Patience illumines1

There were two sisters, Kadru and Binate, who were both married to the sage Kashyapa. The sisters were extremely fond of each other. Kashyapa used to spend most of his time in meditation while his wives did the housework. Everything they sacrificed gladly, and Kashyapa was very pleased to have them as his wives.

Once, Kashyapa left for a few days of serious meditation. While he was away, the two sisters were talking, when unfortunately they entered into a serious dispute over the colour of Indra’s elephant, Oirabat. Binate said it was white while Kadru said it was black. Each was so certain of being right that both agreed that whoever was wrong would become the slave of the other. This was the agreement they came to.

Kadru, who had three sons, asked them about that particular elephant. “You have seen Indra’s Oirabat so many times. Can you tell me the colour of that elephant?”

The sons said, “Yes, Mother, it is white, pure white, like the moon.”

Kadru cried out, “O God, what have I done? Now I have to become the slave of my sister. Save me, save me!”

“How can we save you?” they asked. “Why did you make that kind of promise? We are extremely sorry, and we will feel very miserable when you become Mother Binate’s maid, but we are helpless.”

“You are not helpless,” Kadru said. “Do me a favour. Tomorrow morning Indra’s elephant will come to the lake. You and a few friends must wear black garments and carry black pieces of cloth with you. Then, when the elephant starts approaching, cover it with the black. When Binate and I come to see it, I will say, ‘Look, it is definitely black.’ We will hear the sound of the elephant, but from a distance it will look black.”

Early in the morning while it was still somewhat dark, the elephant came to the lake. Binate saw the pieces of cloth in front of the elephant. “Yes, it is black,” she cried out. “I have lost!”

Kadru said, “Now you have to be my slave, my maidservant, for life.”

When Kashyapa returned from his few days of meditation, he saw that Binate had become Kadru’s slave and was sad and miserable. Kashyapa himself felt so sad. “How can this kind of thing happen?” he asked.

When Kashyapa heard all about it, he said to Binate, “Kadru’s sons have deceived you. Actually, the elephant is white.”

Binate could not believe her ears. “I am so sad to hear that my dear sister Kadru and her sons have deceived me. But now it is too late. I have committed myself to being her slave. A promise is a promise.”

Kashyapa said, “Binate, you should have had more patience and waited for the elephant to come nearer. Then you would have discovered their trick and not committed yourself to be her slave forever.”

Binate cried, “What shall I do now?”

“Wait for the hour,” Kashyapa consoled her. “Although it is unfair, be patient. One day you will also have one or two sons. Your children will either take revenge or do something to illumine Kadru and her sons and make the family happy again.”

In three or four years Binate was blessed with a child, but the birth was premature. Binate became very upset: “This is the result of my patience?” she cried. “How can I have a premature child? This child is supposed to save me. It is impossible.” In her anger she kicked the child and the child became deformed.

“What have I done? What have I done?” she screamed.

Again Kashyapa consoled her. “You should have had more faith in my prophecy. Still my prophecy will one day prove true. Have patience: wait and see. Your sons will save you.”

“I don’t need any more children,” she said. “I am ready to remain all the time a slave to my sister.”

When her son was still very young, he said to Binate, “Mother, I fully understand that the reason you kicked me was because you were mad with grief. Torture yourself no longer about what you have done, and do not feel sad that you have become your own sister’s slave. First Kadru and you were sisters, then you were married to the same sage. You were very happy, and now your life is all suffering and misery. But a time will come when you will be free from this bondage.”

Two years later, Binate was blessed with another son, Arun, who was extremely bright spiritually. Binate was very happy to have this son.

Kashyapa said, “This son will really help you.”

Indeed, the brightness of the child frightened and tortured Kadru and her children and they were terribly jealous of him. As Arun grew older, his illumination compelled the stepbrothers to surrender, and they began leading a divine life.

One day Binate said to her son, “Arun, I know you have the power to compel my sister to free me from my promise. But please, let your older brother be cured by you instead. I am ready to remain a slave forever.”

But his older brother said to Arun, “No, I am ready to remain deformed. Let my mother be freed. You must not save me; save my mother.”

Arun replied, “There is no reason why you, Mother, have to remain a slave. My stepbrothers have become divine. Kadru, too, is ready to receive illumination.”

Very soon, Kadru freed Binate from her old promise, and again the two sisters became very close. The stepbrothers and brothers also became very fond of each other, and in a short time the oldest son of Binate was cured.

Kashyapa said, “Because of your patience, Binate, one of your sons has freed you, as I predicted. He has transformed and illumined Kadru and her sons. You lost the feeling of oneness over an elephant. But the past is dust. Now let us again enjoy the happiness of a oneness-family.”

Immediately Indra’s elephant Oirabat appeared outside Kashyapa’s home, and his two wives bowed down at the sage’s feet: “O Kashyapa, O great sage, we clearly see now that in spite of our ignorance you have illumined us. You have shown us that patience illumines and oneness ever lives in the heart of God’s creation.”


  1. GIM 94. 23 January 1979