The poison tree, the narrative of whose growth we have given from the sowing of the seed to the production of its fruit, is to be found in every house. Its seed is sown in every field. There is no human being, however wise, whose heart is not touched by the passions of anger, envy, and desire. Some are able to subdue their passions as they arise; these are great men. Others have not this power, and here the poison tree springs up. The want of self-control is the germ of the poison tree, and also the cause of its growth. This tree is very vigorous; once nourished it cannot be destroyed. Its appearance is very pleasant to the eye; from a distance its variegated leaves and opening buds charm the sight. But its fruit is poisonous; who eats it dies.
In different soils the poison tree bears different fruits. In some natures it bears sickness, in some sorrow, and other fruits. To keep the passions in subjection will is needed, and also power. The power must be natural, the will must be educated. Nature also is influenced by education; therefore education is the root of self-control. I speak not of such education as the schoolmaster can give. The most effectual teacher of the heart is suffering.
Nagendra had never had this education. The Creator sent him into the world the possessor of every kind of happiness. Beauty of form, unlimited wealth, physical health, great learning, an amiable disposition, a devoted wife--all these seldom fall to the lot of one person; all had been bestowed on Nagendra. Most important of all, Nagendra was of a happy disposition: he was truthful and candid, yet agreeable: benevolent, yet just; generous, yet prudent; loving, yet firm in his duty. During the lifetime of his parents he was devoted to them. Attached to his wife, kind to his friends, considerate to his servants, a protector of his dependants, and peaceable towards his enemies, wise in counsel, trustworthy in act, gentle in conversation, ready at a jest. The natural reward of such a nature was unalloyed happiness. Since Nagendra's infancy it had been so: honour at home, fame abroad, devoted servants, an attached tenantry; from Surja Mukhi, unwavering, unbounded, unstained love. If so much happiness had not been allotted to him he could not have suffered so keenly. Had he not suffered he had not given way to his passion. Before he had cast the eyes of desire upon Kunda Nandini he had never fallen into this snare, because he had never known the want of love. Therefore he had never felt the necessity of putting a rein upon his inclinations. Accordingly, when the need of self-control arose he had not the power to exercise it. Unqualified happiness is often the source of suffering; and unless there has been suffering, permanent happiness cannot exist.
It cannot be said that Nagendra was faultless. His fault was very heavy. A severe expiation had begun.