Once two partridges, a husband and wife, were going out on a trip. Before they left, the wife laid some eggs near the ocean. Then the husband said to the sea, “We are going on a sea voyage. You have to take care of these eggs for us. On our return, if we don’t find the eggs, then we shall empty you.”
The sea agreed to take care of the eggs, and it kept the eggs safe. A few days later the two partridges came back, but they could not find the eggs. They began screaming at the sea. The sea wanted to give the eggs to them, but it could not find them anymore. The birds cursed the sea and started emptying it. The husband and wife each began taking out a drop of water at a time, throwing it onto the land.
“We are going to empty you,” they said to the sea.
Some little birds saw all this and they asked, “What are you doing?”
The partridges replied, “We are punishing the sea. The sea is very bad because it didn’t keep its promise to look after our eggs.”
The little birds thought it was a noble task and they joined the partridges. After a while, some big birds took up their cause. They were very sympathetic and self giving, and they also started taking out water drop by drop. This went on for days and weeks.
One day, the Conveyor of Lord Vishnu, Garuda, came and asked, “What are you doing?”
The birds said, “Can’t you see? We are emptying the sea.”
Garuda said, “You fools, how long will this take you? You will never be able to do it. The sea is very vast, infinite.”
But the birds answered, “No, we have determination and perseverance.”
Garuda was very surprised and said, “Let me show them some compassion. Let me ask Lord Vishnu to help them. If Vishnu helps them, then certainly they will be able to find their eggs. If the eggs are still in good condition, Vishnu will be able to return them. But if they are destroyed, he can do nothing for them.”
He went to Vishnu. “Vishnu, I have never seen fools like these. If you really care for fools, then will you do them a favour?” Garuda then told him the whole story.
Vishnu said, “No, they are not fools. They are showing the spirit of patience and perseverance. This is how human beings must try to empty the ignorance-sea, drop by drop. It is what the seekers must and should do. Ignorance-sea is very vast. If sincere seekers want to empty it to replace it with knowledge-light, then they have to do it the same way, drop by drop. So I am very pleased with those partridges. I am commanding the sea to return the eggs.”
Garuda said, “The sea wanted to give them the eggs but it misplaced them and feels that they are all destroyed.”
Vishnu said, “I am using my own occult power to show the sea where it has kept the eggs.”
He used his occult power and the sea immediately found the eggs and returned them to the partridges. Then Vishnu said to the birds, “Perseverance, patience and self-giving all are of paramount importance to fulfil one’s divine task.”
GIM 25. 9 January 1979↩