[If you have not read the previous 15 little stories of Amma under this topic, you can read them here: Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 3)
1. Bottled Krishna?
One day a Pundit came to see a Mahatma.
The pundit was famous for his scholarship and his knowledge of the scriptures. He was a very proud man. The pundit said to the Mahatma: “I am well versed in all the shastras of our religion. I came to you with an expectation that you may be able to teach me something extra that I don’t know of”.
The Mahatma smiled and said, “I am afraid I don’t have anything to tell you more than what you already know. But there is a shopkeeper in this village, who, I believe, has something to teach you”.
The pundit got curious. He inquired who the shopkeeper was and immediately proceeded to go and meet him. When the pundit reached the grocery shop, he noticed that he was in the process of supplying various grocery items to one of his clients. He heard the shopkeeper telling the client, “You please read out the items one by one from your shopping list and my boy will weigh and pack them.”
Immediately, the Pundit understood that the shopkeeper was a simple, unlettered man. What could such a person teach a scholar like him? Anyway, having come all the way, he approached the shopkeeper and introduced himself. He said, “The Mahatma in this village asked me to meet you. He told me that you have a piece of wisdom that you can teach me”.
The shopkeeper was surprised. He said, “Revered Sir, I am an unlettered man. I have no knowledge whatsoever except selling provisions. What can I ever teach you? Anyway, having come all the way to meet me, I request you to sit with me for a while in the shop, relax yourself and then go back home”.
The Pundit sat in a chair next to the shopkeeper and looked around the shop. In one shelf nearby, there were several jars painted in different colors. The pundit became curious. “What do these jars contain? Why are they painted in different colors?”
The shopkeeper said, “Sir, it is for my easy identification of items, that I have colored them differently. The first jar in red contains pepper. The second one in yellow contains mustard. The third one in green contains cardamom. The next one contains cloves. The last one contains Krishna”.
What? Krishna? What do you mean?”
“Sir, actually the last one does not contain anything. It is empty. I call it the jar of Krishna”.
“You see, you cannot put anything in a jar that already contains something. If you have to put something, it should be empty first. If our mind is filled with so many things, it has no space for the lord to come and reside inside. Only when we keep our mind empty without thoughts, God can come and occupy it. That’s why I call the empty jar as the jar of Krishna”.
The pundit was awestruck hearing the explanation from the unlettered shopkeeper. He immediately understood that his mind was full with ideas and concepts learned from scriptures and hence it does not have any space for God to enter and reside in him. He understood that knowing God and establishing God in his heart was far more important than stuffing himself with scriptural knowledge. He understood that he should get rid of all his pride and make his heart empty to have the vision of God.
(From Amma’s Krishna Janmashtami Satsang 10/9/2020)
2. What you really lost
Once a group of travelers were going to a village. As they walked, they reached a place adjacent to a forest. There they saw a pond with clear water. They left their possessions at the bank of the pond and got into water to take bath. When they returned to the bank after taking bath, they were shocked to see their possessions missing. Thieves had indeed stolen them and run away. The travelers immediately went around in search of the thieves.
They noticed a Sadhu sitting at the shade of a tree on their way. They asked him, “Did you notice any thieves running this way, carrying things? They have stolen our belongings”.
The Sadhu said, “You are all sad because you have lost your possessions. Aren’t you? Now think. You have lost your happiness now; the thieves who made you lose your happiness are outside you or inside you? Do you want only your lost possessions or want something that you will never ever lose? Think deeply on this.”
The travelers understood what the sadhu said. They understood that he was a Mahatma. They surrendered to him and requested him to take them as his disciples.
(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol.1)
3. Expansiveness matters
Once there lived a householder who had the habit of visiting a Mahatma frequently. He would always complain about the hardships and sorrows he was facing in his life. One day, when this devotee started to talk about his woes, the Mahatma cut him short and said, “You go and bring a glass of water and a handful of salt”.
The devotee brought them. The saint said, “Put a spoonful of salt in the glass of water, stir it well to dissolve it fully and then drink a little of that water”. The man did so.
“How does it taste?” asked the mahatma.
“Ah! Very salty; I can’t even swallow it” said the man.
Then the Mahatma took the man to a nearby pond. “Now put the handful of salt in the water and dissolve it fully” he said.
The man did so.
“Now taste a little of that pond water” said the Mahatma.
The man drank some water.
“Do you find it salty?” asked the Mahatma. “No, Maharaj, not at all” said the man.
The mahatma said, “My son, the sorrows in our life too are similar to this. Pure water is like the natural, inner joy that we all have. If a little of salt is added to a glass of water, the water turns salty and you can’t even drink it. But the same salt, if put in a pond of water, does not make the water salty. Your mind, at present, is very small, like the glass. But if you make your heart very large like the pond and awaken the bliss inside it, then no amount of sorrow will disturb you”.
