Stories- Episodes -1



Add the God Principle in our daily lives  
The source of this inspiring story
from India is shrouded in antiquity.
Origins unknown.

(In the olden days when there were no motor
cars, people used to travel on horseback.)

One rich man owned 19 horses when he died. In his last will and teastament he had written that upon his death, half the horses he owned should go to his only son; one fourth to the village temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.
The village elders could not stop scratching their heads. How can they give half of the 19 horses to the son? You cannot cut up a horse. They puzzled over this dilemma for more than two weeks and then decided to send for a wise man who was living in a neighbouring village.
The wise man came riding on his horse and asked the villagers if he can be of any help to them. The village elders told him about the rich man's last will and testament which stated that half of the (19) horses must be given to his only son, one fourth must go to the temple and one fifth to the faithful servant.
The wise man said he will immediately solve their problem without any delay whatsoever. He had the 19 horses placed in a row standing next to one another. Then he added his own horse as the 20th horse. Now he went about giving half of the 20 horses – that is ten horses to the son. One fourth of 20- that is 5 horses were given to the temple committee. One fifth of twenty- that is 4 horses were given to the faithful servant. Ten plus five plus four made 19 horses. The remaining 20th horse was his own which he promptly mounted, spoke a few inspiring words, and rode back home.
The villagers were simply dumfounded, full of disbelief and filled with admiration. And the parting words of the wise man were inscribed in their hearts and minds which they greatly cherished and passed on to their succeeding generations till today.
The wise man said: In our daily lives, in our daily affairs, simply add God’s name and then go about facing the day’s happenings. Ever come across problems in life that are seemingly insurmountable? (Like the villagers, do we feel that such problems cannot be solved?).
The wise man continued: Add the God Principle in our daily lives and the problems will become lighter and eventually will disappear. In the manner of the ice which, with the addition of the heat principle will turn into water, and that will eventually evaporate as steam and disappear. And how do we add God’s name (God principle) in our daily lives? Through prayers, filled with true love and devotion with sincerity of purpose and dedication that only total faith can bring about. Meditation is a powerful means of directing the mind Godward.
But without true love and devotion entering into it, it remains like a boat without water. It is not difficult to push a boat that is floating in water, but extremely hard to drag the same boat on dry land. In the same way, if our life’s boat floats on the waters of true love and devotion, we can sail easily in it. The principle of love of God and devotion with total faith, (like water) makes easy the voyage of our lives. When the mind is pure and the heart full of simplicity and holiness, such a devotee becomes an instrument in the service of the Lord.

Add the God Principle in our daily lives (2)
Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Girish Gosh
Based on the writings of Swami Nikhilananda
Extracts from'The Disciples of Ramakrishna'
Girish Chandra Gosh was a born rebel against God, a sceptic, a Bohemian, a drunkard. He was the greatest Bengali dramatist of his time, the father of the modern Bengali stage. Like other young men he had imbibed all the vices of the West. He had plunged into a life of dissipation and had become convinced that religion was only a fraud. Materialistic philosophy he justified as enabling one to get at least a little fun out of life. But a series of reverses shocked him and he became eager to solve the riddle of life. He had heard people say that in spiritual life the help of a guru was imperative and that the guru was to be regarded as God himself.
But Girish was too well acquainted with human nature to see perfection in a man. His first meeting with Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa did not impress him at all. He returned home feeling as if he had seen a freak at a circus; for the Master (Sri Ramakrishna), in a semi-conscious mood, had inquired whether it was evening, though the lamps were burning in the room. But their paths often crossed, and Girish could not avoid further encounters. The Master attended a performance in Girish’s Star Theatre. On this occasion, too, Girish found nothing impressive about the Master.
One day, however, Girish happened to see the master dancing and singing with the devotees. He felt the contagion and wanted to join them, but restrained himself for fear of ridicule. Another day, Sri Ramakrishan was about to give him spiritual instruction, when Girish said: "I don’t want to listen to instructions. I have myself written many instructions. They are of no use to me. Please help me in a more tangible way if you can." This pleased the Master and he asked Girish to cultivate faith.
As time passed, Girish began to learn that the guru is the one who silently unfolds the disciple’s inner life. He became a steadfast devotee of the Master.
Girish often loaded the Master with insults, drank in his presence, and took liberties which astounded the other devotees. One night under the influence of liquor he abused the Master in the theatre hall in most indecent language. The enraged devotees were about to punish his insolence, but Sri Ramakrishna held them back and quietly returned to Dakshineshwar Temple. There again many devotees requested the Master not to go to Girish any more.
But there was one amongst the devotees, Ram Chandra Datta, who told the Master, "Sir, you will have to put up with this as well. He can only give what he has. The serpent king of the Bhagavata said to Lord Sri Krishna, ‘My Lord, you have given me poison, where shall I get nectar to give you?’ Similarly Girish has worshipped you with whatever you have given him."
Sri Ramakrishna simply smiled and said to the other devotees: "Just hear his words. Get me a coach (a horse drawn carriage). I shall go to Girish’s house today." Thus without caring about the objections of the devotees, Sri Ramakrishna went to the house of Girish and found him smitten with anguish and remorse. The kind and affectionate words of the Master banished all gloom from his mind and filled it with a flood of joy.
The Master knew that at heart Girish was tender, faithful and sincere. The Master would not allow Girish to give up the theatre. And when a devotee asked him to tell Girish to give up drinking, the Master sternly replied: "That is none of your business. He who has taken charge of him will look after him. Girish is a devotee of heroic type. I tell you, drinking will not affect him."
The Master knew that mere words could not induce a man to break deep-rooted habits, but that the silent influence of love worked miracles. Therefore he never asked Girish to give up alcohol, with the result that Girish himself eventually broke the habit. Sri Ramakrishna had strengthened Girish’s resolution by allowing him to feel that he was absolutely free.
One day in the course of a conversation Sri Ramakrishna told Girish that along with his work he must remember God at least in the morning and in the evening.(Add the God Principle in daily life)     He looked at Girish as if expecting a reply. "That is a very simple thing to do," Girish thought, "but I am a busy man with no fixed hours for food or sleep. I shall surely forget to remember God at those stated hours. So, how can I promise that?"
Sri Ramakrishna read his mind and said, "All right, if you cannot do that, then remember God before meals and at bed-time."
Girish was not willing to promise even that- such was the irregularity of his life, and besides he was by nature opposed to any hard and fast rule and the slightest restraint was galling to him. Sri Ramakrishna realised his perplexity and said finally, "So you are unwilling to agree to this even. All right, give me your power of attorney. Henceforth, I assume responsibility for you. You need not do anything."
Girish heaved a sigh of relief. He felt happy to think that Sri Ramakrishna had assumed his spiritual responsibilities. But poor Girish then could not realise that he also, on his part, had to give up his freedom and make of himself a puppet in Sri Ramakrishna’s hands.
The master began to discipline Girish according to this new attitude. One day Girish said about a trifling matter, "Yes, I shall do this."
"No, no!" the Master corrected him. "You must not speak in that egoistic manner. You should say, ‘God willing, I shall do it.’ " Girish understood. Thenceforth he tried to give up all idea of personal responsibility and surrender himself to the Divine Will. Girish understood that he had given up his freedom and had made himself the Master’s captive. Thenceforth he tried to give up all idea of personal responsibility and to become a willing instrument of the Divine Will. The sincerity of Girish in this respect was beyond comparison. His mind began to dwell constantly on Sri Ramakrishna. This unconscious meditation in time chastened Girish’s turbulent spirit.
During the last days of his life Girish used very often to utter the name of Sri Ramakrishna. His eyes and countenance radiant with a superb glow bespoke his inner illumination and his unswerving faith in the love and grace of his Master. Girish said to his brother-disciples, "I do not want anything else; only bless me that I may always remember him as the ocean of infinite love and compassion. The world is no longer a terror unto me. I have transcended all fear of death through his grace."
On the night before the day of his final exit from the world, Girish calmly uttered the name of Sri Ramakrishna thrice and prayed, "Lord, let me have peace; take me into thy bosom." So saying, the heroic devotee of Sri Ramakrishna closed his eyes for good and passed into the realm of eternal rest on Thursday, February 8, 1912.
[Note: The Master, Sri Ramakrishna had
passed away on Sunday, August 15, 1886.]

