Great Indian meals: divinely delicious and supremely nourishing, part 6
King Yayati goes to Heaven1There was a good king named Yayati. He ruled his kingdom for a long time and then he gave his kingdom to his son, Puru, and went into the forest. There he practised austerities for a long time. When he died, he went to the highest Heaven.
When he arrived in Heaven, Lord Indra asked him, “How did you come to Heaven?”
King Yayati replied, “Why, I have practised austerities more than anybody else. By virtue of my austerities I have come here.”
Lord Indra became furious. “You are too proud. This kind of pride I can’t tolerate. Only I am entitled to have such pride, because of my boundless power.”
The King was shocked at Indra’s behaviour. He could not believe his ears. Indra continued, “You have to return to earth. I won’t allow you to stay here.”
Poor Yayati was about to return to earth because Indra was forcing him when suddenly Ashtaka, his grandson, appeared. Ashtaka was accompanied by two of his friends, Vasuman and Shaivi. Ashtaka said to his grandfather, “Please stay in the highest Heaven with us. Here I will give you shelter. Our region perhaps is not as great as you deserve, but please accept our heart’s humble offering.”
Vasuman and Shaivi also said the same: “We would be honoured to be able to give you shelter here, O Yayati. Do stay.”
On hearing this, Indra got furious. “What right do you have to say that to this shamelessly proud human being? Heaven is all mine; each part belongs to me. I forbid you to give him shelter in my Heaven.”
“Please, Indra,” the three friends pleaded, “we beg you to allow Yayati to stay with us.”
“All right!” cried Indra. “For this disobedience, all four of you must descend into the world.”
“Impossible!” the three friends replied.
But Indra forced them to return to earth, along with King Yayati. When they descended to earth, they started praying and meditating very soulfully. After a few years, again Yayati was in a position to go to Heaven. Just through his meditation power he had developed the capacity to leave his body and go back to Heaven.
But Ashtaka, Vasuman and Shaivi hadn’t yet acquired that kind of power, so Yayati said to them, “I have the power to go to Heaven, but I shall not go. Because you three were very kind to me when we were in Heaven, now I shall wait for you.”
All three friends immediately said, “No, you should go. When our time comes, when we have acquired this power, when we are illumined like you, then we shall also ascend to Heaven.”
But Yayati said, “No, I can’t do that. I shall wait.”
So the King waited and eventually the others also were in a position to go to Heaven. This time Indra again asked Yayati, “How did you come?”
Yayati said wisely, “Oh, I have practiced a little austerities, but it is all due to your Grace. The very fact that I practised those austerities was also due to your Grace.”
Indra was extremely pleased with Yayati’s answer. “Yayati, this kind of humility is good. Now you can stay in Heaven as long as you want to. You can stay because you have learned the true meaning of humility,” he said.
GIM 101. 27 January 1979↩
Why the sun shines in England2Once an English officer came to an Indian village. This particular village was fortunate to have a few well-educated people, some of whom knew English quite well. One day, when the English officer had come to visit the village chief, two men came to the chief to make complaints against each other.
The first man said, “Sir, I bought a plot of land from this man, and I was cultivating it to grow paddies. While digging, I came across some gold coins buried in the ground.”
The chief asked, “So what is the problem, then?”
The man continued, “I am telling him to take the gold coins, because they don’t belong to me. I bought the land only, but I didn’t buy the gold coins.”
The second man spoke up. “Sir, how can I take the gold coins. When I sold him the land, whatever was inside it became his. The gold coins belong to him, so I can’t take them. If I take them, it will be all deception.”
The first one said the same. “If I take the coins, sir, it will be all deception on my part, since I didn’t pay for the gold coins.”
In this way both of them were arguing in front of the chief. The chief finally said, “Your argument will never come to an end.”
Both of the parties asked, “Chief, then do you have a solution?”
“Yes,” replied the chief. To the first man the chief said, “Do you have a son?”
“Yes,” replied the man.
“And do you have a daughter?” the chief asked the second man.
“Yes, I do,” answered the second one.
“Then,” declared the chief, “it is very easy. I am giving the gold coins to you for your daughter. Your daughter and his son will get married. Then, as a dowry your daughter will bring the money to her husband’s home. There very happily they will live.”
Both men thanked the chief deeply, “O Chief, your wisdom has saved us. We shall definitely listen to your advice.”
The Englishman was observing the whole scene. When the two men left, he said to the chief, “I am so surprised to find these kinds of people on earth, especially in India. How can such saintly people live in India?”
The chief said, “It is quite possible. Here people are sincere. They don’t know any other way to act; for them, this kind of nobility and sincerity is the only way. What would you have done if this had happened in England?”
The Englishman replied, “I would have given them each a smart slap and taken away the gold coins, saying that they belonged to the government.”
The chief was silent for a moment. Then he asked the Englishman: “Does the sun shine in England?”
“Certainly,” answered the Englishman.
“Do you have the moon?” the chief asked.
“Certainly,” the Englishman replied again.
“Do you have stars?”
“Do you have rain and water?”
“Do you have animals and birds?”
“Yes, of course.”
The chief jumped to his feet. “Ah, now I understand! God has given England the sun, moon, stars and water, not for Englishmen, but for the innocent birds and animals that live there. God certainly would not have given the sun, moon, stars and water to you people.”
The Englishman got the point.
GIM 102. 27 January 1979↩
The Emperor's three dolls3There was once a king who had a very, very wise minister.
