There were two spiritual Masters. Each one had hundreds of disciples. Unfortunately, the disciples of each Master were very, very undivine. They used to quarrel and fight not only among themselves but also with the disciples of the other Master.
Now it happened that the undivine qualities of the disciples were like a contagious disease. These qualities entered into the Masters as well. So the Masters also began to quarrel and fight and to speak ill of each other. This went on for many, many years.
Each of the Masters was looked down upon by the disciples of the other Master, and each Master laughed at the other Master. But these two did have spiritual power and occult power, and one of them really had tremendous occult and spiritual power.
The names of the two Masters were Banar and Gadha. Banar means ‘monkey’ and Gadha means ‘donkey’. Although they were human beings, their parents had given them these names, and no doubt they rightly deserved them, for they did their best to live up to them.
One day Banar was meditating deeply when a revelation dawned. He said, “How long will my disciples fight among themselves and quarrel with the disciples of the Donkey? And how long will the Donkey and I quarrel and fight and speak ill of each other? The best thing is to put an end to it.”
So Banar wrote a confidential letter to Gadha. “Dear Gadha,” he wrote, “tomorrow I would like to meet with you. Please bring all your disciples and I shall also come with all my disciples. I have an excellent plan. If we can execute this plan, both you and I will be extremely happy. Also, your disciples will be happy and my disciples will be happy. In the park near your ashram there is a huge banyan tree. I will bring my disciples inside the park and you also bring your disciples. Let us all meet under the banyan tree and there we shall have a discussion. I have quite a few things to tell you.”
Gadha was highly pleased with the letter. The following morning he brought all his disciples, and Banar brought all his disciples, and they met beneath the banyan tree. For the time being both the parties were courteous to each other.
Banar said to Gadha, “Gadha, let us put an end to this constant quarrelling. You have a physical body, and I have a physical body. We both have physical strength. You are a spiritual Master, and I am a spiritual Master. You have occult and spiritual power, and I have occult and spiritual power. Let us do two things. Let us have a physical fight, and then let us have a spiritual fight. Whoever wins...”
Before Banar could finish his proposal, some of Gadha’s disciples immediately said, “No!”
But Gadha said, “This is an excellent idea. We shall see who is really great. On the physical plane everyone will know who is the winner as soon as the fight is over. But on the spiritual plane, how will these idiots know who has more spiritual power and occult power?”
Banar said, “It is very easy. We shall fight physically to know our physical power. Spiritually we shall both sit face to face and look at each other. With our third eye we shall try to conquer each other. By this I mean that the one who is stronger will compel the other to fall at his feet and take the very dust of the winner’s feet with his head. In that way the disciples will know who is the greater of us two.”
Then Gadha said, “I have an excellent idea. You know that one of us will win in the spiritual fight and one will win in the physical fight. Now, the one who wins spiritually will get the reward of having the other Master touch his feet. But the one who wins physically must have some reward also.”
Banar said, “That is an excellent idea.”
“Now,” Gadha said to Banar, “please write down the names of your twenty best disciples, and I shall write down the names of my twenty best disciples. Whoever is the winner of the physical fight will get the twenty best disciples of the other Master, the loser. Now let us exchange our lists and read out the names.”
When Gadha and Banar read out the names of their twenty best disciples, a terrible battle broke out. The disciples who were among the best boasted and bragged, and those who were not on the lists became terribly angry. The disciples of the Monkey fought bitterly among themselves and the disciples of the Donkey did the same. It took the Masters quite a long time to restore some kind of peace among their followers after having all kinds of insults heaped upon them by their bad disciples.
Now a new idea flashed across the Monkey’s mind. He said, “Suppose one of us wins both the spiritual fight and the physical fight?”
Gadha said, “Banar, you are a fool! You are an old man, and I am a young man. You do not expect me to lose physically, do you? When we have our spiritual fight, there is some question as to who will win. But on the physical plane I know I will beat you immediately as soon as we start wrestling or fighting. I will just throw you on the ground, and you and all your disciples will start crying. You may win on the spiritual plane, but I will easily win on the physical plane. Then we will be even.”
But Banar said, “Suppose you don’t win in the physical fight? What will happen then? Granted, you are physically strong, but what will happen if I somehow defeat you in both contests?”
“Don’t brag, don’t brag!” said Gadha. “Well, in case you win, I am going to become your disciple. What more can I say or do? I will give up my life of teaching. I will be your humble devotee along with my twenty disciples if I lose to you in both the physical and the spiritual fights. And you must also do the same if you lose to me in both the fights.” Banar gladly agreed to this proposal.
Then Gadha said, “Now let us start.”
The disciples of both parties were alarmed, eager and anxious to see who would be the winner. Each group encouraged and inspired its own Master.
Now it happened that although Banar was an old man, he defeated Gadha like anything in the physical fight, in front of everyone, and in the spiritual fight he also defeated Gadha. The monkey-master defeated the donkey-master in both cases.
