1. Sacrifice for higher purpose
Long ago, a queen in Chola kingdom became pregnant. She started getting labor pain and she was reaching the advanced stage of delivery. The royal astrologist, looking at the planetary positions at that time said, “A great king of stellar qualities who can do great good to the country and who himself will attain great name and fame could be born, if only the actual time of delivery could be postponed by an hour”
Coming to know of this, the queen asked her maids to tie her legs together and hand her upside down in order to delay the delivery till the arrival of the auspicious time. Thus for the sake of getting a great future king, the queen underwent unbearable pain and suffering. Finally, a male child was born at the auspicious time, but due to the extreme rigor the queen subjected herself to her body, she succumbed immediately after delivering the baby.
The child was smeared with blood all over his body and his eyes too were bloodshot at the time of his birth. He was named Kochengannaan (Red eyed king).
The child grew up to become a great king who ceaselessly worked for the welfare of his subjects and progress of his country. The king later became a saint and was one of the 64 Nayanmars of the Tamil Saiva Tradition.
[Amma: People nowadays ask, before undertaking any work, “What is my stake in this?”. Instead of asking “What will I get for me?”, we should think “What can I contribute for the welfare of the society?”]
(Matruvani May 2009)
2. Natural action
Once a Sanyasi was taking bath in a river. He noticed a scorpion which was struggling in the water for its life. Out of compassion he lifted it in his palms in order to put it on the bank of the river. But, it stung on his finger. Out of pain, the sanyasi shook his hand and the scorpion fell into the water.
Again, taking pity on the scorpion and forgetting his pain, the sanyasi once again picked up the scorpion from waters and again it stung him! He had to drop it once again due to the acute pain of the sting.
It happened a couple of more times. A man watching the whole thing from the banks, asked the sanyasi, “Even after knowing that the scorpion will sting you, why are you trying to save it again and again?”
The sanyasi replied: “Stinging is its nature; showing compassion is my nature”.
3. I too will
Once a king was travelling through a village. Suddenly and unexpectedly, a stone came flying through the air and hit the king at his forehead. It caused a deep wound and blood started flowing from his forehead. Immediately, the king’s attendants rushed to his help; they applied some medicines and tied the wound with a strip of cloth. His security men ran around to locate the culprit who threw the stone at the king.
After some time, the guards brought an old lady in front of the king. The old lady said, “Oh respected king! I am a poor lady and I have a grandson to take care. We don’t have any food to eat for the past 3 days and the boy was crying out of hunger. As I was searching for something to feed him, I saw this mango tree nearby which was full of ripe mangos. I thought if I could fetch one fruit, I could give it to my grandson and appease his hunger. So, I took a stone and threw it at the bunch of mangoes. It was very unfortunate that the stone missed the target and it happened to hit you. I am extremely sorry and I feel guilty that I have injured my king; I am ready to undergo whatever punishment you decide for me…” saying so, the old lady bowed before the king.
The king ordered to his attendants: “Provide enough food and money to this old woman immediately and send her back home”.
THe attendants carried out his order immediately. However, they were surprised at the action of the king. They asked him, “His majesty, we don’t understand how you can leave this old woman without punishment for her crime of hitting you with a stone…”
The king said, “Even the mango tree gives sweet mango to those who throw stones at it. When a tree which has no faculty of discrimination can do such an act of charity, what if a man, who is endowed with intelligence and discrimination does not act with compassion? One more thing. There is yet another lesson that we should try to give happiness to those who cause suffering to us. When I thought in these angles, how can I ever give punishment to the old lady?”
[Amma: Those endowed with awareness and discrimination can learn lessons from every such incidences. For them, others are like mirrors from whom they can see their own imperfections.”]
(Malayalam Matruvani July 2018)
4. The most beautiful person
Once a father said to his young son, “Today, I will take you to meet the most beautiful person”. The son got very curious. “Is it so? How beautiful is he?”. The father took out a photo from his wallet and showed it to the son. The son was rather disappointed. “I don’t think he is beautiful. Rather, he looks ordinary”.
