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Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 4 (3 more stories)

[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)

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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”.

“Why?”

“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 travellers 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 travellers 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 travellers 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 is similar to this. Pure water is ike 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)

 

Amma’s stories on Guru, Role of Guru, Guru-disciple Relationship – Part 3 (15 more stories)

1. What next?

Once a sage was conversing with a new visitor who came to meet him.

Sage: “What are you doing?”

Visitor: “I am working as a clerk in a Company”.

Sage: “If you get a promotion what will you become?”

Visitor: “I will become a Senior Clerk”

Sage: “What is the next post you will get?”

Visitor: “I will become Assistant to the Department Manager”.

Sage: “What next?”

Visitor: “If I really strive well, I can become the manager one day”

Sage: “Oh! That sounds very nice! What is the next position you can aspire to get?”

Visitor: “Oh! That is very hard to guess. Perhaps, if I have lots of luck, I may become the Vice President of the Company!”

Sage: “Wow! (He pats the shoulder of the visitor).  That will be wonderful. But still I am wondering what could be your next level…”

At this point of time, the visitor lost all his patience. In a loud and curt voice, he shot back :”If I put tons of effort, have lots of luck and  some political backing, I can become the President of the company! Enough?”

The sage did not leave him at that. “What next?” he continued.

That was the last straw. The visitor shouted: “What do you want me to become? A God?”

Now the sage laughed aloud and said, “My son! Now you have said the final and correct answer.  But there is a little difference. YOu don’t have to become God’ you are already God.  It is enough if that knowledge dawns in you.”

[Amma: “It is this knowledge that is true spirituality.  We are so much immersed in  the idea that what we call as “I” is this limited body, mind and intellect. We have to discard that idea and move forward, it will dawn to us that I am indeed that divine power that permeates everything outside and inside and we can experience the bliss of that reality.”]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

2. Amma with a Vedantin

[Amma: “People can buy Books on Vedanta from Bookshop and read them. After reading them, some may declare “I am Brahman”. But Advaita Vedanta is not something contained in mere words. It is something to be experienced and then expressed in practice at every moment of life.  If someone merely repeats Vedanta verbally it is just ignorance. He is simply acting like a tape recorder or a parrot. Once one of Amma’s young disciple came to Amma and the conversation went like this: “]

Devotee: “Amma, I am a Vedantin.”

Amma said nothing.

Devotee: “Aham Brahmasmi….Aham Brahmasmi….Aham Brahmasmi”

Amma said nothing. He was silent for a while. Then

Devotee: “Shivoham…Shivoham….Shivoham”

Amma said nothing.

Devotee: “Amma, Why aren’t you saying anything?”

Amma: “Son, aren’t you the Brahman already? What is there for me to say to you?”

Devotee: “But, Amma, Why do I still have anger, hatred and desire in me?”

[Amma: “That’s the crux of the issue!  One cannot become a Vedantin by merely reading books.  Vedanta should become the lifeline in us. However, it is indeed good to read Books on Vedanta. Then one should contemplate and understand it deeply.  Through meditation, it should sink deep into our heart. With that, we should strive to get past our weaknesses like anger, desire, hatred and so on.”]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

3.  Guru has his way

Once a guru and his disciple were returning to their Ashram by walk after a long and tiring pilgrimage.  They rested for a while under a tree. The guru got up and said, “Come, let us keep going; I want to reach the Ashram before sunset”.

But the disciple, who was much younger to the guru, felt too tired and dull to proceed further. He said, “Master, I am feeling too tired. I want to have a nap before we proceed further; I am left with little energy”.  But the guru was very particular to move on. He said, “Leave behind your laziness; you are young and you can definitely walk further; we are not too far from the Ashram. Come on!”

But the disciple was adamant. He lied down under the tree and said, “Master, if you want to proceed please go ahead; I will rest for a while and come a little later”.

The guru did not like the attitude of the disciple.  He walked alone. After a short while, he noticed some construction activity by the side of the road. Several men and women were working there as laborers.  A woman’s child was sleeping in a hammock under the shade of an adjacent tree.

The guru stealthily picked up the sleeping child and walked back before anyone could notice him. He went to the tree where his disciple was sleeping and left the child next to him.

