A spider's way to salvation
It was a calm morning while Srinivasan sat down to offer his puja to Lord Shiva. Having organized every thing for a morning abhishekam, he lit the lamps and settled down to a routine rhythm of mantras that had been assigned for the worship.
In a little copper cup by his side he kept a dwi-mukhi rudraksha, submerged in water as instructed. The hymns began in rhythmic motion, one rhythm following another in gentle flow repeating each verse at least 18 times. It was during this moment that Srinivasan happened to notice the copper cup.
A small black spider had fallen in and stayed still sinking into the water, with absolutely no attempt to swim to safety. He wondered where it had come from. He hastily picked up the spoon from the "panchapaatra udrini"(a traditional container with a spoon that carries water, found in every household.) and helped the spider to dry ground.
Srinivasan, watched the spider, crawl around with trouble, trying to free a few of its legs from the heavy drops of water that covered its abdomen. He stared back at the Linga, with calm, smiling to himself that he had helped the creature to safety. Srinivasan’s mind went places as he recited the Rudram, to all the shrines of Lord Shiva he had visited, to all the Garbha Grihas he had stood in front of, watching the Lord in all His finery and the intoxicating ambience of those silent rocky interiors that had withstood time.
He stared back at the Spatika linga after he bathed it in abhishekam. It glowed from within the chamber of the puja room. Its glow was strange, brighter light than what he had otherwise seen. Was it the light refracting differently or was it something else? He wondered as he carried on the hymns, loosing himself yet again. Srinivasan moved the taambaalam(a brass plate) to the side carefully so as not to spill the water that had bathed the Linga. It was now holy, with mantra concentrate, every word, every breath captured in every drop of water that had fallen on the Lingam. Potent water, of which he had taken three sips, a blessing from the Gods, a portion of life for the plants when he finally poured it into their roots.
There was silence in the room yet again and Srinivasan bowed down, the final namaskaram(bow in adoration) as he prayed for peace of mind and turned to clear the place. The taambaalam contained a mirror of water, a deathbed to some and life giver to others. In the water floated the spider, now lifeless. It lay upside down, its life taken by the heavy words of worship as it departed from what we call the realm of the living. Srinivasan stared speechless, thinking hard. The spider had always wanted to die, it had looked for water, water that was potent with the power of the Lord Himself and finally guided itself to its final destination.
Srinivasan found it very strange, that the spider seemed to know what lay within the taambaalam, for its walls were high enough to contain a volume of water, that was more a sheet of death that enveloped its very life within its surface. Srinivasan was overwhelmed. While his plants grew exceptionally wilder, the power of the mantra being visible in every pore of their leaves, making them look ever so fresh, the same life giving water was now the path to salvation for a small spider that had insisted to end its life within it.
Srinivasan sat back, a tear rolling down his eyes, as he stared at the lifeless spider float in the water. He had no idea how spiders end their lives, but this one looked very strange. Srinivasan picked up the spider from the water, went to the plants, dug into the mud and buried it. He poured the water into every plant reciting the mantra praying this time, not for himself but for the spider that had shown him that there is a mind in every creature, big and small and that the path to salvation opens up in strange ways.