“Wait and see” said the father. In the evening, he took his son to a nearby village to meet the person. There was a big crowd waiting to see the person. The father and son found a place to sit near the him and watch him.
People keep coming one after another to the person. Most of them looked very poor and were crying. They had lots of difficulties in their life and they shared their woes with the man. He was listening to their words very compassionately and offering them kind words of consolation and hope. He wiped their tears.
Then he took the poor people to a hall inside his house, where he served them with food. The faces of the poor people brightened and they left the house as if their had unburdened all their sorrows.
The man then took a large bag and went out. The father and son followed him. The man went to the next village where another group of old, sick and poor people were waiting to see them.
He took out lots of medicines from his bag and based on the prescription slips they had given him, he stared distributing the medicines to all of them.
After this exercise was over, the father introduced his son to the man; the man spoke very pleasantly to the boy. It was time for the the father and son to depart. The son said to his father, “Dad, I don’t really feel like leaving this place. I feel so happy to be in the company of this person. He is so beautiful!”
[Amma: “External beauty is only skin deep. It is selfless love and compassion that one shows to fellow beings that make one really beautiful.”]
(Malayalam Matruvani June 2017)
5. The real test of Graduation
Once upon a time, in a Gurukula, several brahmacharis learned Shastras (Scriptures) for several years. They did well in their examinations and they were ready to get their “pass certificates”. At that point of time, their guru said to them, “You will receive your certificates from a Senior Monk who is in the other Ashram. You have to walk a few miles from here to reach that Gurukulam. Better you start now”. The Guru gave them directions on how to reach the other Gurukulam.
The brahmacharis started walking together chit chatting joyfully towards the other Ashram. They had to walk across a forest along a narrow pathway. It was evening and the Sun was gradually approaching the western horizon. At one stretch along the path, there were lots of thorns found strewn right on the walkway. When the brahmacharis noticed the thorns, they started looking around for an alternative path to take a detour. As they started to proceed on the alternative path, one among them did not join them.
He opted to pick the thorns from the path so as to clear it safe. When the others noticed it , they asked him “Hey! What are you doing? We have already found the alternative path; come on! Let’s move ahead fast; it is already getting late; we should reach our destination before dark”.
But the brahmachari refused to go with them. He said “No! I am not coming without removing these thorns. You may all proceed but I will come after finishing this. You are right. It is gradually getting dark. At least we could see thorns when we reached here and we were not hurt. But think of the people who may come this way after some time when it would be dark. They may not notice these thorns and sure will get hurt. I can’t allow that to happen.” He proceed to remove the thorns. The other brahmacharis opted to leave him alone and proceed on their way.
At that point of time, a person hiding behind the trees came out. He was none other than the senior monk who was supposed to give them pass certificates. He came close to the brahmachari and hugged him. He said “I am so glad that you are the only one who has really passed the test of scriptures. You have truly grasped the essence of the scriptural knowledge!”
[Amma: “Those who remove the thorns in the path of others are indeed showering flower petals in their own path towards divinity.”]
6. The cracked glass pane
[Amma: “Amid our hectic way of life, we mostly forget to ‘live’. In the mad run behind our needs and desires, we fail to live in the present and think of others around us. Thus our life becomes mechanical and dry”]
Once a person bought a new car. He was happily driving it back home. Suddenly, a stone hit the glass pane on the door of the car and caused a crack in it. He stopped the car immediately. As the man had spent a fortune and bought the brand new car and been driving it with pride and joy, he could not contain his anger and anguish to see the damage done to it.
“Who is the rascal that hit my car like this?” so shouting he came out of the car and looked around.