He came back to the construction site, called one of the ladies working there and said, “Hello, have any one of you left your child in the hammock there? I happen to notice one young man picking up your child and rushing in this direction..” He pointed the direction where his disciple was sleeping under the tree at some far distance.

Hearing this, one woman started crying, saying that it was her child. All the laborers working in the site left their work and gathered immediately around the guru.

The guru said, “He would not have gone far off: run immediately and chase him” saying so, he coolly started walking towards his ashram.

The laborers picked up crowbars, sticks and stones and started running in the other direction. Soon they saw at a distance a man sleeping under a tree with a child next to him. Making loud cries, they started running towards the tree.
Their noisy shouts woke up the disciple. As he looked around confused, he noticed the child sleeping next to him. Then he noticed several laborers coming angrily towards him with weapons in their hands and shouting “There he is; catch him!”

The disciple immediately understood that there was something wrong and they mob was actually coming to attack him. Not thinking twice, he started running.  Before they could reach him he managed to run very fast from the place. He ran through lanes and bylanes to save himself from the fiery mob. Fortunately, the mob stopped once they saw that the child was safely sleeping under the tree.

When the guru reached the Ashram,  he chuckled within himself to see the disciple standing at the front gate sweating and panting, waiting for his arrival!

[Amma: “A guru knows the weaknesses of his disciple. He will create circumstances where in the disciple’s  undesirable tendencies are  corrected and his capabilities are stretched beyond limitations.”]

4.  Laughing at others

Once there were two disciples under a guru and both of them were very egoistic. It was their nature to speak ill of each other always.  However much the guru counseled them, there was no improvement in their behavior. One day the guru thought of a plan.

During the night, when both the disciples were in sound sleep, the guru brought some paints and painted their faces to look like clowns.

In the morning one of the disciples who got up first saw the face of the other and started laughing out loud. Hearing his laughter, the other disciple woke up. He saw the face of the first one and bursted out laughing.  Both of them continued to laugh by pointing fingers at each others’ face. One of the disciples got up and brought a mirror; he shouted it at the face of the other and said, “Look here O clown! This make up suits you perfectly!” and kept on laughing.

The other disciple grabbed the mirror and turning it at the face of the other said, “Look at your face! If you go and start performing tiger dance, you can earn lot of money!”

When it dawned to them that both of them had been painted on their faces to make them look funny, they stopped laughing instantly.

[Amma: “Children, It is always easy to laugh at the fault of others; everybody can do it. But only those endowed with the quality of discrimination can look into his own idiosyncrasies  and laugh at himself and go beyond them. Only then one can get real spiritual progress.”]

5.  Concentration

Once there was an excellent archer who participated in many competitions and won prizes. He participated in an international competition too and won the award as the topmost archer of the world.

When one of his friends came to know of this, he said, “I know a Guru who is a great exponent in archery. Only if you win over him, I can really consider as the best archer of the world”.

The archer took the challenge. His friend took him along to meet the Guru. Coming to know of his success at the global level competition, the guru congratulated him wholeheartedly.

The friend broached the subject of their visit to the guru. The guru said, “Let us first go for a walk for a while. You may please bring your bow and arrow along.

They walked together and climbed over a small hillock. Adjacent to it, there was another hillock and both were connected by a rope bridge. The guru proceed to walk along the bridge and the two men followed him. When they reached the middle of the bridge, the guru pointed out a tree on the opposite hillock and said to the archer, “Do you see a fruit hanging in that tree? Will you use your bow and hit that fruit with an arrow?”

The archer agreed. As he was taking aim at the fruit, strong wind started blowing and the rope bridge started swaying. The archer had to catch the side ropes to steady himself. The rope bridge continued to sway and however much he tried, it was difficult for him to balance himself and aim at the fruit. When he shot the arrow, it missed the target totally.

Now the guru borrowed his bow and arrow. While the bridge continued to sway wildly in the wind, the guru was totally unperturbed. He aimed at the fruit and shot the arrow. The arrow hit the fruit.

