"Oka Chinna Katha" - When
Bhagavan intercepts the speeding current of His Discourse with these
three Telugu words, meanings, "One little story" all ears are alert,
all hearts are quivive. For, the story that follows is a flash that
illumines, a shower that cools, a joke that tickles, a "tablet" that
alleviates, a peep into epic grandeur or pompous absurdity, a poetic
parenthesis, an exhilarating prick, a lilt that enlightens, a
sugar-coated pill of profundity, a disarming repartee, a volley of
raillery on religious rigmarole! It may be a tonic tale of the past or
the report of a contemporary comedy; it may be a thrust on theological
disputation or a dear little dig at some egoistic dignitary. The
Chinna Katha, if only we ponder over its relevance, is an effective
instrument in Bhagavan's educational process. When He is discoursing,
these parables and stories, ever on the wing, hover in flocks in the
firmament of His Love; He lets a few fly into our hearts and nestle
there, until we fondle and foster them and make them part of our
thought and behaviour patterns. Here is a charming, fragrant bouquet
of these multicoloured kathas, for our delectation, meditation and
- N. Kasturi
Your Bhakthi is
greater than my Shakthi
In South India, in the Tamil country, there was a certain Adigal
or Dasa, in a village, Thangalur by name. He had heard of the
spiritual grandeur of Saint Appar and developed great admiration for
him. So he built rest-houses in his name; named his children after him
so that they might grow up in the halo of his glory; he donated lands
and houses, all in the name of the Saint he had not seen. See how
faith preceded experience here. There are others who require
experience before they fix their faith. The first path is more
thrilling and lasting.
Well, one day by chance Appar himself walked into Thangalur for he had
missed his way and had to deviate. He noticed everywhere in the town
Appar Rest-houses and Appar Charities, and wondered how his name had
preceded him. Then Adigal ran forward to His Guru and took him home
and prepared a grand feast for him. When his eldest son went to his
garden to cut a few plantain leaves for a dinner, a snake bit him and
he died on the spot. Adigal however, was not affected in the least; he
covered up the corpse, heaping dry leaves upon it and proceeded with
the formalities of hospitality for the long-sought Guru. The Guru,
however, insisted on all the children of Adigal sitting around him
during the meal, and he ordered the father, "Go, call every one here."
Adigal did as he was commanded. He called and the dead son rose. He
too came and sat for dinner with the rest. When he knew what had
happened, Appar said, "Your Bhakthi is greater than my Shakthi."
Knowledge of Atma
Once upon a time, king Janaka sent a message to the people in his
kingdom: "If there be amongst you a great scholar, a Pundit, a
Mahatma, a Yogi, a Maharishi, a Sage, whoever he may be, let him come
and teach me the knowledge of Atma." In his message he said that he
expected to attain Atma Jnana, Self-knowledge, within a matter of a
few moments of being properly instructed. Even while climbing onto his
horse, before he was completely settled on to it, he should have
attained Atma Jnana. He said: "If the person offering to teach me Atma
Jnana is not able to accomplish this task of providing me an
experience of instant illumination, then I don't want to see him, even
if he is the greatest scholar, or the most learned person, or the
highly educated person in the land." Well, all the Pundits and Rishis
were a little frightened by this requirement. They saw that this would
be a severe test on their scholarship and learning, and so none dared
to come forth and offer himself to instruct the king and meet the
conditions that had been posed.
It was at this point that the boy Astavakra entered the kingdom. While
he was going on the road towards the capital city of Mithilapuram, he
met a number of people coming from there, including scholars and
Pundits; all of them had long faces, looking worried and grief-ridden.
Astavakra asked them what was the cause for their worry and grief.
They explained to him all the things that had happened. But Astavakra
couldn't understand why they should get frightened over such a small
thing. He added: "I will gladly solve this problem for the king." So
saying he directly entered the court of Janaka. He addressed the king:
"My dear King, I am ready to enable you to experience the knowledge of
Atma as you desire. But this sacred knowledge cannot be taught so
easily. This palace is full of Rajo Guna and Tamo Guna. We must leave
this place and enter an area of pure Satva." So, they left the palace
and went along the road leading out of the city towards the forest. As
was the custom whenever the emperor went outside his palace walls, the
army followed behind; but Janaka had them remain outside the forest.
Astavakra and Janaka entered the forest. Astavakra told King Janaka:
"I am not going to fulfil your wish unless you accept my conditions. I
may be only a boy, but I am in the position of a preceptor; and you
may be an all-powerful emperor, you are in the position of a disciple.
Are you prepared to accept this relationship? If you agree then you
will have to offer the traditional gift to the Guru, the Gurudakshina
that is given by the Sishya to the Guru. Only after you give your
offering to me will I start my instruction to you." King Janaka told
Astavakra: "The attainment of God is the most important thing to me,
so I am prepared to give you absolutely anything you want." But
Astavakra replied: "I don't want any material things from you, all I
want is your mind. You must give me your mind." The king answered: "Alright,
I offer my mind to you. Up to now I thought that this was my mind, but
from now onwards it will be yours."
Astavakra told Janaka to dismount from his horse and made the horse
stand in front of the king and then he told the king to sit down in
the middle of the road. Astavakra walked into the forest and sat
quietly under a tree. The soldiers waited for a long time. Neither the
king nor Astavakra returned from the forest. The soldiers wanted to
find out what had happened to them, so one by one, they proceeded to
look for them. When they went along the road leading into the forest,
they found the king seated there, in the middle of the road. The horse
was standing in front of the king. The king had his eyes closed and
sat still almost immobile. Astavakra was not to be seen. The officers
were afraid that Astavakra might have exercised some magic spell over
the king and had made him lose consciousness. The went to look for the
The Prime Minister came and addressed Janaka: "O King! O King! O King!"
But King Janaka did not open his eyes; he did not move at all. The
Prime Minister became frightened. Not only the Prime Minister but all
the officials were now getting frightened, because the time when the
King usually took his food and drink had passed and the king still had
not stirred. In this way the day went on and evening came, but the
king did not move from his position, sitting there immobile on the
road. Left with no alternative, the Prime Minister sent the chariot
back to the city to bring the queen thinking that if the queen spoke
to the king, he would surely respond. The queen came and addressed the
king: "Rajah, Rajah, Rajah!" The king did not stir; there was
absolutely no response from the king. Meanwhile the soldiers searched
throughout the whole forest for Astavakra. There, under a tree,
Astavakra was seated peacefully, in absolute calm and serenity.
The soldiers caught hold of him and brought him towards the place
where the king was. Astavakra told them: "Why are you all so worried?
The king is safe and everything is alright." But still they insisted
and brought him before the King seated on the road with his eyes
closed, his body completely still. The soldier said: "Here, look for
yourself! See what has happened to the king!". Until that time,
whether the Prime Minister, or the ministers, or the queen or any of
the other court officials or common people, had called out and
addressed the king, he neither opened his mouth in answer nor opened
his eyes in acknowledgment. But now Astavakra came and spoke to the
king. King Janaka immediately opened his eyes and replied, "Swami!"
Astavakra questioned the king: "Well, the ministers have come, and the
soldiers have come, and also many others have come, why did you not
reply to their entreaties?" Janaka answered: "Thoughts, words and
deeds are associated with the mind, and I offered my mind entirely to
you. Therefore before I can use the mind for anything, I need your
permission. What authority do I have to speak to anyone or use this
mind in any way without your permission and command." Then Astavakra
said: "You have attained the state of God-realization."
Astavakra told Janaka to put one foot in the stirrup and get up on the
horse. By the time he had climbed up and seated himself on the horse
and put his other foot in the stirrup, he had attained the experience
of Atma. Once a person has offered his mind, and with it all his words,
deeds and thoughts, then he will not have the authority or the power
to perform any actions without the permission of the one to whom he
has surrendered his mind.
Feeling behind the act
Abdullah was sleeping in a corner of a mosque in Mecca, when he
was awakened by the conversation of two angels above his head. They
were preparing a list of the Blessed and one angel was telling the
other that a certain Mahbub of Sikandar City deserved to be ranked
first, even though he has not come on pilgrimage to the Holy City.
Hearing this, Abdullah went to Sikandar City and found out that he was
a cobbler, repairing the shoes of people. He was famished and poor;
for, his earnings barely sufficed to keep flesh and bone together. He
had by severe sacrifice piled up a few coppers during the course of
years; one day, he spent the entire treasure to prepare a special dish
which he proposed to place before his enceinte wife as a surprise gift.
When he was proceeding home with the gift he heard the cry of a
starving beggar who seemed to be in the throes of extreme hunger.
Mahbub could not proceed further; he gave the pot containing the
costly delicacy to the man and sat by his side, enjoying the
blossoming of satisfaction on his haggard face.
The act gave him a place of honour in the register of the Blessed, a
place which pilgrims to Mecca who had spent millions of Dinars in
charity could not secure. The lord cares for the feeling behind the
act, not the fanfare and the fuss.
Words of the wise
It was a king's court, the ministers, pundits and artists were all
seated in their respective places. The king and his ministers had
earned quite a name and fame for their wit and wisdom. One day a sage
entered the court. He was given a warm welcome with all honor due to
him. The king asked him: "Oh revered one! May I know what brings you
here? We are very happy on account of your presence here today." The
sage replied: "Oh King, your court is reputed for its wit and wisdom.
I have brought three beautiful dolls and I would like to have an
assessment and evaluation of these dolls done by your ministers." He
presented to the king the three dolls. The king called his senior most
minister and gave him the dolls for examination and evaluation. The
minister just looked once at the dolls and commanded a royal messenger
to fetch him a thin steel-wire.
The minister inserted the wire into the right ear of one of the dolls.
The wire came out of the left ear. He kept it aside. He took up
another doll and once again passed the wire into its right ear. It
came out of the mouth of the doll. He kept that doll in one place. He
took up the third doll and inserted the wire, it neither came out of
the other ear nor from the mouth. The king and the courtiers were
eagerly watching the scene. The minister paying his tributes to the
sage said: "Oh revered one." Of the three dolls, the third one is the
best. The three dolls actually are symbolic of three types of
listening. There are three types of listeners, in the world. The first
type listen to every word, only to pass it out from the other ear. The
second type listen well, remember it well only to speak out all that
they have heard. The third type listen, retain everything they have
heard and treasure it up in their hearts. They are the best type of
listeners." The sage congratulated the king and the minister on the
successful evaluation of the dolls and blessing them both, left the
'Shravanam' is the first and the foremost among the nine types of
devotion. Having heard the words of the wise, we should try to revolve
their meaning and message in our minds and put them into practise to
elevate our lives.
A great sage called Gautama
There was a great sage called Gautama in ancient India. He had a
number of disciples studying under him. One day he called all his
disciples and said: "My dear children! You know that we have been
experiencing severe drought in this region and there are no signs of
its abatement too. I am very much worried about the cattle of our
hermitage. They have already become very lean and weak. I am unable to
bear the sight of suffering of these dumb creatures. I think these
cows have to be driven to a distant place where there is ample pasture
and plenty of water. I will be very happy if one of you could
volunteer to undertake this task. You can bring them back when the
calamity has rolled over."
Many pupils just hung their heads lest their true feelings should be
found out by their master. Some tried to hide behind others in order
to avoid the direct stare of the Guru.
A pupil by name Sathyakama, got up and, paying his salutations to his
master, said: "Master, I shall take them, don't worry." Many students
tried to dissuade him from undertaking such a hazardous task. They
warned him: "Oh! You have to be all alone in the wilds away from the
comforts of the hermitage. You may not even find good food. Sathyakama
replied: "My dear friends, I am quite confident that the goodwishes of
our Guru will provide me enough safety and sustenance. I shall not be
alone for I will have these cows to keep company."
The Guru was happy that at least one among the many pupils volunteered
to undertake the job as service to the Guru. He blessed Sathyakama and
said: "You are taking with you 400 cows; you can return when the herd
multiplies into a total strength of one thousand."
Sathyakama drove the cattle to a charming valley. Everyday, he used to
wake up early in the morning, finish his ablutions and bath. Then he
would offer prostration to the Sun God and recite prayers. While
tending the cattle and while walking or sitting he would constantly
chant the name of God. He affectionately looked after the cattle. He
regarded 'go-seva' (Service to cows) as Guru Seva (Service to the
Master). He never felt any anxiety or worry over his life in solitude.
He never bothered to count the cows too.
One morning after the morning rites, he was seated under a tree. Indra
the Chief of Gods appeared before him and said: "My dear son! Have you
not observed that the herd has multiplied itself to the total number
of 1000? You can now return to your master's hermitage. I will be
travelling with you. Come on let us go."
Sathyakama prostrated to Indra and thanked him for reminding him of
the fact that it was time for returning. Sathyakama and Indra had to
spend four nights in four different places. Every morning Sathyakama
was taught the essence of one Veda. Thus by the time he reached his
Guru's hermitage he was the master of the four Vedas. His face shone
with a strange splendour as a result of the Vedic illumination that he
had been blessed with by the Lord of Heaven. Having enlightened
Sathyakama, Lord Indra disappeared after showering his grace on the
Sathyakama walked into his Guru's hermitage with 1000 cows. He was
given a rousing welcome by his guru and the inmates. Sathyakama fell
at the feet of his master. Gautama embraced him saying: "I know that
you are now a great scholar of the four Vedas. You deserve it, my son."
Sathyakama could please Indra, the Lord of Heaven, only because of his
love and loyalty to his guru.
Receive the knowledge
of the Supreme
Once a disciple went to a preceptor and requested him to impart to
him the Supreme knowledge of the Omniself (Brahma Thathwam). The Guru
gave him a mantra and asked him to chant it continually without any
selfish desire. The Guru told him that after he had done this sadhana
for one whole year he could come to receive the knowledge of the
Supreme (Brahma Jnana).
