"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 |


147. Common Salt or Cowdung

You may be a master of the Gîtâ and the Bhâgavatam; you may claim to have spent decades in the service of Krishna; but, without the Key of Love you cannot gain entrance to the Go-loka where He resides! You may be in Prasanthi Nilayam since years, claiming to be with Swami and near Him; but, without cultivating love expressed in service you cannot know Me.

There was a pupil once, who prided himself on his ancestors and his master; they were great pundits renowned over the entire realm. His preceptor asked him one day whether he could answer any question he might ask. The pupil was stung to the quick! He said, "Why this hesitation, ask and it will be answered! I come from a Somayaji family; my father is a celebrated savant. I have been learning at your feet for years! Don't I know the answers to all questions you might ask?"

The teacher wanted the answer to the question: "What is the meaning of the word lavana?" The pupil laughed and said: "O, you surprise me with this absurd question! Don't I know? Lavana means cowdung!"

Well, lavana is a word that is in daily currency in every household and everyone knows, it means 'common salt'! Even this, the conceited disciple had not learnt. Unless you brighten your vision with love, you cannot see the truth.


148. Nara and Naraka

The most widely current among the legends on Deepavali refers to the demon Naraka whom Lord Krishna, accompanied by His consort, Satyabhâmâ or Satya, destroyed in battle, this day. Naraka was the son of mother earth, of Bhoomatha. She asked for a boon from the Lord that the day should be observed in his memory, as a day of light or joy and the sharing of joy by one and all. Therefore, hundreds of tiny lamps are lit this evening and kept in rows before and within every home in India; but, few are the lamps that are lit in the cavity of the heart to destroy the darkness that lies thick within.

Who exactly is this Naraka, the demon Narakâsura, let us inquire. He is described as a tyrant, who had no reverence towards elders and saints, who was afflicted with a severe type of land hunger, who looted and plundered unchecked, who carried away princesses and damsels by the hundreds and threw them into prison without any compunction, and who never repented for any of his crimes and sins. When the good men of the world appealed to Lord Krishna for succor, He invaded his kingdom, laid siege to his capital city, and overwhelming his forces, allowed His queen, Satya, to slay him on the battlefield.

This legend has a profound undercurrent of meaning, which you should not miss. Naraka is an âsura, a demonic person. His city is named, Prâgjyotishapura; prâg means, the previous; jyoti, means light; and sha means, forgetting or ignoring. So the city's name means: 'The city of those who have laid aside the previous light.' That is to say, the city of those who are ignorant of atmic splendor. No wonder they are demons. No wonder they were lustful, full of hatred, greed, envy and egotism. They had become so lost in their sins that Lord Krishna did not vouchsafe to give them the honor of being killed by His hands. He directed Satya to destroy them. Yes. Ignorance so fundamental and so deep can be destroyed only by the sword of satya or truth.

Egoism is of earth, earthy; not of heaven, heavenly. So, Naraka is the son of earth. And, he is called Nara-ka. Nara means man who knows his manas (mind), who practises manana (discriminating reflection on what he has heard and what he has been taught). But Naraka which means 'hell' or Bhauma, is the name appropriate to one who believes he is the body and toils to cater to its needs and its clamor. When man grows in physical strength, economic power, mental alacrity, intellectual scholarship and political authority and does not grow in spiritual riches, he becomes a danger to society and a calamity to himself. He is a Naraka to his neighbors and his kin. He sees only the many, not the one; he is drawn by the scintillating manifold into the downward path of perdition.

A-suras have another name in Sanskrit - Nakthancharas, those who move about in the dark. This is a fair description of their pathetic condition. They have no light to guide them; they do not recognise they are in the dark; they do not call out for light; they are unaware of the light. Their intellect has become the bondslave of their passions and their senses, instead of establishing itself as their master. When at last, truth appears before them and overwhelms them, they recognise the one and merge happily in it.