Everybody used to admire the minister’s wisdom. This king was good friends with a particular emperor. One day the emperor gave three dolls to the king and said to him, “I will be very happy if either your minister or anybody else can tell me which is the first class doll, which is second class and which is third class.”
The king thanked the emperor profusely, “O Emperor, I am all gratitude for your gifts. I shall always cherish our friendship, and I shall gladly ask the members of my court and my kingdom to look at these dolls.”
The following day the king invited all his very intelligent friends and members of the court to see the dolls. All of them looked at the three dolls, and some of them held them and examined them in every possible way. But most of them said, “O King, we are sorry. All three dolls look exactly the same to us. Either they are all first class, or all second class or all third class; it is hard to tell. But we can only say that whatever class they belong to, they all belong to the same one.”
“This answer is not satisfactory,” said the king. Then he turned to his wise minister and asked, “Why are you remaining silent? You are the wisest of all. Why are you not saying anything about these dolls?”
“What do I know about dolls?” replied the minister.
“Please,” pleaded the king, “you must help me. If you do not come up with a satisfactory answer, what will the Emperor say about my kingdom? He will think that we have no intelligent people here.”
The minister finally agreed to look at the dolls. “Let me take them home and examine them.”
The king said, “Take them and keep them for several days so that you can find the answer. Otherwise, I will be really embarrassed.”
The minister took home the dolls. He noticed that although the dolls looked exactly alike, there were some small differences. One doll had one hole in one of its ears. Another had two holes, one in each ear. And the third doll had one hole in one of its ears and another hole in its mouth.
“Now I know the answer,” cried the minister. “The first class doll is the one that has only one hole in its ear. This doll hears with a sympathetic ear, and then keeps whatever it hears to itself. There is no way for what it hears to come out. This doll represents very good people. When these kinds of people hear something, they keep it to themselves. This world is full of corruption and they don’t want to spread gossip.
“The second doll is also silent, but whatever it hears goes in one ear and out the other. It does not keep any information to itself. Regardless of whether it hears good and soulful things or undivine things, the information just passes through one ear and out the other. These people are indifferent to the world situation.
“The third one has the hole in one ear and another hole in the mouth. As soon as it hears anything, immediately through its foul mouth it tells the whole world.
“So, the first doll remains silent, because it knows that the world is full of corruption and it does not want to add to the world’s ignorance. The second doll is indifferent. Whatever it hears immediately goes out the other ear. And the third doll immediately tells the whole world everything with its foul tongue. This is the answer that my King needs for his Emperor friend.”
The following day the minister told the king his answer, and this answer was sent to the emperor. The emperor said, “The minister is absolutely right. Now I see that the King indeed has some intelligent people in his kingdom.” And the king gave the minister a very good reward for his divine wisdom.
GIM 103. 27 January 1979↩
The ministers' demise4In India there was a particular kingdom where the ministers were very bad — absolutely wicked to the backbone. They killed one king after another, after each had ruled only about a year or so. They would not allow any king to rule for more than a year. The ministers were very deceptive and cruel, and they got great joy in killing the kings.
Once a new king named Lara came to the throne. He thought that since he had become King, his days were numbered. “What can I do?” he asked. “How can I fight with the ministers when they are so cruel and powerful? Let me resign myself to my fate.”
But all his subjects loved King Lara dearly and they felt miserable that he too would soon be killed like his predecessors. The King’s wife, Jayanati, came to know that the ministers were indeed plotting to kill her husband. She was determined to save him, but she cried bitterly because she did not know how to go about it.
One day she said to her husband, “You go and live in the forest. My son and I can stay here, because we are not important and the ministers will not bother to kill us. Your life is much more precious to me than the kingdom. Please go live peacefully in the forest. This is the only way that we can be assured that the ministers will not kill you.”
King Lara refused, “No, that I cannot do. If I go I will have to take you and our child. I must take care of you. Without you I cannot go.”
But the Queen insisted on his going. Finally the King said, “All right, if you insist I will go into the forest. But I am afraid they will harm you.”
“No,” she said. “They know that my child and I are helpless without you. They won’t bother us after you leave, because we are useless people. The ministers won’t do anything to us.”
King Lara went into the forest and the ministers no longer felt threatened by him. But alas, they started torturing the Queen. They put her into prison and did not allow her to eat. Finally, they made up their minds to kill her.
Through all this, the Queen didn’t say a word. Even when she was about to be hanged, she remained silent to the last moment. But there were people in the kingdom who loved the King deeply and who loved the Queen deeply. They got furious with the ministers. “There is a limit to one’s patience. We shall destroy the ministers,” they said.
So they went into the forest and told the King, and they brought him back to fight against the ministers.
Although his subjects were for him, unfortunately the military was under the control of the ministers. The King said, “It is useless to fight against the military. Now I am helpless, my wife is helpless, our child is helpless. Only I can cry and lament for my Queen. And I know that they will kill me as well, after they kill my wife. I resign my fate to God’s Will.”
As soon as the King said, “God’s Will,” something happened. All of a sudden the soldiers felt that they were doing something undivine by listening to the ministers. The soldiers were very tricky, and their commander said to the ministers, “We should also kill the subjects who are still cherishing good memories of the King and Queen.”
“That is a good idea,” said the ministers.
“Then let us go and destroy them,” cried the soldiers. “We shall leave immediately to destroy the whole area surrounding the kingdom.”
But as soon as the soldiers encountered the people who appreciated the King and Queen they told them, “We are your followers. We also are admirers of the King and Queen and we shall follow your instructions. Whatever you want, we shall do.”