The disciple approached his Guru after one year and told him "Oh
revered one! I have recited the mantra for one whole year". He was
eagerly awaiting the preceptor's answer. He thought that his Guru
would certainly impart to him the knowledge of the Supreme. Just then,
unaware of the presence of the disciple, the maid servant was sweeping
the ashram premises and the dust from the ground fell on the young
man. The disciple flew into a rage, because he had come to the ashram
after a sacred bath and the dust had sullied his body. He looked at
her with anger and the maid was filled with fear. The Preceptor was
watching the entire scene.
The Guru said "you are not competent to receive the knowledge. You got
angry with the maid servant who unwittingly caused some dust to fall
on you. How can Brahma Jnana be imparted to one, who has not that much
of endurance? Go back and practice the Sadhana for one more year".
At the end of the second year the disciple was about to enter the
ashram. According to the instructions of the Guru the maid servant
once again let the dust fall on the disciple in full measure. The
disciple grew indignant and wanted to beat her, but somehow, refrained
from doing so.
The disciple approached the Guru and paid his respect. The Guru told
him: "You are still not competent to receive the knowledge. Last year
you exhibited the qualities of a snake and now those of a dog. Come
back after ridding yourself of these animal qualities".
At the end of the third year, the disciple entered the ashram premises
after taking a sacred bath. As per the instructions of the Guru the
maid servant poured some dirty water on the disciple. The disciple
calmly offered his salutations to the maid and said, "Mother! I offer
my salutation to you. You have helped me to acquire the greatest
virtue, forbearance. Now I am worthy enough to receive the grace of my
Guru. I shall always be grateful to you".
As soon as the disciple prostrated before the Guru, the Guru
endearingly said: "Son! Now you are quite competent to receive the
knowledge of the Supreme".
Put into practice?
One day, an old lady came to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa with her 10
year old grandson. She prostrated before him and said: "Master! I have
come to seek your advice. This boy is my grandson. He lost his father
and mother when he was just a child of five. I have been taking care
of him. He is very fond of sweets. He eats so much that his health is
deteriorating day by day. The doctors have advised him not to eat
sweets but this fellow does not pay any heed to their advice. However,
he has great respect and admiration for you. So I have come to request
you to stop the boy from eating sweets. I am sure, you alone can do
this". Ramakrishna said: "Mother, don't worry, come with your grandson
after a month. In the meanwhile I shall think of a plan to convince
the boy that one's health is very important, more important even than
wealth". The old woman thanked him and took leave of him.
She came with her grandson exactly after a month. Both of them paid
their salutations to the master. Ramakrishna made the boy sit beside
him and said: "My dear boy! Remember, one's real wealth is health.
Unless you take proper care of your health, you will not be able to
grow into a strong and healthy young man. You will not be able to do
anything great in life if you are weak. When something that we eat
does not suit our constitution, we should give up eating that item.
From tomorrow you should not eat sweets. After some time you may eat
moderately. You are a nice boy and will listen to me, will you not?".
The boy nodded his head and promised that he would not eat sweets.
The old woman sent the boy on some errand just to have confidential
talk with the master. "Master! May I ask you a question?" said the old
woman. "Certainly mother", replied Ramakrishna. "Master! This advice
which you have given today to my grandson, you could have given last
month itself. Why did you ask me to come again after a month? I don't
understand". Ramakrishna replied with an understanding smile: "Mother!
I myself eat lot of sweets. How can I advise the boy to do something
that I am not doing myself? One has no right to preach anything to
others before practising it himself. So I asked for some time. This
one month I did not eat sweets. So I have earned the right to advise
your grandson." The old woman marvelled at the righteous conduct of
Ramakrishna. She fell at his feet and took leave of him.
We should never advise anyone about anything which we ourselves have
not put into practice.
Remember, He is Omnipresent!
Thiruppandar was a great devotee of lord Shiva. Once he happened
to visit a famous pilgrim center dedicated to his favorite Lord. After
the darshan of Siva, he felt that he was too exhausted and weak to
walk further, and therefore rested for the night in the temple itself.
Early in the morning, the priest entered the temple with a potful of
water to perform abhishek to the Lingam. To his utter consternation,
he found an aged man sleeping right in front of the shrine with legs
stretched towards the sanctum sanctorum. He got wild at the sight and,
in indignation, he sprinkled some water on the face of the old man.
But, there was no sign of any movement. So, he bent down and tried to
lift the old man's legs. Immediately the old man opened his eyes and
said in an appealing tone, "My dear Son! Why are you pulling my legs?"
The priest shouted "Oh! For your age, is it not shameful on your part
to indulge in such a sacrilegious act of stretching your legs towards
God?" The old man said calmly, "My dear son, I feel a cramp in my legs
and cannot get up. Will you place my two feet in a direction you like,
where God is not? I shall certainly get up after a while." The priest
did not want to waste time in arguing with the man. So, he held the
two feet of the man, lifted them up and placed them in the opposite
direction. Suddenly, there sprang out a lingam from underneath the
feet! The priest tried to place the old man's feet in another
position, but there again sprang up another lingam! In a minute, the
place was full of lingams! The priest fell at the feet of the old man
and said "Oh revered one! You must be a realised soul. Pardon me for
my insulting words and actions." The old man got up and said "My dear
son, have you not read in the scriptures that God is omnipresent? Can
you limit God to a place and to an image or a picture or in a frame?
Of course we have temples with idols and pictures of worship; but they
only help devotees to direct their faith and devotion to God as
embodiments of the various Divine shaktis in this vast boundless
universe. The Supreme Creator, the Almighty God is only one, and
remember, He is Omnipresent."
I don't belong to any place
One day in the sacred shrine of lord Viswanath at Kasi, all the
devotees and temple priests were immersed in singing hymns and
reciting chants. All of a sudden, they heard a metallic sound. When
they turned their heads in that direction they saw a shining gold
plate on the floor of the shrine. It must have fallen through an open
space in the center of the hall from the sky leading to the sanctum
sanctorum. All of them gathered round with wonder, while the chief
temple priest went close to examine it. He found some letters
inscribed on it. "This belongs to my dear devotee". The priest read
the inscription loudly. All the temple priests vied with one another
to snatch the plate with the feeling, "Who could be a greater devotee
than myself. I spend my time, talent and strength only to offer
worship to the Lord Viswanath." But the plate changed into an earthen
one the moment they touched it one after another. News spread like
wild fire about the golden plate. Several scholars, singers, poets and
preachers came and tried their luck but in vain. Days, weeks and
months rolled on but the plate remained there without a claimant.
One day, a stranger came to the temple. He stood at the entrance and
tears gathered in his eyes when he saw beggars, blind, dumb and lame
pitiously pleading for alms. He felt ashamed of his inability to
relieve them of their hunger and agony. He wanted to pray to the Lord
and so stepped into the temple. He saw people gathered round and
discussing something. He tried to squeeze himself into the crowd to
find out why they were standing there. He saw a golden plate in the
center of that enclosure. He enquired and was told about the episode
of the golden plate. He was rather surprised and sad at the attitude
of the people and the priests. Instead of praying to the Lord of the
Universe and trying to possess Him, they were eager to possess the
golden plate. Observing his non-chalant attitude, the high priest
requested him to try his hand. The stranger replied: "Oh Revered one!
I do not care for either gold or silver, what I long for is God's
Grace." The priest's esteem for that man increased. So he once again
pressed him, "At least to satisfy us, please try your hand." The
stranger touched the plate without a trace of attachment. Lo! It shone
forth with redoubled effulgence. All the priests gathered round and
queried: "Sir, where do you come from? What are your qualifications?
What are the branches of learning you have mastered? How many years
did you do penance?" The stranger replied calmly: "I don't belong to
any place. I just manage to earn my bread by hard labor. The only
sadhana I do is Namasmaran [repeating the name of the Lord]. This has
perhaps rendered my heart pure and filled it with love and compassion.
It has enabled me to control my mind and the senses. I have not read
any book or mastered any science. The only art I know of is chanting
the Name Divine. The only act I do is to be kind to the poor."
So, the only qualification to become dear to the Lord is to acquire a
compassionate heart and sense control. These two can be acquired
through Namasmaran with full faith in the Lord.
The instrument of flattery
Zebunnissa was the daughter of the Moghul Emperor Aurangazeb. She
was not only beautiful and charming but a great scholar and a poetess.
She was an ardent lover of Indian Culture.
Once, Aurangazeb gave her a beautiful mirror as a birthday gift.
Zebunnissa loved the mirror very much. One day her maid was holding
the mirror to her while Zebunnissa was combing her hair after her bath.
The mirror just slipped from the hand of the maid and broke into
pieces. The maid was mortally afraid. She knew that the mirror was a
precious gift, given to the princess and how much she loved the mirror.
The maid was prepared to accept any punishment her princess may give
her. She fell at her feet. But the princess very calmly said with a
smile. "Get up. I am glad the instrument of flattery is broken. Why
worry over the broken mirror? Even this body to which all these
articles cater is liable to damage and destruction". Is this not a
lesson in detachment?
During the exile of the Pandavas, Krishna visited them to enquire
about their welfare. He spent a night with them. The Pandavas had to
undergo untold suffering during their exile. As Draupadi was also with
them, they would keep vigil in turns for one hour each, every night.
Krishna also volunteered to keep vigil for one hour.
Dharmaja wondered, "When You are the protector of the entire universe,
what is the meaning in your standing sentry for an hour to protect us?"
Yet he cautioned Krishna: "Krishna, beware of the devil - my brothers
and I encounter it every night. On many occasions it has tried to
attack us. Therefore, we pray to you not to do a turn in guard duty.
You have come to enquire about our welfare. We should not put you in
danger. Kindly take rest." Krishna replied, "Dharmaja, is this what
you have understood of my divinity? On the one hand you extol me as
the protector of the entire universe and on the other you are
apprehensive that I cannot protect myself. You are worried that the
demon will harm me. Rest assured that no demon can touch me. Therefore,
permit me also to join you all in doing the security duty."
Having completed one hour duty, Krishna sat on a rock and was smiling
to himself. It was Arjuna's turn next. He rushed to Krishna, a bit
worried that the demon might have attacked him. Seeing Krishna smiling,
Arjuna fell at His feet and enquired whether he had vanquished the
demon. Krishna replied, "Arjuna, I have never created demons and evil
spirits. Then, how can the non-existent demons appear in the forest?
The demon you are talking about is not a demon at all. It is just a
reflection of the evil qualities within you such as hatred, anger and
jealousy. The anger in you is manifesting as the demon. Its power is
increasing in proportion to the intensity of anger in you." The evil
qualities of man are the real demons troubling him today. Man is under
the mistaken notion that demons exist and that they are responsible
for his suffering. This is all nothing but imagination and
psychological fear. Only man puts another man to suffering; there is
no demon as such. There are no demons and evil spirits in this
creation. Arjuna realised the truth of Krishna's words and thereafter
did not encounter the demon. Arjuna was beholden to Krishna for the
revelation. He fell at his feet and expressed his gratitude. Good and
bad are man's own creations.
Solutions to three problems
After Buddha gave up worldly ways, he travelled far and wide.
People were wonder-struck at his brilliant, handsome form. Enamoured
by his effulgence, a woman named Ambashali approached him and said, "O
great one, you look like a prince in ochre robes. May I know why you
don ochre robes at this young age?" Buddha replied that he took to the
path of renunciation in order to seek solutions to three problems. "This
body which is young and handsome is bound to become old with time -
will be made sick and perish ultimately. I want to know the cause for
old age, sickness and death."
Impressed by his quest of truth she invited him for lunch. In no time
the entire village came to know of this. The villagers started coming
to Buddha one by one, and requested him not to accept her invitation
as she was a woman of bad character. Buddha listened to all their
complaints patiently. Buddha smiled and asked the village head, "Do
you also affirm that she is a woman of bad character?" The village
head replied, "Not once, but thousand times I will vouch for the evil
character of Ambashali. Please do not visit her house."
Holding the village head's right hand, Buddha asked him to clap. The
village head said that he could not do so as one of his hands was in
Buddha's hold and it was not possible for anyone to clap with a single
hand. Buddha replied, "Likewise, Ambashali cannot be bad by herself
unless there are men of bad character in this village. If all the men
in this village were good, this woman would not have turned bad.
Therefore, men and their money are responsible for the bad character
Saying so he wanted to know if there was any individual in that
gathering without any trace of bad in him so that he could visit his
house for lunch. No one came forward. Then Buddha said, "When there
are so many bad men in the village, it is not proper to point a finger
at one woman. She turned bad due to bad company." That is why it is
said, 'Tell me your company, I shall tell you what you are.' Realising
their folly, the people fell at Buddha's feet and sought forgiveness.
Since then they started treating Ambashali as one amongst them.
Inspired by the teachings of Buddha, Ambashali also took to the path
of renunciation and led a pious life. No one else is responsible for
the good and bad in an individual. Each one is responsible for his own
good and bad. Who is good, who is bad? First eliminate the bad in you.
A spiritual aspirant
A certain spiritual aspirant went to a sage and asked him to give him
a mantra. The sage said that he would impart the message only if the
disciple agreed to serve him for twelve years, carrying out all his
injunctions. The disciple agreed and carried out his services to the
preceptor with devotion for twelve years. At the end of the period,
when the sage felt that his own end was approaching, he asked the
disciple to bring a palmyra leaf on which he would inscribe the mantra
before his death. The disciple went in search of a palmyra leaf, but
before he could return, the preceptor died. On enquiry from a boy who
was there, he learnt that before dying, the sage had written something
on a bed of sand, which a woman had copied and then wiped off the
inscription. The disciple went in search of the woman, who was having
some donkeys. He learnt from her that she had inscribed on the
palmleaf roll that she wore in her ear-lobe what she found on the sand.
