Gopal's Eternal Brother1
This is a very beautiful story. It is a story about Krishna. Krishna has another name, Rakhal Raja. Raja means king, and Rakhal means cowherd, one who takes the cows to the pastures to graze. Krishna was a king, and he was also a cowherd, so he was called Rakhal Raja, King of the Cowherds.
Once there lived an elderly man who was kind, generous and pious. He used to pray to God every day. When he became very old and was about to die, he said to his wife, “I am dying. I will leave you here on earth, but do not worry. God will take care of you. ”
His wife replied, “You are going to Heaven, but do not worry. God will take care of you there.”
Now, this elderly couple had only one child, a little boy named Gopal. He was seven years old when his father died. This little family had always lived in the forest, and they were very poor. After Gopal's father's death, his mother, who had only one cow, used to sell the milk from the cow to get some money. With this money she fed Gopal and herself. Although she was very, very poor, she was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. She prayed to Lord Krishna twenty-four hours a day. She never forgot Him for a moment Her entire life was a prayer.
Because Gopal was seven years old, he had to begin going to school. He lived in the forest, and the school was quite far from his home, so he had to go through the thick of the forest to get there. There were wild animals all around, and naturally he was afraid of these animals. He went to school in the morning with great fear and difficulty, and when he came back in the evening it was worse. At that time there was little light, and he was even more afraid. He came home trembling and practically weeping with fear.
One day he said to his mother, “I am not going to school anymore. I am afraid. You have to send someone with me or I will not go anymore.”
His mother replied, “My child, tomorrow you will have your elder brother with you. I have another son. He stays in the thick of the forest, and you will see him with the cows. When you call him, he will come and play with you. He will take you right up to the school, and he will bring you home again.”
Gopal was so happy. He asked his mother, “What is the name of my brother whom I have not seen?”
“Your brother's name is Rakhal Raja,” said his mother. “Rakhal Raja is his name.”
The following day when Gopal entered the thick of the forest on his way to school, he called out, “Rakhal Raja, Rakhal Raja, where are you?” Rakhal Raja immediately came. He looked like a real king, with a crown and a peacock feather.
So Rakhal Raja met Gopal and they went together to the school. When they came near the school building, Rakhal Raja said to Gopal, “Now you go, and I will come to take you home when your school is over.” In this way, every day Rakhal Raja took Gopal to school in the morning and brought him back home safely in the evening. Gopal was delighted with his new brother.
One day his mother asked him, “Gopal, does Rakhal Raja come?”
“Yes, he comes,” said Gopal.
“I told you he would come. He is your elder brother/' said his mother.
Both Rakhal Raja and Gopal were very happy together. They played all sorts of games in the forest. Rakhal used to bring nice sweets and all kinds of good things for his little brother, so Gopal was always happy and pleased. When he came home late, his mother was not worried because his elder brother Rakhal Raja was taking care of him.
After a few months, Gopal's schoolteacher lost his mother. In India, when somebody dies, we have a festival at the end of the month. Everybody comes and enjoys a feast. You eat as much as you can, and if you do not want to eat^ they force you. You have to eat. So a month after the schoolteacher's mother died, there was to be a feast for the schoolchildren, and naturally, all the students were bringing presents to the teacher. Gopal knew that everybody was going to bring a present for the schoolteacher, but poor Gopal did not have any money. He asked his mother sadly, “What can I do? I wish to take something to my teacher, but we are so poor.”
“Ask your Rakhal Raja,” said Gopal's mother. “He will give you something to give to your teacher.”
In the morning, while Rakhal Raja was taking Gopal to school, Gopal said to him, “Rakhal Raja, today everyone will give a gift to the teacher, but I am too poor. Can you give me something?”
Rakhal Raja said, “I am also very poor, but I will give you something.” Gopal was happy to have anything that he could give his teacher.
Rakhal Raja, who was really a god, immediately placed before Gopal a small pot of sour milk, or curd. It is something like what you call yoghurt. “Take this,” he said. “Your teacher knows that you are very poor. He will not mind.”
Gopal was happy that at least he had something to give to his teacher. But, poor boy, when he brought it to the school, he saw that his fellow students had all brought expensive and beautiful things. He was very sad. He stood at the door like a thief. He did not want anybody to see him because he had brought only a little sour milk in a small pot. He was very embarrassed. But the teacher was extremely kind. He took the little pot from Gopal and poured the sour milk into a large pot. He thought that his servants would soon bring sour milk for the festival and that it could be added to the small potful of sour milk in the large vessel.
When the teacher emptied the sour milk from the little pot into the big pot, he found that something miraculous had occurred. The little portion of sour milk suddenly increased in quantity and filled the big pot to the brim! The teacher was astonished that this tiny little amount of sour milk had become so vast.
During the festival, the people who ate the sour milk from Gopal's little pot kept exclaiming about how good it was. “We have never tasted anything like this!” they all said. “It is so fragrant and delightful! The flavour is delicious! It is simply excellent!”
The teacher said, “Gopal brought it for me. It was Gopal's gift.” Then he asked Gopal, “Where did you get the pot of sour milk that you gave me?”
Gopal replied, “My Rakhal Raja gave it to me.”
“Who is your Rakhal Raja?” asked the teacher.
“Oh, Rakhal Raja is my brother. He is my most intimate friend. He always comes with me to school and takes me back home,” said Gopal.
The teacher knew that Gopal had no brother. He had only one relative, and that was his mother. So he asked, “Can you show me your Rakhal Raja?”
“Yes,” replied Gopal. “He is most beautiful. He has a crown with a peacock feather in it. He is so beautiful!” Gopal promised the teacher that he would take him to Rakhal Raja. “Yes, you come with me, Sir,” he said. “I will take you to my Rakhal Raja.”
In the evening, when the festival was over and everybody had eaten and gone home, Gopal took his teacher along with him to the forest At the usual place where he used to meet his elder brother, he cried out, “Rakhal Raja, Rakhal Raja, Rakhal Raja!” But Rakhal Raja did not come to him.
He called again, “Rakhal Raja, why are you so unkind? You know that my teacher will think I am a liar. Every day you come here even if I do not call you. Today I am crying for you and you are not coming! Why are you so unkind to me? Why are you so cruel? My teacher will not believe me. He will think that I am a liar. Please come, Rakhal Raja, please come.” He cried and begged, but Rakhal Raja did not appear.
The teacher said, “You are a liar. Somebody else has given this to you.”
Gopal shook his head and said, “No, no, my Rakhal Raja has given it to me. I do not know why he is angry with me today. I do not know why he is not coming to me.” And again he started calling, “Rakhal Raja, please, please come!” But Rakhal Raja would not come.
Then Gopal and the teacher heard a voice from the forest saying, “Gopal, today I will not come. I come to you because of your mother. Your mother prays to Me every day. She prays to Me all the time. I am extremely pleased with your mother, and that is why I come to help you and play with you. But your teacher has never prayed to Me. Why should I show My face to him? He also has to pray to Me like your mother. Your teacher does not deserve Me. You deserve Me because your mother prays to Me every day, all day. I am only for those who pray to Me, for those who need Me. Your teacher has never prayed to Me, so I will not come.”
The teacher understood, and he was extremely pleased that Gopal’s mother was so spiritual. He could not see Lord Krishna himself, but he knew that there was somebody who could see Him because she prayed to Him every day, and that person was Gopal's mother.
MDM 22. by Mridu Bhashini Devi. (Translated from the original Bengali by Chinmoy)↩