[Stories, parables, fables etc., have a way of forcefully driving home the message. All nations and all religions use them. Children love them. Take for example the stories from the Panchtantra where animals talk and behave like humans and there are moral lessons attached to them. One such story we narrate here.]
A very very narrow bridge was improvised connecting two high mountain tops. The bridge was like a narrow wooden plank slung across the two mountain tops and had neither railings nor even ropes for protection. From the bridge, looking below, long way down, ran the treacherous rapids of a mighty river meandering through giant boulders.
One day, a mountain goat came along and wanted to go across the bridge to the other side of the mountain. The goat started walking over the narrow bridge. Mountain goats are sure-footed animals and are fearless mountain climbers.
At about the same time, another goat started crossing the bridge from the other end. The two goats came face to face in the middle of the bridge. The bridge being very narrow, the two goats could not go past one another. And there was no way the goats could make about turns. There was absolutely no possibility that the goats could turn back.
The second goat spoke arrogantly to the first goat: "You are obstructing my path. Get out of my way, you silly goat! I am in a hurry to go to the other side."
The first goat replied: "I was first to step on to the bridge and therefore I have the right to cross the bridge first."
The second goat retorted angrily: "I am the strongest goat around. I have never lost a fight with other goats. Look at my great big horns and think again. Either you quickly get out of my way or else…!"
The two goats started fighting. Their horns locked and it was indeed, a strange sight to behold. High up above on a narrow bridge two goats could not come to terms with each other. They threw caution overboard and as a result there ensued a battle between two fools. Both goats lost their balance and fell to their certain deaths.
After one week, by a strange co-incidence, two other goats started crossing the bridge from the opposite ends. One goat from this end of the bridge and the other goat from the other end. And the two goats met in the middle of the bridge.
The first goat spoke most politely: "I beg your pardon sir! It was too late when I realised that you were also crossing the bridge from the other end. Anyway, I am much younger than you are. I have been taught by my parents and by my teachers that I must respect my elders and that we should be gentle and kind to all creatures.
Furthermore, I remember the advice that when confronted with any problem, first offer a prayer to the Lord and seek His guidance. Problems and solutions always go together. Think of a bath-towel. If one end of the towel is where problems like to reside then the other end of the towel is where solutions reside. Both ends go together wherever the towel goes. Problems and solutions are inseparable. One has to merely search for the solution. I must first think about a clever solution."
The second goat said: "And what might that (solution) be?"
The first goat said: "Let me sit on this bridge with my head turned to one side so that you can slowly and carefully step over my back and cross over. I will then get up and be on my way."
Thus the two goats crossed the bridge safely.

From The Brhadaranyaka Upanisad V,ii,1
Translated by Swami Madhavananda, Advaita Ashram
Abdridged [Note: Dama-Dana-Daya. The first two letters of each of these three words are the same ‘Da’.
Dama means Self Control. Dana means Give (Charity).
Daya means Compassion.]

Three classes of Prajapati’s sons lived a life of continence as students with their father Prajapati (the Creator)- the gods, men and demons. (Devas, manushyas and Asuras).
The gods on the completion of their term, said, "Please instruct us."
Prajapati told them the syllable ‘Da’ and asked, "Have you understood?"
The gods said: "Yes we have understood. You tell us to CONTROL OURSELVES."
Prajapati said: "Yes, you have understood".
Then the men said to Prajapati: "Please instruct us."
Prajapati told them the same syllable ‘Da’ and asked, "Have you understood?"
The men said: "Yes we have understood. You tell us to GIVE."
Prajapati said: "Yes, you have understood."
Then the demons (Asuras) said to Prajapati: "Please instruct us."
Prajapati told them the same syllable ‘Da’ and asked "Have you understood?"
The demons (Asuras) said: "yes we have understood. You tell us to HAVE COMPASSION."
Prajapati said: " Yes, you have understood."
That very thing is repeated by the heavenly voice, the cloud (through thunders) as ‘Da’, ‘Da’, ‘Da’ : Control yourselves, Give and Have Compassion. Therefore one should learn these three – Self Control, Charity and Compassion.
[Note: Swami Tatwananda, Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashrama, Kerala further explain this story]
The gods are the inhabitants of happy regions in the heavens. They gain those regions as their rewards for leading meritorious and virtuous lives. For them the pursuit of pleasure becomes the business of life. Unless they avail themselves of the superior opportunity available there to attain the knowledge of Brahman (Supreme Self), they would have dissipated all their acquired merits and virtues in the indulgence of the senses, and they would have to start again at the human level. For the gods, pleasures of the flesh (senses) was the temptation and the control of the senses was their ally.
Men are generally avaricious, selfish. Therefore Prajapati told them to have charitable heart. Give of their ability, time, wealth, service etc.
Demons (Asuras) are generally cruel and given to injuring others. They lack compassion and therefore the demons should learn about compassion and practice compassion (Daya).

The Letters from the Lord of Death  
Paraphrased from the writings of
Swami Shivananda, The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh
The assembly of gods once met and decided to appoint a man to the position of Lord of Death, the official title being Lord Yama. They selected the most righteous man for this post. His duty was to take (escort) man at the proper time (upon death) to the celestial regions.
A man by the name of Amrita, living on earth, thought to himself that the one thing he feared most was death. He hit upon a bright idea that if he befriended the Lord of Death, then may be death can be kept at a distance. Amrita practised austerities and concentrated his mind upon Lord Yama, the Lord of Death. Lord Yama was pleased and granted a vision to Amrita.
Lord Yama said: I know, by the aid of my divine powers, that you seek to befriend me. Your wish has come true. My presence is only available to those upon whose deaths my messengers or I take their souls to my domain. Those that are born must die and those who die will be born again. This is the eternal law. No one can escape death. Yet I grant you my vision while you are still living.
Amrita said: As a token of our friendship, I ask this favour of you. If death is inevitable, I ask that if I am to die, then at least let me know beforehand of the time when my end is to come so that I can make proper provision for my family before departure.
Lord Yama said: Sure, this is a simple matter. I shall certainly inform you beforehand. But as soon as you get the message, please set about making the preparations.
With these words Lord Yama, the Lord of Death, vanished.
Many years passed. Amrita’s hair began gradually to turn grey, but he was living happily with not a thought about the fear of death. His life was full of sensual pleasures and enjoyments. He did not look forward to receiving any correspondence from his friend, Lord Yama, and he was pleased that so far no letters had arrived from the Lord of Death.
Some more years passed by. By this time Amrita had lost most of his teeth. But he was living without any worries about death or dying. Still no letters had arrived from his friend, the Lord of Death.
As the years rolled by, Amrita’s eyesight became dimmer. Old age is catching up with me, he thought. But I am thankful that my friend has still not sent any letter addressed to me. I know that my friend, Lord Yama, always keeps his promise. He will surely send a message beforehand.
Some more years passed by. Amrita was now an old man who could not stand straight up. With his back bent forward, he could not walk without the support of a walking stick. His skin was all wrinkled. One day he suffered a stroke and became paralysed. People said his condition was very critical. But Amrita was still in a happy frame of mind. As long as his friend Lord Yama had not sent any letter, the thought of death and dying never entered his mind.
Then the inevitable happened. Lord Yama, the god of death, entered the room. Amrita was startled and his mind was seized with fear.
Lord Yama said: My friend, come now, you have suffered greatly. Today I have come to take you with me.
Amrita was trembling with extreme fear. He said: Alas, you have betrayed me. You have not kept your word. You did not send any letter to me. You have now come with your fearful form to take me away. Are you not ashamed to thus deceive a friend?
Lord Yama said: O man! You spent all your life in shameless sense indulgence. Now you cast aspersions on me, the Lord of justice. Pleasures and enjoyments made you blind. How then could you know the letters I sent you? Not one, but four letters did I send to you. But you heeded them not.
Amrita was greatly puzzled: Four letters did you say? But not one reached me. It is just possible that they may have gone astray in the post.
Lord Yama said: With all your cleverness you were fool enough to think that I would take up pen and paper to write letters to you. O deluded mortal! Time is my messenger who brought my messages to you. Now take your mind back in time and recollect, years ago, your hair turned grey. That was my first letter. You did not heed my message but blackened your hair with dye.
My second letter reached you when your teeth began to fall out. Then too, you took no warning, but got yourself a set of false teeth.
My third letter was sent to you when your eyesight failed.
The fourth message was when your body became paralysed.
Amrita said: Oh no! I have grievously erred. Unforgivable is my error. Yet once more I crave your indulgence, Lord Yama.
Lord Yama replied: Indulgence! What more indulgence is there for me to give? What use did you make of the priceless opportunity bestowed on you of the gift of this human birth? Sensual indulgence and drunkenness- with these you wasted your life. Wasting this precious human life, fie on you! Now you shamelessly ask for more time. Time for what?
Amrita said: O friend, remember our past friendship? Please recall those days now and bestow on me one more chance.
Lord Yama said: That friendship was of that time. Now it’s done. I come neither as friend nor as foe. I come as the dispenser of the granite law. This law is above love and above hatred. This law is just, true and impartial. No human servitor am I who for gifts or money would from duty’s path swerve. My course is straight and true to the end. I carry out the stern dictates of destiny. All mortals have to bend to my final mandate. This is the divine law. Now let us go.
Lord Yama, the god of death, puts the noose over the dying man’s neck. The man begins to gasp and then chokes. An agonised expression fills his face.
People said: Amrita is dead.
From the writings of Swami Shivananda
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Old age like the dreaded tiger stands threatening at your door. Beauty fades, wrinkles appear on the face and mar the beauty, hairs become grey, teeth become shaky and fall, body bends forward. Knowledge of God is the only remedy to destroy birth, old age, death and disease.

