Author Topic: Three Stories  (Read 2226 times)


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Three Stories
« on: February 21, 2009, 11:03:24 PM »
Three Stories - Story No. 1

There are three stories from ancient times in India which held a great fascination for me as a child and which I find even more fascinating now.

There was once a learned sage who engaged himself in writing a magnum opus of considerable importance to humanity. Every day he pored over the leafs on which he penned down the work. By the side of his working space stood an ink pot with quills. In another corner stood a lamp. Before it became dark in the evening his wife would pour some oil, clean the wick and light the lamp.

Many years passed. The sage was totally immersed in his work and forgot everything else. The years rolled into decades. His wife took care of all creature comforts and ensured that his work was never interrupted.

One day it so happened that while the sage was working there was a strong gust of wind and the lamp went out. The sage looked around as if waking from sleep. His wife came runningand lit the lamp again. In the glow of the light he saw a woman bending down shielding the flame with her hands. He was totally taken aback and asked, "Who are you?".

The woman replied that she was his wife of many years and now probably looked different with age.

The sage sat stunned. So many years had passed that he did not even recognize his wife! It dawned on him that it was she who must have taken care of him while always staying in the background. He was extremely touched and started weeping. On completion of the work he named it after his wife.

Now this story may sound very, very strange in modern times. But in ancient times in India total and selfless devotion of a wife to her husband was not unknown.

Story No. 2
The second story is the story of a mongoose. When Yudishtra of the Pandava fame became the ruler of Indraprasthahe held a massive yagna (sacrificial rites) and gave away many things as charity. His renown as a person of extreme kindness and generosity spread far and wide. While performing the yagna he was visited by a mongoose. The unique thing about this mongoose was that half of his body was the natural colour of a mongoose and the other half was pure gold. It became a matter of great curiousity to know how this had happened. Yudhistira asked him to explain this unnatural colouring. The mongoose told the following story.

Once in a bygone era there lived a Brahmin with his wife and children at the edge of the woods. They somehow managed to eke out an existence. But then came the hard times with drought followed by famine. The family slowly started to starve, never certain of a square meal in the day. The children were reduced to skin and bones and so was the Brahmin and his wife.

One day after going here and there in search of food the Brahmin managed to get some rice. His joy was unbounded. He pictured the gleam in his children’s eyes when his wife would serve them one good meal after so many days.

When he reached home to share his booty there were whoops of joy all around. The wife sat down to cook a meal, singing praises to God for his kindness. Finally, the meal was cooked and everybody sat down to eat.

Just at this moment there was a knock at the door. The Brahmin got up and went to see who it was. Standing in the doorway was a man looking for shelter and food.

The Brahmin was overjoyed to see him. A guest or atithi was like God in those days. The Brahmin thought how blessed he was that he could serve food to his guest. He washed the guest's hands and feet and invited him to eat.

The guest sat down to eat whereas the entire family waited around him ready to meet his requirements. The Brahmin gave his share of food and watched him eating with joy. But obviously this was not sufficient for the visitor who was quite hungry. So the wife then gave him her share of food. The visitor ate that with great satisfaction, but still his hunger was not fully satisfied. The children standing with their parents then thought that they should part with their share of food too and gave it to the visitor willingly. The guest was then fully satisfied. After the meal he thanked the family and went to sleep.

The Brahmin and his family sat through the night huddled together with empty stomachs. One by one each one of them died that day. Their body turned to ashes in the heat of the tapas / sacrificial energy.

A mongoose strayed into the cottage of the Brahmin and finding warmth in the ashes turned on one side and fell asleep. When he woke up the next morning he found that one half of his body that had come into contact with the ashes had turned to pure gold.

The mongoose then told Yudishtira that for centuries he had been roaming here and there in search of another comparable act of human kindness and love. It was in this hope he had come to the yagna of Yudhistira knowing that he was Dharma's son and was known for his righteous actions and generosity. However, his body could not become fully golden when he touched ashes of the yagna.

I imagine this mongoose is going around even today in search of sacrificial ashes. Do you think his body will ever become fully golden?

Story No. 3

This story is about a sage who lived in a remote forest with his disciples. The disciples were of course, very devoted to their guru, the sage. They pursued their learning with great sincerety. Some grew restless. They thought they had learnt whatever had to be learnt. They were the smart ones.

One day the sage fell sick. The boys gathered around him, each one trying to help. The sage told the pupils that the cause of his illness was a lump on his thigh which had grown to a big size. The boys discovered that the lump tied with a cloth was indeed very big and had an ugly look to it. There was even traces of yellow pus oozing out of it. Many couldn't bear to look at it without a sense of disgust.

The sage told the pupils that the poison from the lump was fast spreading throughout his body. There was only one remedy. It would require somebody to suck out the pus from the lump. That was the only way he could get well.

The pupils looked at each other. What a strange request, they thought. They stood around the guru in silence.

Then a boy standing behind everyone pushed his way in front. He bowed to the guru and without saying a word put his mouth to the lump.

The others gasped. How yukky, they thought.

The boy went on sqeezing and sucking the lump. Suddenly he tasted something sweet.

The guru got up and hugged the boy. He opened the bandage and took out a ripe mango that he had tied on his thigh.

The others learnt an important lesson.



Do you think there is a common thread in all these stories?

The common thread that I found in these stories was that in each one of them the "other" (whether it was the husband or the atithi or the guru) was considered more important than the "self".

Without any heroism.

Now isn't that uncommon?

The second thing that struck me was the intensity of the action without involvement of the "self".. .....or with self effacement.

Sri Ramana Maharshi says, " As the activities of the wise man exists only in the eyes of others and not in his own, although he may be accomplishing immense tasks, he really does nothing. Therefore his activities do not stand in the way of inaction and peace of mind. For he knows the truth that all activities take place in his mere presence and that he does nothing. Hence he will remain as the silent witness of all the activities taking place".

A silent witness to all beautiful!


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Re: Three Stories
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2009, 09:07:41 AM »
I feel that common thread in these three stories is "trust" in God which nourishes the soul.

Love and trust are food for the soul.


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Re: Three Stories
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2009, 09:52:02 AM »
Dear Dr. Raju,

Excellent stories.  As you have correctly said that the common thread
is the selfless service to others. And that is surrender.  Tiruvalluvar was a great Tamil poet who composed TirukuraL.  From the book, you can never find out to which religion he belonged.  He praises God but
without any clue whether it is Siva or Narayana or a Jain God or the Buddha or the formless Brahman.  He had a devout wife.  The couple were poor and the wife somehow worked as a coolie and earned some minimum rice, greens and salt for the food everyday.  Oneday,
she served him with cold rice and salt and buttermilk.  The husband
who wss a great scholar, and who knew nothing about his wife's great service, unnecessarily got angry for the cold rice and as a cynical remark asked his wife: "Bring a handfan and wave over the rice, it is very very hot!"  The wife simply obeyed and started fanning.  O wonder, the rice was fuming with hot air, and it was indeed very hot.  Tiruvalluvar then fold his hands towards his wife and decided that he would go for work from that day!

He then wrote the famous TirukuraL verse:

When ILLaL * is at home,
There is nothing at home which is not there!

* There is an alliteration on the word ILLaL, this means housewife and also 'nothing'.

Arunachala Siva.