All the subjects said, “Kill the ministers!” and the ministers were killed. Then the King and Queen and their subjects lived happily and peacefully.
GIM 104. 27 January 1979↩
Money corrupts5There were two friends who were extremely good to each other, kind to each other and fond of each other. One of them decided to go out on a pilgrimage. His name was Rakhal. Now, Rakhal happened to be quite rich. So he took all the money that was necessary for the pilgrimage. He found that he had a large amount of money left over. So he said, “Since it is not good for me to take a very large amount on my pilgrimage the best thing is to leave the rest with my best friend, Ribhu. On my return I will take it back.”
So Rakhal took ten thousand rupees in a small box and he went to his friend’s house. Ribhu was meditating at the foot of a tree near his house. So Rakhal went to the foot of the tree and said to his friend, “Please do me a favour.”
The friend said, “Of course, we are such intimate friends. Is there anything I will not do for you?”
Rakhal said, “Here is my money. Please keep it for me. I am going tomorrow to Benares and many other sacred places. When I return, you will give me back the money.”
Ribhu said, “Certainly! I will keep it for you. So Ribhu found a piece of paper and wrote out a receipt. “Here is a receipt,” he said.
“What an insult to our friendship!” Rakhal exclaimed. “If I can’t trust you, then who will trust whom in God’s world. I will not dare to distrust you. To keep my money with you is as good as keeping it in my own safe.”
Ribhu thanked him deeply. “I am so glad that you have such faith in me.”
His friend said, “I am so glad that I have such a good intimate friend in you.”
So both of them were very happy. Ribhu invited Rakhal to eat dinner at his house. “You are going away tomorrow. Have a good and safe journey. I will be very happy to see you and am looking forward to your telling me stories about all the sacred places. It will help me so much in my spiritual life.”
So Ribhu took Rakhal’s money while his friend left on the pilgrimage.
Two months later Rakhal came back from his pilgrimage. He came to Ribhu and his friend was very polite and hospitable. They talked for a while and then Rakhal said, “I would like to have my money back.”
“What money?” asked Ribhu. “Where is it?”
Rakhal could not believe his ears. “I gave you money on the eve of my departure on my pilgrimage.”
“Don’t tell me a lie,” Ribhu said.
“Don’t you remember?” Rakhal said. “You were meditating at the foot of a tree.”
“Then show me the receipt,” the friend demanded.
“I didn’t take any receipt,” said Rakhal. “You wanted to give me one, but I said it would hurt our friendship. We were so close to each other. It would have proved that we were not so close.”
“No,” insisted Ribhu. “It is all lies. You didn’t give me any money. Only you came to my house and ate and then left.”
The man said, “All right. I am going to the village chief.”
So he went to the village chief, who was also the judge, and reported the incident. The village chief summoned Ribhu, and the two stood in front of him in the courtroom.
The village chief asked Ribhu: “Did you take money to keep safe for him until his return?”
“No,” Ribhu said. “He is telling lies. We are such good friends. If he had given me money, I would certainly be happy to give it back to him. Perhaps he lost it when he went on his pilgrimage. We were best of friends once upon a time, but since he came back from his pilgrimage, he is acting insane.”
At this point Rakhal started crying. “Look at this friendship! I will never have any more friends in this life. My best friend has betrayed me.”
The chief said to Rakhal, “Are you sure that you gave him the money?”
“I gave him the money,” said Rakhal. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t say things against him, since he was such a good friend of mine.”
“Were there any witnesses?” asked the village chief.”
“No,” said the man. “It was evening and there was no one around.”
“Not even children playing at the foot of the tree?” asked the judge.
“No,” said the man.
“Then what can I do?” asked the chief.
“You have to trust me,” said Rakhal.
“How can I trust you? It is just your word against his. The best thing is for you to ask that particular tree to come here and tell me what happened.”
Everybody in the court roared with laughter.
“How can the tree come?” asked the man.
“No, go ask the tree to come,” insisted the judge. “The tree will definitely come. All the trees are obedient to me because of my divine justice and fondness for everything in God’s creation. The tree will come without fail.
The man thought that the judge was making fun of him. “O God, I have lost my friend and I have lost my money. Now what am I to do?” he said to himself. “Now the judge is also making fun of me.” So he went home very sad and depressed.
Meanwhile, five minutes, ten minutes, a half hour and finally two hours passed, and the judge was becoming impatient. It would not have taken Rakhal more than fifteen minutes to bring a message from the tree. So the judge was about to send someone to find Rakhal. “He has to bring us some news,” the chief said. “He must bring a message from the tree.”
Now the friend said, “I know where the tree is, and it is quite far. I think he has not even gone there, since it is such a long trip.”
“You know where the tree is?” said the judge. “And you don’t know where the money has gone? If he did not give you money under that tree, how is it that you know which tree it is?”
“That much I know,” Ribhu said.
“This shows that he definitely gave you the money,” said the chief. “Money corrupts. Once you got the ten thousand rupees, you became totally corrupted. You have to return his money; otherwise, I will not allow you to leave the court.”
“I don’t have the money here,” said the man. “It is at my house.”
The judge sent two guards with the man to get the money and bring it back. When Ribhu returned, the judge said, “For telling lies and harassing that man, and for wasting my precious time, I am fining you 200 rupees.”
“O God, I am returning the money. It is I who should get some money for keeping it safe for my friend.”
