"One Little Story"
Part II

Stories and Parables

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


Part II-a Part II-b Part II-c

Part II-a
Stories 1-52
ck2-1 - ck2-2 - ck2-3 - ck2-4
Part II-b
Stories 53-104
ck2-5 - ck2-6 - ck2-7 - ck2-8
Part II-c
Stories 105-157
ck2-9 - ck2-10 - ck2-11 - ck2-12

| ck2-1 - ck2-2 - ck2-3 - ck2-4 || ck2-5  - ck2-6 - ck2-7 - ck2-8 || ck2-9 - ck2-10 - ck2-11 - ck2-12 |



1. Guru Dakshina

Those were the days when Krishna ['dark', because of His dark blue-grey colored skin] and Balarâma ['strength of joy'], were studying under the great sage Sândîpani [see also S.B. 10.45 and BV41]. They conducted themselves as ideal students, serving the guru with fear and reverence. Yet they were not lacking in love and loyalty to the sage. One day Krishna approached the guru and said: "Oh wise one! We often find your eyes filled with tears while we converse with you. There must be some strong reason for this grief. Please tell us. No act of service can be so holy and so meritorious as restoring joy in our guru's heart. Do not hesitate or doubt." Sândîpani drew the two brothers near and, making them sit close to him, said, "Children, I derive great joy from Your very presence in the as'ram. I am reminded of my son whom I lost... ." Uttering these words, he broke down. Balarâma fell at his feet and said, "Tell us, guruji, what happened to him and where he is, we shall certainly bring him to you."

"Children, after many years of tapas, I was blessed with a son. I brought him up lovingly and with great care. One day he went to Prabhâsa-kshetra [see S.B. 11.30: 6] to take a holy dip in the sea. While bathing he was drowned. Since then I have been suffering from inconsolable grief. But from the moment You entered my as'ram, I have been deriving great consolation and joy. You are so good, humble and disciplined. I am sad because in a day or two You have to leave the as'ram. You have learnt all that has to be learnt [see also S.B. 10.45 footnote 4]. You cannot stay longer. After Your departure once again I will be plunged into inconsolable grief". Krishna got up and with folded hands, said firmly: "Oh best of masters! We have to offer our gratitude to you, as our teacher. You have taught us rare arts and sciences. Is it not our duty (dharma) to please our guru? We will at once proceed to Prabhâsa-kshetra and search for your son. If necessary, we will fight against the sea and even the Lord of Death, to bring back your son. Please bless us". Sândîpani was confident that the boys would succeed in their endeavor. He knew that they were not ordinary boys. So he blessed them and permitted them to proceed on the venture.

Balarâma and Krishna hastened to the sea. Standing on the shore they said aloud in a compelling voice: "Ocean! Give us back the son of our guru Sândîpani immediately, or suffer the punishment we intend meeting out to you." The ocean shook in fear, as soon as he heard these words. He appeared before the brothers in his royal form. He touched their feet and said: "Pardon, me, oh revered ones! It is no fault of mine! When the boy was bathing destiny drew him and took him to the depths. Meanwhile the ogre, Pañcajana living in the caverns swallowed him. This is the truth. I leave the decision to you." Krishna thanked the ocean for giving this information and then plunging into the deep sea, reached the cavern of the ogre. He tore open the stomach of the ogre but could not find the remains of the boy because he had handed over the boy to the God of Death [Yamarâja]. He found a conch in the stomach of the ogre and went to the abode of the God of Death. Krishna blew the conch at the entrance. Yamarâja, the Lord of Death appeared before the brothers. He saw the brothers, Balarâma and Krishna and queried politely: "May I know what brings You to my abode?". The brothers commanded him to bring the son of their guru Sândîpani and place him in their custody." Yamarâja replied: "I will certainly do as it pleases You. My minions will bring the lad and hand him over to You". Within seconds the consecrated son was placed in the hands of Krishna. Balarâma and Krishna hurried to the hermitage with the boy.