[Amma: “In this story, the guru had the ‘remote control” of his mind in his hand. He had no fear of failure nor any disturbance in concentration due to external factors. Is it possible for everyone to dance peacefully on a shaking stage? Leading a life without mental peace is also similar. The one which is ever steady and firm is God. If  we hold God as our base, then it would be like dancing on a firm dais. “]

(From Oliyai Nokki – Tamil – Vol 3)

6.  Not too far away

Once a guru and his disciple were travelling to a holy place by foot. It was a long and arduous journey and the disciple was feeling very tired. He wanted to take a long rest before continuing with the journey, but the guru was particular to reach the holy place before dark.

“The place is not far off.  We have to walk only a small distance and we will reach the destination. Then you can relax there. Come on!” he encouraged the disciple to keep walking.

They walked for another half an hour. The disciple felt exasperated. “Master, you said it is only a short distance and yet we have not reached the place despite walking for so long”.

The guru said, “I know this route very well. We are on the right path and we have to walk just a little more. We are almost there;  Come on!”

Again they kept walking. Another half an hour was gone. The disciple felt very disappointed. “No master; I cannot walk anymore. I am dead tired. Please tell me the truth. How long should we walk?”

“Ah! We have almost reached. A little more walking and we will end up there. Be cheerful!” said the guru.

After walking for another twenty minutes, they finally reached their destination.

[Amma: “Spiritual journey is never short and sweet. A seeker has to tread a long and arduous path to reach his goal of self-realization. There is every possibility for a disciple to lose heart, get disillusioned and drop out from his quest. But a Sadguru does not allow an earnest seeker to slacken his efforts upon facing difficulties. He constantly goads him to strive for more through soothing and comforting words of encouragement; he helps his disciple to stretch himself beyond his limits in order to reach his goal.”]

(from Amma’s Guru purnima message 5/7/2020)

7.  Boundless compassion

Once a good hearted man brought an young boy to meet his guru at an ashram. “Master, this boy is an orphan. None of his relatives are willing to take care of him since he is very arrogant and mischievous. May I request you to show him some way?”

The guru said he would admit the boy into the ashram and take care of him.

The guru kept the boy under his direct observation and showered lot of love and care on him. The boy however continued to be very arrogant and indisciplined. He behaved roughly with other boys in the ashram and created trouble for every one. Other inmates in the Ashram felt very annoyed and they kept on complaining about the boy to the guru. However, the guru brushed aside all their complaints and continued to shower his love and affection to the orphan boy.

A few years passed by. The boy grew up. He frequently went out of the ashram and joined evil company. He started stealing money from the ashram and spend it on smoking and drinking with his friends outside the ashram.

One night, a group of ashram inmates came to the guru and said, “That boy is hopeless.  We feel he can never be straightened. You see, he is right now lying on the road outside the ashram fully drunk. He is bringing such a disgrace to the ashram.”

The guru went out to see what happened. The boy was lying near the road under a tree.  It was pretty cold outside.  The guru removed his shawl and wrapped it around the boy. He sighed seeing the pitiable state of the boy and returned to the Ashram.

The boy woke up from his slumber a couple of hours after dawn. He noticed that he was covered with a shawl and it was his guru’s shawl. He felt deeply disturbed and moved. The thought that despite his evil behavior across all these years, the guru still loved him and took care of him when he was lying totally drunk on the roadside.

He started crying.

With teary eyes, he entered into the ashram, came to the guru’s room and fell at his feet. He cried his heart out and sought forgiveness from the guru for all his misdeeds. He promised to turn a new leaf right from that moment.

Soon a dramatic change started happening in his behavior.  Within a couple of months he turned out to be one of the best young disciples in the ashram and he could stand as an example for others.

(from Amma’s Guru purnima message 5/7/2020)

8.  Four gurus

Once a disciple asked his guru, “Master, can you tell me about your guru?”

The guru said, “I have learned from so many gurus. But four of them stand apart. I will tell you about them…” and he continued:

“My first guru was a thief. Once I stayed together with him for a few days. Every night he would promptly wake up at 2 AM and go out. He would return after a few hours. When I asked him whether he could get anything by stealing that night, he would say, “No. I am not lucky today. Let me try again tomorrow night”.

The next day too he would promptly get up at 2 AM at night and go out. He chose that odd hour because he knew that all people would be in deep sleep at that time and that would be the best time to break into houses and steal. That night too he returned empty handed. It happened so on several days.

