Blessing or curse?

Briksha was a very powerful and cruel king. He used to torture people and kill people for no reason. He killed hundreds of innocent people just for fun. Briksha wanted to be the most powerful king on earth.

Now, in India we believe in one main God, and under Him many little gods, or lesser gods. It takes a long time to please some gods, but other gods are very easy to satisfy. One of the gods is called Shiva, and Shiva is very easily pleased.

Shiva used to meditate in the Himalayas. He would sit and meditate on the top of the highest mountain. Briksha went to the Himalayas and prayed to Shiva for a few years. He sat with his eyes closed and prayed most devotedly, repeating Shiva’s name: “Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva…” Sometimes he didn’t take food. He fasted and he practised austerities.

After a couple of years, Shiva was pleased with him, and came and stood in front of him. But Briksha had his eyes closed while he was repeating Shiva’s name.

Shiva said, “I am standing in front of you, but you have your eyes closed and you don’t see me.” But Briksha didn’t believe it, and he continued to pray and chant.

Shiva said, “You have pleased me, and I am willing to grant you a boon. What do you want?”

Finally Briksha opened his eyes and saw Shiva standing in front of him. He was surprised and amazed. “Oh, you have come!” he cried.

“Now, what boon do you want?” Shiva asked again.

“I want to be able to bless someone in a certain way. I want to be able to put my hand on someone’s head and immediately burn him to ashes.”

Shiva said, “All right. You have your boon. I have granted it.”

Then Briksha said, “I want to see if you have actually done it. Let me touch your head.”

When he came near, Shiva started to run, and Briksha followed him. Shiva ran very fast to the house of Narayana, another god who was Shiva’s friend.

Narayana is a very clever god. Narayana said that he would protect Shiva. They were standing together at the door when Briksha came up.

Briksha said, “He gave me the power to burn somebody to ashes, and now he won’t let me test it on him.”

Narayana said, “When you come to visit a god, you should be clean-shaven and neat, with clean clothes and your hair combed. But look at you! I thought you were a great king. Look at your clothes. Your clothes are torn and soiled. Look at your hair. Your hair is all dirty and matted.”

Putting his hand up to his head, Briksha said, “What’s wrong with my hair?” and was immediately burnt to ashes.

What do we learn from this? Pray to God only for good things, divine things. Don’t pray for anything destructive. Then you will never harm anyone. If you pray for something bad, God may give it to you, but you will be ruined by it.

The best prayer is to pray to God to give you what He wants you to have. If you can’t do that because you are really fond of something, the next best prayer is, “God, please give me this. I want this, but only give it to me if You want me to have it.”

If you ask your mother for a knife, she won’t give it to you. Why? Because if you were angry with someone, you might stab him with it. Or you might accidentally cut yourself or someone else. And if someone were stronger than you, he might take the knife away from you by force and hurt you with it.

If you ask for something destructive, you can hurt somebody with it, and also you may be hurt yourself. Pray to God for good things — Love, Peace, Joy. Those are the things that God always wants to give to everybody. If you ask God for Love, Peace and Joy, you will get as much of them as you sincerely cry for.