From The Mahabharata
"The wheel of life moves on. It is overwhelmed by decrepitude and grief, and it has diseases and calamities for its progeny. That wheel relates in time and place. Day and night are the rotations of that wheel. It is characterised by production and destruction going on ceaselessly. When one’s time comes, one cannot escape. There is none dear or hateful to time. Youth, beauty, life, possessions, health and the companionship of friends, all are unstable."  -The Mahabharata, Santi Parva

From The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CLXXV
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Addressing Yudhishthira, Bhishma relates the conversation between a Brahmana and his son.
The Son said: What should a wise man do, seeing that the period of human life is passing away so very quickly? Death is that by which the world is assailed. Decrepitude encompasses it. Those irresistible things that come and go away are the nights that are continually lessening the period of human life. When I know that Death tarries for none (but approaches steadily towards every creature), how can I pass my time without covering myself with the garb of knowledge?
When each succeeding night, passing away lessens the allotted period of one’s existence, the man of wisdom should regard the day to be fruitless. When death is approaching steadily who is there that would, like a fish in a shallow water, feel happy? Death comes to a man before his desires have been gratified. Death snatches away a person when he is engaged in plucking flowers and when his heart is otherwise set, like a tigress bearing away a ram. Do thou, this very day, accomplish that which is for thy good. Let not this Death come to thee.
Death drags its victims before their acts are accomplished. The acts of tomorrow should be done today, those of the afternoon in the forenoon. Death does not wait to see whether the acts of its victim have all been accomplished or not. Who knows that Death will not come to him even today? In prime of age one should betake oneself to the practice of virtue. Life is transitory. If virtue be practised, fame here and felicity hereafter will be the consequences.
Overwhelmed by ignorance, one is ready to exert oneself for sons and wives. Achieving virtuous or vicious acts, one brings them up and aggrandises them. Like a tiger bearing away a sleeping deer, Death snatches away a man addicted to the gratification of desires and engaged in the enjoyment of sons and animals. Before he has been able to pluck the flowers upon which he has set his heart, before he has been gratified by the acquisition of the objects of his desire, Death bears him away like a tiger bearing away its prey. Death overpowers a man while the latter is still in the midst of the happiness that accrues from the gratification of desire, and while still thinking ‘This has been done; this is to be done; this has been half-done.’ Death bears away the man, however designed according to his profession, attached to his field, his shop, or his home, before he has obtained the fruit of his acts
Death bears away the weak, the strong, the brave, the timid, the idiotic and the learned, before any of these obtains the fruits of his acts. When death, decrepitude, disease, and sorrow arising from diverse causes, are all residing in thy body, how is it that thou livest as if thou art perfectly hale? As soon as a creature is born, Decrepitude and Death pursue him for (effecting) his destruction. All living things, mobile and immobile, are affected by these two. The attachment that one feels for dwelling in villages and towns (in the midst of fellow men) is said to be the very mouth of Death. The forest, on the other hand, is regarded as the fold within which the senses may be penned. This is declared by the Srutis (scriptures). The attachment a person feels for dwelling in a village or town (in the midst of men) is like a cord that binds him effectually. They that are good break that cord and attain to emancipation, while they that are wicked do not succeed in breaking them. He who never injures living creatures by thought, word or deed, is never injured by such agencies as are destructive of life and property. Nothing can resist the messengers (Disease and Decrepitude) of Death when they advance except Truth which devour Untruth. In Truth is immortality.
For these reasons one should practise the vow of Truth; one should devote oneself to a union with Truth; one should accept Truth for one’s Veda; and restraining one’s senses, one should vanquish the Destroyer by Truth. Both immortality and Death are planted in the body. One comes to Death through ignorance and loss of judgment; while Immortality is achieved through Truth. I shall therefore, abstain from injury and seek to achieve Truth, and transgressing the sway of desire and wrath, regard pleasure and pain with an equal eye, and attaining tranquillity, avoid Death like an immortal. Upon the advent of that season when the sun will progress towards the north, I shall restraining my senses, set to the performance of the Santi-sacrifice, the Brahma-sacrifice, the Mind-sacrifice and the Work-sacrifice. How can one like me worship his Maker in animal-sacrifices involving cruelty, or sacrifices of the body, such as Pisachas only can perform and such as produce fruits that are transitory?
[Note: Santi is tranquillity. The Santi-sacrifice is the endeavour to practise self-denial in everything; in other words, to restrain all sorts of propensities or inclinations. The Brahma-sacrifice is reflection on truths laid down in the Upanishads. The Word-sacrifice consists in the silent recitation (japa) of the Pranava or Om (AUM), the initial mantra. The Mind-sacrifice is contemplation of the Supreme Soul. The Work-sacrifice consists in baths, cleanliness, and waiting upon preceptor.]
That person whose words, thoughts, penances, renunciation, and yoga meditation, all rest on Brahma, succeeds in earning the highest good. There is no eye that is equal to the eye of knowledge. There is no penance like that involved in Truth. There is no sorrow equal to (that involved in) attachment. There is no happiness (that which is obtainable from) renunciation.