When she learnt from the young man that the writing on the sand was a
mantra intended for him and for which he had served the sage
faithfully for twelve years, the woman said that she would give him
the palm leaf only if he served her dutifully for twelve years. The
disciple who was determined to get the mantra at any cost, agreed to
The young man looked after the donkeys and served the woman for many
years, living upon the food given by her. One day, he could not get
the food from her and went about in search of food. At that time, he
learnt that the king of the region had been feeding the poor for a
long time and that he might be able to get food if he went to the
feeding place. On going there he learnt that the king had stopped the
feeding from that day because it did not yield the result he was
expecting from it. The king had started poor feeding on the advice of
his preceptor who had told him that he would have a son if a truly
godly man ate the food that he would serve to the poor. A bell was
kept in the palace and when it rang by itself, that would be the sign
that a godly man had partaken of the king's food. As the feeding had
gone on for long without the bell ringing, the king decided to stop
That was the very day when the young disciple went to the feeding
place. On learning that all the vessels used for cooking the food had
been sent to the river for cleaning, the young man hastened to the
river bank to find out whether some food scraped from the vessels
would be available for him. He found some crumbs at the spot and
started eating them. At that very moment the bell in the palace
The king was startled to hear the bell and immediately sent out
messengers to find out who was the person who had eaten the food that
day which made the bell ring. After enquiries, the messengers traced
the young man at the river and brought him to the king. The king was
overjoyed on seeing the young man because he felt that he would soon
have a son. He offered the young man half his kingdom and invited him
to stay with him. The young man told the king his whole story and said
that he was not interested in the kingdom or anything else, but only
in the mantra from his guru, which was now in the keeping of the woman
with the donkeys. The young man insisted that the palmleaf ear-ring
worn by the woman should be obtained without any compulsions.
The king sent out men to trace the woman, who was brought before him.
Learning that she was an acrobat, who could perform feats on a rope,
the king asked her to demonstrate her skill before the queen who was
now enceinte. As she was dancing on the rope, he asked her whether she
could catch two diamond ear-rings he would throw at her and wear them
while dancing on the rope. She readily agreed. Catching them in her
hands, she took out the palmleaf rings from her ear-lobes, cast them
down and wore the diamond ear-rings in their place.
As the palmleaf rings dropped down, the young man rushed towards them
and eagerly read the message inscribed there in. Immediately after
reading the mantra the young man secured instant illumination and
A spiritual aspirant should have such determination and preparedness
for any kind of sacrifice to achieve his goal.
A professional pickpocket
One day goddess Parvathi asked Shiva: "Lord! I have heard that there
is a sacred shrine for your worship by name Kasi and that those who
visit Kasi and offer worship to you after a holy bath in the Ganges
will earn the merit of coming to Kailas and stay there for ever. Is it
true?" Lord Shiva replied: "All the people cannot earn that merit.
Mere visiting Kasi and offering worship to my image are not enough.
Presently, I shall make the point clear to you. Let us go to Kasi as
an aged couple. I shall make you enact a drama!"
Lord Shiva and Parvathi appeared before the entrance of the temple of
Shiva, Parvathi as an old hag of eighty years and Lord Shiva a rickety
old man of ninety. Shiva laid his head on the lap of Parvathi and
started groaning in severe pains. The old woman was crying helplessly.
She begged every pilgrim saying: "Oh ye devotees! look here, this is
my husband. He is terribly thirsty and may die any moment. Will you
please fetch some water for him to drink? I cannot leave him alone and
go to fetch water". The pilgrims were coming from the ghats after
their ceremonial bath in the Ganges. Their clothes were wet and they
were carrying water in small bright vessels. They saw and heard the
woman's lament. Some said: "Wait, we shall attend to your husband
after offering the sacred Ganges water to Lord Viswanath."
Some said: "Oh what a nuisance! Why can't these beggars allow us at
least to offer worship in peace." Some others said: "These beggars
should not be allowed to sit here".
There was a big crowd near the temple entrance. A professional
pickpocket walked along with some of these pilgrims. He also heard the
old woman's lament. He could not bear the sight of the suffering old
man and the bewailing old woman. He walked upto them and said: "Mother,
what do you want? Who are you? Why are you here?". The old woman
replied, "Son, we came here to have the darsan of Lord Visveswara. My
husband suddenly took ill and fainted out of exhaustion. He might
survive if someone were to pour some water into his parching mouth.
His condition is too critical for me to leave him and go to bring
water. I requested many people to help me, but nobody would spare any
water though they have been carrying pitchers full of it." The thief
was moved to compassion. He had brought some water in the dried
gourd-pot. The woman stopped him and said: "Son, my husband may die
any moment, he will not accept water unless the person who gives water
speaks truth." The pickpocket could not catch the meaning. He said: "Mother,
please tell me what I should do"? With a cynical laughter, he said: "Mother,
I have not done any good deed so far. I am a professional pickpocket.
The only good deed is that which I am going to do now, to offer water
to this dying old man. This is true." He poured gently some water into
the mouth of the old man. No sooner had the pickpocket done this deed
than the old couple disappeared and in their place stood Lord Shiva
and Goddess Parvathi, in all their full splendor. Shiva said: "Son,
you are indeed blessed. There is no greater morality than speaking the
truth, and no true worship more faithful than service to fellow human
beings. You have been atoned for all the sins you have committed so
far because of this one good deed."
Act and live in the present
Once a poor man approached king Yudhishtira, the eldest of the
Pandavas. He was also called Dharmaraja because he always followed the
path of virtue. The poor man asked the king for some help. Yudhishtira
said: "Come tomorrow, I will give you what you want".
Bhima, Yudhishtira's brother, overheard this promise. He at once
called all the royal retinue for a sudden meeting. He announced that
the next day would be celebrated as a day of victory. This sudden
announcement created a great commotion. Everyone wanted to know what
the victory was about and who had won it. The news reached Dharmaraja.
Bhima was asked to give an explanation.
Bhima said: "We have gained a victory over death for twenty four hours.
Dharmaraja had asked a certain poor man to come tomorrow for receiving
help. It means that Dharmaraja is quite certain that he will be alive
for the next twenty four hours. Is this not a victory?"
Yudhishtira realised how inadvertently he was taught a lesson. He sent
for the poor man and gave him what he wanted. Act and live in the
present. Never postpone to tomorrow whatever good you can do today.
An argumentative tendency
By reading many books and developing an argumentative tendency, it
is quite common today that young people get into arguments with others.
Once a young man aged 22 years went to Sankara. When Sankara was
giving spiritual lessons to his disciples he interrupted and asked
Sankara if all human beings in this wide world should not be regarded
as equal since the same kind of blood flows in all of them. Sankara
smiled at this young man and said that the blood flowing in that
youngster is hot and fast and so he was trying to push things too far.
It is not possible for man to distinguish between permanent and
impermanent things. One can adopt the notion of non-duality or advaita
in one's own thoughts and attitudes but it is not possible to equate
everything in the world in practice. The young man insisted that this
does not seem right. He stated that to him, the proper thing appeared
to be to treat all living being in the same manner.
Sankara recognised that if this young man was allowed to go on in this
strain, he was likely to reach some absurd conclusions. Sankara
decided at once to teach him a lesson and immediately asked whether he
had a mother. The young man replied that he had a mother who was alive
and that he respected her very much. He again asked if the young man
was married. The young man replied that he was married and that his
wife also had come with him to the ashram. Sankara then asked him if
he had a mother-in-law. The young man replied that the mother-in-law
was quite hale and healthy. Sankara again asked if he had any sisters
and the young man replied in the affirmative and said he had two
sisters. Sankara asked if all these people were women. The young man
asked how it should be otherwise. Sankara asked if he regarded all of
them as equal and was treating all these people in the same manner and
if in particular, he was treating his wife as mother and his sister as
In this world of multiplicity one has to recognize qualitative and
quantitative differences. Each electric bulb is varying in power and
wattage. Therefore the light radiating from the bulb is not due to
electric current. The current is the same everywhere but the
difference arises from the bulbs with different intensities. God's
power is like electric power and our bodies are the bulbs.
Three in one
There was a small kingdom in which strangely enough all people where
quite happy and very healthy. In course of time both the ruler and
ruled grew proud of this rare good fortune and claimed it to be a
reward of their personal righteousness. Since all of them were healthy,
there was no physician in the kingdom. One day, a physician came to
its capital city and was happy to find that there was no other
physician to compete with him in his profession in the whole kingdom.
But whenever he entered into conversation with the people and enquired
after their health, they would say: "Oh! We are brahmajnanis, no
illness can touch us. We are the fortunate few chosen by God and
blessed by Him with health and happiness. Why do you tarry here,
better go elsewhere to earn your living". The physician however did
not want to leave the city and was also hopeful that this snobbery of
the people will not last long.
Once the king suddenly fell ill. The physician was summoned to the
royal presence. He was pleased that God had given him an opportunity
to display his talent. He treated the king with reverence and great
attention. The king was slowly but steadily improving. However, he
said: "Sir, I really thank you for your treatment but can you not cure
me quickly? I am not used to lying down like this for days together".
The physician wanted to teach the king and the people a lesson. He
said: "Oh king, there is a quick cure, but I am afraid, I may not be
able to get what I want for preparing the medicine". The king said: "you
need not doubt the capacity either of my ministers or my people. They
will be ready to procure anything you may require. They are all brahma
jnanis. They will not bother about any type of strain or sacrifice on
their part to get their beloved king cured. Come, tell me what you
want". The physician said: "My Lord! I am glad that you are so
confident". I require 1/4 pound of flesh from the body of a brahma
jnani - that is all". "Oh! How simple!", exclaimed the king. The king
immediately sent word to his minister and commanded him to get at once
1/4 pound of flesh of any brahma jnani in the city".
The minister returned very late in the evening, very sad and dejected.
The king asked eagerly "Why so late? Come on, where is the flesh?".
The minister pleaded, "Oh! King, I am sorry, I could not get what you
wanted. When I made the people know of what you need, everyone said:
'Oh, I am not a brahma jnani. Do you think that brahma jnanis will be
found in cities such as this?' How can we say confidently that we are
all brahma jnanis?".
The king was surprised to hear this and looked at the physician
pitiably. The physician said: "Oh king!, do not feel sad. This is the
way of the world. One may claim to be anything but to actually live up
to that high ideal is extremely difficult. You are now recovered.
Nothing is wrong with you. I need no human flesh. I planned this
little drama, only to let you know the truth. Pardon me".
Each person is "three in one", i.e. what he thinks of himself, what
others think he is and finally, what he really is.
Once a king wanted to know answers to three questions about which he
had been contemplating for a long time. One day the king raised these
questions in his Court Hall. The questions were: Where is God? In what
direction does He cast His look? What does He do? None could answer
these questions. The King then summoned with due honour a sage to his
court. He asked the sage to answer these questions.
The Sage replied: "Like butter in the milk God is everywhere". To
answer the second question the sage asked for a lamp. He lit the lamp
and asked the King: "In which direction does this lamp shed its
light?" The lamp sheds its light in all the directions" replied the
king. The sage said "Likewise God is Effulgence itself and His vision
is not directed to a particular place or person. He is all seeing".
The king asked: "What does He do?" The sage said: "Since I am in a way
instructing you in spiritual matters, I am in the position of a
preceptor, you a disciple. So we have to exchange our places. Are you
prepared for this?" The king agreed and came down from his elevated
position and sat on the seat in which the sage sat. The sage said with
a twinkle in his eyes: "This is what God does. He brings down the
mighty and elevates the humble. He can make the poor rich and the rich
poor. He can do anything. He is all pervading. He is all seeing and
Omnipotent." The king was very much pleased with these answers. He
expressed his gratitude to the sage and honoured him in a fitting
Like the king in the story, every one of us should try to understand
the true characteristics of God: God is Omnipresent, Omniscient, and
True devotion will surely win
Sri Sailam is a great pilgrim center in Andhra Pradesh, and is famous
for its temple of Siva and Parvathi atop a hill. There, Lord Siva is
adored as Mallikarjuna and Goddess Parvathi as Bhramaramba. There is a
legend relating to this sacred shrine and the Divinity that abides
there as Siva and Sakthi.
In a hamlet very near Srisailam, there lived a mother and a lad, six
years old. He was called Balaramanna. He was studying in the local
Once, on the eve of Sivarathri, all the school boys were returning
home eagerly discussing the festival. One boy said: "My sister and
brother-in-law are coming tonight for Sivarathri. Tomorrow we will all
go to the temple on the hill. "Oh! What fun it is to be with my sister
and brother-in-law". Another boy said: "My sister and brother-in-law
have already come. They have brought me new dress to wear. We are all
going to the temple tonight itself." Balaramanna heard this talk. He
wondered whether he too had a sister and brother-in-law. He ran home
and asked his mother: "Mother, do I have a sister?" Where is she? What
is my brother-in-law doing? Why don't they visit us? My friends are
all enjoying themselves in the company of their sisters. I too would
like to be with my sister and brother-in-law." The mother knew the
child's heart. In order to comfort him and sow the seeds of faith in
him, she said: "My dear child, you too have a sister and
brother-in-law. They are, "Brahmaramba and Mallikarjuna". "Is that so?
Where are they? I shall go and bring them home for the festival. Tell
me where they are", said the lad. The mother sent her son along with
her neighbours to the temple on the hill. She told them to take care
of their son and gave them some money to buy odd little things for him.
Balaram said: "Mother, should I not take something for my sister?" The
mother replied: "No, my son, since you are a child, they will
themselves give you a lot of gifts."
Balaram was taken into the shrine. The neighbours showed him the two
idols, beautifully decorated with flowers and apparel and said, "Look
that is Goddess Brahmaramba, your sister and that is Lord Mallikarjuna."
Balaram at once ran to the idol of Brahmaramba, caught hold of her
hand and said: "Sister, please come home with me. Mother has sent me
to invite you." There was no response. He ran into the other shrine
and loudly said: "Brother-in-law, please come with me along with my
sister. I won't leave the place without you." The temple priests took
him for a mad cap and pushed him out. Balaram's agony knew no bounds.