“No,” said the chief. “To tell lies and deceive an intimate friend is the worst crime. You have to give 200 rupees.”
The man said, “All right. But can I have my friendship back, at least?”
The chief said, “It is up to you, but you are such a scoundrel that I will advise him not to take you again as his friend.”
In the meantime, Rakhal returned to the court, and the chief gave him back the money. Immediately Rakhal wanted to give half of it to his friend. “He kept the money safe for me. Now, since he has told the truth at long last, I want to give him some of it.”
“I compelled him to tell the truth with my wisdom so that you could get your money back, “ said the chief.
“Then I should give you some money,” said the man.
The chief said, “I don’t take any fee. For me, my service to mankind is unconditional. I am rich enough that I don’t have to work. So don’t give me money. All I want is justice in my village. Now, both of you go home. I advise you not to be friends with someone who will deceive and desert you. It is not good to have that kind of friend!”
GIM 105. 27 January 1979↩
The woodcutter and the barber6Once there was a woodcutter and a barber. One day, the barber went to the woodcutter and said, “I want to buy some fuel.”
The woodcutter had the wood on the back of his donkey. “That is wonderful,” he said. “How much do you want?”
“Everything that you have,” the barber replied.
So the woodcutter gave him all the wood and said, “Now, please give me the money.”
“No,” said the barber. “First you have to give me everything; otherwise, I won’t give you any money.”
The woodcutter explained, “I can’t give you that last piece of wood. It is tied to the donkey’s back and it always remains there as the foundation for the wood pile.”
The barber insisted, “You have to give me everything.”
“I can’t,” the woodcutter said again. “That one always remains on the donkey.”
“Then I won’t give you money,” said the barber. “I told you that you have to give everything. Since you are not giving everything and because you have wasted my time, I am taking away some of this wood without paying.”
The woodcutter tried to stop him, but the barber was so strong that the woodcutter had no choice but to allow the barber to take the wood.
“That barber is such a rogue!” cried the woodcutter, and he went immediately to the village chief and made a complaint against him.
The village chief said to him, “You also do the same kind of thing to him. Then everything will be all right.”
In a few weeks the woodcutter went to the barber’s shop and said, “O barber, I am so glad to see you after such a long time. I also have my friend with me. First you cut my hair and give me a shave, and then I will go bring my friend.”
The barber was delighted to have two customers. “Wonderful,” he said, and he shaved the woodcutter and cut his hair.
“Excellent,” said the woodcutter. “Now I am going to bring my friend. Once you have shaved him, I will give you money for both of us.”
The woodcutter went out and brought his donkey into the barber shop. “After you shave my friend, then only I will pay you.”
“You rascal!” shouted the barber. “How can I shave a donkey?”
“Please,” said the woodcutter, “you can see that he has got a beard, and his moustache looks so awful. If you don’t shave him, I am not going to pay for my shave and haircut. This is my only friend, my best friend. You saw my friend a few weeks ago. I have no more intimate friend on earth than this donkey. He is my only friend.”
The barber got furious. “You have to pay.”
The woodcutter said calmly, “The last time you took wood from me, you wanted me to give you everything. I could not, so you got mad and took away my precious wood without paying me. Now, before I came to you, I told you that I had a friend who also needs a shave. Since you have not shaved my friend, why should I give you any money, dear barber?”
The woodcutter took his donkey and left. The barber was so angry that he went immediately to see the village chief. The chief remembered the complaint that he had received from the woodcutter against the barber. So the chief simply said, “Tit for tat.”
GIM 106. 27 January 1979↩
Dream, you have opened my eyes, but broken my heart7There was a good and great king whom everybody loved. The King had a son whom the subjects also loved. One day the King had a dream that his son was killed in a battle. So he said, “Because of my dream, I will never allow my son to fight. I shall keep him in the palace. He is now of age. Let me get the most beautiful girl in my kingdom for him to marry.”
So the King found the most beautiful girl in his kingdom and asked her to marry the prince. She was so delighted and proud to be asked to marry the prince and she happily agreed.
She and her husband lived in the palace and were very happy together. One day, a subject came to the King very disturbed. “O King,” he said, “our village is on the verge of destruction. Everybody is frightened to death. There is a wild boar that is chasing everybody. We cannot go to work, we cannot eat, we cannot do anything because this boar is so destructive. It destroys everything in its way. Please send your son; our prince can kill that boar.”
The King said, “Oh no, I can’t send my son. I will send the commander of my army to kill the boar.”
The commander immediately agreed, but the prince said, “No, father, I am ashamed of myself. Everybody thinks that I am useless. All the subjects see that I do not fight, but spend all my time with my wife. I want to prove that I know archery. I can easily kill the boar.”
The father said, “No, I had a dream that you were killed in battle. I cannot let you go.”
“It is all your mental hallucination,” said the prince. “I was not killed. And anyway, this is not a battle. It is just a wild boar. Easily I can kill it.”
But the King would not agree.
“Father, if you don’t allow me to go, then I will leave the palace for good.”
The King became alarmed, “Son, don’t do that. Go and kill the boar then.”
The prince was about to go when the King stopped him. He said, “Wait for a few minutes. You know, your friend is here visiting. He is the son of another king who is a good friend of mine. I will be happy if this prince goes with you.”
“I don’t need any help,” insisted the prince. “Everybody knows he is a great fighter, but this time I want to prove that I am also a great fighter.”
“Since he is your friend,” said the King, “you should take him.”
“All right,” said the prince. “I will take him so that he can see my capacity. I have never proven my capacity.”
