"One Little Story"
Part I

Stories and Parables

Quoted from the Divine Discourses of
Bhagavân S'rî Sathya Sai Baba


| Part I-a Part I-b Part I-c |
Part I-a
Stories 1-90
ck1 - ck2 - ck3 - ck4 - ck5
Part I-b
Stories 91-180
ck6 - ck7 - ck8 - ck9 - ck10
Part I-c
Stories 181-262
ck11 - ck12 - ck13 - ck14

| ck1 - ck2 - ck3 - ck4 - ck5 || ck6  - ck7 - ck8 - ck9 - ck10 || ck11 - ck12 - ck13 - ck14 |

... for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate.
Luke 15: 11-32

219. The most Laudable Choice

The Yaksha on the tree had stopped the five Pândava brothers from drinking at the lake below, for, it put questions to each of them and when they could not answer to its satisfaction, they died - four of them! It was Dharmarâja (Yudhisthhira), the eldest, who came last. He was able to answer the questions correctly. So, the Yaksha said: "Well, you can now revive and take with you one of the four brothers who are lying here dead". Yudhisthhira had the hardest of problems, but, he did not take long to select. He did not revive either Bhîma or Arjuna, though they were for him as his two hands. He selected Nakula. The Yaksha asked him why he had chosen him. He said: "I, Bhîma and Arjuna are the sons of Kuntî and Nakula and Sahadeva are the sons of my stepmother Madrî. My mother has me alive, so I wished my stepmother too to have a son alive; So I choose one of her sons". What a noble heart was his! At this the Yaksha was so pleased that it allowed him to revive all four and go forward happily.




220. Scrap of Paper

Samartha Ramdas, the great saint, was on his begging round. He stood before the palace of S'ivaji (for it was on his way) and cried: "Alms". S'ivaji Himself came down and stood before him and placed a piece of paper in the saint's hands. "What can a hungry man do with a scrap of paper?", Ramdas asked. "Read it please" said S'ivaji, humbly and reverentially. The paper was a document by which S'ivaji had transferred His empire to the care and control of his master, Samartha Ramdas. Ramdas laughed and said: "Well, rule the empire on my behalf, with due attention to dharma". He gave the paper back. Then, he resumed his begging round.


221. The Dhobi Replies

Once a big argument arose between a dualist and a monist (a dvaitin and an advaitin). The monist said that the jîva is not really jîva, but is genuinely deva; that the individual is God, that all is God. The dualist would not agree, even though many quotations were given by the monist from the Vedas etc. to prove the point. The dualist accosted a dhobi (washerman) who was passing along the road and asked him: "Hello, tell us who you are. Are you God?" The dhobi got frightened at the suggestion and said: "No, I am only I''. Then, the dualist said: "Did you hear? Even the man in the street knows that he is not God and that he is only a jîvi". The advaitin replied: "No. He said that I am I. Everyone from the Emperor down to the man in the street says, I am I. Now, that I is the reflection of God in the individualised body".


222. Which One to Hold?

A pilgrim going to a forest shrine was overtaken by night and unable to see his way he slipped into a well. Luckily, while falling he chanced to hold the root of a tree hanging loose by the side of the well. When morning dawned, a sâdhu came to the neighborhood of the well and sang a few s0ngs on God. The pilgrim shouted to him and when he saw the plight of the poor fellow, the sâdhu let down a length of sturdy rope, so that he could pull him up and save him. The pilgrim was now in two minds - whether to hold on to the root or hold the rope. Of course it was silly; one should hold on to the root, only until the rope is available. So too, when God is realised, all karma must drop off.


223. Intimations or Mortality

One merchant who was very much afraid of death, worshiped the God of Death, Yama for many years and offered elaborate puja to Him. Yama was pleased at the special attention and adoration shown by him and promised that he will not pounce upon him all of a sudden, but will give him advance intimation, so that he could put his affairs in good trim before leaving the world. When at last, his end came and he was about to die, he got wild with Yama and in his anger, he blamed Yama with falsehood, ingratitude and cheating. He said that he was not given any advance intimation at all. But, Yama said: "Why? I have sent you not one but four intimations, well in advance of this consummation." The merchant said that he had not received any of them. But Yama said: "Your hair turned grey, that was the first intimation. But, you dyed it and forgot its lesson. I made you bold, but you wore a wig and slighted the notice I gave. Then, I had all your teeth fall off; you wore a denture and pretended I was far away. The fourth intimation I sent was folds all over your skin. You did not pay heed to that warning too". Indeed Yama had kept His word.


