1. When her son dies, Kisa Gotami goes from house to house. What does she ask for? Does she get it? Why not?
Answer: Kisa Gotami goes from house to house in the hope of getting some wonder drug which would rekindle the life in her dead child. She is unable to get that medicine. It is a universal truth that once somebody dies no medicine can bring back life in him or her. Death is the final destination of life’s journey.
2. Kisa Gotami again goes from house to house after she speaks with the Buddha. What does she ask for, the second time around? Does she get it? Why not?
Answer: When Kis Gotami asks for Buddha’ s help he asks her to bring a handful of mustard seed. But there is a condition that the mustard seed should from a house where nobody has ever died. Death is as certain as birth. Nothing is immortal on this earth. Everything gets finished off in due course of time. Kisa Gotami is up to an impossible task of finding a household where nobody ever died.
3. What does Kisa Gotami understand the second time that she failed to understand the first time? Was this what the Buddha wanted her to understand?
Answer: After she was unable to find a house as per Buddha’s criteria she understands the inevitability of death. She understands how futile it is to cry endlessly over death of someone. She understands that the life should go on as people carry on with their lives after abrupt intervals of tragedies in their lives.
4. Why do you think Kisa Gotami understood this only the second time? In what way did the Buddha change her understanding?
Answer: When she was seeking for miracle medicine she was not in a position to understand the certainty of death. She was only thinking about her grief. When she went in search of mustard seeds she could understand that grief strikes everybody. She understood that she was not the only person on this planet have lost a dear child. Buddha guided her to discover the sorrow of others. Most of us have a tendency to think about ourselves and that is why we feel too happy or too sad. If we try to take a wider perspective then we can be in a position to withstand ups and downs of life in a better way.
5. How do you usually understand the idea of ‘selfishness’? Do you agree with Kisa Gotami that she was being ‘selfish in her grief ’?
Answer: Selfishness is preoccupation with I, me, and myself. Kisa Gotami was not in a position to think about other people’s grief. It is natural to feel sad over death of near and dear ones. But most people carry on their next responsibility of performing proper last rites of the dead. People seldom carry a dead body in the hope of some miracle happening to that. The family and the society always comes to be with those in hours of grief. But later on the life goes on. But Kisa Gotami was so engrossed in her sorrow that she forgot to think about live members of her family and society.
“Never shall a young man,
Thrown into despair
By those great honey-coloured
Ramparts at your ear,
Love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.”
“But I can get a hair-dye
And set such colour there,
Brown, or black, or carrot,
That young men in despair
May love me for myself alone
And not my yellow hair.”
“I heard an old religious man
But yesternight declare
That he had found a text to prove
That only God, my dear,
Could love you for yourself alone
And not your yellow hair.”
WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
This poem is about how the conventional sense of beauty can make a person depressed. Every civilization has its own notion of beauty. Take the example of fair colour. The number of advertisements promising a fair skin is a testimony of the appeal of fair skin across the world. In this poem a young person is worried about her yellow hair which is making a rampart like appearance around her ears. A rampart is the wall around a fort. The poet advises that we should make friends with a person not for his physical appearance but for his internal beauty.
A person can make cosmetic changes by applying make-up but that won’t be able to change his or her internal personality.
The last stanza says about the depth of despair. It says that only God can love a person and not his/her physical appearance.
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