The lamp is not merely the symbol of the knowledge of truth. It is also the symbol of the One, the Âtmâ that shines in and through all this multiplicity. Just as with one lamp, a thousand lamps can be lit, and the one is as bright as ever in spite of the thousands deriving light from it, so too, the âtmâ illumines the jîvas (individual selves) and shines in and through them, without undergoing any diminution in its splendor. The âtmâ is the cause; all else are effects.

Naraka sought to act freely as his emotions and passions dictated. The Upanishads call upon man to roam about in the jungle of life as the King of Beasts, the Lion, and not as panic-stricken cowardly sheep, ashamed to lift its head. Face the six foes that are ferociously gnawing the heart of man, lust, anger. attachment, pride, hatred, greed, and be MEN, Nara, not Naraka, who cringes before these foes and tries to propitiate them by yielding to their demands [see also S.B. 10.59]


149. Two Sirens

There are two evil sirens that entice youth into futility and frivolity, diverting them along the paths of ruin. One of them is called Dame Cinema and the other is named Dame Novel. The film contaminates and corrupts; it pollutes young and innocent minds; it teaches crime, violence and greed; it destroys the basic humanness and degrades it into bestiality. Even ochre-robed monks are steadily dragged down to sin by its insidious influence. Dame Novel too corrupts equally, with salacious pictures of bestiality. They both lead the young away into the wilderness of vice. They do not know, nor do they care to know, how to shape the young into self-reliant, self-confident, self-knowing citizens.


150. No Life-line

There was a student once who held out his palm before a palmist for scrutiny. The palmist examined the lines with care and announced that he would advance very much in education. The student was very happy. The palmist predicted that he would amass large sums of money; the student's joy knew no bounds. The palmist declared that the lines indicated fame along with fortune. This filled the cup of joy to the brim; it could hold no more. Then, the palmist announced that the 'life-line' was short and it ended abruptly, quite quick! The student fell in a faint.

Education too has no life-line now; it does not ensure the skills and attitudes essential to live a life of peace and contentment.


151. Grammar and Grace

When Sankara was residing at Varanasi (Benares city) on the Ganga with his pupils he used to visit the pundits in their own houses, and draw them into beneficial conversation on themes of philosophy. One day, when he went to a pundit, he found him immersed in complicated rules of grammar. When asked why he had taken up the intensive study of grammar, the pundit replied that it would easily fetch him a few pieces of silver. "If I am designated a pundit, I can go to the home of some big zamindars (landowners), and hope to receive alms and offerings from them, for the upkeep of my large family", he said. Sankara advised him in appropriate terms, and charged him with self-confidence and courage.

Returning to his hermitage, Sankara wrote a verse summarising the advice he gave to the poor struggling brahmin householder:


"Praise God, Praise God, Praise God, you fool.
When death does knock at your door, rules of grammar cannot save you".

(see here all the
31 verses and listen to the refrain sung by Baba)

Sankara exhorted his pupils to disseminate the ideal of this verse, and they too, responded with verses on the same lines, each of the 14 contributing one verse. Sankara added another twelve of his own, as well as four more verses about the transformation that the teaching would confer. Thus, there are 31 verses in all, in the text called "Bhaja Govindam" or "Moha Mudgaram". The latter name means, "the weapon with which delusion can be destroyed". Each one is a step in the ladder which raises man into God.

Sankara addressed these verses to "mudhamate", "the foolish person". Now, who are these fools? He has given the answer in another context: "Nasthiko mudha uchyathe" . Those who deny the âtmâ are fools. Those who assert and believe that "I am not this perishable body; I am not this feeble intellect; I am the undying everlasting all-inclusive âtmâ" are few indeed. The vast majority assert and believe that "I am the moulder of my destiny. I am the captain of my ship. I choose my likes and dislikes. I fulfil my desires through my own efforts." These are the fools.


