpling, shriveling slightly, yet not giving up. And then it withers. The fallen flower lives on for one more day at the feet of the mother plant. Then, it turns into a small brown smear, mixes with mud, and turns into manure, that is, if humans let them be.
The flower lives on for several days, growing old but not giving up. Amma often tells us to try to beat our limits ourselves… to make the most of any opportunity to do good. This flower pulls on, attains transformation and longevity, and goes on smiling for several days. Gardeners have given it a very apt name, ‘Yesterday-Today- Tomorrow’!
One may say, ‘But that is not it’s real name,’ and tap on mobile to Google. But then, let the technical name be for technical purpose. This name, ‘Yesterday-Today- Tomorrow’ is best suited for this flower, its appearance and its service through time. It sees many yesterdays and many tomorrows. “Time flows on. Call what you will… I don’t stay white forever just as I don’t stay purple forever. I won’t even stay a flower forever.” They seem to say.
The queer white rectangle in the middle has a queer cup inside it. And as anyone can guess the cup hold nectar for insects!
The flower with its five shapely petals is an artifact of a Master Craftsman. When it is purple, the petals have the stiffness of nylon textile. Look closely: it develops embossed puffs in regular patterns, like a fashion designer does on a teenager’s tops. As the color fades the stiffness decreases. By the time it turns pure white, it will have turned very soft. Butter soft!
All the while the flower gives joy to the onlooker, fulfilling its duty. Amma gives the examples of flowers and rainbow: “Even though the flowers and the rainbow have very short life span, they give joy to others before their time is up. Our lives become fulfilled only when we give joy to another, even if it is for a short while.”