224. Stop! Stop! Turn Back!

When Râma, Sîtâ and Lakshmana were riding off to the forest in the chariot, in obedience to the plighted word of Dasaratha, Dasaratha came in another chariot, behind them and shouted, in great agony at their departure: "Stop! Stop! Turn back!". [see RRV ch. 14] But Râma told the charioteer, Sumanthra, the Minister attached to the Court of Dasaratha: "Do not stop. Go faster". Sumanthra pleaded that he was an officer who must obey the Emperor and that he may be punished for disobedience. Râma told him: "Tell him that you did not hear his orders". "But that would be a lie", said Sumanthra. "No. As an Emperor he has asked you to take us out of Ayodhyâ in this chariot. Now, he is asking you to stop, not as Emperor, but as a grief-stricken father. You must listen to the command of the Emperor of course. You have no right or duty to listen to agony-stricken fathers wishing to have a look at their sons."
Râma taught Sumanthra the true dharma in this manner. A grief-stricken man cannot have a proper appraisal of what is right and wrong.


225. The Mother Cat

The Mother Cat, it is said, carries its newly born kittens, still with unopened eyes, from house to house, depositing them in seven different homes. By the time the seventh house is reached, the kittens open their eyes and can see well and clearly. Man changes home every birth. But, his eyes do not open to the truth of God, even after his changing home (lives) many and many a time.


226. The Gerua Cloth

One day, when Swami Vivekananda was moving about in the city of Calcutta, an aristocratically dressed person accosted him and asked: "Why do you wear this gerua (ochre color) robe? Perhaps, you want to advertise that you have given up the world and renounced all desires. This exhibition is a sign of ego". Swami Vivekananda laughed and said: "My dear friend! I have no such idea. I wear it because, seeing that I am a sannyasin, with no money, no beggar would approach me and bother me. I can walk about without being pestered. I have spiritual treasures with me, but no cash. When people come asking for them, I give".


227. He Asked for It

When Babruvahana, the son of Arjuna, took hold of the horse that was to be sacrificed ceremoniously at the As'vamedha to be celebrated by the Pândavas, he did not know that it was his father who had come to retrieve the horse from captivity. When he knew that Arjuna had come, he moved forward and fell at his feet. When his mother heard about his quiet submission, she got enraged at his cowardice. "Being a kshatriya, how could you yield the horse you have laid hands on, without a fight? Let him, even if it be your father, win it on the battlefield", she said. So, the battle took place between father and son and, believe it or not, Arjuna fell dead when the arrows of Babruvahana struck him on the chest.

The s0n lamented his fate and wept aloud at the calamity that he had inflicted on his mother and on the world. Just then, Ulupî, a naga princess from the nether world appeared there and comforted Babruvahana and the rest, she narrated the true story of the event, which showed that Arjuna had himself prayed for such an end.

During Kurukshetra battle, Arjuna had let loose the Brahmâstra, the most mortal of all lethal weapons, at Bhîshma and that had led to his ultimate death. But, instead of joy at the death of the mighty general of the Kaurava forces, Arjuna was overwhelmed by remorse. Bhîshma had brought up the Pândava brothers lovingly and with care after the death of their father Pându, while they were yet children. He was the pithâmahâ or grandfather of all of them. Now that he had himself caused his death, Arjuna cursed himself for having done so. He wished: "Let me be killed by my own son as compensation for this ungrateful act of mine". Ulupî described this background story and soon, revived Arjuna back to life, with the mysterious powers she had accumulated in the nether world. Every incident that looks absurd or wonderful, inexplicable or impossible that is mentioned in the Purânas [see the Purâna S'rimâd Bhâgavatam] has a deeper meaning and significance.