One young boy was standing at a little distance away at the opposite side of the road. A middle aged man was lying on the road beside him. When the boy noticed the car owner staring at him angrily, he came running towards him and said, “Pardon me please, Sir! My father was taking me to the school in his bicycle; suddenly he seems to have got heart attack or something and he collapsed and fell down. If he is taken to any nearby hospital quickly, I hope he can be revived. I tried to stop several cars that passed by this road, but none came forth to stop their car and extend a helping hand; Without others’ help and a car, how can I take my father to the hospital? Having no other option, I threw the stone at your car hoping that you will then stop the car definitely. I thought you may show some compassion on me if you know the truth”.
Tears flowed from the boy’s eyes when he spoke.
Without delay, the car owner lifted up the boy’s father and placed him in the car. The boy too got in. Quickly, he drove the car to a nearby hospital. Fortunately, as the sick person was brought at the critical time, doctors were able to revive him and his life was soon out of danger. Thus the poor boy’s family was saved from a catastrophe.
The owner of the car did not opt to change the cracked glass in his car immediately. He thought, ‘Let this cracked glass remain as it is, to keep reminding me not to forget the needs and sufferings of other people amidst the hectic selfish life that we lead’.
(Matruvani Tamil Dec 2016)
Once a group of rich pilgrims were traveling to a holy place. On their way, they had to stay overnight at a small village. A poor family in the village extended hospitality to the pilgrims, facilitated their stay at their house and took extreme care to provide them with comforts.
The pilgrims were carrying many packets of foodstuff and eatables with them. Feeling grateful to the poor family, they gave several large packets of eatables to them.
The family members who received the gifts, immediately opened the packets; they made several small packets of the eatables and took them out of their house.
Seeing this, the leader of the pilgrims asked, “Why are you doing this? We will be extremely happy only if your family members eat them and relish them”.
The elder of the family said, “You see, we are poor people; we are very glad and thankful to receive food given by you; but there are so many families around us who are also poor like kus and suffer from hunger like we do. How can we really enjoy sumptuous food that you have given to us, when so many neighbors are suffering without enough food to eat? That’s why we are making several small packets out of what you gave us in order to share with our neighbors. We will also have our small share; that will be the right dharma for our family”.
8. A change in mindset – Amma shares a real incidence
[Amma: “Most people lead their lives to fulfill their selfish desires. Living selfishly seems to give joy but actually one ends up in pain sooner or later. A dog finds great joy in chewing a bone. By doing so it injures its gums and blood starts oozing from its gums. Tasting it, the dog thinks that the blood comes from the bone. By eagerly chewing the bone more and more in order to taste the blood, the dog hurts itself more and more and ends up in severe pain.
“True joy comes only through selfless actions. Amma will now share with you what happened in the life of Amma’s one french daughter:”]
This french woman always loved a life of luxury. She had a fetish for fashion wear. She always fancied about wearing the costliest and latest fashion wear and would go to any extent to spend money on them. She worked hard to earn money and would spend all her income in buying the latest fashion wear. At times, shamefully, she even resorted to stealing money to satisfy her fetish. While this urge drove her like mad, she could not enjoy any real happiness. If she saw anyone else anything more fashionable and trendy, she would burn in envy and feel very disturbed. She could not sleep peacefully on such occasions.
She once got the opportunity to come to India and visit Amritapuri (Amma’s ashram). She stayed in the ashram for few days. and she got greatly attracted towards Amma. She attended Amma’s satsangs. She could notice how so many people selflessly serve in the Ashram and lead a simple life. She felt impressed.
After she returned to France, her old habits too returned to her sooner. One day, she went to a watch shop to buy a very costly designer’s watch that would cost 30,000 Euros. As she was looking at various models, she also noticed a model costing 1000 Euros.
At that point of time, a thought ran in her mind: ‘Whether it is a watch costing 30000 Euros or 1000 Euros, it is in any case going to show the same time. Should I really waste such a huge amount to buy a designer’s watch?’ Suddenly the faces of so many poverty stricken people who she saw during her visit to India flashed in her mind. She remembered the simply way of living that she saw in Amma’s Ashram.
