'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The year 1995 was not a very good one. Poor planning led to severe setbacks in Academics; a spell of unemployment followed. Sometime during those dim days, I happened to read 'The Prophet's Path' by O.V.Vijayan. It was in this rambling and strangely spiritual novel that I first encountered the parable of Footprints (See here). I had never before read anything that touched me like this story. The assurance that there is someone Up There who watches and who cares was profoundly comforting. It filled one with hope and a feeling of being carried forward and guided by a mysterious and benevolent Power. Vijayan did not specify the source of the story - from the context, I guessed it might be due to some Sufi mystic or Sikh Guru.

A few months after that, taking a break from the search for work, I accompanied Sheshadri and Ashwini to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondichery. While we sat near the Samadhi of the mystic, I felt a strange 'high' and (getting talkative) proceeded to narrate the parable to my fellow-travelers. I remember making a connection with a certain passage in the Gita (which I had begun reading but a few days previously) where Krishna assures Arjuna: "I might have told you much already. But this is THE lesson, the most supreme secret of all - you are very dear to me" and remarking: "Intriguing, isn't it, both the Gita and that parable, though their origins are far separated in space and time, say the same thing?"

A few minutes afterwards ( and having 'recovered'), while we were looking for curios in an Ashram-run showroom, I was stunned to see a poster with the Footprints story printed beautifully on it. A wave of mystical joy nearly swept me off my feet. Even the agnostic Sheshadri said it was a remarkable coincidence. Ashwini was less impressed: "It is a matter of interpretation. You are making a Big Deal out of it!"- she remarked.

I bought the poster and gifted it to Suresh. A passionate believer, he was deeply moved when he read the story and heard of my 'encounters' with it. He said: "Truly, Bhai, your experience is too much of a coincidence to be a mere accident. It is a sure sign from above that He cares for us."


Aeons seem to have passed since those heady days when I owned little and was firmly convinced that the world belonged to me. I held on to the belief in the Footprints and remember telling the story (and how it had changed my world-view) to many people. But, with Time and the twists and turns in material circumstances, the tide of my spiritual life seems to be gradually ebbing away...

A few days back, Ramana Rao sent me the link put up at the top of this post. He had found the page while browsing and was reminded of me.

As I explored further from that link, the 'story of the story' began to unravel. I was surprised to find out that the parable is less than a century old (and was neither Sufi nor Sikh (nor Monastic Christian) in origin) and has almost had court-cases fought over it. Some of the details are here and here.


  • At 10:11 AM, Blogger Anand said…

    Very nicely told.

    I checked that link. I could guess what Lord's answer would be, and was hoping that Lord would have something different to say!

  • At 10:29 PM, Blogger R.Nandakumar said…

    thanks anand.

    the story was not well-known when i first read it. now with Archies cards and and what not, it has almost become well, passe! indeed, an IT version of the parable is doing the rounds these days - a developer and his manager have a similar pact; the developer sees only one set of footprints when pressure is max, asks the manager about it and is answered: "that was when i was sitting on your head!"

    the story of the story is probably still not that much in public domain and is of interest in its own right.

  • At 8:58 AM, Blogger Myna said…

    Nandhan bhai,

    Long time? I know and I feel sorry. You know how I came here? Because after these many years still Footprints guide me and I wanted to check on it again on the net. And you know what? I found you. Footprints never ceases to influence me. Thank you for this blog.

    For others, I am the Suresh mentioned in this post.


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