152. The Bandage on the Nose

There was once a sadhaka who approached a guru for guidance. The guru gave him an idol of Vishnu and also necessary instructions for daily worship. But the sadhaka found that, even after some months of meticulous puja, he did not get any spiritual reward or elation. So, he reported his dissatisfaction and the guru gave him another idol, this time of S'iva and asked him to have another try. The disciple came after another six months demanding another idol, because even S'iva had failed him. This time, he got a Dûrgâ idol, which he duly installed in his domestic shrine. The two previous idols, were standing, dust ridden and neglected, on the window sill. One day, while Dûrgâ-puja was going on, the disciple found that the perfumed smoke from the incense stick was being wafted by the breeze towards the idol of S'iva on the window sill. He got wild, that the ungrateful stonehearted God who was deaf to his powerful entreaties should get the perfume intended for his latest idol! So he took a piece of cloth and tied it round the face of S'iva, closing up the nostrils that were inhaling the perfume.

Just at that moment, to his immense surprise, S'iva appeared in His splendor and glory before the sadhaka! The man was dumb-founded. He did not know how the ill-treatment had induced S'iva to give him darsan. But what had really happened? The sadhaka for the first time believed that the S'iva idol was alive, conscious, chaitanya-full (intelligence, spirit) and it was that belief which forced him to tie the bandage on the nose. The moment he realised that the idol was full of chith (consciousness), he got the realisation he was struggling for.


153. The Desire to Die

There was a woodcutter once, going daily into the forest and collecting a bundle of fuel which he sold in the village nearby for a pittance, which just sufficed to keep his wife and children alive. One morning, while he was stepping out of his hut, the wife reminded him that it was Yugadi (the new year festival) the next day; she pleaded with him to collect a heavier bundle of fuel that day, so that they could get a few more paise to give the children a morsel of sweet rice each. The man nodded assent and walked on. He succeeded in gathering an extra huge bundle but, with that heavy load on his head, he was soon exhausted; he had to deposit it on the ground, before he could approach the village. This set him thinking of his plight. He had lost all his old zest for living. He called upon the Angel of Death, the Mrithyudevatha, to relieve him. He cried: "O Death! Have You no mercy toward me? Why have you forgotten me, so long? How I wish I could die and escape from this daily grind!" The Angel of Death took pity on him, and appeared before him, to fulfil his wish.

But, the woodcutter suddenly receded, he cleverly changed the purpose of his appeal to the Angel. He had no wish to die, though in his despair, he had called for her help. He said, "No, no, I have no one here to lift this bundle on to my head, so I called on You to come to my aid. That was the only reason behind my prayer. Please help me to lift this burden and place it on my head; I have to reach the village soon"!

Since man is innately immortal, he recoils from the grasp of death; the will to live is very strong, much more persistent than the will to die.


154. The Non-existent Enemy

The Sun God was, one day, very much impressed by the 1008 names with which a devotee offered Him worship. He listened to the Names as he uttered them in steadfast faith. He was particularly alerted when he called upon Him as Andhakaradweshi - He who was looked upon as the enemy of Darkness. He could not tolerate the existence of an enemy alive, so, He called for a war unto death on this demon called Darkness. He went into all the places where Darkness hid himself. But, no sooner did He spot him, the demon disappeared so that He could never come to grip with him. Finally, He concluded that Darkness was non-existent and was only a creation of the imagination of His adorers!

Before the Splendor of Immortality, the darkness of mortality too would flee in haste. The resident in the body has no birth and therefore, no death. But, man is hugging the falsehood that he is the body and so is subject to birth and death. A silver cup can be reshaped by the smith into a plate, or later, into a pan-box; but though the name, the form and the function vary it remains the same.


155. Sand into Gold

There is a story connected with the construction of the great temple at Kalahasthi. It was built according the tradition by sage Âgastya, helped by Bharadvaja. Every day when the sun was about to set, Âgastya called every worker before him as he sat on the river bed and under his instruction, two sages poured into the lap of each worker sand taken from the bed; that was his wages! Now, that sand changed into gold in strict proportion to the work that the receiver had put in that day. If one did more work, he got more gold; if less, less. If one had wasted the entire day, it would remain sand, so far as that worker was concerned. There was no injustice, no grumbling, no favouritism. All worked in the presence of the All-seeing and, all accepted the gold that was vouchsafed by the Almighty, for it was just his due no more, no less.