The Story of a Wallet
From 'Dipika'
A publication by Sri Ramakrishna Centre of South Africa

Once an old man was travelling by train on a pilgrimage to Brindavan. At night, whilst he was asleep, his wallet fell from his pocket. A co-passenger found it the next morning and enquired as to whom the wallet belonged. The old man said it was his. A picture of Sri Krishna inside the wallet was proof that the wallet really belonged to him.
The old man then began to relate the story of the wallet. He soon had a group of eager listeners around him. Lifting up the purse for all to see, the old man said: This purse has a long history behind it. My father gave it to me years ago when I was a mere schoolboy. I kept my little pocket money in it and also a photograph of my parents.
Years passed. I grew up and began studying at university. Like every youth, I became conscious of my appearance. I replaced my parents’ photograph with that of my own and I would look at it often. I had become my own admirer.
Then came marriage. Self-admiration gave way to the consciousness of a family. Out went my own picture and I replaced it with that of my wife’s. During the day I would open the wallet many times and gaze at the picture. All tiredness vanished and I would resume my work with enthusiasm.
Then came the birth of my first child. What a joy I experienced when I became a father! I would eagerly rush home after work to play with my little baby. Needless to say, my wife’s picture had already made way for the child’s.
The old man paused. Wiping his tearful eyes, he looked around and said in a sad voice: Friends, my parents passed away long ago. My wife too died five years ago. My son- my only son- is now married. He is too busy with his career and his family. He has no time for me. I now stand on the brink of death. I do not know what awaits me in future. Everything I loved, everything I considered my own, has left me.
A picture of Lord Krishna now occupies the place in my wallet. I know He will never leave me. I wish now that I had kept HIS picture with me right from the beginning! He alone is true; all others are just passing shadows.
Sri Sarada Devi, the holy mother, says: Don’t be afraid my child, these earthly ties are transitory. Today they seem to be the be-all and end-all of life, and tomorrow they vanish. Your real tie is with God. God is one’s very own. It is the eternal relationship. He is ever looking after you. Call on the Lord who pervades the entire universe. He will shower His blessings upon you.

From The Mahabharata
In the Divine plan, one day each union must end with separation.
In the Mahabharata, Bhishma said:
Develop this attitude based on wisdom:
I am alone. There is no one who is mine; nor do I belong to anyone. Even this body does not belong to me. These objects of the world are not mine; nor do they belong to others. Or, all things belong equally to all beings. Therefore there is no need for any mind to grieve over these.

He who, restraining the organs of action, sits
thinking of the sense objects in mind, he of
deluded understanding is called a hypocrite.
- Bhagavad Gita Ch. 3, Verse 6

The five organs of action known as Karma Indriyas, are Vak (organ of speech), Pani (hands), Padam (feet), Upastha (genital), and Guda (anus). They are born of the Rajasic portion of the five tanmatras or subtle elements. Vak (speech) from the akasha tanmatra (space), Pani (hands) from the vayu tanmatra (air), Padam (feet) from the agni tanmatra (fire), Upasthan (genital) from Aapas tanmatra (water), and Guda (anus) from the prithivi tanmatra (earth). That man who, restraining the organs of action, sits revolving in his mind, thoughts regarding the objects of the senses is a man of sinful conduct. He is self-deluded. He is a veritable hypocrite.
The organs of action must be controlled. The thoughts should also be controlled. The mind should be firmly fixed on the Lord. Only then will you become a true Yogi. Only then will you attain to Self-realisation.
-Swami Shivananda, The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Story of two Brahmacharis
In the olden days, a young woman was living with her 3-year-old son in a house near the banks of a river. In the hot summer season the waters of the river had receded and people would walk across knee-deep waters to cross the river. The woman left her house and went across the river to gather some wood from the countryside. When she came back to the river, to her horror, she saw the river in floods. Lots of heavy rains in the mountain regions caused the waters to make the river swell with water. The woman was worried about her 3-year-old son. He could wander around to the rapidly flowing waters of the river and can drown. The mother was getting hysterical with fear and worry.
Just then two young and well built Brahmacharis (celibate students) were passing by and the mother, crying and begging, asked the Brahmacharis to help her go across the river. She told them about her 3-year-old son left alone to play by the house.
The Brahmacharis remembered the strict rules that they should not touch any female, lest that could arouse desires. That they should not be in the company of any females.
One Brahmachari whose name was Harshananda, reminded himself of the strict rules and said he cannot help the young woman. The other Brahmachari whose name was Devananda, immediately carried the mother on his shoulders and started swimming across the strong currents of the river. He safely delivered the mother to the other side of the river and swam back.
The Brahmacharis resumed their journey towards the Ashram where they were staying with their Guru. Harshananda, who refused to help could not believe the breach of the strict regulations and was constantly harping on it, muttering and thinking about it all the way.
When they reached the Ashram, the Guru asked them how their day went. The irritated Brahmachari Harshananda immediately spoke out in strong condemnation about the behaviour of his companion. Then the Guru asked the other Brahmachari.
Devananda said: I carried the mother across the river and forgot all about it but it seems my friend is still carrying the woman in his mind.
The Guru was pleased with Devananda who used his discrimination and helped the mother and spoke about the true meaning of hypocrisy as taught in the Bhagavad Gita.


From The Bhagavad Gita
Chapter 17, verse 28

Whatever is sacrificed, given or performed, and whatever austerity is practised without faith, it is called ‘asat’, O Arjuna, it is naught here or hereafter (after death).
A long time ago, there was a severe draught in certain parts of India. One village in particular was caught up right in the middle of this draught belt. The economy of this village was entirely dependent on agricultural produce. Without rains, the villagers faced a bleak future, indeed. The extreme heat of the sun had dried up the rivers and the lakes. There was hardly any water left in the wells. The people were really desperate for water.
The villagers approached the village pundit (priest) and asked him to organise a prayer-for- rain meeting in the temple. The whole village turned out at this prayer meeting. One man was among the last group of people who arrived at the temple and every body with strange quizzical looks on their faces, was looking at this one man. This man was carrying an umbrella and he was the only man who brought his umbrella to this prayer meeting. No villager was ever seen carrying an umbrella outside of the rainy seasons. To the villagers, it was as strange as seeing a housewife going everyday to the vegetable market dressed in a bride’s costume! For it seemed unconventional to carry an umbrella when there was not one rain cloud in the sky.
The prayer meeting commenced and at the end of all the rituals and ceremonies, when people were about to leave the temple, they could not hold back their curiosity about the man and his umbrella.
‘Why was he carrying the umbrella?’ the people asked.
Upon being questioned, the man with the umbrella replied:
"The Lord will provide. He gives and He takes away. The Lord will surely answer our prayers for rain and I will need the umbrella for the rains".
The villagers laughed him off. Not one of the villagers could appreciate the absolute and sincere faith of the man with the umbrella. The scorching heat of the sun outside the temple was still fresh in their minds.
And then……..
Behold, a miracle took place. As the people were streaming out of the temple door and putting on their shoes, rain clouds appeared in the sky, the gentle breeze gave way to gusting winds, the pallor of the sky darkened and thunder and lightning heralded the coming of the rains. And a sudden downpour opened the eyes of the villagers. Their ridicule of the man with the umbrella changed to amazement, disbelief, and they now understood the intense faith of this man. All the villagers agreed that it was the sincere prayer of this one man with his total faith and devotion that the Lord simply had to answer.

By Swami Shivananda
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Faith in God elevates the soul, purifies the heart and emotions, and leads to the vision of God. Faith is the soul of every religion. It creates new hopes and awakens in one the presence of God. Faith is the eye that sees the Lord, and the hand that clings to Him. Faith is power. Faith is strength. Faith is abundant energy. He who has faith is strong. He who doubts is weak. Strong faith precedes great actions.
Faith illumines the spiritual path, builds a bridge across the gulf of death, and takes one to the other shore of fearlessness and deathlessness.
True Faith
True faith must come from the heart. It must be rooted deep within the heart. The faith that comes from the mind only- what we might call mental faith- is not real and lasting. It is faith only when things go well. But when adverse conditions prevail, this kind of mental faith breaks down. It is not strong. It is a kind of faith with expectation.
Faith and self-surrender both mean the same thing. If there is faith in God, then one will have perfect surrender unto him. If one has surrendered to God, one will have perfect faith in Him.
Most of us have a faith and surrender that is tinged with some kind of selfishness and expectation of results. Our faith is not pure and taintless. As is our prayer, so is our faith. If the prayer is for petty things and rewards, the faith also will be weak and faltering. If the petty things and rewards are not granted by God, our faith soon evaporates. We lose faith in Him, and even go to the extent of turning against God.
A strong faith meets all tests, trials and challenges of life with courage, cheer and confidence. Such a faith has a true understanding and knowledge of God’s grace, knowing that what He does is for our good.
From the Bhagavad Gita
Translations and commentary by Swami Shivananda,
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh.