Her mind changed. She bought the watch costing 1000 Euros and decided to donate the rest of the money to charities. In a letter to Amma, she had written, “Amma, I cannot explain by words how much joy I felt that day when I took the decision. I never felt so much joy when I had bought and worn the trendiest fashion clothes earlier. THat night I had the most peaceful sleep of my life”.
9. No you and me
One day an young man went to his lover’s house and knocked at her doors. From inside, she asked, “Who is it?”
The man said, “It is me”.
The girl said from inside, “There is no space in this house for you and me to live together; you can go”.
The young man felt devastated. He kept on thinking of the words of his lover. Several months passed this way. Suddenly something flashed in his mind.
He went back to his lover’s house and knocked at the door again. From inside, she asked, “Who is it?”
He said, “It is you”.
This time the door opened and his lover came and hugged him.
[Amma: “In true love there is no difference between ‘you’ and ‘me’. It is wholesome. Only ‘one’ can be there. It is non-difference. Where love flows continuously, you and I get dissolved and disappear. Only love remains.”]
(From Amutha Mozhigal-6 Tamil)
10. How a beggar became king
Once, in a country, there was a practice of choosing the next king if the existing king did not have progeny. The royal elephant would be sent with a garland in its trunk to places where little children play. If the elephant garlands any one of the boys, he would be made the king.
Once the son of a poor beggar was playing on the streets and the royal elephant which came that way garlanded him. The boy was immediately made the prince. Over years he became the king; he ruled his country very well and he was loved by one and all in his country.
One day, a saint visited his palace. The king received him with lot of respect and extended the finest hospitality to him. During the conversation, the saint said to the king, “It is because of the great punya you accumulated in your previous birth, you are blessed to rule this kingdom”. The king asked, “Maharaj, How do you say so?”
The sage, who had the power to know past, present and future said, “Oh king! You were just a beggar’s son on the streets when you were a boy and now you are a great king, respected and adored by your citizens. How is it possible? It is because of a good deed you have done in your previous birth.
“In your previous birth, you were a poor hunter. One day, in order to hunt your food, you were roaming in the forest and you noticed a deer and its little fawn. When you tried to shoot the deer with an arrow, the deer noticed you and immediately took to its heels; but the little fawn could not run as fast as its mother and it fell down. You rand behind them and picked up the fawn. You thought that for that day’s food, the little fawn was adequate. Putting the fawn on your shoulders you walked back to your hut. On your way, when you looked back, you noticed that the mother deer was following you as it did not want to be parted with its baby; profuse tears were flowing from the deer’s eyes.
“Noticing it, you felt very compassionate towards the deer. You thought, ‘It is fine for me and my family to skip our meal for this day; let the crying mother get united with her fawn and become happy”. You put down the fawn on the ground and it ran happily towards the mother deer. The mother deer was emotionally very surcharged and it prayed to God for blessing you.
“As a hunter, your dharma allows you to kill an animal for your food and you won’t acquire any sin; yet because of your compassionate heart, you did an extraordinary act of leaving the fawn back to the mother deer. It is this punya you acquired in your last birth has made you the king of this country in this birth”.
(Singapore Satsang 02/05/19)
11. A simple act of love
Once a husband returned home late in the evening. He was jobless for quite some months. He had roamed around the whole day to find a job and was back at home with dejection. As he went into the house, there was no light, except for a candle light shining at the dining table. Around the candle, there were several dishes, kept nicely decorated and garnished, ready to eat. His wife was sitting beside the table, waiting for his arrival.
Surprised, he came closer to his wife and exclaimed, “Oh! What is this surprise? What is so special today? How did you make all these?”
The wife smiled at him pleasantly and said, “Happy birthday to you! Please wash your hands and come; let us eat”.
“Oh! Is today my birthday? With all my crowding worries, I never remembered it.” He want to the wash basin to wash his hands and pressed the light switch nearby. But no light was forthcoming. “Why isn’t the light burning? Is there no electric supply?” he asked.