It is work that is done in this spirit, the spirit of the constant presence of the Lord, that is honest. The Lord will reward by His Grace the work that is done sincerely and gladly, not work that is done for fear of superior officers. If hearts are pure your work too will be pure.


156. Waste of Time

There was a doctor in Benares who spent 5 minutes in the morning and 5 in the evening for meditation on God. Knowing this, his colleagues and friends laughed at the idiosyncrasy. One day they argued that he was wasting ten precious minutes on something which he had been misled into believing. The doctor replied: "Well, if God does not exist, I agree that I am wasting ten minutes a day. But, what if He exists? I am afraid you are wasting your entire lifetime. I prefer to waste ten minutes rather than a lifetime. Why should you grudge me the ten-minutes-joy that I derive therefrom? I am not robbing you of your joy; why should you rob me of mine?" he asked. The cynics were silenced.


157. He yelled the Truth

There was once a famous scholar who earned great fame as a Vedic exponent, but no one could guess his caste. Many suspected that he was not a brahmin, but there was no means of discovering. At last, the wife of a pundit said she could easily solve the problem. The scholar was invited for a feast at the place and when he was fast asleep after a full repast, she applied to the sole of his foot a red-hot brand at which the Vedic scholar yelled "Allah". Thus it was discovered he was a Muslim. Faith should not be a matter of exposition; it should be patent even when you yell in pain.


158. Broken Pot

There was a man once who hired an aged elephant for the bridal procession on the occasion 0f the marriage of his daughter. After the ceremony, when the procession returned home, the bride descended from the howdah and at that very moment, the elephant crumpled and died. The owner of the elephant was shocked at the news; he refused to take it as an unavoidable misfortune. He insisted that the identical animal had to be returned to him alive. He went to court on this issue. The judge had some mud pots kept at the back of the door which the greedy owner had to open for passing through. When he opened it, the whole lot was broken. The judge insisted that he had to restore those very pots! Thus was sense driven into that fellow's brain.


159. Even Gods must Obey

You must have heard many stories of garvabhangam, the suppression of conceit or egoism by the Lord. One day, Anjaneya [Hanumân] appeared in a garden on the outskirts of Dvârakâ. Krishna who heard about the pranks of the strange monkey, directed Garuda to proceed and scare the animal out of the city limits. Garuda failed, even though he took the entire army with him for the fray. His pride was humbled. Krishna sent a message through him to the monkey, who had declared himself as Anjaneya, that he should deign to come to Krishna's court. But Anjaneya recognised only Râma and he would obey only the orders of Râma. So, Krishna had to send another message that Râma was calling him to his audience hall! Devotion compels the Lord to yield to the whims of His servants. Anjaneya hurried to see Râma; Krishna gave him the darsana of Râma Himself!


160. The Begging Bowl

When a child dies, ask yourself the question: "Is it for my sake that he/she was born?" The child had his own destiny to fulfil, his own history to work out. Gautama Buddha's father was so overcome with grief when he saw his son with a begging bowl in the street that he told him thus: "Everyone of my ancestors was a King; what misfortune is this that a beggar was born in this line". Buddha replied: "Everyone of my ancestors had a beggar's bowl; I know of no king in my line." The father and the son walked different paths, travelled along divergent routes.


161. Oh! I have Died

There was a father-in-law who was so angry with the son-in-law for not writing letters to him and his daughter from foreign lands where he had gone as a soldier, that he wrote to him an angry letter: "You are as bad as dead, so far as we are concerned, for you do not care for your wife any longer. So she has shaved her head and started wearing widow's weeds". The soldier, when he received this letter, lamented aloud that his wife had become a widow, not realising that so long as he was alive, that calamity cannot happen!