Threefold is the faith of the embodied, which is inherent in their nature-
the Satvic (pure), the Rajasic (passionate) and the Tamasic (dark).

Gita Ch. 17, verse 2
The faith of each is in accordance with his nature, O Arjuna.
The man consists of his faith. As a man’s faith is, so is he.
-Gita Ch. 17, verse 3

The Satvic or the pure men worship the gods; the Rajasik or the passionate worship the Yakshas (demi-gods) and the Rakshasas; the others (the Tamasic or the deluded people) worship the ghosts and the hosts of nature-spirits.
-Gita Ch. 17, verse 4 Commentary:

Those who are endowed with Satvic faith aim at the attainment of liberation. Those who are endowed with Rajasic faith run after inferior duties or worldly activities. Those whose faith is Tamasic are cruel. They kill animals for sacrifice. They invoke the spirits and talk with ghosts.
When faith is joined to Satva, it leads to salvation. When Rajas preponderates, it colours the faith and leads to various activities. When Tamas predominates, the faith results in darkness.
Faith is born of the individual nature, i.e., the samskaras or the latent impressions of virtuous and vicious actions which were performed in the past births and which manifested themselves at the time of death. In the subconscious mind or the chitta there is a reservoir of past impressions, which are revived through the operation of memory.

A king in ancient times, by the name of Mahendra, was famous for his wisdom and righteousness. People in his kingdom were very happy because their great king ruled justly, and looked after the needs of his subjects.
Alas, each episode of happiness has its flipside also. The law of the opposites is relentless. Heat and cold, pleasure and pain, happiness and unhappiness; they revolve and put in an appearance in turn.
King Mahendra was also subject to the law of the opposites. The king had one regret. He had no children. The question about the successor to the throne was worrying the king. His ministers were becoming anxious because the king was advancing into old age and his subjects were also becoming unsure about their own future.
To solve the question about the successor to the throne, King Mahendra thought of looking for a person with good character. He announced throughout his kingdom that people were invited to the palace grounds and from amongst the people present a successor to the throne may be chosen.
People flocked to the palace on the appointed day. King Mahendra addressed the people and told them that he would hand out seeds to each person present. The seeds were to be planted and whoever brought back the best-grown and most colourful flowers would be chosen as the crown prince. A person that can take care of plants and make them prosper can also make the kingdom prosper.
The people took the seeds and went back home.
Some weeks later, people started bringing flowerpots with some amazing results. There were happy plants all over the palace grounds and the plants were displaying their bright smiles through their colourful flowers of great variety. Each pot plant was bearing the name of the owner written in big bold letters on a tag that was attached to the plant. Some of the ministers even appointed a team of judges to help select the winner on the appointed day.
One man, however, had not succeeded in growing any plant in his flowerpot. There was just the soil and not even a tiny plant in his flowerpot. When he brought his empty flowerpot to the palace grounds, people stared at him in disbelief. Some even ridiculed him. His flowerpot with no plant in it was drowned in a sea of colourful flowers. There was no plant to which he can fasten his nametag. He simply attached the tag to the side of the flowerpot.
The whole palace ground was turned into another Vrindavan
garden. There were rows upon rows of flowers of the most magnificent varieties that one ever saw and the colours were breathtaking. The judges thought amongst themselves that it would be a difficult task to choose the winner. Such was the enthusiasm of the people.

On the appointed day, the whole population turned up at the palace grounds. Speculations were rife as to which flowerpot would get chosen. The ministers looked at the judges and the judges again went into last minute consultations. The harbinger then announced the imminent arrival of his majesty, king Mahendra. There were loud cheers as the king entered the royal pavilion erected specially for this occasion. Long live the king! Long live the king! The people started singing in chorus. The king was then seated on his throne.
The king asked the ministers to brief him about the efforts of the people and the ministers told the king about the incredible variety of flowers that were brought back by the people. One minister announced to the people that his majesty had decided to walk amongst the plants to savour the wafting scents of the flowers and to behold the beauty of the colourful flowers.
Accompanied by his ministers and by the palace gardener, the king was walking and observing each flower pot and now and again made some comments about the spectacular colours and the pleasing aroma that permeated the palace grounds. Upon completing his tour, the king returned to the royal pavilion.
The final hour had arrived. The time for announcement about the successor to the throne was approaching by the minute. The king rose from his throne to address the people. There was a pin drop silence. People felt their heartbeats quicken. The expectations were very high and so were the high standards of the flowerpot entries. The ministers were looking at the judges who signalled that they were ready to announce their decision.
The king started to address the people. In a sombre tone, king Mahendra enquired about one failed entry where the flowerpot had only soil in it and asked its owner to come forward and explain to him. A man right at the back of the huge crowd raised his hand and started making his way towards the royal pavilion. He could hear people making caustic remarks about him. His ears were getting full with sarcasm and stinging words that were being tossed about by the people. An expression of timidity began to creep upon his countenance as he came face to face with his majesty, king Mahendra.
The king requested an explanation as to why his flowerpot had no plant. The man answered that he had tried his best, even adding more fertilizer and carefully watering the seeds, but that he was disappointed and sorry that he could not grow anything. The king stood up and told the people present that he had chosen his successor. It was none else than the man whose effort at growing flowering plant from the seeds that were given to him by the king was a total failure.
The people were incredulous and the ministers and the judges were dumbfounded. With a look full of puzzle on their faces, they awaited an explanation from the king. King Mahendra placed his hand upon the shoulder of the man that was chosen as his successor and spoke to the people.
The king said: I was looking for a man with character and I have found him. I had all the seeds roasted before I gave them out. This fact was kept a secret. It was not possible for any seeds to germinate. People who received the seeds from me bought other seeds for their flowerpots when they did not see any plants growing in their flowerpots. I was on the lookout for that honest person who would produce the correct results and when I saw that one flowerpot without any plant, at that moment I knew that I had found that honest man. The man with the strength of character displaying   purity of heart, fearlessness, straightforwardness, truthfulness, absence of crookedness.
The people were taken aback. The ministers and the judges stood there with their heads bowed in agreement. The minds of the people were filled with wonderment and satisfaction. A sense of authority prevailed when king Mahendra bestowed the title of the crown prince upon the man whose honesty won over the hearts of the people.
The king, who was learned and full of wisdom, concluded his address by saying that he was searching for a man, who possessed the Divine Wealth (Daivy Sampat), to become his successor.
The description of this Divine Wealth is given in the first three verses of the 16th Chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
From the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 16.
Translated by Swami Shivananda
The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh

Fearlessness, purity of heart, steadfastness in knowledge and Yoga, almsgiving, control of the senses, sacrifice, study of scriptures, austerity and straightforwardness.
-Gita, Ch.16, verse 1.

Harmlessness, truth, absence of anger, renunciation, peacefulness, absence of crookedness, compassion towards beings, uncovetousness, gentleness, modesty, absence of fickleness.
-Gita, Ch. 16, verse 2.

Vigour, forgiveness, fortitude, purity, absence of hatred, absence of pride- these belong to the one born of a divine state, O Arjuna.
- Gita, Ch. 16, verse 3.

From the Chhandogya Upanishad XIII. v. 1
Translated by Professor D.S.Sarma

Once upon a time the senses quarrelled among themselves
as to who was superior, each saying: “I am superior, I am

They went to Prajapati, their father, and said: “Sir, who is the best of us?”

He replied: “He by whose departure the body looks the worst – he is the best of you.”
Speech then departed and, having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?”

They replied: “Like the dumb -not speaking, but breathing with the breath, seeing with the eye, hearing with the ear, and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived.” Then speech entered in.
The eye then departed and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” They replied: “Like the blind – not seeing, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, hearing with the ear and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived.” Then the eye entered in.

The ear then departed, and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” They replied: “Like the deaf – not hearing, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and thinking with the mind. Thus we lived.” Then the ear entered in.