They handed over to the guru his son and said: "This is our Guru Dakshina; Please accept this act of ours as such." The joy of the parents was beyond words. They blessed both the brothers. Sândîpani shed tears of joy realizing his great fortune in having such divine incarnations as his pupils. Even Avatârs recognised the greatness of the preceptor and obeyed the upanishadic injunction, "âcârya devobhava" so as to set an example to the world.




2. Loyalty to One's Guru

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. Every day, 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 splendor 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 young boy.

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.


3. Purity - Patience - Perseverance

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 serve her.

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 the feeding.

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 started ringing.

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 liberation thereafter.

A spiritual aspirant should have such determination and preparedness for any kind of sacrifice to achieve his goal.


4. Samarth Râmdâs

In a place called Baadar in the Aurangabad District of Maharashtra, a son was born to a couple highly devoted to God. He was named Nârâyana. He grew up as a naughty boy, neglecting his studies and quarrelling with other children. At the age of eight years, he lost his father. His mother, Ramâ Devî, found it hard to control her mischievous and delinquent son. Her relatives and neighbors advised her to get him married so that he might realise his responsibilities and change for the better. Although the boy was only 13 years old and too young for marriage, his mother yielded to the persuasions of others and arranged for his marriage. At the time of the wedding, a screen of thick cloth was held in between the bride and bridegroom, according to the prevailing custom, and the purohits removed the curtain to hand over the Mangala Soothram (the sacred and auspicious thread of wedlock) to the bridegroom for him to tie it round the bride's neck. Lo and behold! The bridegroom had disappeared from behind the curtain, without anybody's notice. A thorough search was made to trace him out, but in vain. So, the marriage could not be performed.

The boy Nârâyana, who had escaped from the marriage hall, ultimately reached a place called Nashik near the source of the sacred river Godavari. He stayed there for some time and then moved to a nearby mountain called 'Chitrakoota' which is considered holy, because S'rî Râma lived there for nearly 12 years [see RRV2-1]. There he selected an exquisitely beautiful spot by name Panchavati. The boy was enraptured by the grandeur of the scenery of the place, and its sanctity, associated with the stay of S'rî Râma there during his exile. He was always immersed in the contemplation of S'rî Râma. What was the cause for the naughty boy turning into a pious young man? Apart from the fact that his latent good samskâras (accumulated tendencies) were aroused by the sudden shock of the prospect of being saddled with the heavy responsibilities of married life, the boy, during his journey to Nashik, entered a famous Hanumân temple enroute, and wholeheartedly prayed to the deity to bless him with all the noble qualities for which Hanumân was renowned. And he had an indication of his prayer being answered by way of a gentle movement of the idol transmitting spiritual vibrations in the direction of the boy.

After 12 years of intense penance at Panchavati, Nârâyana gained the three-fold realisation of S'rî Râma, as did Hanumân, namely, 1 - when he had body consciousness, he was the servant and Râma the master, 2 - when he was conscious of his being a jîva (individual soul) he was a part of Râma (Visishthha-advaita) and 3 - when he was aware of his being the âtma, he and Râma were one (advaita). After this realisation, he returned to Nasik from Panchavati. There, he came to know that the country was in the grip of a severe famine. Then he began to reflect that to spend his time thinking of only his own liberation, when all his countrymen were suffering due to famine, amounted to extreme selfishness. So, he coined the slogan: "dil mae Raam, haath mae kaam" (i.e. Râma in the heart, and work in the hand), and entered the arena of social service with all his energy and zeal, giving to himself and his band of dedicated workers mottos such as: "mânava seva (service to man) is Mâdhava seva (service to God)" and "grama seva (service to the villages) is Râma seva (service to Râma)". He filled the tank of his heart with the holy water of Râmanam (Râma's name) which flowed through the tap of his hands to quench the thirst of the multitudes of his countrymen. Proceeding thus from village to village, doing social work, coupled with chanting of Râmanam, Nârâyana finally reached Rameswaram at the southern tip of the Indian peninsula. From there he went to the pilgrim centres of Tirupati (where he had the darshan of Lord Venkateswara (Lord Vishnu)) and Hampi (where he worshipped Lord Virupâksha (Lord S'iva)). Ultimately he returned to Nasik. On the way to Nasik, he saw saint Tukaram, who was singing the glories of Râma so melodiously that a large number of people including S'ivaji, the ruler of Maharashtra, were attracted to him. S'ivaji listened to Tukaram, and told him about his decision to give up his kingdom and to devote himself fully and whole-heartedly to the pursuit of the spiritual path. Tukaram admonished S'ivaji for his narrow-minded view of spirituality and exhorted him to consider duty as God, and work as worship. Thereupon S'ivaji prayed to Tukaram to give him initiation. Tukaram declined saying: "Râmadas is your guru, not I, so you have to receive initiation only from him". Rather disappointed, S'ivaji returned to his capital.

