“Mala pherat jug bhaya, phira na man ka pher;
Kar ka manka dar de man ka manka pher.”
This doha (couplet) by the mystic Hindi poet Kabir touches one to the core. It means that if the heart of the person counting the rosary (mala) beads does not undergo a change, he/she should leave the mala and and try to change his/her heart. The sea of meaning in the two lines is beyond appreciation. Even after six hundred years of it being written, each word is true even today and one can totally relate to it. It relinquishes outer show and focuses on the real – the rituals are immaterial if the heart is genuine.
In today’s times most of us follow rituals without the heart totally into them. It is human nature and Kabir, the genius, had read it so well so many years ago. If each one of us follow the man ka manka (beads of the heart) instead of kar ka manka (beads of the hand); things would be better. It is true in every walk of life….every profession – be it politicians, teachers, doctors, administrators – all are working for the sake of working. The ones who have their heart…their ‘man’ in the work that they do can be counted on fingers. They are the ones who are able to make a difference. The success of anything and for that matter even the failure has the same logic behind it. Only that thing succeeds which is done by the heart and not merely to complete a deadline or as a matter of duty (ritual). All failures too can be attributed to it with the same reasoning (the term ‘half hearted’ echoes the same thought!). The mundane act of mechanically counting beads of the rosary (mala) has such a deep rooted lesson to give us. It may be a way of meditating and bringing peace to oneself and there is no doubting that role but only doing that may not be enough. One has to move beyond the ritual to justify the intention.