He was determined to return home with his sister and brother-in-law.
He decided to end his life if his sister and brother-in-law did not
appear before him. He ran and stood on the top of a peak and cried: "Listen,
if you won't come with me, you my sister and you my brother-in-law, I
will jump off the peak and end my life." At once, he heard someone
calling: "Brother, wait!, wait! we are coming, we are coming." Both
Lord Mallikarjuna and Brahmaramba ran towards him and gathered him
into their arms. Balaram said: "You must come with me, mother is
expecting you." The all compassionate Lord and his consort did
accompany the lad. They granted to them the vision to see them as Siva
"Whatever you hold once, you have
Hold on to it, till you win.
Whatever you have asked, once you have asked,
Ask aloud for it, till you win.
Whatever you wish, once you have wished,
wish deeper for it, till you win.
Whatever you have planned, once you have planned,
Plan firmer for it, till you win.
He must grant to stop your wail.
Wail, weep, pray till you win.
Don't lose heart and turn away
True devotion will surely win."
Urgent letter to Lord
In an obscure village lived a mother and her son. The boy had lost his
father when he was just two years old. The mother exerted herself in
many ways to earn enough money for bringing up her only son and
educating him. The boy too was very smart, obedient and had a great
love and regard for his mother. The boy grew up and reached seventh
class. He was studying hard for the examination. One day he told his
mother, "Ma, I have to pay fees Rs. 20 for the examination within four
days. Please somehow get for me the amount."
The mother was panicky, she had no money with her, and it was the last
week of the month. She went to the headmaster and explained her
inability to pay the fees in time and requested to help her in some
way or other. The headmaster replied that nothing was in his hands.
The mother returned home, sat under a tree near her hut and was
weeping. The boy returned from the school, found his mother weeping.
He sat near her and asked: "Why are you weeping mother?" "My son, I
cannot find money. You cannot go to school from tomorrow. You better
come and work with me. There is no other way." The boy said: "Why don't
you ask somebody a loan of Rs. 20. After the examination, I shall work
and will be able to pay back the amount." "My dear son," replied the
mother, "who will give me the money? Only God if He will." The boy
eagerly enquired, "Who is God, Ma? Where is He? What is His address? I
shall go and get money from Him." The mother helplessly said: "Yes,
there is the Lord of Vaikunta, Narayana, who is the source of all
Without a moment's hesitation, the boy ran to the post office. He had
a few small coins with him. He purchased a card and wrote on it his
mother's unfortunate condition, his own need and requested God to send
Rs. 20 immediately by return post. He ran to the post box tied to a
tree, but he was too short to reach the slit to put in the letter box.
The postmaster who had been observing the boy all the while, came out
took the card from him and asked: "To whom are you writing the letter?"
The Boy said: "Oh Sir! This is a very urgent letter to Lord Narayana
in Vaikunta. I have to pay my examination fees within three days. I am
writing to him requesting him to send Rs. 20 immediately." The
postmaster stared at the address on the post card. He could not find
words, tears gathered in his eyes at the innocence of that boy. "My
dear boy, who gave you this address?" asked the postmaster. The boy
narrated the dialogue between himself and his mother. "Sir, my mother
says that God is very kind and He will certainly help the poor like us
if only we pray to Him earnestly." The postmaster was very much moved.
He patted the boy and said: "My dear boy, I shall see to the express
delivery of this post card. You better come day after tomorrow."
The boy ran home in a joyful mode. He told his mother that he would
get the money in a day.
The boy went to the postmaster the day after. The postmaster said: "My
dear boy, here is the cover, inside it you will find Rs. 20. Now go
and pay the fees." The boy ran home with the cover and placed it in
his mother's hands. The mother asked him sternly how he had got the
money. The boy narrated the entire discussion with the postmaster. She
would not believe him. She hurried to the postmaster and asked him
whether what her son had told her was true and how it could have
happened. The postmaster told her: "Mother, believe me. I have always
been a hard hearted man. When I saw your son with that letter, I could
not believe my own eyes. A letter written to God with such faith. It
moved me. It must be God who had induced me to come to the rescue of
your son. Please take the money. It must be God's will that I should
give this money. Otherwise I would not have chanced to see your boy
and your son's faith in God would have been shattered. I consider this
an opportunity to help a good boy."
If we pray to God sincerely, God does help us. He would induce someone
to act as His agent. Implicit faith in God alone would rescue everyone
from all troubles and travails.
Mere adulation is poor
Akbar as we all know, is one of the greatest Moghal Emperors. He was a
lover of mankind and respected the great and pious souls of all
He had heard of Guru Nanak's reputation and his attempts to unite the
Hindus and the Muslims. He desired to welcome him and honour him in
his court. So he sent word to him through his minister, paying his
respects and requesting him to grace his court. Guru Nanak replied to
the minister: "I shall only respond to the call of God, the Emperor of
Emperors and shall enter only His court."
The minister conveyed this message to the Emperor. Akbar's respect for
Guru Nanak increased and so he sent word again to meet him at the
mosque at least. Nanak consented and did come to the mosque at the
appointed hour. Both Akbar and Nanak were welcomed by the mullah with
due honour. According to the custom, the mullah should say the prayers
first. So he sat on his knees and prayed loudly. Nanak laughed loudly.
All the muslims in the temple got angry but dared not say anything
because of the Emperor's presence. Then Akbar sat on his knees and
prayed. Nanak at once laughed even more loudly. The atmosphere in the
mosque was becoming tense. The faces of the devotees became red and
their lips twitched to pounce upon Nanak. Akbar controlled them by way
of silent gesture. Both of them came out. Akbar questioned Nanak with
all humility: "Oh revered one!, may I know why you laughed loudly
during the prayer session? Does it become you?"
Guru Nanak replied: "Oh king, how could I withhold my laughter when I
could see clearly that neither the mullah nor your majesty where
thinking of God while praying. The mullah was thinking of his ailing
son and you were thinking of the pair of beautiful Arabian horses that
were gifted to you. Is it worthy of either the mullah or your majesty
to call that prayer? Is it not hypocrisy? The mullah and emperor
sought pardon from Nanak and thanked him for opening their eyes to
their own weakness.
Remember that prayer is not just a string of words of praise to God to
be recited mechanically. It is an earnest attempt to awaken and arouse
the divinity in us. We should say prayers with full concentration.
What matters is the feeling, not either the voice or words. "Mere
adulation is poor adoration".
Once Sathyabhama and Rukmini questioned Lord Krishna: "Why do you
always make much of the devotion of Draupadi? Is she that great?" The
Lord replied with a smile, "I shall let you know by and by."
One day, Draupadi came to visit her dear brother Krishna and she was
given a suite of rooms. Krishna called Sathyabhama and Rukmini and
said: "Let us go to Draupadi's apartment." Draupadi welcomed them with
love and excitement. She had just taken oil bath, her long tresses
were hanging loose. She was combing her hair. The lord looked at his
queens and said: "See! my sister seems to find it difficult to comb
her long tresses. Why don't you both help her?" Sathyabhama and
Rukmini readily agreed. The tresses were parted, one half was taken
care by Sathyabhama and the other by Rukmini. While they were combing,
they heard from every hair, "Krishna", "Krishna", in a soft tone. They
were surprised and looked at Krishna as if to say they had understood
Draupadi's devotion. Krishna sat still enjoying the scene.
True devotion is silent and avoids display.
There was a famous dacoit once who advised his son while initiating
him into the ancestral profession, never for a moment to listen to
stories of the Lord. "Do not stay to listen to any Purana or any
reading of the Bhagavatha," he exhorted the young aspirant. The son
scrupulously observed this injunction for years and amassed a good
One night, however, while running with his loot on his shoulder
through a side lane of the city to avoid the police, a piece of glass
cut his sole. He sat for a while to pull it off and stop the flow of
blood. He was then behind a house, where some one was reading and
explaining the Bhagavatha to a small group of listeners; he listened
perforce for a short two minutes. The spark fell on the heap of cotton.
During that short period, he heard the pundit explaining the nature of
God. He has no ears, no eyes, no limbs: he has a thousand forms; He is
without form. "Sarvathah paani-paadam," as the Gita says. That
description got fixed in his heart. He could not shake it off.
A few days later the police came to know of the depredations made by
him as well as his associates and kinsmen. In order to know more about
their activities they entered the area incognito, one constable as
Kali and some others as the worshippers and priests. They shouted and
yelled, cursed and terrified the dacoits and called upon them to come
out of their homes and fall at the feet of Kali.
Many did so, but the son who had heard the Bhagavatha, albeit for two
minutes, knew just enough to save his skin. He was not terrified at
all. He challenged the constable who was acting the role of Kali and
tore off his make-up and exposed the plot and instilled courage into
the hearts of the gang. Then, when the police left discomfited he
argued within himself thus: "If two minutes of the forbidden fruit
could help me so much, what can I not gain, if I devote myself
entirely to the stories of the glories of God?" He left off the evil
path and became a Sadhaka.
Once Jesus was walking along the streets of a city. It was a slum
area. He saw a young man rolling in dirt, dead drunk. He went to him,
sat by his side and woke him up. The young man opened his eyes and saw
Jesus. Jesus asked him: "Son! Why are you wasting your precious youth
in drinking?" The young man replied: "Master!, I was a leper. You
cured me of my leprosy. What else can I do?" Jesus heaved a sigh and
In another street he saw a man madly pursuing a beautiful woman. Jesus
caught hold of him and asked him: "Son! Why do you desecrate your body
by indulging in such a sinful act?" The man replied: "Master! I was
really blind. You gave me vision. What else can I do?"
Jesus trudged along another street. He saw an old man crying bitterly.
Jesus approached him and gently touched him. The old man wiped his
tears and looked at Jesus. Jesus questioned him: "Why are you weeping
old man?" The old man said: "Master! I was nearly dead. You granted me
life. What else can I do except weep in this old age?"
In times of difficulty and distress, we cry out for God's help. But
when God, out of His boundless love and compassion, responds to our
prayer, we ignore Him and fall back into our self-centered life. One
must guard oneself against this greatest sin of ingratitude towards
God does everything for the
There was once a Minister to a King who was in the habit of
declaring whatever happened was for one's good. One day the King cut
his finger while slicing a piece of sugar cane. Seeing the bleeding
finger the Minister said as usual "God does everything for the best".
The King flew into a rage and said "Here I am suffering with the pain
of a bleeding finger and you say God does everything for the best.
Enough of your philosophy. Is this the way of consoling me? How can
this be for the best when the pain is intense and real? The King
immediately committed the Minister to prison. Even then the Minister
said calmly "Even this sentence is for my best."
A few days later, the King went alone for hunting in a forest. When
the hunting expedition was over the King was resting under a tree.
Just then the servants of a certain tribal chief of the forest seized
the King, bound his hand and foot. The King questioned them: "Why do
you bind me? What are you going to do with me?" The tribesmen replied:
"We are going to sacrifice you at the altar of our goddess Kali. It is
the custom to offer her a human sacrifice once a year. The time has
arrived. We have been looking out for a human being. We are fortunate
in having found you." The King remonstrated: "Let me go, I am the King
of the realm, you cannot kill me for the sacrifice." The tribesmen
laughed and said: "We are glad that this year's sacrifice would be
unique and our goddess will be highly pleased because we are going to
offer as sacrifice a great personage."
The King was carried and duly placed on a sacrificial altar. Things
were ready for the death blow; the priest noticed the bandage on his
left hand forefinger. They removed the bandage only to find that a
portion of it was cut. The priest said: "This man is not acceptable as
a sacrifice to our goddess. A man with a defect in his body is not fit
for sacrifice. Set him free."
The King remembered the words of the Minister uttered when his finger
was cut "God does everything for the best." He realised that the
injury to his finger alone had saved him from death. He at once
hurried home and went straight to the prison to set the Minister free.
He said, "I seek your forgiveness for the rash and cruel treatment
accorded to you." The Minister said: "Your Majesty; you have done no
harm. There is nothing to forgive." The King once again questioned: "Why
did you say that my sending you to prison is for your good?" The
Minister replied: "If I had not been confined in prison, I would have
accompanied you when you went for hunting. I would have been in your
Company. When the tribesmen came to know that you were unfit for
sacrifice, they would have chosen me and offered me as a sacrifice. So
God does everything for the best."
Cross the river
There was a pundit who led a disciplined life, sticking to a
prearranged time table. He woke up from sleep in the early hours of
the morning, recited pranava and later, after ablutions, drank a cup
of milk at 7 a.m. exactly.
Sometimes the milk-maid arrived late, for she lived on the other side
of a river that flowed between the area in which she lived and the
area in which the pundit lived. She had to catch a ferry to cross over
the river with the milk. The ferry boat either started a little
earlier or a little later. So, sometimes by the time she reached the
Pundit's house it used to be very late.
One day the Pundit scolded her and said "You are upsetting my
disciplined life. Don't you know that I must have my cup of milk at 7
a.m.? Why do you depend on that boat to take you across? Just repeat
the name of Rama. You will be able to walk across the river. Rama will
see that you do not get drowned."
The maid being very simple and unsophisticated had faith in the words
of the Pundit. Next day, the maid repeated the name of Rama and she
just walked across the river. The Pundit questioned her: "How could
you come on time?" The milk-maid replied: "Sir, I repeated the name of
Rama as you instructed yesterday, and I could just walk across." The
Pundit was flabbergasted. He did not believe. He just drank the milk
and said: "Let's now go to the bank of the river. Let me see you walk
across the river." The maid stepped into the river repeating the name
of Rama; she could just walk across. The maid requested the Pundit to
follow her. But the Pundit knew that he would not be able to walk
across the river, because he did not have faith in what he himself had
said - the power of the Name.