When S'ivaji came to know that Nârâyana alias Râmadas was in Nasik, he sent his Ministers and other high dignitaries to invite Râmadas to the royal court with a band of music and other traditional honors befitting a highly distinguished personage. When Râmadas arrived, the king received him with due honors and reverence, arranged for his stay in the palace itself, and after washing his feet, he sprinkled the holy washings on his own head and submitted to him in all humility: "O revered Master! From this moment this kingdom belongs to you; and I too am yours". Thereupon Râmadas replied: "My son, I am an ascetic who has renounced everything. I have neither the right nor the desire for your limited kingdom. God's kingdom is unlimited. The goal of my life is to help every one to reach that unlimited kingdom of God. So I don't want this kingdom of yours. I am now coronating you as the ruler of this kingdom which you have offered to me. From now onwards, you will be a king with a difference. You should consider that the kingdom really belongs to God and that you are only His instrument or trustee administering the kingdom on His behalf".

Since Râmadas had the extraordinary capacity to do many great things, he came to be known as Samartha Râmadas, the appellation Samartha meaning a man of versatile skills. There is an episode in his life which describes the context in which the title of "Samartha" was conferred on him. He used to dress himself and move about like Kodandapani (Râma armed with his bow and arrows). Once when he was walking along the banks of the Godavari in this dress, some brahmins who were taking bath there questioned him whether he belonged to the community of Koyas (hunters belonging to a hill tribe were called Koyas). Râmadas told them that he was Râmadas (a servant of Râma) and not a Koya. Thereupon, they questioned him why he was dressed and equipped with bow and arrows like Râma if he was only a servant of Râma. They heckled him saying: "What is the use of merely trying to imitate Kodandapani in appearance only? Are you capable of wielding the bow and arrows as Râma did?" Just then a bird was flying fast at a great height across the sky above their heads. The brahmins pointed the bird to Râmadas and asked him whether he could shoot the bird. With Râma's name on his lips, Râmadas immediately aimed an arrow at the flying bird and brought it down right in front of the brahmins. Seeing the dead bird, the brahmins accused Râmadas saying: "There is no harmony of thought, word and deed in you and therefore you are a durâthama (a wicked person); you chant Râma's name and at the same time you have committed the sin of killing an innocent bird, to show off your skill". When Râmadas replied that he shot the bird at their instance only, they remonstrated, saying: "If we ask you to eat grass, will you do so? Don't you have your own independent thinking or discrimination?" Then Râmadas gently replied: "Sirs, past is past. Kindly tell me what I should do now?" They asked him to repent for his sin. Râmadas promptly closed his eyes and prayed to God wholeheartedly, repenting for his sin and asking for His forgiveness. Then he opened his eyes and pointed out to the brahmins that the dead bird had not regained life, in spite of his repentance. The brahmins said reprovingly: "What a madcap you are! Repentance cannot undo what you have done; but its purpose is to enable you to make up your mind not to repeat such misdeeds in future". "That is no repentance in my humble view" countered Râmadas; "God and His name are so powerful that if we pray sincerely, His grace will bring the bird back to life". So saying he picked up the dead bird, hugged it to his bosom, and with tears flowing down his cheeks, he wholeheartedly prayed: "O Râma! If I have been chanting Your name with all my mind, heart and soul and if it is a fact that I have killed this bird out of ignorance and not with an intent to kill, may Your grace either revive this dead bird, or take away my life also along with that of the bird". As he concluded his prayer, the bird fluttered in his hands. Then he opened his eyes, thanked the Almighty and released the bird into the sky. Astonished at this miracle, the brahmins exclaimed in one voice: "Revered Sir, forgive us for not recognising your greatness. Since you have the capacity to kill a flying bird with a single arrow, and also the capacity to revive the dead bird, you will hereafter be known by the worthy name of "Samartha Ramadas!"

