The parents of a mentally retarded child went to Kancheepuram and told Maha Periyaval that the child was in a terrible condition and prayed to Him for some improvement in the child’s condition.
A conversation, more or less similar to what I report below ensued.
His Holiness: “Does the child suffer from pain”?
The parents replied “No”.
His Holiness: "Does he ask for or refuse food?”
Parents: “No he eats whatever is given to him”.
His Holiness: Is he mentally distressed by his abnormality?”
Parents: “No, he is not even aware that he is different from others.”
His Holiness: “Our sages have done tapas (Meditation) for years and years to attain the equanimity of mind which your child has, to be free of want, free of pain, free of hunger and free of desire. God has given him that state. He has no physical or mental suffering. Why do you want to change that and make him suffer. Unless your drugs can completely cure him and make him a totally normal child. This you say all the doctors feel is impossible."
A radically different point of view indeed, but an eminently correct one.
Another couple from the middle income group whose child was affected by postmeningitic hemiparesis went to Maha Periyaval. They were overcome with self-pity. They asked Him, “Why should this happen to us? What wrong have we done that we should be burdened by this child? Why has God singled us out to give this punishment when he has given normal children to thousands of other parents?”
Maha Periyaval replied, “God has not punished you. Indeed, you are his chosen ones. Due to some sin in his previous birth this child is suffering handicap. At the same time God did not want the child to suffer too much. If he had chosen very rich parents for this child, probably they would have engaged some servants to look after the child, and the baby would never get the true parental affection, love and care he is getting from you now. If God had chosen very poor parents probably they would have had no time and no money to look after the child properly as the parents themselves would be struggling for their daily bread. Among thousands of parents God has chosen you as the parents who will give this child the best care and affection so that the child’s physical and mental suffering can be reduced as much as possible. You have been chosen by God as the person best qualified to do that job. You are not being punished by him”.
Again a totally different viewpoint but what a refreshingly new psychological approach!