228. Sweeter than Tansen

Akbar [also known as Akbar the Great of the Mughal Empire, (1542-1605)] was happy whenever Tansen, his court musician, sang. Tansen was the greatest musician of his days. When he sang the râga 'Meghamala', clouds thickened in the sky; when he sang the râga 'Varuna', showers of rain fell. When he sang the 'Nâgasvara', snakes gathered. Akbar was very proud that he had in his durbar (court), a musician of such eminence.

But one day, while Akbar was engaged in prayer, he heard the distant music of Haridâsa, a wandering minstrel, a beggar singing to the tune of a single-stringed instrument he held in his hand, Akbar was thrilled, enchanted, deeply moved.

He asked Tansen, why that song appealed to him more than all the songs Tansen sang in the durbar. Tansen replied: "Lord! I sing, looking at your face to see any sign of appreciation, in the hope that you will give me a few gems or some acres of land. He sings looking at the face of God, with no greed for material wealth or ambition for earthly goods. That is the difference".


229. The Cup and the Needle

Thiruvalluvar, the renowned Tamil Saint, who has written the immortal work called 'Kural' or 'Thirukkural', used to keep by his side, when he sat for meals, a needle and a small cup filled with water. Once, his host asked him why he insisted on having these two placed by the side of the plate. He said: "Food should not be wasted. Even a grain is precious. Sometimes, stray grains of cooked rice or stray peaces of cooked vegetables fall off the plate or away from it, while I eat. Then, I lift them off the floor with the help of this needle and stir them in the water to clean and eat them. What a great lesson this is for those who waste more than they consume!


230. Tit for Tat

There was a Court Poet in the durbar (court) of the Emperor of Vijayanagar, called Lingapurana Sooranna, since he was an expert in expounding the text Linga Purâna. He had rabid envy towards Tenali Ramakrishna, another Court Poet who had far greater talents. One day, Sooranna was at home composing a lampoon against Tenali Rama (or Vikata Kavi) in quite a ribald style. He was half-way through, when he received a call from the Emperor. So, he left the manuscript on his table and hurried to the palace. Then, Mother Kâlî, the Goddess who was the patron deity of Ramakrishna, appeared before him and asked him to go to Sooranna's house and himself finish the unfinished lampoon. He did so and when Sooranna returned home, he was dismayed to find that the lampoon was an attack on himself, on his low and vulgar envy towards others far greater in poetic talent. Divinity cannot tolerate the besmirching of true devotees by envious and malignant minds. [see for an example Bhâgavata Purâna, 5.9: The Supreme Character of Jada Bharata]


231. The Son-in-law

A conceited, greedy son-in-law went to his mother-in-law's house. She was very poor, managing the household with great difficulty. However, she rendered him hospitality far beyond her means, borrowing from all and sundry. But, the fellow stayed on and showed no intention to depart. The number and taste of the dishes at lunch and dinner became less and less. Still, he did not plan to leave. She then tried some vedantic philosophy. She sermonised on the evanescence of physical joys, the triviality of sense satisfaction etc. The fellow reacted in another way, the opposite way. He said: "Dear mother-in-law, I hold another view. You cannot change it by Vedanta. I know, even the Gods declare by their action that the mother-in-law's home is more secure and more desirable than one's own. S'iva lives in the Himalayas, and His consort is the daughter of the Himalayas. Vishnu is ever on the Ocean of Milk, where Lakshmî was born." The mother-in-law had at last to resort to desperate measures. She quietly locked the fellow out and escaped to another village.


232. The Eyes I want

Surdas was a blind mystic, singer and poet. Lord Krishna once appeared and asked him, in His infinite mercy, if he wanted eyes, so that he could see the world. Surdas replied: "Though people have the kind of eyes you are offering to give me, they are befogged with ignorance and are not able to recognise You in all forms and in all beings. Though people have ears, they cannot hear the melody of your flute. I want eyes that can always see Your beauty everywhere; ears that can hear Your flute from every corner of the world".


233. The Three Fishes

There were once three fishes in a pond. One fish said to the other two: "The water in this pond is getting less and less; the pond will dry up soon. Let us go to some lake which will not dry; the fisherman is waiting to catch us and eat us". The second fish said: "O, it is a long way off. We might get a shower of rain and the pond will not get dry". The third one said: "Your mind is full of needless fears; you were always so. No fisherman knows we are here". As anticipated, the fisherman did come and trapped all three. The fisherman is no other than Death. The length of our life here is the level of water in the pond. We are fishes that are blind and stupid, who will not listen to warnings.