After this, Râmadas visited Pandaripuram where he was an eye-witness to the ideal way in which a man by name Pundarika served his parents as veritable gods, making Lord Panduranga (Vishnu, Nârâyana, Krishna) Himself wait in front of his house standing on a pair of bricks, till he completed his service to his parents. Then he visited S'ivaji and gave him three things to guide him in his royal duties: One, a coconut to remind him that just as our intention in buying a coconut is to consume the white kernel inside, so also the purpose of owning and administering the kingdom is that the king himself should lead a satvic life and also to ensure that the satvic quality prevails in his kingdom; second, a handful of earth to remind the king and through him his subjects, about the sanctity of Bharat, their motherland; third, a pair of bricks to symbolise that just as bricks are used to construct houses for the safety of the inmates, the king should use his powers to protect the people and promote their welfare and progress. At this time the memory of Pundarika's devoted service to his parents at Pandaripuram was revived in Râmadas' mind and he hastened back home with the idea of serving his aged mother. When he reached home, his old mother could not recognise him, particularly because of his long beard and strange dress. He told her that he was her son, Nârâyana, who was popularly known as Samartha Râmadas. Thereupon, his mother exclaimed ecstatically: "O my dear son, I have been hearing so much about Râmadas and have been eager to see him for a long time. But I never knew that it is the popular name of my son, Nârâyana. I am proud of you and thank the Lord for making me the mother of such a great one. My life is fulfilled". So saying she breathed her last on her son's lap.

Râmadas duly performed the obsequies of his mother. Shortly thereafter, he heard about S'ivaji's death in A.D. 1680 (just six years after he was coronated by Râmadas in A.D. 1674). He went to the King's capital, installed S'ivaji's son as the king and blessed him so that he might rule the kingdom, following the footsteps of his noble father.

5. Practise and Preach

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa was an ideal guru. There is an interesting anecdote to illustrate how he would never preach anything before practising it. One day, an old lady came to Ramakrishna Paramahamsa with her ten 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.

6. The Master and the Disciples

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa had several disciples in his âs'ram. The disciples used to go to Calcutta every day to purchase several articles of food, flowers, clothing and other requirements. They had to cross a river in a ferry.

One day it was the turn of Brahmananda to go to Calcutta. He got into the ferry and stood silently in a corner. There were several people in the ferry. One individual who had nothing but contempt for sannyâsîs said: "Look at that fellow, how strong and sturdy he is, but of what avail? He does not do any work, just eat and sleep; There are quite a lot like him in that âs'ram. It is the fault of that guru who is corrupting the youth". Many people exclaimed: "True! True! They too will be good for nothing people". It pained and hurt Brahmananda. "What do they know about our master" he thought. He silently bore the insult. He was shy by nature and could never retort, nor retaliate.

In the evening he returned to the âs'ram with the purchases. Ramakrishna would every day question them in detail about their experiences, only to know how they conduct themselves in the world outside. He asked Brahmananda: "Well, what happened today?" Brahmananda frankly described the entire event. Ramakrishna was angry. He shouted: "What! You kept quiet when your guru was being scandalized! You should have replied to them in the proper way. There is no place for people like you in the âs'ram".

Vivekananda was listening all the while to the narration of Brahmananda and also the warning of the Master. The next day it was Vivekananda's turn to go to Calcutta, got into the ferry and was carefully scanning the faces of people there. The same gentleman who spoke insultingly about Ramakrishna the previous day said, pointing out Vivekananda. "Here is yet another fellow, a parasite. They all worship that illiterate brahmin priest. What fools these young men are!" Vivekananda approached that individual and raising right hand high said: "If you say just another word against our master, I shall throw you into the river, take care!" The ferry man got scared. He advised the man not to prolong his talk. He also whispered into his ear: "That fellow would certainly do what he says. It will be trouble for all of us".

