Wednesday, September 1, 2010


A Story

A ritual is an action performed purely for symbolic value. In most cases there is no logic or rational explanation for rituals. This apocryphal story from ancient wisdom illustrates how rituals start and are followed blindly for years...

A seeker joined a monastery to learn meditation and the art of living. 

Every evening all students and disciples assembled in the large meditation hall for a discourse by the Spiritual Guru followed by group meditation.

Just before the meditation session commenced the disciples would catch a cat, tie it up and place it on the lap of the Spiritual Guru, who would then start caressing the cat and begin the discourse and meditation session. After the event was over, the cat would be untied and set free.

This was the established daily ritual and the Guru would start the meditation session only after the tied up cat was placed on his lap, so much so that once when the cat could not be found, the meditation session was delayed and all the seekers launched a desperate hunt till they found the cat which was duly tied up and placed on the Guru’s lap and only then did he start his discourse-cum-meditation session.

The seeker was quite perplexed at the mystery of the tied up cat and the significance of this ritual – it’s correlation with meditation.

He asked around but no one knew the answer till someone told him to ask a wise old man who lived in a cave up the hills, so our curious seeker trudged up the hills to meet the wise old man and ask him the significance of this time-honoured ritual.

“It is like this,” the wise old man said, “many years ago, when the then Spiritual Guru and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat that lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So the Guru ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening discourse-cum-meditation practice. This practice continued, so much so that even when the teacher died, the next Guru continued this tradition and a cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session.

When the cat died, another cat was brought to the monastery to be tied up during the evening meditation session, and when it too died they brought another, and with the passage of time this has become such an established ritual that now no one dare start the meditation session without the tied up cat.

Years later, the ritual of tying up the cat during the meditation session continued, and our seeker, who by then had become the Spiritual Guru, wrote a scholarly treatise about the significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.

So, Dear Reader, if you see any ritual, custom or tradition for which there seems to be no rational or logical explanation, remember this story of the Mystical Cat...

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

VIKRAM KARVE educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU and The Lawrence School Lovedale, is an Electronics and Communications Engineer by profession, a Human Resource Manager and Trainer by occupation, a Teacher by vocation, a Creative Writer by inclination and a Foodie by passion. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. His delicious foodie blogs have been compiled in a book "Appetite for a Stroll". Vikram lives in Pune with his family and pet Doberman girl Sherry, with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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