Yogi Stories 11
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THERE was a goldsmith who kept a jewellery shop. He looked like a great devotee with beads round his neck, rosary in his hand, and customary holy marks on his forehead. Naturally people trusted him and came to his shop on business. They thought that, being such a pious man, he would never cheat them. Whenever a party of customers entered the shop, they would hear one of his craftsmen say, "Kesava! Kesava!'
Another would say after a while, "Gopal! Gopal!'
Then a third would mutter, "Hari! Hari!'
Finally someone would say, "Hara! Hara!'
Now these are different names of God. Hearing so much chanting of God's names the customers naturally thought that this goldsmith must be a very superior person. But can you guess the goldsmith's true intention?
The man who said "Kesava! Kesava!" meant to ask, "Who are these? - Who are these customers?'
The man who said "Gopal! Gopal!" conveyed the idea that the customers were merely a herd of cows. That was the estimate he formed of them after the exchange of a few words.
The man who said "Hari! Hari!" asked, "Since they are no better than a herd of cows, then may we rob them?'
He who said "Hara! Hara!" gave his assent, meaning by these words, "Do rob by all means, since they are mere cows!" [Tas No. 8.]
❖ One needs to beware and not be dumbfounded by words, rituals and customs alone.
ONCE several men were crossing the Ganges in a boat. One of them, a pandit, was making a great display of his learning, saying that he had studied various books - the Vedas, the Vedanta philosophy, all the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy. He asked a fellow passenger, "Do you know the Vedanta?"
"The Samkhya and the Patanjali's Yoga Sutras?"
"Have you read no philosophy whatever?"
The pandit was talking in this vain way and the passenger sitting in silence when a great storm rose and the boat was about to sink.
The passenger said to the pandit, "Sir, can you swim?"
"No", replied the pandit.
The passenger said, "I don't know Samkhya or the Patanjali stuff, but I can swim." [cf. Rap ch. 19]
You grumble over a mole on your footblade till you meet someone who has lost his leg. (Saying)
Years ago a family in Scotland dreamt of emigrating to the United States. The husband and his wife worked and saved, making plans for their nine children and themselves to go abroad. It took years, but finally they had saved enough and had got passports and reservations for the whole family on a new liner to the United States.
The family was filled with anticipation and excitement, but seven days before they were to leave, the youngest son was bit by a dog. The doctor sewed up the boy but hung a yellow sheet on the family's front door; since it was possible that rabies virus was involved, they were being quarantined for a fortnight.
The family's plans were thwarted. The father, angry and disappointed, stomped to the dock to watch the ship leave without him and his family. He shed tears and cursed both his son and God for their misfortune.
Five days later the news spread that the huge, "unsinkable ship" Titanic had sunk, taking hundreds of lives with it into the sea. The family was to have been on that ship, but because the son had been bitten by a dog, they were left behind.
When the head of the family heard the news, he hugged his son and thanked him for saving the family, and thanked God too - but not the biting dog!
AN OLD MAN had a son and a horse. One day the horse strayed and got lost. When the old man's neighbours heard it, they went to tell the old man they were sorry about his bad luck.
"How do you know it is bad luck?" he asked.
Soon after that the horse returned, bringing with him many wild horses. Now the neighbours came to congratulate the man on his good luck.
"How do you know it is good luck?" he asked.
The son took up riding. One day he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours came to the old man and expressed sorrow at his bad luck.
"How do you know it is bad luck?" he asked.
Very soon afterwards a war broke out and the military came to the old man's village to draft all the young men there. The old man's son was not drafted, however, because of his broken leg.
Now, do you know it was his good luck?
Rap: Gupta, Mahendranath. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. Tr. Swami Nikhilananda. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942.
Tas: Ramakrishna. Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1974. Online.
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