Vivekananda was called to his master's presence that night. Ramakrishna asked: "Well what is the news?" Vivekananda narrated the incident with great excitement. "What!" cried out Ramakrishna. You wear the robe of a sannyâsî but do not conduct yourself as one. How dare you lose your temper like that? There is no place for people like you in the âs'ram!" Vivekananda fell at the feet of his master and said, "O Master! Did you not chide Brahmananda for not having retorted yesterday? Why are you angry, when I have done my duty as a devout disciple? Please enlighten me". Ramakrishna patted him on his back and said: "My dear son, that advice was meant for people like Brahmananda, very timid and shy. He ought to be more spirited. And as for you, you have too much of it in you. You have to be tamed and calmed. It is the duty of every guru to give advice to his disciples according to their nature and temperament. I am not at all angry either with you or with Brahmananda."

7. The Teacher and the Seeker

There was a guru who advised one seeker, "Go to the forest, how can you have peace in the market square?"

To another seeker he said, "Stay where you are."

The two seekers met and talked about the guru's advice. One seeker said, "How is it that he gave us such contradictious advice? Perhaps we did not understand his words properly. Let us both go to him to clarify our doubt."

Both of them went to the guru and expressed their doubt. The guru replied, "The advice differs because it is based on the spiritual progress of the seeker."

8. Every Action will have a Reaction

[Munshi] Premachand* is a writer of great repute in Hindi literature and language. His two sons were studying in Allahabad, while he and his wife lived in a small town towards the northern side of Allahabad. One day Premachand and his wife had to go by train southward on a visit to another town and they had to pass through Allahabad. He wrote to his sons to come and meet them at the station on that particular date.

The train halted at the station and the parents stood at the door of the carriage. They saw their sons hurrying towards them. The elder one touched the feet of both the parents before talking to them, while the younger son just talked. The parents enquired about their health and studies. Both of them said that everything was fine. As the train was about to start, once again the elder one bent and touched the feet of his parents while the younger one just waved his hand.

Premachand's wife was talking about their sons and was very happy over the meeting. She saw to her surprise that her husband was rather unusually silent and moody. She asked him: "My dear, what is the matter? Why are you so serious and silent all of a sudden instead of being happy?" Premachand replied, "You don't seem to have observed properly. Are you satisfied with the behavior of our second son?" "Oh! What is the matter? I don't find anything wrong with him, he is just young, full of fun and frolic." "No, no," said Premachand. "The elder one paid his respects to us reverentially by touching our feet twice while the other didn't care at all to do likewise!" "Why do you take this seriously?" said his wife. "After all, he is young, he must have felt shy to touch our feet in front of so many people. He must have paid his respects mentally. He will learn and improve in course of time."

But, Premachand could not come to a compromise and said: "My dear, good habits reveal one's true nature and bent of mind. Right from boyhood days, children should cultivate good habits. Those gestures should be spontaneous. I do not know what is in store for him in future."

The father's words proved to be true. In course of time the elder son, by virtue of his diligence and good habits, passed the B.A. degree examination, went to London and obtained the barrister.at.law degree. On returning to India, he practised as a barrister for only two or three years and became the Judge of Allahabad Court. He was very much respected for his manners and sense of courtesy. The younger son, by sheer carelessness could not fare well and had to discontinue his studies. He became a clerk in the Court of Allahabad. While the elder one received salutations from everyone, the younger son had to salute every one. What is the moral of the story? Character is destiny. Every action of ours of the present, will have a reaction on ourselves in the future.

*Premchand (1880-1936) was a pioneering figure in modern Hindi literature. He was one of the initiators of realism in Indian fiction and introduced the genre of the short story in Hindi. With special themes and character studies, he set the standard for writers who followed.