The wife said “Forget it; let us enjoy the food first and then discuss”.
After they ate together joyfully, he asked, “Now tell me; why is there no electricity?”
The wife said in a mild voice, “Because we could not pay the electric bills and the Company has disconnected the power supply to our house”.
“Oh! If that is the case, where did you get the money for buying all these provisions and make this dinner for my birthday?” asked the husband.
The wife said, “I am sorry; I sold my costly marriage saree and some books I had with me, got the money, bought the provisions for cooking the dinner”.
The husband could not speak immediately. His eyes were moist and his throat choked with emotion. “Why, why are you showing so much love on me? I am not fit to receive it. I could not get a job; we are sinking in poverty and still …..”
The wife said, “Don’t worry darling. I know how sincerely you are trying for a new job. You are not slacking in your efforts. God will give the reward for your perseverance sooner. Why should we spoil the joy of celebrating your birthday, just because of our temporary setbacks?”
The husband hugged his wife overwhelmed by her love and affection.
12. The compassionate husband
Once the husband of a family came and sat in the dining table along with his son to take the breakfast. It was already time for him to depart for his office. His wife hurriedly prepared Dosa and Chutney and served him. As his wife had hurriedly prepared the food, the dosa got fried excessively in heat and got blackened. However the husband did not show face nor made any adverse comments and he ate it as if it was quite normal.
Seeing this, his wife became remorseful. She said, “Oh! Sorry! Don’t eat that blackened one; I will make a fresh dosa”
The husband said, “No problem; this itself is quite alright; in fact, I have a taste for such browned dosas”.
After eating, the breakfast, the husband left for his office, taking his son along so as to drop him at his school on the way. While travelling together, the son asked, “Dad, is it really true that you like blackened dosas?”
The father said, “Dear son, you know your mother was on night shift and she worked the whole night without sleep; right? It was dawn when she reached home. She must be extremely tired; yet, she prepared breakfast for all of us. There were umpteen occasions in the past when she made perfect and tasty dosas but we have not appreciated them even once, have we? Suppose we refused to eat those dosas just because they got a bit blackened, won’t she feel bad and pained? So, it is not a problem for me to eat the the blackened dosas since it will make her happy”.
[Amma: “We must acknowledge the truth that no one is perfect in this world. In a family, all members should try to understand each other and adjust with each other; only then peace and cordiality will prevail in a family”.]
(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)
13. Sympathy and empathy
Once a disciple asked his guru, “Sir, what is the sign of right empathy and compassion?”
The guru took the disciple out of the ashram to a street nearby. He said to the disciple, “Watch that poor beggar from a distance for a while”.
After a short while, an old man passed by. He noticed the poor beggar and then dropped a coin into his bowl. After some time, a well dressed rich man came that way. He too noticed the beggar. After looking all around and seeing other people walking on the road, the richman took out a fifty rupee note from his purse, dropped it in the beggar’s bowl and walked away.
After a while, a little boy passed by. Noticing the poor man, he stopped next to him and smiled at him very pleasantly. He exchanged a few inquiries with the beggar in as if he was speaking to his own elder brother. It made the beggar obviously happy. Then the boy went away without giving the beggar anything.
Now, the guru asked the disciple, “Tell me, who was the most compassionate person amid the three”.
The disciple said, “It is the rich man”.
The guru said, “When the rich man gave money, there was absolutely no trace of sympathy or compassion towards the beggar in his action. He was donating money to show off, such that people around him notice that he is donating. The old man gave a coin out of sympathy, but there was no compassion in his action. He had no emotional connection with the beggar and no intention to to help the beggar in any way to get him out of his poverty. But the boy’s action can be called compassion. His interaction with the beggar was as if he was a person related to him. Even though the boy did not help the beggar with money, there was indeed a heartfelt empathy visible in his action. Hence what the boy showed towards the beggar is true compassion.”