234. Râvana as Râma

Râvana tried all methods to persuade Sîtâ to yield, enter his zenana and become his consort. He threatened her with instant death; he enticed her with gifts and promise of more. He tried soft words and cruel torture. At last, he hit upon a brilliant idea. He assumed the form of Râma and thought that she would be misled by that impersonation. But, as soon as he assumed that form, all evil thoughts fled from him and only ideals of righteousness held sway. So, he had to give up that trick, as useless [see also Ramakatha Rasavahini].


235. Love God or Be Loved

Abou Ben Adhem saw a brilliance in his room when he returned home. He found an angel sitting at the table and recording something in a register. He ventured to ask her very politely what she was so assiduously writing down. She said that she was recording the names of those who loved God. Abou was a kind soul who helped the poor, shared his food and shelter with the hungry and the homeless; he was ever engaged in wiping tears off the faces of the sad. He had no particular loyalty to any God. He loved persons following all religions, provided they were good and kind He cared only for the broad heart and the controlled mind. The Angel said: "No, your name is not here."

Next day, Abou's home was again lit with the same brilliance, in the centre of which was found the same recording Angel. She had another register now. Abou asked her what she was recording in that register. She said: "I am writing down the names of those who are loved by God." Hesitatingly and with great temerity, Abou asked her whether his name was in that register. The angel put her finger on the very first entry and said: "See! Your name is the very first". Love your fellowmen, that is the best method to earn the Grace of God.


236a. Ego wins Easily

Sage Vis'vâmitra knew that Râma was the Incarnation of God and that He had taken human form in order to destroy the demonic forces and persons. He felt that Râma alone could keep the demons at bay, while he performed the vedic rite of yajña. He was certain that Râma was invincible on the battlefield and that Râma's divinity was full and impregnable. Yet, his ego, at the possession of certain weapons which can be activated by the pronunciation of certain mystic formulae and his knowledge of certain mantras which can confer safety and security, was so dominant that he offered to teach Râma how to handle them and how to master the mantras! It was all the effect of mâyâ and Râma tolerated the whims of the old man. He was the author of the delusion and he must have repeated the mantras after Vis'vâmitra with a chuckle, at the predicament of Vis'vâmitra.


236b. The Gash on the Back

There lived on the banks of the sacred Ganga a poor brahmin, who was an ardent student of the Bhagavad Gîtâ. He read it every day; he worshipped the Book and he tried to live according to its teachings. But, his faith was sorely tried, for he was immersed in distressing poverty. His bowl was seldom filled; he and his wife were on half ration all the time.

One day, while overcome by grief at his misery, his eye fell on the 22nd s'loka of the 9th chapter, where the Lord assures that He will bear the burden of all who take refuge in Him. He felt that in his case, the assurance was a hoax and so, he took his pen and dipping it in red ink, he struck out the exasperating line! Somewhat relieved of anger, he rose and went out with his bowl.

But of those persons who concentrate on nothing else but Me
and who are fixed in devotion in proper worship,
I protect the union and to them I carry what they need
B.G. 9: 22]

Before long, two boys, brothers by appearance, the younger of darker hue, came to his door, with a bag of rice and a basin of sundry other provisions. The wife was surprised because they insisted all of it was for her and her husband! She found a bleeding gash on the back of the younger boy and when she asked him who had inflicted the cruel wound, the reply was: "Your husband". How could he lose temper so much as to stab such a charming child, she wondered. But, the brothers disappeared in a flash.

The husband knew nothing about the bleeding boy. He pleaded innocence. He wondered who could have sent them help. His head was in a whirl. As always, he turned to the Gîtâ for consolation. The Book opened on the 9th chapter, s'loka 22. Ah! His eye fell on the angry gash he had drawn on that page, across that line.

That pen had gashed S'rî Krishna's back! His want of faith had "wounded" Him so. He ran about like mad to discover the Boy to fall at His feet, crying for mercy. But He could not be found.