“Yes, yes, son,” said the King. “You show your capacity.”
So the other prince went with him. When they saw the boar, the prince aimed at it from a distance and shot his arrow, and immediately the boar fell down. The prince ran up to the beast, delighted that he had killed it.
His friend, who was watching from far away, was so thrilled that the prince had been successful. But suddenly the friend saw that the boar was moving a little. He said, “O my God, that means the boar is still alive. At any moment it may get up and kill my friend.”
“Everybody thinks that my friend has killed it, and he has already received all the credit. So if I shoot it again, people will think that I am only fooling around, shooting a dead boar.”
So the other prince aimed at the boar from where he was standing.
Alas, instead of hitting the boar, the arrow went into his friend and killed him.
The prince was horrified. “I am always such a great aim. What have I done?” he cried.
Many people in the village had observed all this, and they brought the dead prince and the other prince back to the palace. The father began weeping bitterly. “I wanted to avoid this, but I failed. I knew my son was destined to be killed. This prince should go free. I am suffering from the loss of my own son. It will serve no purpose to punish the son of my dear friend. My friend’s son is also dear to me. It is I who requested him to go, knowing that my own son was not a good fighter and didn’t have good aim.”
They made a funeral pyre for the dead prince. The father, mother, friends and relatives were crying and weeping, creating a great scene. In a few hours’ time the Queen, who had been so beautiful, had become ugly — pale with anxieties, worries and frustrations about what had happened. She was miserable and everybody in the whole place was miserable.
Just when the burning flames reached their height, all of a sudden the other prince jumped into the pyre and was quickly burned to death.
“What am I going to tell his father?” the King lamented.
The Queen said, “What will he say? His son killed our son.”
“But it was I who sent my friend’s son with my son to kill the boar.”
The King was silent for a moment. Then he said, “My dream, my dream. Always believe in dreams. I told my son, ‘Whenever you have a dream, believe it.’ The dream warned me, but I did not pay attention to my dream. That is why today I have lost my only son and also my friend’s son, who were dearer than the dearest to me. The dream warned me that I should be careful, but my son did not believe in it and I did not heed it. O dream, dream, you have opened my eyes, but broken my heart.”
GIM 107. 27 January 1979↩
God wanted to preserve your lives8There once was a big temple in one of the cities of India. Inside the temple there were quite a few statues, relating to Indian pujas, made of gold and covered with jewels. Therefore, three guards were posted in front of each of the doors of the temple. And in front of each door there also stood a statue of Lord Shiva.
One day, a famous archer and his son from another city happened to pass by. One of the guards said to them, “Here it is customary to bow down if you come near the statue of Lord Shiva.”
The archer said, “Oh, I am sorry, I didn’t know,” and he bowed down to the statue.
But his son wouldn’t bow down. “Who is Shiva, anyway?” he asked.
The father said, “He is one of the cosmic gods who is very powerful, very kind, very great and very good. So please bow down to him.”
The guards said, “If you want to stand near the statue, bow down. Otherwise, go away from here.”
But the boy said, “No, I won’t go away and I won’t bow down to your Lord Shiva.”
So the father and son were arrested and brought before the head priest, who took them inside the temple. When they saw all the beautiful statues and expensive items in the temple, they were amazed at the splendour and riches.
The head priest said, “Since you wouldn’t bow down to Lord Shiva, you will have to receive punishment. But we shall give you another chance. We can’t blame the son entirely, although it was he who wouldn’t bow down, for it is the father’s fault for not teaching him spirituality right from the beginning.
“Now, you have to pass an examination. We will place a coconut on the top of your son’s head. Since you are a most famous archer, you will have to shoot the coconut off his head. If you succeed, we shall free you and your son. If you fail, we will put you in our jail for a few months.”
“Am I such a fool?” said the father. “If I miss my target, my son’s eyes, nose or head will be badly injured. Although I am very skilled, I don’t want to take that kind of risk. My son is dearer than the dearest.”
The son said, “Father, don’t worry. I know your capacity. I know you will succeed.”
“If you don’t do it,” the priest said, “we will not allow you to go back home.”
The father finally agreed, although extremely reluctantly. With fear and anger he aimed at the coconut and released his arrow. As soon as he shot the arrow, the boy screamed with joy because the father was successful. But the father thought that the boy screamed with pain, so he fell unconscious.
The son came running to him. “Father, you have been successful! You have done it! Why have you fainted?”
When the father got his senses back, the priest said, “We will let you go now. It is a good thing that your aim was perfect. In that way you were able to save your son.”
“Yes,” said the father, “and I am so glad that you were able to save your own life also.”
“My life?” asked the priest.
“Yes,” said the archer. “If I had hurt or killed my son, if my aim had not been perfect, I have other arrows here. I would have used them all on you. So God wanted to preserve both my son’s life and your life as well.”
GIM 108. 27 January 1979↩
Krishna's outer blessing is his inner gratitude9There was once a terrible King named Kangsa. Kangsa was the worst possible human being, the worst hostile force, an evil force incarnate. He had killed so many people mercilessly. There was no human being as undivine as he was. His very name used to create unimaginable fear in his subjects.
One day Kangsa and his minister had a secret meeting. “Everybody is appreciating Krishna,” Kangsa said. “We must kill Krishna immediately, and also his brother Balarama.”
“How can we kill them?” asked the minister.
“Only by inviting both of them here. Otherwise, we will not be able to kill them,” said Kangsa.