Recite the sacred name
Sri Krishna Chaitanya was the pioneer of the movement of
Nagarsamkeertan. He used to get himself immersed in the contemplation
of the Lord while singing His glory and used to be oblivious of the
Once he was conducting Nagarsamkeertan in Navadweep. Several leaders
of the town too joined him in his bhajan. They were all ecstatically
singing bhajans and walking along the streets. A thief also joined
this group. He thought it would be an opportunity for him to pick the
pockets of rich devotees who would be lost in singing and dancing. But
when he actually participated in it he began singing with more zeal
than others. All of them had come to a temple and were seated. He sat
near Chaitanya, while those sitting in front were listening to his
discourse. Many had left the temple precincts by then. He held
Chaitanya's both feet and said: "Swami, you are giving so much advice
to so many people. Kindly impart to me some sacred "manthra".
Chaitanya looked at him and said: "Tell me first of all who you are
and what you do". The thief said: "Swami! How can I lie to you? I am a
thief. I have been a thief all my life. My name is Rama, people call
me 'Rama' - the thief."
Chaitanya said: "Oh what a pity. I shall give you a name or a message
but what will you give me as guru dakshina?" The thief at once said
without any hesitation: "I shall give you a share in the booty I get
from my theft." Chaitanya said: "I have no need for any money. All
that I insist is that you should give up stealing." The thief said:
"Swami, that is my profession, how else can I earn a living, when I do
not have any other skill?" "Well," said Chaitanya, "I shall give you a
sacred name on one condition, when you go for thieving, you must first
recite the sacred name I give you 1008 times." Chaitanya whispered
into his ear: "Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya". Transformation even by
then had taken place in the thief because of the touch of the holy
person. He was also freed from the sin of his past deeds because of
the conversation with Chaitanya. The thief went back a refined person.
One day many wealthy house-holders had locked their houses and had
gone for the darshan of Sri Krishna Chaitanya. The thief did not want
to lose this opportunity to break into a house. He went to the house
of the richest man of the town. He broke into the house and entered
the room where the iron safe was kept. He opened it and saw valuable
gems and jewels of gold. He resolved not to touch anything until he
had finished reciting 1008 times the manthra given to him. Before he
completed the number, the master of the house arrived along with the
familiy. The lady of the house wanted to remove all the jewels she had
worn before she left the house and keep them back in the safe. She saw
a stranger lost in the recitation of the sacred manthra "Om Namo
Bhagavathe Vasudevaya." She thought he must be a great sage who had
come to their house to bless them. She called her husband. The thief
was lost in his meditation. The entire familiy sat round him with
folded hands. They thought he must be a saintly soul like Chaitanya.
The thief opened his eyes after the completion of 1008 times the
manthra. He was surprised to find a group of people sitting
reverentially before him. The master of the house asked him, "Oh Sir!
May we know who you are and may we request you to honour us by
accepting to take food with us today so that we shall be redeemed of
our sins." The thief said to himself: "If the mere recitation of the
Lord's name, now and then can bring me such honour, what greater
things cannot happen to me if I sincerely make it my daily habit of
reciting the name continuously. I may certainly win the grace of the
Lord." He decided to give up thieving. He prostrated before the master
of the house and his wife and said, "Mother, let me tell you the truth.
I am a thief. Let me go to the forest. I shall spend the rest of my
life in the contemplation of God." All were surprised at his words but
were very happy.
He stayed with them as their guest that night. The news of this event
spread fast around in the morning. As a result, the whole
neighbourhood came to see him. They took him in a palanquin round the
town and left him in the forest where he wanted to do his tapas. Later,
once again, he came to Chaitanya and received his blessings so that he
may blossom into a real sage.
One day, when Ubhaya Bharati was going to the river for a bath
with her women disciples, she saw an ascetic, who had renounced
everything in life, sleeping on the wayside, resting his head on a
hollow water jug, using it as a pillow and at the same time ensuring
that nobody took it away. As long as you have attachment and ego, you
can never understand the Atma or experience atmic bliss.
In order to convey a lesson to the ascetic, Ubhaya Bharati spoke
within his hearing the following words to one of her disciples: "Look
at that ascetic, who has ostensibly renounced every kind of attachment,
but he has not given up his attachment to his water jug!" On hearing
these words, the ascetic got enraged. He thought: "Is a mere woman
entitled to teach me as to how I should behave." While Ubhaya Bharati
was returning from the river, the ascetic threw the jug at her feet
and said: "Now, see what my renunciation is?" Ubhaya Bharati remarked:
"Alas! You are not only filled with attachment (abhimana) but you are
also filled with ego (ahamkara)." On hearing these words, the ascetic
ran up to her, fell at her feet and pleaded for forgiveness of his
Food and drink for you
Once Swami Vivekananda was in a certain town to give spiritual
discourses. People recognised in him a great monk and profound scholar.
They listened to his discourses with rapt attention for about three
days. Every day, when the discourse came to an end, some people used
to gather around him to ask about certain subtle points on Sadhana,
Ethics and Sastras. Students were eager to know about national
regeneration and the solutions he could suggest.
There was an old man sitting in a corner observing Vivekananda with
avidity but could not speak one word. He was there all the three days,
waiting for a chance to be near the monk. On the third day he made
bold, went to him and said: "Son! Shall I bring you something to eat?
These people never gave you anything nor did they give you time to
relax and think about your food. I shall run and be back with food and
drink for you." Vivekananda was greatly touched by the loving words
spoken by the old man. He said with a beaming smile: "Come, let us go
together to your place to eat and drink." Blessed indeed was the old
man for he had sympathy and consideration for a fellow human being. He
was ready to render loving service to the monk. This indeed is true
devotion and he is indeed a true devotee.
Yes, What you said is true
One day, in the midst of conversation, Lakshmi, the Divine Consort
and the Goddess of Wealth, addressed Naryana, "Lord! The entire world
is adoring Me; not even one in a hundred, why, not even one in a
million, is worshipping you." She teased the Lord by this statement.
She put forward a plan to test the sincerity of man. She said, "Lord!
It is best to discover for ourselves how true the facts are. Come, we
shall both go forth into the world and find out."
Narayana agreed. He changed into a great Pandit, wearing golden
bracelets on his wrists as evidence of the appreciation and admiration
of famous academic bodies. He had a garland of rudraksha beads round
the neck and thick streaks of vibhuthi on the forehead. He manifested
himself on earth as a redoubtable scholar. He moved from village to
village and began enchanting the people through his enrapturing
discourses. His splendorous personality and deep scholarship attracted
the people; thousands gathered to hear him and followed him from place
to place. Brahmins invited him to their settlements and honoured him.
His arrival was celebrated as a festival, with rich feasting.
While Narayana was being feted thus, Lakshmi too appeared on earth as
a great Yogini (Female Ascetic). She too proceeded from village to
village enlightening the people on the Atma through her discourses.
Women assembled to hear her fascinating speeches in wave after wave,
in massive numbers. They prayed that she should honour their homes
with a visit and partake of the feast they were most eager to offer.
In reply, she informed them that she was bound by some vows which made
it difficult for her to accept their request. She would not eat out of
plates already in use in the homes. She said that she should be
allowed to bring her own cups and plates with her. The women were
yearning so deeply for hosting her that they accepted the condition.
Whatever her vow, they were ready to respect it. Invitations came from
every woman from every place.
The Yogini reached the house where she was to take food the first day
and took out from the bag she had with her a gold plate, a few gold
cups and a gold 'tumbler' (lota) to hold drinking water. These she
spread before herself for the various items of the menu. When the meal
was over, she left the place, leaving the precious golden articles to
be taken by the host. She had a new set for each day, she said.
The news spread. The villages where Narayana was holding his
delightful discourses also heard the wonderful happenings of the
Yogini's gifts. The Brahmins who were staunch admirers of the
far-famed scholar also rushed to invite the Yogini to their homes for
lunch! The Yogini told them that they ought to drive the Pandit out
before she could enter their settlement. She would not set foot there
so long as the person continued to stay there! She was adamant on that
point. Their greed for gold was so strong that they forced the Pandit,
whom they had adored so long and with so much pomp, to go out of their
Thereafter, the Yogini entered the Brahmin settlement, gave discourses,
partook of feasts arranged in her honour and presented the golden
plates and cups to each of her hosts. Thus, the Yogini managed to get
the Pandit driven out of every place where he sought recognition and
attention. Instead, she secured the worship of people everywhere.
Unable to bear the universal insult, the Pandit cast off the role and
Narayana disappeared from the earth. The Yogini came to know of this.
She too gave up the cast she had assumed and, resuming her real Form,
She joined Lord Narayana. While talking among themselves, she told the
Lord, "Now, tell me! What did you discover? Who between us is honoured
and worshipped more on earth?" Narayana smiled at her question. He
replied, "Yes, What you said is true."
The green eyed monster
Once the organs of the body - eyes, ears and other limbs - became
jealous of the tongue. They said to themselves: "It is we who make all
efforts to secure food and hand it over to the tongue and it is just
the tongue that enjoys the food". They struck work and stopped
supplying food. But jealousy made them forget the fact that they can
function only when there is supply of energy from the food passed on
into the stomach by the tongue. Thus they spelt their own ruin. In
fact they also did not realise that the tongue just tastes the food
and passes it onto itself. The food that is passed on into the stomach
is converted into energy-giving blood. But for this vital part played
by the tongue, all the other organs would stop functioning. What is it
that has brought about the ruin of the organs that struck work?
Jealousy - the green eyed monster!
Beaten by a brahmin
Once a dog came to Sri Rama bleeding from blows. Lakshmana was sent to
inquire why it had to receive such blows. The dog said: "I was beaten
by a brahmin with a stick." The brahmin was questioned. He said that
the dog always was annoying him by coming across his path. Rama asked
the dog: "Well, how do you want to punish the brahmin?" The dog said:
"Make him a manager of a temple." Rama replied with wonder: "That
would be a reward not a punishment." The dog said: "No, I was a
manager of a temple in my previous birth. It was impossible not to
mishandle or misuse or misappropriate some fraction of God's money.
When he is that manager, he too will get like me this canine birth and
perhaps get beaten too in his subsequent birth."
In fact not only the dog or the brahmin but every one of us are lining
off the property of God, for does not all this belong to Him? What do
we do in return for all benefits we derive from the property of the
Lord? We should not simply eat and sit quiet. We have to render
service to the poor and the helpless in a manner suitable to us.
This too is the Dharma
Once in Calcutta, in the Kali temple constructed by Rani Rasmani,
a Gopala idol fell down and its foot was broken a little. Since many
elders declared that according to the Sastras a broken image should
not be worshipped, Rani Rasmani made arrangements to get a new one
made by sculptors. Ramakrishna heard of this and he reproached the
Rani, saying: "Maharani, if your son-in-law breaks his leg, what will
you do? What is the correct thing to do? Bandaging the foot and
setting it right, or discarding the son-in-law and getting another in
his stead?" The Elders and Pundits were dumb-founded; the broken foot
of Gopala was set right and the image was installed and worshipped as
before. See, when Bhakthi is purified and is ascendant, the Lord will
be patent even in a broken idol. This too is the Dharma declared in
The power of Naamasmarana
Two persons by name Jnaana Dev and Naama Dev were walking through
a forest. They felt very thirsty. They could not catch sight of a well
or a lake anywhere. They trudged along. At last they saw a well and
ran towards it. They eagerly looked into it. There was water in the
well. But how could they drink? There was neither a rope nor a vessel
to draw water. There was no question of somehow going into the well as
the well was in a dilapidated condition.
Jnaana Dev simply closed his eyes as if in prayer. Soon he was
transformed into a bird. He flew into the well and drank water to his
fill. Naama Dev began chanting the name of Lord Vittal with intense
devotion. The water level began to rise slowly until at last the level
of water was within the reach of Naama Dev. He just put his hands into
the well and drank water to his fill. Such is the power of
Think of a plan
In one village a feud was going on for long between two groups of
people for one reason or another. One resident of that village who had
two acres of land was growing grapes and selling them for his
livelihood. He did not belong to either of these fighting groups. But
both the groups opposing each other came to this individual and they
started pressurising him to join their respective party. So, under
compulsion he joined the party which contained a larger number of
evil-minded people. Few months later, this honest fellow was arrested
by the police along with all the other members. As a result there was
no one to look after his grape garden. The vines having no water for
weeks shrivelled and began to wither away. There was no fruit and,
therefore, there was no income and enough food for his wife and
children at home.
In the jail, this man used to get one post card every week from his
wife. The rules and regulations of the jail were such that letters
received by the prisoners would not be censured while letters posted
by the prisoners would be censured. Once, his wife wrote to him: "You
seem to be well looked after in the prison but have you thought of our
miserable condition? Since you left home our grape garden is dried up
and there is no one to till the land and prepare the land for the next
crop. Nor have I any money to set the land right. Even now, the
children and I are half starved. So, if you suggest some method by
which I can get the dried up land soil tilled, only then I and the
children will have something to eat in the near future at least.
Please let me know."
As soon as he read the letter, he felt very sad. But he could hit upon
a plan. He wrote to his wife thus: "Do not worry, I have not ever told
you about a treasure trove, a vessel containing a lot of gold coins
which I had put down below in the rut in our garden. You simply have
to dig it up and make use of the coins". This letter had to be
censured and the jail superintendent read it. He did not post the
letter. He got together all the prisoners and told them to dig up the
whole grape garden with a view to find the treasure trove. In a short
time the entire garden was dug up. But they did not find any treasure
On the third day there was a heavy rain and that year (grapes) yield
was very good. The wife was very happy. She sold the grapes and got
plenty of money.
At the end of six months, the husband was released from prison. As
soon as he came home she eagerly questioned: "How did you manage to
send so many men to plough the land?" The wife had not received her
husband's letter, so she did not know about his plan. The husband
replied: "Yes, by the grace of God I could think of a plan and make
them believe about the treasure trove. Let us thank God."