[Amma: ” What the world needs is not a transient expression of sympathy, but a compassion that comes from the heart. It is from the heart of the people who feel others pleasure and pain as their own that true compassion springs forth. It is from there that friendliness and eagerness to serve come. The only medicine that cures all the wounds of the world is compassion.”]
14. Mother’s hands
Once an young man went to see a potential employer to seek a job. The employer was was a compassionate person who had come up in his life in the hard way. As he started interviewing the young man, he asked him about his family background.
The youngman said, “I have no father. It was my mother who brought me up all alone. We are poor. My mother struggled a lot and worked hard in life to educate me”.
“Do you help you mother in her chores? ” asked the employer.
“No” said the young man.
“I would now ask you to go back to your home, wash your mother’s hand and then come back as quickly as possible” said the employer. “Then we will decide whether you can get a job here or not”.
The young man felt confused. He could not understand why he should wash his mother’s hand as a preconditional test to get a job. Any way, he went back home. His mother was washing utensils.
He told his mother what happened and he took her hands to see how they are. It was after very many years, perhaps after his childhood, that he was ever looking at his mother’s hands in such close quarters. He noticed that her palms had several cracks and small wounds and as he washed her hands with soap, she was squirming from pain.
The youngman felt extremely disturbed and sorry. He understood that for long years, his mother was toiling with her hands to make both ends meet and also give education to her son, bearing all the pain and suffering, but he had never been aware of her plight.
He said, “Mother, I am so sorry. Please take rest. I will start helping you in your chores, I feel bad that I have all along be so selfish. I never developed the heart to serve others”. So saying, he forced his reluctant mother to take rest and started washing the utensils himself.
Only after finishing the work he returned to the employer rather belatedly.
The employer asked him what happened and why he got delayed. The youngman, with moist eyes, narrated what happened.
The employer shook his hands and said, “You are hired!”
15. A few compassionate words
Once a very poor man was afflicted with a disease. He could not go for work on account of his sickness; without money, he suffered in hunger for three days. He became extremely weak and depressed. He begged for food from others but nobody showed any compassion towards him.
He felt totally dejected in life and decided to commit suicide. Before he took that extreme step, he thought of begging food just one last time. He approached a nearby hut. A lady was inside the hut. When he asked for some food from her, she requested him in a pleasant voice to be seated and offered a wooden plank for him to sit. She went into the hut. Unfortunately, a cat had stealthily partook some little food she had kept there and also had rolled down the vessels; whatever leftover food too had fallen on mud and was unfit for eating. The lady felt very sorry.
She came out and said to the poor man. “I am sorry that I am unable to offer food to you. I had some left over rice and curry which I wanted to give to you, but unfortunately a cat has spoiled all of them. I don’t have a single paisa to give to you. I request your pardon for having invited you to eat but failed to offer you anything”. Her face was writ with pain and sorrow.
The poor man said, “Never mind. You have indeed given something that I badly needed. As I had fallen sick, I was bedridden for a few days. I begged many people to give me some food but everyone chased me away. No one ever said a word of compassion to me. I felt there is no point in living this world devoid of compassion. I decided to commit suicide, but since the hunger was unbearable, I came here to beg some food from you. It is unfortunate that you are not in a position to offer me something to eat. But your words of compassion indeed has given me some satisfaction. I gained confidence that the world does have compassionate people like you; it gives courage for a poor like me to gain trust in the world and try to live against odds. I will not commit suicide any more. Today, I am experiencing a joy and satisfaction that I have never felt in my life earlier”.
[Amma: ” Children, if we don’t have anything to give, can’t we give a pleasant smile or few comforting words? Is it a costly affair? It is enough we we possess such a compassionate heart. That’s the first step towards spirituality. Such people need not go anywhere or search anywhere for God. Where there is a heart full f compassion, there God will come running on His own.”]
(Oliyai Nokki-Tamil-Vol 2)