Thursday, November 25, 2010


"Burden on your shoulders is exactly right the amount for you. Not one pound more than you can carry. Not one pound less than you are able to carry."

I think the above quote is from Bible.

Sometimes when I hear people grieving about their losses, problems in their lives and so on and so forth, this is the saying that comes to my mind. It's easy to say to them. However, it's better if you follow this up with little more information.

Repeating this quote mechanically does not bring any comfort to the people / friends who are going through some problems. You are telling them that -" too bad. Your life is a mess. Hang in there. Things will get better." Not too sensitive. Right? Their reaction will be - "I hoped you would just hear me and provide me some comfort. Instead you preached me dry philosophy which only make me more mad because it seemed so insensitive."

Some famous Malayalam Poet (I think Panicker) wrote a beautiful poem on this topic.

The essence of the poem is like this.

In India, especially in rural areas, there are some elevated platforms built on the shoulder of the roads. They are called 'athani' in Malayalam, it seems. The whole idea of those raised platforms is for people to put down the loads they are carrying on their heads, rest for a while, then easily pick up the loads and continue on their journey to market to deliver their goods.

Look at the practicality of these raised platforms or 'athanis'. They are at perfect height for a normal man. All the man has to do is to position himself correctly around it and slightly tilt the load from his head or back. Whatever he is carrying slowly falls and rests on the platform. When he is ready to pick it up, all he has to do is to adjust the position of his load on athani, move himself closer and then slowly drag the load on his head or shoulder. Although I have not personally seen it being done. From the description, it seems like a great mechanism for people to load and unload stuff on their head or back without requiring much assistance from others. On desolate rural roads, it will be impossible to find someone to help load the stuff on your back or head if you put it on the ground. Sheer height (say 5 to 6 feet) that load has to rise from the ground and then come on your head or back is impossible for one man to do. Raised platforms like 'athani' make it possible for a man to be on his own.

This is a beautiful illustration. The poem says we have the best 'athani' to put our load of burden when we are very tired. God is the best 'athani' we have. Whenever we are tired, we can just find God anywhere and put all our burdens on him. During the time we have put our burdens with him, he will let us rest. Of course, we will have to complete the journey with the regular quota of load but we know that whenever we need rest or feel that burden is too much and we are on the verge of collapsing, we do not need to look too far. The best athani custom made just for us and our load of burden is right near us. It's up to us to use it to take rest.

How do we make use of this divine 'athani'? By repeatedly calling the Lord with his holy name. People who remember to always repeat the holy name have ready access to vital energy to counter any of their problems.

So, next time, when you have to counsel friends going through tremendous problems, feel free to use the quote from Bible but do not just stop there. Help them understand the concept of 'athani' also. That will be more soothing. That will give them some comfort than mere dry philosophy.

Of course, if you think they are not in a position to understand and appreciate anything you will say. Just shut up and listen. Many times people just need someone who can listen to them and their problems without any prejudice. If you can be that for a few people, you can rest assured that you have done it for this year.

Henry Ford said -"I do not worry about anything. I leave worrying to God. I just do my job. Worrying about my problems is his job."


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