“But under what pretext should we send for them?” asked the minister.
“We will say that we wish to honour them because they are so great and good,” Kangsa said, “and we will ask Krishna’s uncle, Akrura, to bring them.”
Akrura was in the palace at that time, and he happened to overhear their conversation. So when Kangsa told him to invite Krishna and Balarama to the palace, Akrura said, “Yes, certainly I will go and invite Krishna and his brother to come here.” But when Akrura went to visit Krishna he said, “I have come to invite you to the palace, but I must warn you that Kangsa and his minister will arrest you and kill you if you go. I know that your spiritual power can easily destroy people. You are the Lord incarnate. But it is my heart’s desire to tell you what they are going to try to do. If you are prepared, it will be easier for you. I am so glad that I have been able to be of service to you.”
Krishna was very pleased with Akrura. “We are all gratitude for your loyalty and truthfulness. Since you have come to invite us, we shall come. I will be prepared and Balarama will also be prepared. As you know, he is a great warrior; he is an expert in the use of the mace. He taught the powerful Pandava brother, Bhima, and the head of the Kaurava brothers, Duryodhana, how to use the mace.” 10
When Krishna and Balarama went to the King’s palace, they were ready for the attack and successfully destroyed Kangsa, the evil force incarnate.
The great sage Agastya11Agastya’s mother was the most beautiful nymph, Urvasi, and his father was the cosmic god, Varuna. Agastya himself was very short, almost a dwarf and his skin was dark. Before he became a great sage, he used to be extremely good in sorcery and witchcraft.
Once a great many sages and seers assembled in the Himalayas. Because of their vast wisdom, they were very heavy. It was not their physical bodies, but their wisdom that was heavy. So many sages had gathered together with their wisdom that the earth began to sink.
Because Agastya’s wisdom was the heaviest, the other sages requested that he leave the Himalayas, which are in the North, and go to the South. Agastya agreed and with his boundless knowledge and wisdom he went to the South.
On the way he took some water from the Ganges to put in the Kaveri River, which is in the South. He also brought with him a few of the seers’ sons and daughters, and also strong young men. He took with him to the South everything he would need to make a good civilisation.
Everybody appreciated Agastya. The sages appreciated him because he listened to their request. The people whom he brought with him to the South appreciated him very much, and the people who were already living in the South also appreciated him. He became truly an object of adoration. Because of his knowledge, because of his wisdom, because of the advice he offered people in every way, he became the sage of sages in the South.
Agastya is very well known in south India. It was he who brought science and literature into that part of India. It was he who introduced Tamil grammar. He was good in astrology, magic, sorcery and many things.
GIM 110. 29 January 1979↩
Agastya and the Vindhya mountains12Once the Vindhya mountains were causing serious problems for the cosmic gods. They were growing up high, higher, highest each day. They were growing so tall that they were becoming taller than the Himalayas. They were becoming so powerful that they threatened to block the sun as it progressed across the sky. But the cosmic gods could do nothing, since the mountains would not surrender or bow down to anybody, or listen to anybody’s requests. They were growing up tall, taller and tallest, and the gods were very concerned.
Agastya was the Guru of the Vindhyas. The Vindhya mountains worshipped him. So the cosmic gods begged Agastya to do something to stop the mountains’ growth.
One day Agastya came and stood before the Vindhyas. As soon as they saw him they bowed down out of admiration and reverence. Agastya said to the mountains, “I am very pleased with you.”
The mountains said, “We are so happy that you have come. Please tell us what we can do for you. Anything you ask us we will do.”
Agastya said, “Nothing. I am very appreciative of your respect, love and devotion for me. Now, if you want to please me, remain bowed down until I come back. I am now going out on a pilgrimage. Until I return to you, please remain in this condition. I will deeply appreciate your devotion and your love for me.”
Agastya went out on a pilgrimage and he never came back. Ever since, the Vindhya range has remained bowed.
GIM 111. 29 January 1979↩
Agastya swallows the ocean13Many times wars would break out between the cosmic gods and the demons.
Once, after fighting with the gods, the demons concealed themselves in the depths of the ocean. At that time, the demons were extremely powerful, so they were able to hide in the depths of the ocean. The cosmic gods could not do anything; they could not even trace them.
Agastya, the great sage, saw what had happened, and he became mad at the ocean. He said, “Why did you allow the demons to enter into you and why do you allow them to remain in your very depths?”
Agastya was so angry that he went to the shore and began drinking up all the waters of the ocean.
The cosmic gods came and begged him to stop. “No, no, you cannot do that! If you do that, the earth will be in terrible danger of drying up and God’s creation will be destroyed. Please give the ocean back its water.”
Agastya said, “If that is what you want, I will give back the water. I wanted to punish the demons and I wanted to punish the ocean for helping the demons. But you are wise, and what you are asking me to do is a good thing. I don’t want God’s creation to be destroyed. Therefore, I am restoring the water.” And with that he disgorged all the water.
GIM 112. 29 January 1979↩
Agastya has a son14Once Agastya saw in a vision that his ancestors were being held suspended by their heels over a deep chasm. They begged him to help them. He was told that they could be saved only by his son. But he didn’t have a son. He was not even married.
So he said, “I shall listen to their request, but I have to get married. I don’t want to marry just anybody. I want to marry only the world’s most beautiful girl. I will collect the most beautiful, most soulful and most fulfilling attributes from everything that I can see in God’s creation — from birds, animals, flowers and everything. Then I will know what qualities I want my wife to have.”