(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol.1)
4. The difference (1)
Once a minister of a country went to meet his guru to seek advice and solace as he was highly tensed and disturbed by many problems facing the country that needed right solutions.
When he reached his guru’s ashram, one of his guru’s main disciples stopped him. The minister said, “Excuse me, I need to meet the guru very urgently to discuss on some very important matters”.
The disciple said politely, “Sorry sir, our guru is sick; he is taking rest. He has given clear instruction to me not to allow anyone to disturb him.”
The minister was in a dilemma. While he badly wanted to discuss matters with his guru, he could not argue with the disciple too to meet the guru. He stood there for a while very confused and disturbed”.
“May I know why you want to meet our guru so desperately?” asked the disciple.
The minister felt that it would be fine to share his problems with the disciple and he narrated the various serious issues that he is facing as a minister and looking for the right guidance.
The disciple too was quite a learned person and he was serving the guru since long. So, he spoke to the minister for the next half an hour doling out advice as to how to the problems can be managed. The minister was nodding and hearing all that the disciple said, but there was no full conviction in him to accept all of them and take steps to act on them.
In the meanwhile, hearing the voice of the minister outside his hut, the guru, despite being unwell, came out. The minister was surprised and glad to see the guru and he prostrated before him. The guru asked him what his problem was. Again, the minister narrated his woes to the guru. The guru spoke to him only a few words lasting hardly for five minutes and bid him goodbye.
The minister was extremely satisfied with the guru’s advice and he left the place with mental peace and clarity. In fact, what the guru instructed was only the essence of what the disciple had already instructed in detail earlier, but the conviction came to the minister only through the words of the guru.
[Amma: “In this story, what the guru said and what the disciple told earlier were essentially same, but the words of the disciple are nothing but bookish knowledge; whereas the words of the guru are based on his personal experience attained through self-realization. That’s why it creates so much conviction and trust in the listener.”]
(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang on 25/10/2020)
5. The difference (2)
Once the king a country went to meet his guru to seek advice and solace as he was highly tensed and disturbed by many problems facing the country; he had lost all peace of mind and was gripped by a desire to relinquish the king’s role and escape from all the responsibilities. He felt if he could get some solution from his guru to enable him transfer all his responsibilities to someone else, he can have a breath of relief.
After listening to the king’s bag of woes and his final request, the guru said, “Fine. Do one thing. You make a vow to hand over the whole country to me”. The king gladly agreed and made a formal announcement to this effect.
Once it was done, the guru said, “Now, this country is mine. Now I appoint you as the caretaker of this country to govern it as my official representative.”
The king, as he was always obedient to his guru’s words, agreed. He went back to the palace and continued to rule the country. But now a sea of change had happened in his mindset. He felt a great mental relief. He was not the king any longer but only a servant to the guru who is now the real ruler of the country; he was just an instrument in the hands of his guru and felt totally free from the burden of all personal responsibilities that he was shouldering all along.
[Amma: “The sense of ownership is the cause of all tensions. If one becomes an instrument in the hands of God, then all tasks will be accomplished without mental agitation.”]
(From Amma’s Vijayadasami Satsang on 25/10/2020)
5. Mind control
Once a young man from a rich family came to a guru and said, “Swamiji, I have no interest in worldly life; Will you please accept me as your disciple and give me sanyasa?”
The guru felt that the young man had good potential to lead a spiritual life. He accepted him as his disciple and gave him sanyasa diksha too. The guru then said, “Normally, once I give sanyasa, you are supposed to go out and beg your food. But, I will not put you through such a difficulty immediately. I would suggest you to go to the house of a woman, who is my disciple and she will offer you food. Go and have your lunch there daily”. He gave directions to reach the woman’s house.
As the young sanyasi walked towards the woman’s house, he was thinking like this: “Oh! I feel so hungry. If I were to be in my house, I will get a variety of tasty food, such and such curries and side dishes. I know, as a sanyasi, I should not think of such foods, yet, if the woman offers me a similar food, I will definitely love to eat it”.
Once he reached the devotee’s house, the woman welcomed him warmly and respectfully. She made him seated comfortably and brought a plate full or variety of dishes. What a surprise! Whatever food items he was longing to eat as he walked towards the house were all present in the plate. The young sanyasi ate happily to his stomach-full. It was a hot noon. After eating the food, he felt a natural urge to have a noon nap. But he knew it would be inappropriate for him to rest in a devotee woman’s house.
But the woman said, “Swami, please feel free to take some rest here. The sun is hot outside, you don’t have to hurry with a full stomach to the ashram”. The sanyasi was totally surprised. He started wondering: Does the woman read my thoughts?’ He brushed aside the idea and thought it must be another stray coincidence. The woman brought him a mat and a pillow. The young sanyasi laid down and soon went into a deep sleep.