What is the inner meaning of this story? This individual, this
cultivator had 2 acres of land. Man has two inches of heart. In our
heart there are two groups; the bad qualities and the good qualities.
These two groups are clashing with each other. In between the Jiva,
the householder and owner of the heart, the first was not seduced by
the two parties. But later he was pulled towards one group. Jiva has a
wife - she is Nivrithi and her children Pravirthi. Because the Jiva
joined one group he had to be in jail. That is bondage. However, he
realises that the field of heart had to be cleansed (ploughed) to find
the wisdom - gold. To get that wisdom all the prisoners (those in
bondage) have to dig the field of heart. After the process of digging
and cleansing one reaps the harvest of bliss. So what is it that is
essential? Purification of the field of heart by means of prescribed
Experience is the best
One day, Brighu, the son of Varuna approached his father and asked
him: "Father! Will you enlighten me about Brahman?" Sage Varuna
replied endearingly: "Son, none can enlighten anyone on Brahman. One
has to experience through meditation. Go and do meditation and carry
on self-enquiry. I bless you."
Brighu went into a forest and sat for meditation. He used to carry on
self-enquiry too. He used to contemplate on several questions related
to the spiritual world. One day, he thought: 'What is the most
essential thing that is necessary for the existence of all living
beings in general and man in particular? It must be food', he decided.
Man lives, grows and works only because of food, the most essential
thing for life is food, so food is Brahman." He ran to his father and
said: "Father, I know what is Brahman. Food is Brahman." Varuna
replied with a smile: "No, my son, food is not Brahman. Go and
Brighu went to the forest and continued his tapas for some more time.
One day he thought, 'food may be essential, but unless there is energy,
how can the food be digested? What is that energy? It must be prana (vital
air) so prana is Brahman.' So, he went to his father and said: "Father,
I know what is Brahman, Prana is Brahman." Varuna replied: "No, my son,
go and meditate for some more days."
Brighu obeyed his father's command. He continued his meditation. One
day he thought, 'Food is essential, prana is essential, but what is
more essential? Unless one has desire to live and to eat, of what
avail is food and prana? The seat of desire is mind. So Manas is
Brahman' he decided. Brighu reported about his discovery and said: "Father,
Manas is Brahman." Varuna smiled and said: "Son, no, Manas is not
Brahman. Go and do tapas for some more days."
Brighu continued his meditation. One day he thought 'Food is essential,
prana is essential, manas is also essential, but what is still more
essential? Unless one is able to distinguish and discriminate between
good and evil, of what use is this life? What is the seat of this
discriminating faculty? It is intellect, vijnan.' So vijnan is Brahman",
he decided. Brighu went and told his father: "Father, vijnan is
Brahman". Varuna once again said: "Son, no, vijnan is not Brahman. Go
and do tapas for some more days."
Brighu once again continued to do tapas. One day he thought, 'Food
gives strength, parna energises, manas causes desires, and vijnan
endows man with discrimination (viveka). But, I must find out what is
the ultimate goal of man's life. I have to experience it'. Having thus
resolved, he went into deep meditation again.
One day, he experienced an ineffable joy and he sat utterly
unconscious of the outside world. That day, Varuna came to the forest
in search of his son. He was happy to see his son in samadhi. From the
effulgence which shone on Brighu's face, he knew that his son had
realised that 'Bliss is Brahman'.
In the upanishadic age, parents and preceptors used to encourage their
pupils to ask questions, yet they would not give them immediate
answers. They would advise them to carry on self enquiry and find out
the answers for themselves.
Experience is the best teacher.
Students are tender hearted, full of noble feelings and love for
Swami. They planned various programmes to please Me. I was very well
aware of the impending danger. But the students were not receptive to
My words. I felt there was no point in advising them in such a
situation. Only when they face the consequences of disobeying My
command do they realise the value of My words. Until this moment
nobody is aware of exactly what happened on the 11th morning. They
said that the sports meet was a grand success. I am also happy when
you are successful. The students performed extremely well. Each
contributed to the success of this event based on his or her
capacities and capabilities. That morning as I entered the stadium, I
spotted two lorries. Immediately I could visualise the danger lurking
in the future. I saw the lorries with huge scaffoldings placed over
them. The boys planned to perform a few acrobatic feats on them. I
knew that one of the ropes was not fitted properly and was about to
give in. If that were to happen the boy would suffer a major head
injury and his spinal column would break. I willed that the boy should
be saved and decided to take the future accident upon Myself.
Prior to this, one boy suffered a spinal injury and had been admitted
to the Manipal Hospital in Bangalore. I willed that such an untoward
incident should not recur. Once the spinal column breaks it is
impossible to set it right. Immediately I arranged for an ambulance to
shift the boy to the hospital in Bangalore and gave ten thousand
rupees to defray the immediate expenditure. I also ensured that our
doctor accompanied him. The parents shed tears of gratitude when they
came to know of the love showered by Swami on their son. The doctor
said that the boy would not be able to sit or lie down as his spinal
column was badly damaged. I said to him, "Do not entertain any
misgivings. Do as I say!" By the time the boy reached the hospital he
could miraculously sit up! He entered the hospital and sat down on the
bed. He regained sensation in all his limbs which were numb till then.
No danger whatsoever. He was protected because of My infinite mercy
and boundless grace. All students should be safe and secure. I have
repeatedly declared that students are My property. I consider students
welfare as My welfare, and their happiness, My happiness. I never
think of My happiness and My comfort. My only concern was that the
students should not be disappointed or put to any inconvenience. A day
prior to that I had instructed four boys to surround the chariot and
keep a vigil. They are also full of love and devotion for Swami. But I
noticed that none of them were present at that spot. Nobody is to be
blamed. No one does this deliberately. Swami is the very life-breath
of the students.
I asked for the chariot to be stopped. A senior devotee was driving
the chariot, with all sincerity, love and devotion. He stopped the
vehicle in accordance with My command. Just when I was about to speak
to the Vice-Chancellor, the driver accidentally put his foot on the
clutch instead of applying the brake. That resulted in a jerk and I
fell down in the chariot. I suffered injuries on My head and arm and
My spinal column was badly damaged. What the boys had to face, I took
it upon Myself. Many men and women were seated in the gallery, but I
took care that none should notice My injuries. I pretended as though
nothing had happened. The Vice-Chancellor was worried thinking that
Swami was unable to get up. I knew that any further delay would cause
anxiety in the minds of devotees. So I immediately got up, forgetting
the excruciating pain and started blessing the devotees, waving My
hands. The pain was intense, and the cut on My arm so deep that it
appeared to have been caused by a knife. But the sleeve on the robe
covering My hand was intact. This incident gives you a glimpse of the
infinite power of Divinity.
I found Myself in an awkward situation. I had to walk to the dais
without My injuries being noticed. So I willed that no one should
notice My injuries, lest they become anxious. I walked up to the dais
and took My seat. But in the meanwhile the dhoti below My robe was
drenched in blood. Concerned that the devotees may get to know of this,
I discreetly walked into the bathroom. The available towels were
insufficient to wipe the oozing blood. I did not want to leave the
blood stained towels in the bathroom, lest some one notice them.
Though there was excruciating pain, I washed the towels Myself with
soap, squeezed them and put them up for drying. Under no circumstances
do I reveal My suffering, pain and fatigue. Some boys were curious to
know why I went to the bathroom repeatedly. I replied, "Why are you
concerned? It is my job." Usually I go to the bathroom only twice a
day, morning and evening. Since the injury was bleeding profusely, I
had to go to the bathroom five or six times in that short duration.
Just then two students came and prayed that the institute flag could
be hoisted. When I got down from the chair it felt as if I had an
electric shock. Reflecting on the incident I feel like laughing to
Myself. I could not stand firmly on the ground. I thought I should not
be deluded by the attachment to the body and walked forward smilingly
to hoist the flag. Then I lighted the lamp. I again found Myself in an
embarrassing situation. I could not sit in any posture comfortably.
When I exhort all devotees to give up body attachment, I should set an
example Myself. Speaking to Myself in this manner, I conducted myself
The Primary School children performed extremely well and desired to
have a photograph with Me. Acceding to their prayers I walked up to
them and posed for a photograph, as I did not want to disappoint them.
Subsequently I had to walk up to the playing field five more times to
have photographs taken with the remaining students. In this manner I
detached Myself from the body. My body was numb. There was no
sensation whatsoever. My head was reeling. I resolved to make the
students happy no matter what happened to the body. I decided to keep
this to Myself. Concerned that the bloodstains may be visible while
returning to the dais from the playground, I ascended the steps
leading directly to My seat. Is it possible for human beings to
conceal such a major injury from the public gaze for such a long time
amidst such a huge gathering? No. I was seated on the chair for five
long hours. I am relating all this so that students and devotees may
comprehend the nature of Divinity. Anyone in My predicament would not
have been able to sit in the chair even for a second. It would have
been impossible even to put a step forward. It was as though electric
shocks were piercing My body. The electric current gives shock: but
when I am the current Myself, where is the question of Myself being
subjected to shock? With this feeling I sat through the whole
proceedings and returned to the Mandir.
The Central Trust members followed Me, but they were not aware of what
had happened to Me. The senior devotee apologized for his slip. Then I
told him, "Why do you worry about the past? Past is past. I am happy.
Do not worry about Me." All of them had their lunch. After lunch My
back started bleeding again. The students were waiting outside for
photographs, again I went into the bathroom to wipe the blood.
Noticing this, Indulal Shah cried out, "Swami what is this?" I told
him lovingly, "Indulal Shah, whatever had to happen to the body has
happened." Saying so, I showed him My injury. All of them cried out in
agony. They noticed blood all over. I told them that I would not
reveal anything in future if they expressed their sorrow like this. No
one knew about the injury until I reached the Mandir. Likewise, I take
upon Myself the untold suffering of students and devotees many a time
to protect them. No one is responsible for this mishap. You may find
fault with one individual or the other, but no one is responsible for
this. Whatever had to happen, happened. That's all.
Fear of Death
There was once a Raja, who had transferred all responsibility of
ruling to his Manthri, and who was spending his time in ease. He never
worried about anything, be it big or small. He had a personal
companion, whom he had always by his side, more or less as a bodyguard.
This fellow was very wise, for he never did anything without deep
deliberation, about the how and the why and the wherefore. The Raja
took all this deliberation to be just foolishness and he nicknamed the
companion, "Avivekasikhamani" or "The Crest-Jewel of Fools". He went
to the length of actually engraving the title on a plate of gold and
compelling him to wear it on his forehead for all to see! Many people
were mislead by this and they took him to be an ignoramus at court;
they did not heed his words.
Meanwhile, the Raja fell ill and took to bed. The kingdom was combed
for physicians who could heal the king. Messengers went to the eight
corners, seeking drugs and doctors. Hundred were busy round the royal
patient, but, all efforts failed; the illness worsened day by day. The
Raja was at the very door of Death.
The Raja suspected that his end was near; so he hurriedly made some
dispositions, spoke to all those whom he wanted to meet, and was
immersed in sorrow. He had no thought of God or any other auspicious
Power. He was in terrible fear of Death and could not think of
One day, he called Avivekasikhamani to his bedside and whispered
feebly in his ear, "Well; I am going soon, my friend!" Then, the Fool
asked without any compunction, "What? You are weak and cannot walk a
few steps; I shall order a palanquin, please wait till it is ready."
"No palanquin can take me there," said the Raja. "Then, I shall order
a chariot," entreated the Fool. "The chariot too is of no use,"
replied the Raja. "Of course, then, the horse is the only means of
journey," wailed the companion, who seemed eager to come to the rescue
of his master, and spare him the toils of travel. The Raja said that
the horse too could not enter there. The Fool was at his wit's end.
Then suddenly an idea struck him, he said, "Come on master! I shall
carry you there." The Raja became sad; he said, "My dear friend, one
has to go alone to that place, when one's time has come. No companion
can be taken." The Fool was thrown in great doubt; he asked the Raja,
"It is curious, is it not? You say that the palanquin won't reach
there, that the chariot can't go there, nor the horse; you say that no
second person can join you! Well can't you tell me at least where that
place is?" The Raja replied, "I do not know."
Immediately, the Fool unwound the Golden Plate with the engraving of
the title, 'Avivekasikhamani', and tied it round the brow of the Raja,
saying "Raja! You know so much about the place, even, which things
cannot go there, but, you do not know where it is, and still you are
going there soon. O, you deserve this title much more." The Raja was
overcome with shame. "Alas," he said to himself, "I wasted my years in
eating and sleeping and pursuing pleasures, never caring to inquire
who I am, whence I came, what I am doing, whither I am going, and why
I came. The precious time allotted to me has come very near its end.
There is no time for me any more for all that inquiry. Death is
knocking at the door; children have started weeping; my subjects are
in great anxiety. Can I, under such conditions immerse myself in
inquiry? Can a thought that I never entertained throughout my life
suddenly arise now, during my last moments? It is impossible. Yes, I
deserve the title, Avivekasikhamani more than anyone else, for I
wasted my life in useless pursuits; without any thought of the Reality."
The Raja let it be proclaimed that Inquiry is the best means of
knowing the Truth, that the inquiry must be directed to separating the
true from the untrue, the eternal from the temporary, that people
should arrive at the conclusion that, 'God is the only true and
eternal Entity' and that by their own independent investigation, his
subjects must not only grasp the entity intellectually but must also
attain the Grace of God, by their pure lives. Announcing this lesson
to his subjects, the Raja breathed his last.
The devotee was even greater
Once upon a time, sage Narada came into the presence of the Lord.
The Lord asked him, "Narada, in all your travels through the world
have you been able to discover the principal secret of the universe?
Have you been able to understand the mystery behind this world?