So, have faith in the assurance ofthe Lord; when He says: "Why fear, I am here", He means it. When He says: "I look to you, when you look to Me", He means it. [See also the story: An Old Brahmin Friend (Sudama) Visits Krishna - S.B. 10.80]


237. Father Leaps to Save the Son

You may ask, why should the Lord Himself incarnate? Why can He not set about the task of restoring dharma through the many minor gods He has at His command? This question was posed before the courtiers by Akbar himself, for, he laughed at the hindu idea of the Formless adopting Form, and descending into the world as an Avatâr to save dharma. Tansen asked for a week's time to furnish the answer and got it granted by His Imperial Majesty. A few days later, when he was in the pleasure boat of the Emperor sailing across the lake with his family, Tansen cleverly threw overboard a doll made to look like the emperor's little son, crying at tbe same time: "O, the Prince has fallen into the water". Hearing this, the emperor jumped into the lake to rescue his son! Tansen then disclosed that it was only a doll and that the son was safe. He allayed the anger of Akbar by explaining that he had perforce to enact this drama, in order to demonstrate the truth of the hindu belief that God takes human form Himself to save dharma, without commissioning some other entity to carry out that task. Dharma is as the son God loves so dearly. Akbar could have ordered one among the many personnel he had on board, to jump in and rescue his son but, his affection was so great and the urgency so acute that the Emperor himself plunged into the lake to pull out the "son". The decline in dharma is so acute a tragedy; the intensity of affection that the Lord has for good men is so great that He Himself comes.






Painting of forgiving father by Frank Wesley (see this story in the Bible: The Parable of the Lost Son, Luke 15: 11-32)
Jîva or jiv-âtmâ: the individual soul.
Advaita: without duality, which relating to the Lord means that His body and Himself are non-different.
S.B.: 7.15: 63-65 (63) To the observation that, like with the substance of the threads of a cloth, the effect and cause (of this existence) are one because ultimately setting them apart constitutes the unreal, does one speak of the conception of oneness (bhâvâdvaita, see also B.G. 18: 16). (64) In all activities of the mind, the words and the body directly to be of dedication unto the Supreme of the transcendental Absolute, o Yudhishthhira, is called oneness in activities (kriyâdvaita, compare B.G. 9: 27). (65) When the ultimate goal and interest of oneself, the wife and the children, the others or whatever living beings is one, is that oneness called oneness of interest (dravyâdvaita).]
Dvaita: Dualism; separation of God and the created universe.
Sâdhu: (straight) enerring, obedient straightened, a saint, a holy man, a devotee, a seeker of truth.
Yamarâja or Yama: also called Dharma, the son of the sungod, Lord of Death, the Lord of retribution. The demigod awarding sinners punishment after their death. Belongs to the twelve mahâjanas (see also
S.B. 5.26).
Painting of the chariot in which Râma, Sîtâ and Lakhsmana leave Ayodhyâ by Madhava Priya devî dâsî.
As'vamedha-yajña: Horse-sacrifice. At the end of the life of the rule of a king is a horse sent out with a plaquette around its neck followed by an army. Anyone contesting the honor inscribed on that plaquette is then fought.
Brahmâstra: weapon used in the Vedic time, launched with the expression of a mantra that in its power can be compared to the present day nuclear arms.
- Kind of atomic weapon in a vedic way.
- A kind of atomic weapon producing a bright glare and burning everything. It is released with mantras after touching water. Highly destructive used as a last resort in vedic warfare. The ultimate weapon in vedic times (see
1.7: 19; 1.8: 11 and 10.63: 13).
Ulupî: Daughter of the Naga king Kauravya, who became Arjuna's wife. They had a son named Iravan, who was killed at Kurukshetra. She married Arjuna during his one year exile from Indraprastha, only spending one day with him after their wedding. She was reunited with him in Hastinapura after the war.
soul, but also: body, mind, senses.
- 'The soul is eternal, does not dwindle, is pure, the individual, the knower of the field, the original foundation, the unchanging, self-illumined, actual cause, pervading all, independent and unmoving. From these twelve symptoms of the soul is a conscious person impelled to give up the false conception of 'I' and 'Mine' that originates from the illusion of everything that belongs to having a body'.
- The being of God and man,
- Selfremembrance in alignment with Krishna.




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