So he looked for a girl and finally found one. Her name was Lopamudra. She was the daughter of King Bidarbha. Although King Bidarbha did not like Agastya because he was not handsome, he was afraid of the sage’s power, so he gave his daughter to him.
The girl was full of vital desires, so they soon had a son. The son became great in every way, spiritually and otherwise, and eventually he did free Agastya’s ancestors. Agastya was very happy that he could save his ancestors by having a son.
GIM 113. 29 January 1979↩
Ilvala the demon15Agastya was living in a cottage in the forest. The particular place where Agastya lived was full of demons, or raksasas. These raksasas used to terrorise all the people in that forest, but they did not dare to attack Agastya because he was so powerful.
There was a particular raksasa, Ilvala, who was especially fearsome, and everybody in the forest was frightened to death of him. Ilvala had a younger brother, Vatapi, who had the ability to change himself into a ram. People would then unwittingly take him for sacrifice. After killing the ram, they would cook it and offer it as food to their family, guests and themselves. When the meal was over, Ilvala used to summon his brother with his occult power. As soon as he called, Vatapi would burst forth from the stomachs of all the people who had eaten the ram, and thus they were killed. Then Vatapi became a ram again.
This went on for quite a few years. A large number of people were killed in this way, but nobody could do anything about it.
Once the two brothers tried this trick on Agastya and Agastya ate the ram. But when Ilvala cried to Vatapi to come forth, Agastya just laughed and laughed. He said in a thunderous laughter, “Where is your brother now, Ilvala? I have digested him. He is all gone. I have digested him very nicely so you can’t have him. And you have to remain my slave for the rest of your life. If you resist, I will destroy you with my occult power.”
Ilvala said, “O sage, O sage, do not destroy me. I shall be your slave. I shall eternally remain your slave. I will do everything possible and impossible for you. Only do not destroy me. I know you can easily destroy me. I am at your feet. Give me protection. Show your compassion to me. This is what I need, although I do not deserve it. I am sure you will grant it, for you are not only the most powerful, but also the most benevolent sage. Forgive me. Forgive me.”
Agastya said, “I am forgiving you. Remain my slave, and from now on try to become spiritual and divine.”
GIM 114. 29 January 1979↩
Balarama and the apple orchard16Krishna was very dark, but his brother, Balarama, was light-complexioned. Some Puranas are of the opinion that Balarama was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, while others believe that he was the incarnation of the cosmic serpent, Shesha. Again, still others feel that he was the incarnation of Lakshmana, Sri Ramachandra’s younger brother.
Balarama and Krishna were always adventurous. In their boyhood, both brothers were extremely, extremely fond of each other. Krishna always enjoyed doing mischievous pranks, but Balarama was not inclined that way. Still, he used to love Krishna for his cute mischief.
On one occasion, when they were in their teens, they were passing an orchard, when they saw some apples. Naturally they picked some and ate them, as is quite natural for young boys to do.
The orchard was owned by a demon named Dhenuka. Dhenuka was an admirer of Kangsa, the hostile force incarnate, who was ruling the kingdom at that time. Dhenuka hated Krishna and Balarama. Since he had the capacity to take the form of an ass, he immediately did so and started kicking the two boys very hard. But Balarama and Krishna ate to their heart’s content, not paying any attention to the ass.
When they had eaten as much as they wanted, Balarama said, “Now that we have eaten your apples, we are strong; so we are ready to fight with you.” Then he caught the ass by its heels and whirled him around his head until the ass died. Then Balarama flung its carcass onto a nearby palm tree. Many came to see the deplorable incident and they also fought with Balarama and Krishna. But alas, it was all in vain. They too met with the same fate, and the palm tree was soon festooned with the carcasses of asses.
Children often do a little mischief. If older ones punish them beyond their due, this is what happens. Children have strength indomitable and the older ones, because of their lack of wisdom, suffer what they rightfully deserve. But if they forgive the children when they do something wrong, or if they illumine them, then all the catastrophes and hurtful incidents that children can create for grownups can easily be avoided.
GIM 115. 29 January 1979↩
Balarama conquers Pralamba17Once there was an athletic competition that many athletes participated in. Kangsa, the hostile force incarnate, sent the asura Pralamba to join in the competition against Krishna and Balarama. Kangsa told Pralamba, “Please defeat these two brothers. If you can defeat them, I shall gladly and unreservedly give you anything that you want. I would hate to see them become victorious. You must defeat them.”
Pralamba said, “Do not worry, my Lord. I shall defeat them badly. I give you my word of honour.”
Kangsa said, “Nothing will please me more. If you defeat them, you will offer me a world of happiness. Certainly you can and you will.”
“I can and I will,” said the demon Pralamba.
The athletic competition commenced, and everyone was showing their prowess. It was said that the winner of each event would be carried on the shoulders of the loser. Pralamba deliberately lost in one of the games so he would get the chance to carry Balarama on his back. When Balarama got on his back, the demon suddenly expanded his form, becoming very huge, and he ran away with Balarama.
Krishna was surprised and shocked. He cried out, “What are you doing? What are you doing?” Krishna was about to fight Pralamba, but instead he said to Balarama, “Brother, Brother, bring your immortal nature to the fore. Why are you allowing yourself to be carried away? If you do not listen to my request, I shall have to fight this demon and kill him.”
Balarama laughed and laughed. “Krishna, my brother, you know who I am. Why are you worrying? Let him carry me as far as he wants to.”