Everywhere you look you see the five great elements, earth, water,
fire, air and ether. Which do you think occupies the first place? Of
everything that is to be found in the universe what is the most
important of all?"
Narada thought for awhile and then answered, "Lord, of the five
elements the densest, biggest and most important is surely the earth
element." The Lord answered, "How can the earth element be biggest
when three-fourths of the earth is covered by water and only
one-fourth is land? Such a big earth is being swallowed by the water.
What is bigger, the thing that is being swallowed or that which is
swallowing it?" Narada acknowledged that water must be bigger because
it had swallowed the Earth.
The Lord continued his questioning. He said, "But Narada, we have the
ancient tale that when the demons hid in the waters, then in order to
find them, a great sage came and swallowed up the whole ocean in one
gulp. Do you think the sage is greater or the ocean is greater?"
Narada had to agree that without doubt the sage was certainly greater
than the water he had swallowed. "But," continued the Lord, "it is
said that when he left his earthly body, this same sage became a star
in the heavens. Such a great sage is now appearing only as a small
star in the vast expanse of the sky. Then what do you think is bigger;
is it the sage or is it the sky that is bigger?" Narada answered,
"Swami, the sky is surely bigger than the sage." Then the Lord asked,
"Yet we know that one time when the Lord came as avatar and incarnated
in a dwarf-body, he expanded himself so hugely that he was able to
cover both the earth and the sky with his one foot. Do you think God's
foot is bigger or the sky?" "O, God's foot is certainly bigger,"
Narada replied. But, the Lord asked, "If God's foot is so big, then
what about his infinite form?"
Now, Narada felt that he had come to the final conclusion. "Yes," he
said exultantly, "the Lord is the biggest of all. He is infinite
beyond measure. In all the worlds there is nothing greater than he."
But the Lord had still one more question. "What about the devotee who
has been able to imprison this infinite Lord within his own heart? Now
tell me, Narada, who is greater, the devotee who has the Lord locked
up or the Lord who is locked up by the devotee?" Narada had to admit
that the devotee was even greater than the Lord, and that, therefore,
the devotee must rank first in importance over everything, surpassing
even the Lord.
Why man is
considered the acme of creation
One day a clever fox began wondering, "Why man is considered the acme
of creation and in what way is he superior to animals? Both man and
beast have emotions and passions. Both have their own good and bad
qualities. Why then this superiority? Let me go to the king lion and
seek his advice." Thinking thus, the fox hurried to the lion's den. "How
nice to see you after so many days! Come tell me what is it that you
want?" said the lion. The fox said in all humility, "Oh, King! Man is
growing all-powerful and is claiming sovereignty over the entire
creation! I cannot tolerate man's arrogance and his claim of
superiority over all animals. In what way are we inferior? Can we not
establish our superiority? We must do something about it." The lion
nodded its head and said: "True dear, what shall we do?" The lion and
the fox discussed the problem for a long time and decided finally to
call for a conference of all animals in the forest. They would discuss
thoroughly the relative merits and demerits of man versus animals. The
lion then said to the fox: "Go and make all arrangements for the
conference. Invite all animals, big and small without any exception.
But, who will preside over the conference?" The fox replied: "There is
a sage in our forest who has been doing penance since a long time. He
is a friend of both man and animals. He will certainly have no
preference or prejudices. Why not request him to be the Chairman?" "Do
so", replied the lion.
In a week's time the fox executed the whole plan. A vast area in the
forest was cleared to hold the conference. On the appointed day the
animals began filling up towards the conference venue. Very soon, all
the animals were seated in their respective places. The sage arrived
in time and took his presidential seat. The lion and the elephant
stood on either side of the sage, while the fox stood in front of the
The fox being the Secretary of the conference welcomed the gathering
and said: "I welcome you all and thank you all for attending this
conference". Referring to the Agenda of the conference, the fox said:
"I am pleased to place before you four major points over which we have
to deliberate. You have to think well and come forth with your
opinions as these points have a vital bearing on our self-respect.
Man as well as the animals are born alike, of the womb of the
mother. Then why should animals be called 'janthu' and man as 'manava'?
They should be addressed alike.
There is a fantastic notion that man is wise and animals are
foolish. We cannot accept this humiliation and baseless stigma.
It is claimed that man has the most blessed faculty of speech. But
what is the reason for pride when man is only abusing this faculty? In
what way do we suffer for want of this faculty? Though we are dumb, we
are able to procure food, find shelter, rear our children and live
happily. So, man cannot be considered as superior to us only because
of this rare faculty of which he boasts.
Finally, they say that we are cruel and that man is kind and
compassionate. In fact, we are more kind and considerate than man. So,
we have to refute this allegation, as well.
Having read out the agenda, the fox went and sat in its place. The
lion stepped forward and raising his head, said in a dignified manner:
"I totally approve of all the points of the agenda. I cannot consider
man superior to us in any way. Let us first of all take up the point
of valour and strength. Is there one among men who can excel me in
strength and valour? Even though I am the sole monarch of the forest,
I do not indulge in any act of injustice and corruption. I don't kill
any animal unless I am hungry. Such being the case, can man claim to
be superior to us?" "Never, never", roared the whole assembly.
The lion then resumed its seat beside the sage. The elephant got up
and trumpeted its own glory. "In form, stature, and strength, I am far
superior to man. He is a pigmy beside me. As for intelligence, I am
reputed for my subtle intellect. Since time immemorial, for every
important and auspicious function in the temple or in the palace my
presence is considered auspicious. In fact pious men offer me fruits
and flowers with deep feelings of reverence. How can man call himself
superior to us?" The whole assembly roared: "He can't, he can't". The
elephant went back to its seat by the side of the sage.
Then came forward the dog and saluting one and all in the assembly
said aloud: "I have sound reason to claim that the animals are
certainly superior to mankind. Take for example, the quality of love,
faithfulness and loyalty. Can any man boast of himself being superior
to the dog in these qualities? Man himself keeps us and treats us as a
member of his family because of these rare qualities. But, what about
men? They have no sense of gratitude even. They keep us on cheap food
or on the left over bits at their meal. Man, in his relation to his
own master whom he serves is ungrateful to the core. Sir, I am sure,
we animals are far superior in these characteristics to man." Having
spoken thus, it went and sat in its place.
It was now the turn of the President to give out his decision on the
mater under dispute. The sage got up and said: "My dear friends, what
the dog has said is true. Man often says one thing and does another.
This inconsistency is not to be found in animals". All the animals
clapped for long with joy. The sage continued: "In the matter of food,
sleep and allied habits of living, there is absolutely no difference
between man and animals. But, there is one fundamental difference. The
animals cannot transform themselves, while man can transform himself
through education, company and emulation. The animals cannot even
change their food habits". The fox at once got up and questioned, "Oh
Master! What you have said is true. But do you think that all men
transform themselves?" The sage said: "Why, without doubt, such men
who do not, are worse than animals." At once all the animals clapped
and cheered the President. The sage continued: "Men have got another
virtue, discrimination". The fox said: "It is true that they have
discrimination, but what is the use? They put even animals to shame in
their bad conduct. Oh, what a pity! Man spends all his time, talents,
strength and money to earn his bread, while we animals procure food
without any labour." The sage could see that the fox was trying to
exceed the limits and make much of their instinctive nature. So, he
said: "Oh, dear animals! You must also be told about another important
distinction. Man can conquer illusion. He can realise the self or atma
and attain immortality. In fact the very word "man" indicates these
- M - means Maya;
- A - means the Atmic vision and
- N - means Nirvana.
By getting rid of
illusion and attaining Atmic vision, man can become God. Why don't you
own and admit your limitations?" The animals asked him: "Oh Wise one!
Do you mean to say that all men make use of these three attributes?"
"No, not all of them," replied the sage. "Then those who do not attain
nirvana by conquering illusion and having atmic vision must be treated
as our comrades" asserted the animals, in one voice. "Oh, Dear ones!"
replied the sage, "I have come to this forest only to be your friend
and prove myself a true Man".
A ray of hope and light
Once Wealth and Poverty approached a merchant and introduced
themselves as Goddesses. The merchant offered his salutations to both
of them and said: "May I know what brings you to my humble tenement?"
The Goddess of Wealth said: "We want you to judge and tell us as to
who is more beautiful between us two?"
The merchant was in a fix. He knew he was between the devil and the
deep sea. If he were to declare wealth as more beautiful than poverty,
poverty would curse him. If he were to declare poverty as more
beautiful, than wealth, wealth would forsake him. However, he regained
his composure and said: "I have great respect for you both. Would you
please act according to my instructions? Then only I can judge
properly." The Goddesses agreed. He said: "Mother wealth, would you
please go to the entrance (gates) and walk into the house? Mother,
poverty! Would you please walk from here towards the gates? I can have
a good look at you both, from near and far." The two Goddesses did
walk as the merchant wished them to. Then the merchant happily
declared: "Mother wealth! You appear very beautiful when you enter the
house. Mother poverty! You look very beautiful when you leave the
house!" The Goddesses appreciated the wit and wisdom of the merchant.
The Goddess of wealth happily stayed in his house while the Goddess of
poverty cheerfully walked away.
When a serious problem confronts us, if we look within and think
calmly, a ray of hope and light will beam forth and show us the way.
During the second world war, a steamer carrying Indian Sepoys was
bombed by the Japanese and was sunk. Many lost their lives. Five among
them managed to row their lifeboat and hoped to have a chance of
surviving in spite of the surging Ocean. They were tossed about for
One of them became desperate and cried: "The sea will swallow me. I
will be a meal for the sharks". In that panic, he got drowned.
Another sepoy wept for his family: "Oh, I am dying without arranging
for the future of my family." He too lost faith in his survival and
breathed his last.
The third sepoy thought: "I have with me the Policy and documents of
Insurance. What a pity!" I should have kept them at home. What will my
wife do? I am sure to die." He also died.
The other two men reinforced each other's faith in God. They said: "We
shall not yield to fear. We shall prove that however desperate the
situation may be, God will certainly protect man if he has faith in
Him." Even as they were talking like this, a helicopter sent from a
coastal ship which had received signals for help, caught sight of
these two men and hauled them up. When they were safe on land, they
said, "It is only five minutes between victory and defeat. Faith
earned the victory; lack of it brought about defeat and death."
Give up attachment
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful and charming princess in
Greece. She was not only beautiful but also adept in shooting, hunting
and running. In fact, she had earned the title of "the fleet-footed
princess." Many handsome and heroic princes desired to win her heart
and hand. So, the princess hit upon a clever plan. She announced that
she would marry the young man who would beat her in a foot race.
Hundreds of young warriors came to race with her but she always
At last one young hero was bent upon outrunning her. He sought the
advice of a wise man. He explained to him about the fleet-footed
princess and her challenge. He also expressed his regret over the fact
that many young warriors were being put to shame by the princess.
The wise man said: "Don't worry, you take within your pocket several
shining pieces of jewellery and gems. As you run, go on dropping one
piece after another on the racing track at strategic points."
On the day fixed for the race, the young man equipped himself with
fine pieces of jewellery. The young man and the princess started
running. Both of them were good runners. Whenever the princess was on
the point of outstripping him, the young man would softly drop a
dazzling piece of jewellery. The princess spontaneously stopped to
pick up the lovely piece of jewelllery that was after all on the
racing track. She was confident that inspite of the halts she would be
able to outrun her rival. These brief but frequent halts made him
reach the goal ahead of her. Thus the young man won the race as well
as the heart and the hand of the princess. Why did the fleet footed
princess lose this time? It is all because of her love for jewellery.
Love of lucre always makes man weak and prevents him from realising
his real goal in life. If we want success in life, we have to give up
attachment and be prepared to sacrifice what we have as the young man
Where did the scorpion sting?
When the doctor said, apply this ointment at the place where the
scorpion stung your son, the fond father asked the son, "Where did the
scorpion sting?" The boy replied, "In that corner" and the father
applied the ointment to that spot on the floor!
The meaning of the sloka
A learned Pundit was once giving discourses on the Geetha in the
august presence of a Maharaja. One day the turn of this sloka came:
Ye janaah paryupaasathe
The Pundit was
explaining enthusiastically the many-sided implications of this sloka,
but the Maharaja shook his head and said: "This meaning is not correct."
He continued to dispute the correctness of every one of the
explanations the Pundit gave. The poor Pundit had won meritorious
distinctions at the court of many a Maharaja and was honoured by them
all with pompous titles. He felt as if he was stabbed when the
Maharaja in the presence of the entire band of courtiers condemned his
explanation of this sloka a 'wrong'. He smarted under the insult; but
plucking up courage, he again set upon his task, and marshalling all
his scholarship, he plunged into an eloquent discourse on the multiple
meaning of the words, "Yoga" and "Kshema." The Maharaja did not
approve of even this; he ordered: "Find out the meaning of this sloka
and having understood it well, come to me again tomorrow." With this,
the Maharaja rose from his throne and went into the inner apartments.
The Pundit lost even the few grains of courage left in him. He was
weighed down by anxiety; he tottered under the insult; he reached home
and, placing the copy of the Geetha aside, he dropped on his bed.
Surprised at this, the Pundit's wife asked, "Tell me why you came home
from the palace today in such grief? What exactly did happen?" She
rained one anxious question after another so that the Pundit was
obliged to describe to her all hat had happened, the insults heaped on
his head, the command with which the Maharaja sent him home, etc. The
wife listened calmly to the account of what had happened and after
pondering deeply over the incident, she said, "Yes; it is true. What
the Maharaja said is right. The explanation you gave for the sloka is
not the correct one. How could the Maharaja approve it? The fault is
yours." At this, the Pundit rose in anger from the cot, like a cobra
whose tail is trodden hard. "What do you know, you silly woman? Am I
inferior in intelligence to you? Do you, who are engaged in the
kitchen all the time, cooking and serving, claim to know more than I?
Shut your mouth and quit my presence," he roared.