9. Letter to his Son

You may have heard about the great and noble englishman Philip Sydney [1554-1586]. While he was at school his father wrote to him a letter giving some words of advice. He wrote: "My dear son! Every day offer your heartfelt prayers to God. Strive always to turn your mind towards God. Behave with respect and humility towards your teachers and fellow students. Do not give room for anger, greed or discontentment. Don't take to heart any criticism levelled at you. Don't get elated by the praise of others. Don't indulge in criticism of others". Towards the end of the letter the father inscribed an important warning. He said: "If you have to make a promise to anyone, make it only to God and to none else. Speech is a gift of God. Hence the plighted word must be offered only to God. You have no right to give a pledge to anyone else. You will be guilty of misusing your word. Your wisdom will grow. You will stand forth as an ideal student. Always control your tongue. Never allow it to run amuck". Philip Sydney followed his father's advice and achieved great eminence.

10. As the Father, so the Son

A rich merchant had only one son. He lost his wife when his son was just five years old. He became both the father and mother to the son and brought him up with loving care. He gave him good education and got him married to a beautiful girl.

The daughter-in-law was rather annoyed at the presence of the father-in-law. She considered him a nuisance and a bar to their freedom. She persuaded her husband to somehow manage to get into his custody the entire property. The husband said: "Don't bother, I am the only son, and I am the sole owner of the property". But she would not keep quiet. Day in and day out she would press him on that score. One day the son told his father: "Father, you are growing old. It must be difficult for you to manage the property and see to the balancing of the budget. Why don't you hand over the management to me?" The father knowing fully well the ways of the world, consented, and gave him all the papers related to the property and keys of the iron safe too.

After a couple of months, the daughter-in-law felt, that the old man always coughing and sneezing, should not occupy the front room on the verandah. She told one day to her husband: "My dear, soon I am going to give birth to a child. We may require the front room. You better erect a thatched shed for your father in the backyard". The man loved his wife so much and considered her so wise that he carried out her wishes. The daughter-in-law used to serve the lunch for the old man, very late in the afternoon in an earthen plate.

On an auspicious day a son was born to them. He grew up to be a smart, lively and loving child. He always used to be with his grandfather. It was fun and joy for him to listen to his stories and jokes. He was rather displeased at the attitude of his mother towards his dear grandpa. Yet he knew her adamant nature and his father's dependence on her.

One day the father and mother were searching for some thing for more than an hour in the afternoon after their lunch. The child got up from his grandpa's lap and ran in. He saw his parents searching for something. He asked casually: "What are you looking for, father?" "Oh! It is the earthen plate of your grandpa. It is already late, should we not serve him lunch? Have you seen the plate?" The child of five replied with a sly smile: "Sure, it is with me. I have kept it carefully in my trunk." "What? You have kept that earthen plate in your trunk! What for, come on get it", said the father. The child replied: "No father! I want it, I would like to preserve it for the future. Should I not have that plate to serve your lunch when you become old like my grandpa. I may not get one then". Both the young parents stood speechless. They could understand the child's heart. They were ashamed of their conduct. From that day onwards, they began to look after the old man with respect and affection.

If you respect your parents, your children too will respect you.

11. Mother's Role

Lord Krishna visited Queen Gândhârî to console her after the Kurukshetra battle. She accused Him: "Though You are God, how could You be so partial. You supported the Pândavas but could not save at least one son out of the hundred sons I bore." Krishna replied: "Sister, I am not responsible for the death of your children. You are responsible." Gândhârî replied: "Krishna how can You be so hard hearted to accuse me thus?" Krishna replied: "Sister, you gave birth to a hundred sons but did you ever cast your loving glance on at least one of them? You chose to remain blindfolded. You could not see for yourself how your sons were faring. Your sons are indeed the most unfortunate ones because they could not enjoy their mother's tender care and affectionate glance. How could they grow into disciplined, dutiful and righteous heroes? Mother is the first teacher and preacher".

"Just think for yourself the situation and compare it with that of Queen Kuntî. Kuntî from the moment of her husband's death, brought up her sons with great care and affection. She was with them both in the palace and in the house of wax [S.B. 10.57] as well. The Pândavas would never do anything without the blessings of their mother. They could earn My grace not because of their individual talents but because of Kuntî's constant prayer to Me: 'Oh Krishna! You alone should protect them.' Those who are not fortunate enough to enjoy the loving glance of their mother cannot earn the divine vision, nor can they win the love of God."