Krishna said, “No, no. I do not want him to carry you any further. Please, please use your powers and destroy this demon. Otherwise, I shall.”
Balarama gave a hearty laugh, summoned his divine strength and became infinitely, infinitely more powerful than the demon, squeezing Pralamba to death.
Balarama was strength incarnate and indomitable courage incarnate. When necessity demanded, he acted. But he never misused his strength, never!
GIM 116. 29 January 1979↩
The river Yamuna18Balarama had many, many good qualities: kindness, compassion, affection, love, forgiveness and so forth. But he also had one bad quality. He enjoyed drinking wine profusely. Then, when he was in a state of intoxication, he did not know what was going on and he was not fully conscious of outer happenings.
Once, after drinking wine, he asked the river Yamuna to come to him so that he could bathe. Yamuna laughed and laughed, “Look at the audacity of this mortal. How dare he summon me! I shall not go.”
Balarama waited and waited. Then he became furious and said, “Yamuna, you are not coming to me? Then I shall punish you badly.” He took his primary weapon, the ploughshare, into the river and dragged all of Yamuna’s water out of the river.
Yamuna was shocked; he never thought that a human being could do this. He begged for forgiveness. “I will never, never disobey you. I will always listen to your command. Please give me back my water,” he pleaded.
Balarama returned the river’s water.
Yamuna said, “Balarama, you are not only powerful, but also merciful. If you had not forgiven me, I would have remained empty, totally empty. I admire your power. I worship your forgiveness.”
GIM 117. 29 January 1979↩
The imprisonment of Krishna's son19Eternally mischievous, the Kauravas once got an opportunity to imprison Krishna’s son, Shamba.
Krishna sent some of his representatives to arrange for Shamba’s release, but they came back saying, “They refuse to reason. They will not let Shamba go.”
Balarama, Krishna’s brother, became furious that his nephew was imprisoned. Balarama went to Asanapada, the Kaurava palace, and thrust his ploughshare under its ramparts. Then he said to Duryodhana, the chief Kaurava, “If you do not surrender Shamba now, I will destroy this palace!”
Duryodhana knew Balarama’s strength and immediately surrendered Shamba. “We know you are all strength. Again, you are all forgiveness. We have committed an unpardonable crime. Now we realise it and we are releasing Krishna’s son. Forgive us, Balarama.”
Balarama said, “Do not act like a fool. Your power is nothing but the exhilaration of your stupidity. Whom are you challenging? Krishna? He is the Lord Himself! Whom are you challenging? Me? I am the one who holds measureless strength. O mortals, never dare to create anger either in my brother Krishna or in me, for immediate death will come and shake hands with you. Be careful!”
GIM 118. 29 January 1979↩
Divida20There was a great man whose name was Divida. Once upon a time he was nice to Balarama. But alas, it is difficult to always remain a kind, good and nice human being, and slowly he developed arrogance and tyrannous qualities. He did many, many undivine things, and people could not bear his arrogance or his tyranny.
The worst incident occurred when he was tempted to steal Balarama’s ploughshare. He entered into Balarama’s house in the middle of the night and stole the ploughshare.
When Balarama discovered his loss, he challenged Divida to mortal combat, in a few seconds cutting off the thief’s head.
He told Divida’s friends and others, “Never, never dare to steal my main instrument, the ploughshare. That is my life-breath. If you create any problems for me, ignorance will befriend you. I do not want ignorance to befriend you. When you allow ignorance to befriend you, eventually death comes to befriend you. So be wise. Don’t try to make a fool of me and don’t try to make a fool of my brother, Krishna. Do not make a fool of anyone, or eventually yours shall be the unimaginable punishment!”
GIM 119. 29 January 1979↩
Balarama marries21In those days it was socially acceptable and almost customary for people to marry more than one wife. Sri Krishna was married more than twice. But his brother, Balarama, married only once. He married a most beautiful girl named Revati.
Raivata, Revati’s father, at first did not want his beautiful daughter to marry Balarama because he was so short, whereas she was so tall. He also thought that it was beneath his dignity to offer his daughter to Balarama.
But Brahma knew that Balarama loved Revati dearly, even before his marriage. He told Raivata, “If you do not please Balarama when he asks for your daughter, and if you do not give her to him, then you will be sent to death immediately. So be wise. I am not asking because of his power, but because he is very kind-hearted. He is not only great and powerful, but also kind and good. He is the right person.”
So, at Brahma’s advice, Raivata went to Balarama and begged him to marry his daughter. Balarama smiled and agreed, saying, “You are fulfilling my heart’s desire.”
On the wedding day Balarama was shocked to see his wife’s height. He told Revati, “What will people think of me if I marry you? You are so tall. Let me shorten you. I assure you, it will not harm you. With my divine ploughshare I shall shorten you and you will not be affected.”
So he shortened his wife and they became the same height.
GIM 120. 29 January 1979↩
Editor's preface to the first editionMost of the stories in this and other books in this series are Sri Chinmoy’s retelling of traditional Indian tales. On rare occasions the Master has modified a story to make it more acceptable to the Western palate. And a few of the stories are Sri Chinmoy’s own.
These tales are not only delicious and nourishing, but also encouraging and illumining. Some are quite entertaining. Others are surcharged with morality-flames and spirituality-fire, which easily enlighten the Western mind, strengthen the vital and quicken the journey of the body-consciousness. Together they represent two trees standing side by side: entertainment-tree and enlightenment-tree. Both trees are at your disposal. Appreciate their flowers and fruits to your heart’s content.