The mind then departed and having stayed away for a year, returned and said: “How have you been able to live without me?” They replied: “Like children – not thinking, but breathing with the breath, speaking with the tongue, seeing with the eye and hearing with the ear. Thus we lived.” Then the mind entered in.

Now, when the breath was about to depart, tearing up the other senses, as a strong horse about to depart might tear up the pegs to which he is tethered, they gathered round him and said: “Sir, remain. You are the best of us, do not depart.”

Then speech said to him: “If I am the most prosperous, so are you the most prosperous.” The eye said to him: “If I am the firm basis, so are you the firm basis.” The ear said to him: “If I am success, so are you the success.” The mind said to him; “If I am the abode, so are you the abode.”

Hence these are not termed organs of speech or eyes or ears or minds. They are termed signs of life. For life itself becomes all these.
The Story of Rose  
The irresistible story of Rose
Author unknown
Growing older is mandatory, growing up is optional
The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know.
I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.

She said, "Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m 87 years old. Can I give you a hug?"
I laughed and enthusiastically responded,
"Of course you may!" and she gave me a giant squeeze.

"Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?" I asked.
She jokingly replied, "I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel."
"No seriously," I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.
"I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!" she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends.
Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this "time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.
Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she revelled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium.
As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said,
"I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know."

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began: "We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy and achieving success."
"You have to laugh and find humour every day."
"You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!"
"There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change."
"Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets."
She concluded her speech by courageously singing "The Rose." She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the years end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago. One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be…..YOU!!
Remember, growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.
We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.
God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.
If God brings you to it ... he will bring you through it. It’s better to try and fail, than fail to try.

"The Rose"
Some say love, it is a river,
That drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor,
That leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger,
An endless, aching need.
I say love, it is a flower,
And you, it's soul the seed.
It's a heart afraid of breaking,
That never learns to dance;
It's the dream, afraid of waking,
That never takes the chance;
Its the one who won't be taken,
Who cannot seem to give;
And the soul, afraid of dying,
That never learns to live.
When the night has been too lonely,
And the road has been too long,
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong:
Just remember, in the winter,
Far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love
In the Spring, becomes the rose.

Stone in the middle of the road  
There was a king who ruled his kingdom wisely. He spent his time trying to improve the lives of his subjects. One day the king decided to see for himself how people lived in his kingdom. Early one morning, dressed as an ordinary citizen, he secretly mounted his horse and rode into town. The citizens were still not out in the streets. The king stopped at one place where the dirt road was narrowing somewhat. He tied his horse by the side of the road and then dug a hole right in the middle of the road. Therein he placed a metal jar wrapped in a piece of cloth. Then the king brought a stone that was lying on the side of the road and placed it on the hole, completely covering the hole. The king then mounted his horse and went up a nearby hill. Hiding behind a tree, the king looked down at the stone in the middle of the road.
The Farmer
A farmer was the first to appear. He was driving his cart with fresh-produce for the vegetable market. He saw the stone in the middle of the road and thought to himself, “It looks like this stone has been lying here in the middle of the road for some time but the people here are not bothered about removing the stone to one side. Each person thinks only for himself. People here are so lazy!” And the farmer carefully drove past avoiding the stone.
The Policeman
A little while later, a policeman was seen walking down the road. He was looking smart in his impressive police-uniform. He was walking and looking at the headlines in the newspaper. He tripped by the stone and very nearly hit the ground. He thought about the carelessness of the people, spoke some angry words and went away.
The Milkmaid
Then a milkmaid came along, singing aloud to attract the attention of the residents in nearby houses. She had one milk container on her head and another she carried by her side. Making her way down the road, looking to the left and now looking to the right.
Her foot hit the stone and she lost balance. The milk container on her head fell to the ground spilling all the milk. The milkmaid said that the people of this town are so thoughtless. How can they leave such a big stone in the middle of the road and not worry about it? Don’t they know that people can get tripped by the stone! She collected her milk pot and went away.
The Merchants
Some merchants came down the road driving their horse-cart at high speed. One wheel of the cart hit the stone and some goods fell on to the road. Looking at the stone in the middle of the road, they said the people here are so useless. Who knows for how long this stone is lying in the middle of the road but no body takes any notice of it! No one takes the trouble to remove this stone from the middle of the road! Mumbling some swear words the merchants collected their goods and drove away.
The Brahmachari (student)
A newly qualified Brahmachari (student) came walking down the road. As soon as he saw the stone in the middle of the road, he remembered the lessons he was taught by his Guru (teacher). His Guru had taught him that his first duty is to himself. If ever his life was in danger, then he must try everything possible, to preserve his life. Higher than that is the duty to his family. If ever it became necessary to give up his life to save his family, then let it be so. Higher than that is his duty to the community. If he has to sacrifice his life, and sacrifice his family for the good of the community, then the interest of the community comes first. Higher than that is the duty to the nation. If it calls for the sacrifice from the individual, his family and his community for the good of the nation, then the interest of the nation takes precedence. Higher than that is the duty to the whole of humanity.
The Brahmachari immediately removed the stone from the middle of the road. There underneath the stone he saw this bundle wrapped in a cloth with a hand-written note fastened to the cloth. The note read:
“ This stone was placed here by your king. Whoever takes the trouble of removing the stone, thereby thinking about the good of the people, can keep this metal jar and its contents. And the king would like to meet this person.”
The Brahmachari opened the metal jar and was amazed to see that it was filled with gold coins. He was very pleased.
Next day the Brahmachari went to meet the king. The king could make out the good character of this Brahmachari. He was noble-minded and unselfish. The Brahmachari would give rather than take. A person with such charitable heart is a credit to the human race.
The king made the Brahmachari his chief minister who helped the king rule the kingdom for many a long years.
And the example set by the Brahmachari taught a valuable lesson to the citizens of this kingdom. They changed their attitude from ‘taking’ to ‘giving’. This attitude they applied in their personal life, family matters, community affairs, and in their national life. Now every body was so courteous, so very thoughtful and caring for the needs of others. The kingdom prospered and became a veritable heaven on earth.

Doing Good 
Vivekananda Kendra Patrika
Why do we do good work? Because it is a blessing to ourselves. Swami Vivekananda calls upon us to serve God in man, and gives the key to blessedness in the following words:
“We may all be perfectly sure that it will go on beautifully well without us, and we need not bother our heads wishing to help it. Yet, we must do good; the desire to do good is the highest motive power we have, if we know all the time that it is a privilege to help others. Do not stand on a high pedestal, and take five cents in your hand and say, ‘Here, my poor man,’ but be grateful that the poor man is there, so that by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world and thus become pure and perfect….
“No beggar whom we have helped has ever owed a single cent to us: we owe everything to him because he has allowed us to exercise our charity on him. It is entirely wrong to think that we have done, or can do, good to the world, to think that we have helped such and such people. It is a foolish thought, and all foolish thoughts bring misery. We think that we have helped some man and expect him to thank us, and because he does not, unhappiness comes to us. Why should we expect anything in return for what we do? Be grateful to the man you help, think of him as God. Is it not a great privilege to be allowed to worship God by helping our fellow men? If we were really unattached, we should escape all this vain expectation, and could cheerfully do good work in the world.”
The Story of King Rantideva (15)   
Srimad Bhagavatam
Paraphrased by K. Balasubrahmania
source 'Hindu Ideals'
During a period of devastating famine in his kingdom King Rantideva spent the whole of his wealth in feeding the hungry and the distressed. Deeply pained by the sufferings of his people and by way of atonement, the King undertook a fast for forty-eight days and did not take any food or even water during that period. On the forty-ninth day, when he was satisfied that almost all the hungry and the distressed in his kingdom had been well looked after, he decided to break his fast. Just as he was about to do so by taking a morsel of food and a cup of water he heard the piteous cry of a person of low caste (Pulkasa as he is called in the Purana), asking for water to quench his thirst. The King was then in the midst of his ministers and councillors. He stopped tasting the water placed before him and ordered that the cup be given to the Pulkasa. The people around him remonstrated strongly at this suicidal act on the part of the King. It was pointed out by them that it was too much on his part to take the risk of sacrificing his own life for the sake of a pulkasa after this long fast of nearly forty-eight days. Immediately afterwards the King began to take the morsel of food. Even for that food there came a guest at his doors. At this stage, Ranti Deva made the famous pronouncement recorded in fitting terms by Vyasa:
“I do not seek from the Supreme Lord the highest Bliss attended with the eight powers or siddhis. Nor do I care for apunarbhavam or cessation of the cycle of births and deaths. But my only desire is to be present in all beings, undergo suffering with them and serve them so that they may become free from misery.”
In the next verse he continues to say:
“Hunger, thirst, fatigue, loss of strength in limbs, distress, languor, grief, disappointment, delusion – all these undesirable features of my distressed soul have all disappeared upon my giving water to one who was suffering from acute thirst.”
The Trimurtis, the rulers of the three worlds, revealed themselves to him and praised his heroic sacrifice and infinite mercy for his suffering fellow men. There can be no higher or nobler humanitarian ideal than the one revealed by this episode. Not only did Ranti Deva seek to relieve the misery of his fellow-men, but he also desired to so identify himself with them and become a part of them so as to undergo their suffering and thereby share their miserable predicament.
Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our Nation (India), took hold of this great teaching of the Srimad Bhagavatam as the inspiring motto of his life. He inscribed this verse in front of the Sabarmati Ashram founded by him for the inspiration and guidance of his followers. The fundamental basis of the great national movement started by Mahatma Gandhi was suffering and sacrifice for the liberation of his countrymen from foreign yoke.