Thus Lord Krishna enlightened Queen Gândhârî on the role of the mother.

[Painting by Nandalal Bose, India]

12. Putali Bai

Putali Bai, Gandhi's mother used to observe every day a vow-ritual known as "Kokila Vrata". As soon as she completed the ritual, she would wait for the call of the kokila (the Indian cuckoo) to have her breakfast. However, one day, she waited for a long time for the call of the cuckoo without taking food. Noticing this, the young Gandhi went out of the house, imitated the cooing of the cuckoo and then told his mother: "Now that the cuckoo has made its call, please, mother, take your food. Unable to contain her grief, the mother slapped on the cheeks of Gandhi and wailed: "What sin have I committed that such a liar should be born to me! What a great sinner am I to have begotten such a wicked liar, as son, Oh Lord!" She was shedding tears as she spoke. Deeply moved by his mother's words, Gandhi made a promise to her: "In my life, henceforth, I will not utter falsehood."

In those days, the mothers used to watch the behavior of their children and strove to keep them on the right path.



13. An Exemplary Mother

In the city of Calcutta there lived a mother and a son. For the education of the son, the mother made many a sacrifice. She, however, impressed on the son: "Dear son, do not be concerned about worldly education. The foolish ones acquire all kinds of scholarship, but have no understanding of what they are. By study alone, a man does not get rid of his lowly ways. Through scholarship, one learns only to engage himself in controversy but does not acquire complete wisdom. Why pursue studies which end up only in death? One should study that which frees him from death. Only spiritual knowledge can lead to immortality. It is enduring. Worldly knowledge is temporary. For earning one's livelihood, worldly education is necessary. But this education should be acquired only to lead an independent life, with limited desires. Therefore, dear son, while pursuing your studies, embark also on the spiritual quest".

The boy completed his education and took up a small job. One day, in that village, there was a folk festival ('jatra''). The womenfolk of the village donned their best clothes and jewellery to attend the festival. The mother also went in tattered clothes. The son could not bear to see that sight. He said: "Mother, you have no good clothes or any jewellery. I am distressed to see you like this. Please let me know what ornaments you wish to have, Mother!" The mother replied: "This is not the right time. I shall let you know at the proper time".

Thanks to the good behavior and diligence of the lad, he rose to higher positions in service. Once again, he returned to his mother and asked what ornament she desired. "I shall get them as I far as I can" he said. The mother told him that she wished three ornaments, but she would disclose what they were later on.

The son in the course of years reached a very high position. Once again he entreated: "Mother, I have now some money. Please let me know what jewels you would like. I shall get them for you." The mother said: "Dear son! I am now not in a state where I can wear jewels. However, there are some ornaments in which I am interested and I shall tell you what they are." Drawing the son nearer to her, she said: "In our small village, I am grieved to find that the children have to go to distant places for education. My first ornament I desire is that you should set up a primary school in the village. Secondly, our people have no facilities for medical relief even for small ailments. I spend sleepless nights thinking about their plight. If you set up a small hospital for the village folk, that will be your second ornament for me. The third ornament is something which you have to do by yourself. In the days to come, your reputation may grow. If anybody asks: 'Who is your mother, you may mention my name. Your conduct must be such that you will uphold your mother's name. You must share with others the benefits of the education you have received. Do not go after wealth. The worshipper of Mammon will not yearn for God. The seeker of God will not seek wealth. Observance of this is the third ornament I desire from you". [See also: SSS - Easwaramma in: Love on the March]




Gândhârî: the loyal wife of king Dhritarâshthra and the mother of a hundred sons. Blindfolded herself out of compassion with her blind husband (see S.B. 1.13 and B.V. 7 & B.V. 8) .
Kuntî: Wife of king Pându, the Pândavas' mother (Arjuna's mother). She was the sister of Vasudeva, Krishna's father. Her own father, Surasena, had given her as a baby to his close friend King Kuntibhoja, who had no children. She was named Prithâ at birth, but became better known as Kuntî after being raised by Kuntibhoja [See
SB, Canto 1, Ch. 8].





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