It was about 4 PM when he woke up. He was wondering whether he should start immediately from there. The evening sun was still hot. At that time the woman said, “Swami, you can rest for a little while and then return to your ashram. The evening sun is really good for your health”.
The young sanyasi was shaken. His doubt that the lady read his thoughts became very strong. With a surprise in his voice, he asked her, “Do you have the power to read my thoughts?”
The woman said, “Yes, I have. Let me bring some refreshments for you now”.
The sanyasi said, “No, no! Please, I don’t want anything. Let me depart right away”. Despite the woman requesting him to rest for a while, he immediately left the house.
He felt very disturbed to know the fact that the woman had the powers to read his mind.
On the next day, at the lunch time, the young sanyasi went to his guru and said, “Maharaj, I don’t want to go to that woman’s house for the lunch”. When the guru inquired him why, he narrated what happened on the previous day. He said further, “In fact I am scared that she reads every thought of mine. Sir, let me confess to you that some amorous thoughts too rose up in me when I was in that house alone with her”.
The guru said, “No, no. I want you to go to her house only to have your lunch until I give you any alternative instructions”.
The disciple, having no option but to obey his guru, was walking towards the woman’s house. This time, he was extremely watchful about the thoughts that rose up in his mind. He did not want any thoughts about eating rich and tasty food. He wanted to ensure that only good and noble thoughts rose up in his mind. This way, he was constantly watching his mind, as he did not want the woman to judge him by reading his thoughts. As he did so assiduously, the number of thoughts passing through his mind gradually reduced.
Day after day, he practiced to discipline his mind like this and gradually he became very meditative. His awareness increased multifold. He could hear chirping of crickets even in day time which he normally heard only at night times. His mind remained still for longer and longer times.
Thus the guru indirectly helped him to become adept in meditation and paved the way for the disciples’ spiritual progress.
(From Amma’s Vishu message 15/4/2022)
6. Acting with discernment and determination
Once upon a time, two disciples were living with a Guru for many years and learned the Vedas and other scriptures. The senior of the two disciples was always upset because the Guru showered more affection and attention to the other disciple.
‘Though I am the senior, I don’t know why the guru entrusts him with many responsibilities’, he thought.
One day the Guru said, “I am in need of some rare medicinal herbs, to be brought from a particular mountain”.
He called the first disciple and gave him the details of where to find them, how to identify the herb etc and sent him to bring the medicinal plant.
The disciple felt happy that this time at least the guru gave him the rightful importance, and left.
It was a long and tiring walk to the mountain. On his way, he felt very thirsty. Unfortunately, there were no streams anywhere nearby. Finally, he noticed a deep well. Near it, he saw a pot to draw water, but there was no rope. He walked away helplessly and fell down unconscious on the way. After regaining consciousness, he felt he had no energy to complete the mission, and opted to return to the gurukula empty handed.
A few days later, the Guru sent the other disciple to get the herbs. He too went through the same path. When he felt thirsty, he too saw the well and the pot without the rope. He looked around and finally saw some long grass. He decided to braid the grass together to make a long rope. He patiently spent time preparing such a rope. He tied it around the neck of the pot and drew out water from the well. Thus he could quench his thirst and proceeded in his journey. He reached the mountain, located the herb and brought it to the gurukula.
Although the Guru had taught both the disciples equally, it was the second disciple who could put his knowledge and wisdom to practical use. Further, he was determined to complete his goal for which overcoming hurdles with proper effort and awareness was important.
As for the first disciple, though he had studied the scriptures, he did not have viveka [discernment]. Nor did he have the necessary jijñāsā. His focus on the goal was weak and he did not put in the necessary effort to accomplish it. He succumbed to physical weakness and opted to abort his mission..
So, for tasting success, effort on our part coupled with proper discernment to find solutions to impediments is essential.
(From Amma’s Vishu message 15/4/2022)
7. Faithful Dog
Once in a gurukula, a dog happened to come in. One of the disciples developed attraction towards the dog and he started pampering it. The dog started frequenting the gurukula again and again as the disciple fed the dog and cuddled it regularly.
Watching this over a period of time, the guru called the disciple and said, “You are a spiritual seeker; if you develop attachment towards a dog and keep pampering it regularly, it will be bad for your spiritual progress”.
The disciple was a very obedient person and decided to stop pampering the dog immediately. When the dog visited next time, he totally ignored it. Yet the dog kept coming to him again, wagging its tails. The disciple avoided the dog and distanced himself from it. Yet the dog kept visiting him the next day too. This time, the disciple showed a stern face and drove away the dog from the place. He did so a couple of more times, and the dog stopped coming to the gurukula once for all.
[Amma: “Our vasanas are exactly like dogs. As long as we keep pampering them, they will not leave us. One has to develop determination and practice vairagya strictly. Only then, we can get rid of out vasanas.”]
(From Amma’s Vishu message 15/4/2022)