Three Basic Truths In This Story
This great utterance of Ranti Deva lays down three basic truths for the guidance of mankind:
  1. The paramount duty of relieving the suffering of others both for moral purification and for bettering the lot of our brethren.
  2. The doctrine of sharing the suffering of others both for moral purification and for lessening the burden of the sorrow.
  3. This duty of relieving the suffering of others is greater than that of working for one’s own salvation or the attainment of moksha or of siddhis or miraculous powers.

From the Rigveda:
That man really enjoys his food who feeds also the poor and the emaciated beggar that goes about oppressed by hunger. He will have plenty of wealth as a result of such philanthropic deeds and his charity will secure for him friends in times of need.

There are two other episodes in the Srimad Bhagavatam that very clearly illustrate the great ideals of service and sacrifice for the sake of the poor and the suffering. One is the story of Sage Dadeechi, who was deeply engrossed in tapas (austerities). During that time, Deva Loka was under the throes of a great struggle against the invading Asuras (demons). To stem the tide of the invasion was the task of Indra, the ruler of Deva Loka.Though Indra fought many battles, he could not succeed in resisting the invasion. He was advised by the Rishis that if he could improvise a bow made out of back-bone of the great Muni (Sage) Dadeechi, he could acquire the necessary powers to fight his foes successfully and rescue Deva Loka from them. While every one was afraid to approach the great sage with such a request, Indra made bold to go and seek his help in the matter. He pleaded with him and put forward the reason for such an extraordinary request on his part by pointing out his own miserable condition and the predicament of the Devas. Veda Vyasa very wisely queries through the mouths of the Devas:
“Is there anything that persons who are full of compassion cannot forsake? Surely, the world is selfish and does not understand the distress of others.”
Dadeechi quickly reacted to these words of the Devas. He said:
“Impelled by compassion and possessed of this transient body, he who does not desire Dharma or fame is to be pitied even by non-sentient beings like trees.”
Dadeechi thereupon quietly acceded to the request of Indra. By his powers of Yoga he gave up his life so that his backbone might be utilised for making the mighty bow, Vajrayudha. Dadeechi is considered in the Puranas as one of our earliest ancestors and he shines in this great country as the illustrious example of sacrifice for the sake of the liberation of the suffering from their distress. No sacrifice is too great for the noble-minded in this world. In fact, Dadeechi may be regarded as the starting point of the galaxy of saints that have adorned this great country.

In the same work (Srimad Bhagavatam), we have the thrilling episode of the famous King Mahabali. This king performed a great sacrifice in which he vowed to make generous gifts to all those who came and asked for anything from him. Lord Vishnu approached him in the guise of a dwarfish Brahmachari (celibate student) and asked for a gift of three feet of ground to be measured by his own diminutive feet. The preceptor of King Bali, Sukracharya, discovered who the Brahmachari was and for what purpose he was asking for such a gift. He tried to dissuade the King from his intended act of generosity. It was also pointed out by the Acharya that the Brahmachari would seize the place, the power and the wealth of the king and would hand them over to Indra. But the king stuck to his promise and propounded in the following weighty words the highest ideal of charity:
“Righteous men like Dadeechi and Sibi do good to other beings even at the expense of their own lives, which are difficult to abandon. Then what concern should there be about land and such other things? It is even common to see men who fight in the battlefield without turning their back, give up their life. But it is rare to see those who would make a gift to a deserving person.”
What is meant by this is that at the spur of the moment or in a fit of heroic anger a person may give up his life in the battlefield fighting the enemy. But in a calm moment in ordinary life he will not give up his wealth to a deserving person approaching him for help and assistance. Saying this, King Bali stuck to his promise in spite of the remonstrations of his preceptor, lost his entire kingdom and came to grief. Here again we have the instance of a person who pursued this glorious ideal of charity and sacrificed his all for the sake of it. In the historic pronouncement of King Bali quoted above, the King gives the example of Dadeechi and Sibi.

The story of king Sibi is a brilliant and thrilling one. It is found in the Mahabharata, Aranya parva, adhyayas 130-131.
To test the high character of Sibi, Indra assumed the form of a falcon and pursued a dove to kill it. In dire distress, the dove approached the King and asked for refuge. Moved by intense compassion Sibi readily promised succour. The falcon that pursued the dove came to King Sibi and remonstrated with him that it was pursuing the dove, which was its natural food. The falcon demanded that the King should hand over the dove. But the king said that he had given promise to the dove to save its life and therefore he was unable to accede to this demand. Thereupon the falcon asked King Sibi to give up a portion of his flesh, to be equal in weight to that of the dove for satisfying its own hunger. King Sibi readily agreed to do so and began to cut a portion of his thigh and weighed it in the balance against the dove. But the weight of the dove was greater. Thereupon, the King proceeded to cut other portions of the flesh from his body and weighed them in the balance. Still, it was found that the dove was heavier in weight. Finally, the King placed himself in the pan offering the flesh of his whole body to the falcon.
When this climax was reached, the falcon assumed its real form as Indra and praised the King for his heroic sacrifice for the sake of the dove and said: “Your fame will last so long as the world lasts.”
The story of King Sibi is unique in many respects. Not only do we find illustrated therein the unbounded love which a person should entertain towards all beings including birds and beasts, but also the paramount duty of protecting even at the risk of one’s own life for anybody who seeks refuge. This duty relates even to the beings other than one’s own kind like the bird in the story. Rightly as Indra said, the fame of King Sibi has been enshrined not only in our great epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata but also in the literatures of our other regional languages.

