The power of mantra

The power of mantra

My aim in life was to learn the secret snake-repelling mantra...but no one knew it.

I was watching a football match on television when suddenly there erupted a commotion in my neighbour’s house next door. “It bit me!” a woman started wailing. “Call the snake catcher!” someone shouted.

“Call the ambulance first!” an authoritative voice interjected.
Not being able to contain my curiosity any further, I went to our common wall and asked one of the onlookers what had happened. “A cobra bit Ratna when she was sweeping the garden,” he said. My neighbour saw me and shouted, “The snake climbed the garden wall and went into your garden!” I quickly ran back inside my house and closed the door. Soon, an ambulance came to carry away the still wailing Ratna to the hospital.

The next day, I was surprised to see Ratna back to work. It transpired that she was not bitten by a cobra after all, but had only been scratched by the
rosebush in her hurry to run away. My neighbour said smugly, “She was saved because I chanted the secret snake-repelling mantra.”

Since I live in a house with an unruly garden in a snake-infested area, my aim in life now was to learn the secret snake-repelling mantra, which my neighbour was unwilling to divulge. I asked my colleagues in school, but no one knew it.

One teacher said helpfully, “I can teach you the mantra to find a misplaced object. It will help you to find a knife, to let out the blood when you are bitten by a snake.” One of my friends knew a mantra to make it rain, another knew a mantra to use when you are lost. A cautious soul had even learnt a long mantra to frighten away a lion. He was well prepared in case of a leopard scare. The students, of course, knew various mantras to miss doing homework with impunity. However, nobody knew the secret mantra to repel serpents.

When my young Irish friend Ruairi, a football player, told me that there were no snakes in Ireland because St Patrick had banished them in the 5th century, it gave me an idea. I knew now that I had a new snake-repelling mantra: ‘St Patrick.’ A book in the library by Sister Nivedita finally gave me the Indian mantra, ‘Astika.’ Now I was all set to confront any serpent in my stride.

The day came too soon when I was literally face to face with the dreaded reptile. I was pottering in my garden in the afternoon when the slithery creature emerged from a crevice in the stone compound wall a few feet from me. We looked at each other in amazement which turned to terror in my case.

I could not recall a single mantra, and the only word which came to my mind was ‘football.’ I shouted ‘football!’ and ran to safety, while the serpent vanished as it had come. My garden has small placards now, fixed at strategic places at serpent eye-level, that say, ‘Astika’ in Sanskrit, ‘St Patrick’ in English and ‘Football’ in Kannada.

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