Then Banar said to Gadha, “Look, you have lost to me in both the physical fight and the spiritual fight. Now you will have to be my devoted disciple, and your good disciples also have to become my disciples. But something within me is telling me that your good disciples are not going to be my good disciples. They will feel sad and depressed, and they will all the time think of the kindness, love and affection that you showed them. No matter how much love I give them, you know they will never feel that I am giving enough. It is not possible that your good disciples will become my good disciples. When one army loses to another army, the losing army does not usually go and join the army that has conquered it. I have conquered you and won your good disciples, but I am afraid they will not become my good disciples because of their sadness at your defeat and because of their loyalty to their Master. Now, Donkey, tell me what to do.”
Gadha said, “I will ask them to be good. Since I have become your very good disciple, I will ask them to be good.”
Banar said, “I will be very grateful to you if you ask them. But Gadha, some divine ideas are entering my mind. I feel awkward about having you as my disciple. After all, you were also a Master. I have a nice plan. Let me release you. I shall not take you as my disciple. You remain the Master with the rest of your disciples, and tell your twenty good disciples that if they behave well, if they listen to me devotedly, then after three years I shall return them all to you; otherwise, I shall keep them forever. If they do not become good disciples, I will compel them to stay with me. But again, if they behave well, if they become really devoted to me, I shall give them back to you in three years’ time.”
Gadha was very pleased at the generous inclinations of his conqueror. He said, “Banar, you are the conqueror. It was my suggestion that whoever lost both fights would have to give his twenty best disciples and would himself have to become a disciple of the winner. I am the loser, so I and my twenty best disciples have become your disciples. But now, if these twenty disciples stay with you and I go away with my other disciples, it won’t be proper. I can’t do that. They will be at your feet, at your beck and call, just because I lost to you. Who is responsible for this punishment? It is I who am the culprit. I am fulfilling my promise to you, but I cannot sacrifice these innocent disciples of mine in that way. No, I cannot do it. They are most precious to me. Since I have given them to you because I lost, I cannot go away and desert them. I have to stay with them. I will be devoted to you, and I will compel my disciples also to be devoted to you. But if they suffer here at your feet, if they have to accept your leadership, can I go and enjoy myself with the rest of my disciples? No, that I can’t do.
“It was I who made the proposal that the loser would have to offer his best disciples, and even himself, to the winner. Now I can’t leave these disciples to suffer for my foolishness. I am going to stay with them. If you will accept my bad disciples also, I will be very grateful. But no, I don’t want you to accept my bad disciples, because bad disciples are always bad. Let my bad disciples stay without a Master for the time being. And when you are pleased with my other disciples and with me, when you release us either in three years or in as many years as you want, then we shall go back. At that time I will again collect all my old disciples and be their leader and the leader of the disciples who are right now with you. Eventually we shall have our ashram again.
“In one simple sentence I tell you I can’t leave my good disciples. I am duty-bound to stay with them and suffer with them. I have not been as great a Master as you, but now I feel I am obliged to fulfil my promise to you and also to be one with my good disciples, who have been so kind to me and so devoted to me right from the beginning.”
At this Banar was deeply moved. He said, “You are really great, Gadha, you are really great. You have such love for your innocent disciples. I am most pleased with you, most proud of you, most grateful to you for giving me your divine wisdom.
To love one’s spiritual children as one’s own life: this is what you have taught me. Therefore, Gadha, I am bowing down to the Divine in you, to the Supreme in you.”
Gadha said, “You are bowing down to the Divine in me, Banar, but I am bowing down to the Divine in you, plus to the human in you. The human in you is also really great; otherwise, the human in you would have enjoyed malicious pleasure in keeping me at least for a few years just because I am the vanquished. But out of your divine generosity you were willing to let me go.”
Banar said, “My dear Gadha, I am letting you go with your dear ones. You go and run your ashram, and let me run my ashram. Let us remain friendly with each other. Let the members of my family try to do the right thing. Let the members of your family also try to do the right thing. Let us not quarrel anymore. Let us not fight. Let us join together. Your group and my group must join together and always fight against one enemy: ignorance — the ignorance that we once saw and became. Now we are free from ignorance, both you and I, Gadha, so what we shall do is pray and meditate sincerely. You guide your disciples. Let your disciples pray and meditate soulfully. And let my disciples pray and meditate soulfully. Let us act like two divine armies of the Supreme for the Supreme. Let these two armies fight against ignorance and establish the kingdom of beauty, divinity and universal oneness on earth.”
Gadha said, “Banar, you are not only great; you are good.”
Banar said, “If I have any goodness, it started when you said that you did not want to leave your disciples. You wanted to be my disciple and share their suffering. This was your generous heart. It was your heart of oneness with your good disciples that made me good. Your love for your disciples and your oneness with them has taught me love and oneness with my disciples and with everybody’s disciples — in fact, with all human beings on earth. Gadha, you are great, you are good; and if you say that I am also good and great, then I wish to say that my greatness and goodness and your greatness and goodness are all unconditional gifts from the Absolute Supreme. Let us treasure these blessing-gifts from the Absolute. Greatness and goodness are the gifts which we have got from the Supreme. Let us cherish them from now on.”
Gadha said, “Certainly we shall. Right from this moment let us begin.”
September 27, 1974↩