Upanishads in Story and Dialogue

From Chandogya Upanishad
Paraphrased- simplified- abridged
By R.R.Diwakar

[Here is a young man eager to take the vow of a Brahmachari (celibate student) and go out in search of Reality. His only qualification is that he is truthful. That makes the guru or the preceptor accept the young stripling as his disciple. Thrown on his resources in a forest, he communes with nature and arrives at the truth. He goes into the jungle as a common cowherd and comes back as a man of knowledge. The touch of perfection, however, has to be given by the guru. That is the story of Santayana Kabala.]
“Dear mother, what is my gotra or lineage? I wish to go to a guru and offer to live with him as a brahmachari (celibate student),” said young Satyakama, one sweet morning to his mother.
He little knew how embarrassing that question was to her. However, she soon overcame her confusion. She knew that the claims of her child for knowledge were supreme. He was already grown up and to neglect those claims any further would be very culpable. She was well aware that the first thing any guru would ask her child would be his gotra and parentage.
“Young child,” she said, “to tell you the truth, I know not your gotra. While young and wandering as a housemaid here and there, I begot you. How then can I know? But I am certain of one thing and that is that your name is Satyakama and mine Jabala. Therefore go forth and tell your guru that you are Satyakama Jabala.”
The son agreed and took leave of the mother. He went in search of a teacher who would teach him what he wanted to know.
He approached Haaridrumata Gautama known for his wisdom. After a reverent bow Satyakama informed him of his intention to learn at his feet.
As expected, the first question the guru asked was about his gotra (lineage).
“What gotra, young lad?”
Satyakama said, “Sir, as I started on this journey of mine, I asked this question of my mother.” So saying he reported the whole conversation that had taken place between himself and his mother. He finally added, “Thus, here I am, sir, known as Satyakama Jabala.”
“Oh, brave and truthful child!” exclaimed the would be guru. “No one not born of a Brahmin would dare to tell such an unpleasant truth. Go therefore and bring samidhaa (sacrificial fuel) and I shall initiate you into brahamacharya. You have not departed from the truth, but clung fast to it, happen what may.”
After this conversation, there was the usual ceremony of initiation and satyakama was enrolled as a regular inmate of the Ashrama. The guru seemed to be a very hard taskmaster. One day he summoned Satyakama and put him in charge of four hundred lean, weak and poorly fed cows. He told the young disciple to take the whole lot to the forest and asked him not to return till they had become a herd of a thousand!
It was one of the duties of a disciple to serve the guru in the way that would best please him. So out went Satyakama as a cowherd, with his new charge and with a determination to carry out the guru’s orders.
He lived in the forest, looking after the cows and bulls. But his heart did not give up the yearning after truth, and even in the forest he made many friends all of whom had something to teach him; the friendly cows and bulls, the whispering trees and leaves, the singing birds, and the bubbling brooks, the sun, the moon and the stars.
Gazing from morn to night at the four quarters of the globe in the midst of the peace of the forest meadows he felt that all this must be part of a great reality. The friendly leader of the herd, an aged bull, whispered to him, “Yes, all these four corners of the earth are one aspect of Brahman (Supreme Reality.”
At night when the herd slept, as he lit his campfire and the flames danced, it talked to him. The stars and the moon in the vast dome overhead became his friends. They too told him that light and darkness, the solid earth beneath and the domed space above studded with stars were all part of Brahman (Supreme reality).
The morning sun kissing the dew-washed flowers, the midday sun drawing the sap from trees and plants, the evening clouds and rainbows reflecting the glory of the setting sun told him that the eye that sees all things, the life that pulsates in all things, the mind that wonders at beauty and asks endless questions, these too are part of Brahman. He heard of Brahman in the songs of the birds, felt the great presence in the cycle of seasons, and in the birth, the growth and decay of life around him. His mind slowly realised Brahman in touch, hearing, speech, sight and taste, in the beating of the heart, in waking and in dreams.
Then one day the leader of the herd came and told him, “We number over a thousand now. Take us to the Ashrama.”
By stages, the party reached the Ashrama. He went to the teacher and bowed to him respectfully. The teacher was extremely glad to see his dutiful disciple after that long span of time. He looked up and he had a pleasant surprise when he gazed at the brilliant face of young Satyakama.
“Dear young man, you look like one who has known Brahman (Supreme Reality). Who was it that taught you? Who is it that some agency other than the human has taught you this knowledge? For no one was with you in that wilderness except those dumb cattle and the dreary tumult of the forest,” said the teacher.
The young disciple said with utter humility, “It is you, sir, from whom I expect to learn yet fully of the much-coveted knowledge. I have heard that from teachers like
you alone can real knowledge be had. So I beseech you to favour me by completing the knowledge that I might have had by your grace through communion with nature.” The guru knew that the disciple was ripe and ready for receiving spiritual knowledge.
Satyakama stayed for some time more in the Ashrama. He had already learnt much. His guru gave the final touches with his voice of experience. Thus Satyakama succeeded in realizing his dream of acquiring full knowledge of Brahman, the ultimate Reality.

Chandogya Upanishad
Paraphrased- simplified- abridged
By R.R.Diwakar

[Like all ceremonies and rituals, the Vedic sacrifices later became mechanical and people performed them without knowing their real purpose. This story is one that illustrates this truth. One Ushasti visits a sacrifice and teaches the secret of sacrifices to the performers. Ushasti is very virtuous, straightforward and known for his knowledge and integrity.]
Once upon a time there lived in Ibhya, a village in the Kuru country, Ushasti Chakrayana with his wife. Though poor and simple, he was known to be very virtuous and learned on the Vedic lore.
It happened that once a dreadful famine swept the country and food became extremely scarce.
One day during that famine he went to the king of the village and begged food of him. The king was sitting with a handful of parched cereals and was eating them.
When asked for food, the king said most distressfully, “Respected sir, theses are the only ones I have and other food have I none. These have been rendered impure as I have been eating out of them.”
Ushasti said, ”Never mind, O king. Give me some out of them. They are welcome even if they are ceremonially impure!”
The king then gave him some cereals and offered him also some of the water that he had half drunk.
Ushati accepted the cereals, but refused the water and said, ”Thank you kind prince, for the food you have spared for me. But I do not want the impure water. I have enough of water with me. I am accepting the cereals half eaten by you because I would die of hunger if I did not take them from you now. But that is not the case regarding water. I am not suffering from scarcity of water.”
Ushasti then ate some cereals and took home to his wife what was left over. His wife however, had already secured a little food from somewhere and therefore she kept for the morrow the cereals given to her by her husband.
Next morning hungry Ushasti approached his wife and said to her, “If I get some food now, I can go and get some money from the king to buy food again. He seems to be performing some sacrifice and he will have to give me at least as much money as he is paying to his other priests.”
“Here then are the cereals that you gave me yesterday, dear,” said the wife to him.
Ushasti then ate the cereals and went happily to the place of sacrifice.
The sacrifice was being performed with all pomp and splendour. The king was the householder (yajamana) for whose benefit it was being performed. Then there were the different ritwiks or priests who carried out various functions in the sacrifice.
Ushasti went straight to the three principal priests and he accosted them one by one saying, “Do you know, learned priests, the god that presides over the particular function you are performing? If you do not know and still you keep on performing your function mechanically and in ignorance, your head will fall down from your shoulders. Beware.”
Obviously they did not know the answer. The yajamana was struck by the bold and straightforward attack against the priests. He said respectfully, “May I know, sir, who you are?”
Dear householder, I am known as one Ushasti Chakrayana,” replied Ushasti.
“Oh sir, we all sought after you and wished that you should preside over the sacrificial functions. But not having found you for long, we had to begin the sacrifice. Now that you are here, kindly lead the ceremonies.” Thus saying the yajamana entrusted the whole sacrifice to Ushasti.
Ushasti then took the three priests aside one by one and asked each of them questions which they could not answer. Then he told them about the presiding deities in the sacrifice and of their respective functions.
He said to the first priest, “Prana or the vital air is the presiding deity of your function. All these beings enter Prana and breathe it. If you perform the sacrifice without knowing this, great harm will befall you.”
Then he said to the second priest, “Aditya or the sun is the deity of your function in the sacrifice. All the beings sing high praises of him. If you perform your function without this knowledge, great harm would befall you.”
To the third priest he said, “Anna or food is the presiding deity of your function. All beings live by taking food. If you perform sacrifices without your knowing this, great is the harm that would befall you.”
Summing up, Ushasti said, “Prana is the essence of life, but Prana cannot live without anna or food and food depends upon the sun-god for its existence and growth. The sun god here on earth is represented by agni or fire. Agni can be satisfied only by offerings at the time of sacrifice.”
This is the meaning of sacrifice preached by Ushasti Chakrayana.

Om Tat Sat

(My humble salutations to  Brahmasri Sreeman K M Ganguly and R R Diwakar  for the collection)


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