But the lady stood her ground. She replied, "Lord! Why do you fly into
such a rage at a statement of mere truth? Repeat the sloka once again
to yourself and ponder over its meaning. You will then arrive at the
right answer yourself." Thus by her soft words the wife brought calm
into the mind of her husband.
The Pundit started analysing the meaning of each individual word in
the sloka. Ananyaaschinthayantho maam, be began, deliberately and
slowly, repeating aloud the various meanings. The wife intervened and
said, "What use is it to learn and expound the meanings of words? Tell
me what your intention was when you approached this Maharaja. What was
the purpose?" At this, the Pundit got wild. "Should I not run this
family, this home? How am I to meet the cost of food and drink, of
clothes and things, for you and all the rest? It is for the sake of
these that I went to him, of course; or else, what business have I
with him?" he shouted.
The wife then replied. "If you had only understood what lord Krishna
has declared in this sloka, the urge to go to this Maharaja would not
have arisen! If He is worshipped without any other thought, if one but
surrenders to Him, if at all times the mind is fixed on him, then the
Lord has declared in this sloka that He would provide everything for
the devotee. You have not done these three; you approach the Maharaja,
believing that he would provide everything! That is where you have
gone against the meaning of the verse. That is the reason why he did
not accept your explanation."
Hearing this, that reputed scholar sat awhile, ruminating on her
remarks. He realised his mistake. He did not proceed to the palace the
next day. Instead, he got immersed in the worship of Krishna at home.
When the king inquired why the Pundit had not appeared, courtiers said
that he was staying at home and had not started out. The king sent a
messenger, but the Pundit declined to move out. He said, "There is no
need for me to go to any one; my Krishna will provide me with
everything; He will bear my Yogakshema Himself. I suffered insult
because I did not realise this so long, being blinded by eagerness to
know the manifold meanings of mere words. Surrendering to Him, if I am
ceaselessly engaged in worshipping Him, He will Himself provide me
with all I need."
When the messenger took this message to the palace, the Maharaja
proceeded to the dwelling of the Pundit on foot; he fell at the feet
of the Pundit, saying "I thank you sincerely for explaining to me this
day, out of your own experience, the meaning of the sloka which you
expounded yesterday." Thus, the king taught the Pundit that any
propagation of spiritual matters which does not come out of the
crucible of experience is mere glitter and show.
When the doctor said, apply this ointment at the place where the
scorpion stung your son, the fond father asked the son, "Where did the
scorpion sting?" The boy replied, "In that corner" and the father
applied the ointment to that spot on the floor!
Why should I worry
There was once a miser who lived in a leaky house; the rainwater
poured into the house through the roof but the miser sat through it
all. Neighbours laughed at him and warned him to get the roof repaired.
But in the rainy season, he replied: "Let the rains subside, how can I
repair it now?" And when the rains stopped, he replied, "Why should I
worry about leaks now? The rains have stopped."
It shone like a mirror
Once a great painter was by a king to execute a huge fresco on the
wall of his Durbar Hall, a scene from the Mahabharatha battle.
Another painter came and asked for permission to execute a fresco on
the opposite wall. He said he would within the same period prepare on
his wall an equally grand fresco, in fact an exact replica of the
other, inspite of a curtain being hung in between the walls.
On the date fixed for the opening of the frescoes to be seen by the
king the curtain was removed. The king was amazed to find an exact
copy of the same scene from the Mahabharatha battle down to the
minutest detail of lines and curves, tints and tilts, light and shade.
The king questioned the painter as to how he could do it. The artist
said that he had not used any brush or paint. What he did was
thoroughly polish the wall assigned to him. He polished the wall in
such a way that it shone like a mirror. So the duplicate fresco was
only a reflection of the original.
Similarly we have to cleanse our mind and make it pure so that God's
sublime grandeur and beauty may be reflected in our heart.
Practice of Dharma
Prahlad was not only a devotee of Lord Narayana but also a very
righteous king. He was the most bountiful of kings. He would never say
'no' to anyone who approached him for a favour, gift or help.
Once Indra intending to test Prahlad, came to him in the guise of a
Brahmin. Prahlad offered his respects to him and asked: "What do you
seek of me. How can I make you happy? The Brahmin replied: "Oh king! I
want you to gift me your Sheela (character). Prahlad said: "So be it.
Your wish is fulfilled. I am gifting away my Sheela to you." The
Brahmin left the court. No sooner did the Brahmin leave, then a
charming young man was seen walking away from the royal court. Prahlad
questioned him: "Sir! Who are you. The young man replied: "I am fame.
I cannot stay with you any longer since Sheela has left you." Prahlad
permitted him to leave.
A few seconds later, yet another handsome man was seen walking away
from the court. Prahlad asked, "May I know who you are?" The man
replied: I am valour. How can I be with you without Sheela and fame? I
am therefore leaving." Prahlad permitted him to leave.
Soon, a charming lady was leaving the court in hurried steps. Prahlad
asked her: "Mother, may I know who you are?" "I am Rajyalakshmi, the
presiding deity of this kingdom." She replied and added: "I can't live
here without Sheela, fame and valour. Then a lady was seen moving away
with tears in her eyes. Prahlad ran towards her and asked: "Mother,
who are you?" She said: "Son! I am Dharma Devatha (righteousness). I
don't have a place where there is no Sheela, fame and valour. Even
Rajyalakshmi has left you."
Prahlad fell at her feet and said: "Mother, I can live without Sheela,
fame, valour and Rajyalakshmi but I cannot live without you. How can I
send you anywhere. It is the duty of the king to protect Dharma.
Dharma alone is the basis of the entire world. Please stay with me. Do
not forsake me."
Dharma Devatha agreed to stay. When Dharma Devatha agreed to stay, all
the others also returned to the court and said: "We cannot exist
without Dharma Devatha. Let us please be with you."
Lord Indra tested Prahlad only to illustrate to the world the
greatness of Prahlad, which was founded only on his practice of
Katha II, 143
The Pandavas during the time of their exile once walked into the
forest of Romarishi. Romarishi was a sage whose body was covered with
hair and his beard was so long that it spread like a carpet into the
entire area of the forest.
There was a sacred tree in that forest yielding a very special type of
fruit which, once tasted by a person, would relieve him of hunger and
thirst for years and years. But the fruit was not to be plucked, it
was to be eaten only when it fell down on its own.
One day Dharmaraja and Draupadi chanced to come near the tree.
Draupadi was very much tempted to taste that luscious big fruit
hanging from the tree. She said: "Can we not take that fruit? We can
all share it." Dharmaraja shot an arrow and the fruit fell on the
ground. He went to take the fruit with his hand. It was so heavy that
he could not move it. Dharmaraja tried to lift it with all his
strength using both his hands but he could not lift it. Draupadi also
tried but in vain. In the meantime, Arjuna arrived at that place. He
tried to lift the fruit but could not succeed. All the three tried to
lift the fruit but it would not move. The two younger brothers came
and tried to lift the fruit but they too could not succeed.
Finally came the mighty hero, Bhima. He asked the others to keep away
and said: "I will lift it. But even Bhima failed."
Meanwhile the hair of Romarishi which had spread all over the area,
began to stir because when these six people were trampling about to
lift the fruit, the strands of hair were being trodden and pulled. He
realised that some one must be trying to steal the fruit. He had
become furious. His long hairs started coming together and coiling
round the Pandavas to tie them up.
Draupadi realised the danger and immediately prayed to Lord Krishna.
Krishna appeared before them. Draupadi fell at his feet and prayed to
Him for help. Krishna said: "Sister, I am helpless. Romarishi is a
great sage. I reside in his heart. How can I do anything against the
wishes of my devotees?" Draupadi once again pleaded: "You alone can
save us, you can do anything if you wish to." Krishna said: "I will
help you, but all of you should be totally silent whatever may be the
situation and do exactly as I tell you." Draupadi and Pandavas
promised to obey his orders. Krishna went towards Romarishi's ashram
and instructed them to follow him after sometime.
In the meantime, Romarishi was so much enraged that he had actually
started to walk towards the tree to curse the poachers. Just then
Krishna entered the ashram. Romarishi fell at the Lotus Feet of the
Lord. He was overjoyed to see Him. He said, "How fortunate am I to
have you as my guest. Oh Lord! What can I do for you?" Krishna engaged
him in discussing certain spiritual matters till the Pandavas arrived.
As soon as the Pandavas along with Draupadi reached the ashram,
Krishna hurried towards them and fell at their feet. The Pandavas were
feeling embarrassed but remembering the Lord's command, kept quiet.
Seeing Krishna fall at the feet of the Pandavas, Romarishi also fell
at the feet of those visitors. Then Krishna asked them to come into
the ashram. He introduced them to Romarishi. He praised the virtuous
Dharmaraja, valiant Arjuna and Bhima and the intelligent Nakul and
Sahadeva, and above all, the devout Draupadi. Romarishi by that time
totally forgot about the fruit and the poachers. Krishna informed
Romarishi that the Pandavas were the people who were tempted to taste
the fruit being unaware of the unique nature of the fruit. Romarishi
desired to please those who could please the Lord Himself. He said: "Let
them take the fruit. I would like them to have it." By eating the
fruit the Pandavas were able to live without hunger for a long time.
It is difficult to understand the ways of the Divine. All that we can
do is to always remember Him with love and pray with faith for His
A precious gem
A shepherd boy was driving his herd to a nearby wood. On his way,
he caught sight of a small shining piece of stone very beautiful in
shape too. He picked it up and thought: "How beautiful is this stone,
how nice it would be if I tie it round the neck of my little lamb." He
managed to tie it around the little lamb's neck. He loved to watch his
pet lamb frisking about with the bright stone shining in the sun.
One day as usual he was resting under a big tree, keeping a watchful
eye on the lamb grazing along with the flock. Just then, a person, on
horseback came to rest under the same tree. He observed the lad often
looking again and again at the pet lamb and shining stone too. That
man being a dealer in precious gems could at once make out that it was
a rare piece of gem. He decided to possess it. He entered into an
informal conversation with the boy. The boy being simple-minded told
him how he had chanced to find that shining piece of stone. The dealer
said: "My dear boy! I shall give you fifty rupees, will you give me
that stone?" The boy thought: "Oh, fifty rupees! I can buy many
colourful beads and stones like this for my lamb. Why can't I give the
stone to this man?" He took fifty rupees and gave away the stone to
The dealer in precious gems at once left that place on his horse. He
wanted to examine the gem closely and assess its value. So, he halted
at a place and sat under a tree. He took the piece of stone and held
it in his palm and thought: "Oh, it is really a fortune! It would sell
for one lakh of rupees and I got it only for fifty." Just then the gem
split itself into several pieces which scattered in the dust. The
dealer was puzzled, shocked and disappointed. He heard these words
from somewhere. "Oh man! You being a dealer in precious gems and
knowing its high value, have cheated the boy and got it from him at
the price of a glass bead. You are mean and greedy. So you are not
worthy of possessing that gem. That simple-minded shepherd boy loved
the gem though he did not know its value. He considered it as a good
ornament for his dear lamb." The guilty merchant frightened by what he
heard got on the horseback and fled away.
Deceit and trickery may bring a fortune, but never true happiness in
our life. Only honest dealings ensure a life of self-satisfaction,
peace and joy.
What nonsense is this?
One uneducated and simple minded person joined a military
recruiting centre. He was undergoing a few months' training course
which would make him eligible to join the army. Unfortunately, just
after completing a week of this training, news reached that there
would be a visit of an army officer who would interview the candidates
and inspect the type of training being given by the centre.
The person in charge of training these candidates was very much
worried about the newly recruited simple minded man. However, since he
happened to be an experienced army officer, he knew well the type of
questions that would be put to the new recruits. So, he coached this
man thoroughly to answer correctly most plausible questions. He asked
him to first of all remember the sequence of the questions. The first
question would be 'What is your age?' You are to say "22 years". The
second question would be 'How long have you been in this centre?' You
are to answer "two years". And the third may be, 'Are you happy in
this centre or do you feel homesick?' You have to say "I am at home
both here and in my place."
The Cadet learnt these answers by rote. On the day of inspection, he
was asked to come to the interview room. The inspecting officer asked
him, "How long have you been here"? The cadet just remembering the
sequence of the questions said, "22 years". The officer was rather
surprised. Then he asked, "What is your age"? The cadet said, "Two
years". "What nonsense is this? Are you mad or am I mad", roared the
officer. The cadet calmly answered, "Both" as he could only remember
just that word because he had by then got scared.
It is dangerous to remember things by rote.
Who is carrying the bag ?
Once Iswarachandra Vidya Sagar was proceeding to a neighbouring
village to deliver an address. People used to gather in large numbers
to listen to his lectures. A young officer, who wanted to listen to
Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar's lecture, got down from a train with a bag
to go to the Lecture-hall.
Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar also got down from the same train. The young
officer was calling for a porter to carry his bag. Iswar Chandra went
to him and said: "Why do you need a coolly to carry this small bag?
Can't you carry it yourself and save the money?" He replied: "It is
not in keeping with my dignity to carry my bag. I am an educated
person." Iswar Chandra told him: "The hallmark of education is
humility, not pride. If you cannot carry your own bag, how are you
carrying your body? If, however, you cannot carry your own bag, I
shall do so." And Iswar Chandra carried the officer's bag. He acted on
the motto: "Plain living and high thinking." The young man wanted to
offer money to his 'porter'. Iswar Chandra told him: "To serve you is
The young officer left and was later proceeding to the venue of the
meeting. There people were offering garlands to Iswar Chandra
Vidyasagar to welcome him to the meeting. The young officer realised
that the man who had offered to carry his bag at the station was none
other than the respected speaker of the evening, Iswar Chandra
Vidyasagar. He felt ashamed that he had made such a great man carry
his bag. He reflected: "What is his education and what is mine? I am
like a glow worm before the Sun."
Source: Chinna Katha