Selfless service is the religion of the Ascetic : Abhisara – The Tryst -ISC long Answers

Selfles service is the religion of the Ascetic : Abhisara – The Tryst – ISC Long Answers 

Question : ‘Selfless service is the religion of the ascetic’. Discuss the statement with close reference to the text of the poem. 

Answer:  ‘Selfless service is the true religion of the ascetic – Upagupta, in the poem “Abhisara – the Tryst” written by Rabindranath Tagore. In this poem, the poet beautifully presents the teachings of Buddhism through the character of Upagupta. In Buddhism, selflessness, compassion, humanity and kindness towards all living being is a fundamental teachings. Upagupta was a true disciple of Lord Buddha, who leads a life of renunciation, selfless service to all living being is like religion to him. 

   In the first part of the poem, Vasavadatta, a glamorous, rich and beautiful court dancer of Mathura, invites Upagupta, the monk to her house as she says – 

  “The dusty Earth is not a fit bed for you”.

   Vasavadatta, is fascinated towards the young and beautiful face of Upagupta and his simplicity. She offers him to abandon his simple life on the dusty earth and embrace her comfortable and luxurious life with her. 

   Upagupta, who has devoted his whole life to the service of mankind and strongly believes in the teachings of Buddhism, politely refuses her proposal and said – 

   “Woman, go on your way,/

    When the time is ripe, I will come to you”.

  Upagupta’s answer to Vasavadatta, reflects the ascetic’s renunciations of worldly pleasure and attractions, focusing instead on his spiritual path.

    Upagupta is ready to offer his help whenever someone is needed. He thinks that Vasavadatta does not need his help at this moment, so he promises her to visit her, when the appropriate time would come.

   A year had not been yet passed, monk Upagupta encounters Vasavadatta again. This time, she is not the same dancer of Mathura, who was proud of her beauty and wealth, but she has become an entirely different woman.

  Vasavadatta has changed a lot. She is afflicted with a deadly disease – smallpox. Her body is spotted with the sores of small pox. She was driven away from the city and was lying on the dusty ground lonely, unattended and abandoned.

  At this time, Upagupta fulfills his promise and comes to her to help her when she needs his help the most. Monk Upagupta was unaffected by the physical appearance of Vasavadatta. He shows immense compassion and kindness to the sick woman. He choose to comfort and care for Vasavadatta, the woman who once shunned him. Upagupta despite seeing her in both states, treats her with the same compassion and kindness.

   Upagupta’s actions reflects his profound understanding of the Buddha’s teachings, especially the emphasis on compassion and selfless service to all living beings.

   At last Upagupta says – 

  “The time, at last, has come to visit you and I am /

   Here, Vasavadatta”.

Here Upagupta mentions” time” as the right time when he would have to come to Vasavadatta.

  Earlier in the poem, Upagupta refuses Vasavadatta’s offer to visit her and promised to visit her when the “right time” would come. The right time here refers to the time of need for Vasavadatta.

 Being a Buddhist monk, Upagupta, devoted all his life to the service of mankind. He was ready to help and serve for any body anytime without expecting anything in return. That is why the selfless service is said to be his true religion in this poem.

   Upagupta rejects Vasavadatta’s offer earlier as at that time she was at her best, she didn’t need anyone to help her. But when she was abandoned by the society because of her disease, she has nobody to attend her and help her and comfort her. It was Upagupta, the monk who came forward to serve and help her with compassion and humanity. That was the “right time” to fulfil his promise to visit her.

   This way selfless service is the religion of the ascetic Upagupta.

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