Do not jump to conclusions, abdicating your discrimination. Don't deny the validity of your own experience. Stand on your strength. Be unmoved, either by adulation or denigration.


162. Râma's Cheek

There was a merchant who was exhorted by his teacher to repeat the Name of the Lord; he pleaded he had no time to sit and repeat it; the shop took up all his time and energy. He had to go a little away from the village every morning for answering the calls of nature. He spent about half an hour for this. So, the guru asked him to use this time for the daily smarana [remembering the name of the Lord]. Hanumân, the great Râmabhakta, was passing through the sky, when he saw the merchant defecating and heard him repeat 'Ram Ram Ram' while so engaged. Hanumân was incensed at his impertinence, he was desecrating the Name by pronouncing it while unclean. So, he gave him a hard blow on the cheek and continued his journey to Ayodhyâ.

When he reached the Divine Presence and looked at the splendor-filled face of Râma, he noticed the swollen red print of a hand upon His cheek. Hanumân was shocked and his grief was too deep for words. Râma told him, "Hanumân! Do not ask Me the name of the person who dealt this blow. I always anticipate the moment of a calamity for my bhakta and I intercede in time to save them. That poor merchant, sitting outside the village, who was repeating My Name when you were coming here, could he withstand the terrible onslaught of your angry palm? The fellow would have collapsed on the spot. So, I intercepted the blow and received it on my own cheek, my dear Hanumân".


163. Fine or Ghee

A merchant was once hauled up before a magistrate for selling adulterated ghee which smelt bad and was a danger to health. Judgement was pronounced that he should either himself consume the entire quantity of ghee as a punishment, receive 23 stripes, or pay a fine of 100 varahas. He preferred the ghee and started drinking the stuff, but finding the smell unbearable, he chose the stripes. He received about a dozen but he could not stand more. So, he finally told the magistrate that he be let off with the fine. If only he had opted for it first, he could have avoided the foul drink and the excruciating pain. By his indecision, he had to taste the reek and the rod.


164. The Clever old Woman

There was an old woman who had two grand-daughters, one a termagant (harsh-tempered) and the other a modest girl. When they touched her feet before departure from her house, she blessed them thus. The termagant she blessed: "May the festoons and the auspicious Rangavalli drawings on your doorstep be ever fresh and untrodden, unwiped; may your purse be full, ever undisturbed". She meant of course, to curse her with barrenness. The other girl she blessed thus: "May your doorstep be unclean, may your purse be emptying fast", meaning that she would have a number of happy boisterous children; a mode of blessing for a married woman, usually given by a grandmother. On the face of it, this looks like a curse and the other statement a blessing. But, the inner meaning is different. This grannie blessed unasked; the modest and truthful person can also receive blessings out of the spontaneous Grace of the Lord, provided he is steady in his virtues.


165. Neglecting God

There was a king who sought a teacher who could put him into heaven; he was so conceited and drunk with power that he felt he deserved it. When anyone came forward, he plied him with such impossible questions that they were aghast at his impertinence; but the king did not leave them at that. He threw them into prison. At last, one man came promising to show him the way. He was brought into court and seated before the king. The man, however, took no notice 0f the king, but began conversing with the courtiers and the pages and attendants, inquiring after their health and wishing them well. The king was incensed at this neglect of his high authority and he asked the soldiers to lead him out and give him a thorough beating. The man said: "Before I am led out, let me tell you this: I am to be given a thorough beating because I did not respect you first, but bypassed you and talked to these servants of yours. Well, God is the king of kings, the Lord or all the Worlds; you have neglected Him; you are bypassing Him; you talk only to these servants; consider what punishment you deserve for this". The King realised his blunder and thanked the teacher for removing the veil of conceit.




Dvârakâ: (many-gates; for all walks of life) The city within the sea to which Krishna together with His loyals retreated after His stay in Mathurâ, the capital of His region of birth (see S.B. 10: 50).  






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