 I asked him, “You have not been able to succeed all these days. But still you are doing it again and again. Why?”

He said, “This is what I know for earning my living. I don’t have any other skill. I have to persevere like this and I ams sure I would get a big booty one day, if I could break into a rich man’s house”.

From him I learned the importance of perseverance in pursuing one’s spiritual goal.

My second guru is a young boy. One day, I saw a boy going in the night with a lantern in hand. I wanted to tease the boy and asked him, “Do you know where from the light comes?”

He immediately lifted up the glass of the lantern and blew air into the flame. The light immediately got extinguished and it became dark. The boy said to me, “The light came from the place where it is gone now”.

I was taken aback by his brilliant retort. That day I learned that it is wrong to underestimate or disrespect anyone and even boys deserve respect.

My third guru is a dog.

One day, I was to cross a river. I noticed a dog too which wanted to cross the river. It went close to the water, looked at it and barked. Then it came back. After a while it went to the water and barked again and returned. I understood that it was looking at its own reflection and getting scared of presence of another dog in water and that’s why it barked. But after a while, it jumped into the water, swam across and reached the other bank.

This dog taught me a lesson that we should be firm on our spiritual goals even though we may get distracted by fear and loss of self-confidence. At some point or other, we should gather ourselves and proceed firmly to reach our goal.

My fourth guru was a farmer. Once I went to a village where an old farmer lived. He was revered by everyone in the village and they considered him a saint. I met him and interacted with him. I asked him, “Why are you so special that people respect you so much?”

He said, “I see goodness and hope everywhere. When I see a egg, I think of the hen inside it. When I see a seed, I think of the tree that it contains. When I see, death I see life.  When I see the diversity in the world,  I see the unity behind them all”.

From him I understood what  non-duality is.”

(from Amma’s Guru purnima message 5/7/2020)

9.  Blessings for prosperity?

Once in an Ashram, many disciples lived with their Guru.  Depending on the extent of development of spiritual maturity in them, the guru used to sent them for serving the society in suitable ways.

One day the guru chose a disciple for deploying him in some charitable activity.  Before departing, the disciple fell at the feet of the guru and sought his blessings. The guru blessed him saying, “My son, may you always get the comforts of stay in a palace, may you always be served with the foods of best taste, may you always sleep well in a bed of roses”.

The disciple was very surprised to hear such blessings from the guru. He asked, “Master, all along as we lived in the ashram, you have always professed simple living devoid of all comforts and insisted on sacrifice; now you are blessing me of all sorts of royal comforts. May I know why?”

The guru smiled and said, “My son, the true meaning of my blessings are indeed to tell you that you should progress in the path of sacrifice. When you go out and serve the world, you are most unlikely to get any form of comfortable stay. You must develop such an attitude  that you shall gladly  accept whatever meager facilities you get for your stay as if it is  a royal palace. Then you should eat food only after you feel extremely hungry. If you eat like that, whatever type of food you may get will taste delicious.  You will have to physically exert yourself so much that by the time you go to sleep, you will be so tired that you will find even a surface of rock to lie down to be a bed of roses!”

[Amma: “One can attain deathless state only through renunciation. Renunciation does not mean reducing all comforts alone. It includes serving others without any selfish motive.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

10. A Parable

Once the Prince of the World of Light was conquered by The Lord of Darkness and was incarcerated  in a dark cell.  The lord of Darkness arranged several security guards around him to ensure that he did not attempt to escape.

On the wall of the dark cell, there was a small hole and through the hole, sun light peeped in to the room. The light said to the Prince, “You give your royal crown and your royal dresses and jewels as bribe to the security guards. They are very greedy and they will help you to escape from this cell. Accordingly the Prince gave away his possessions and the guards helped him to escape.

As he came out, the Sun God presented him with a powerful sword. With that sword, the prince killed the Lord of Darkness.

He then returned to his World of Light. The aging king immediately crowned him as the new king.

[Amma: “In this parable,  the lord of Darkness is Ignorance (Ajnana).  The Sun God is the guru.  The crown and the jewels represent lust and other worldly desires. The sword given by Sun is Knowledge (Jnana).  This story tells us that by obeying the guru and relinquishing lust and worldly desires, one has to annihilate the ignorance using  the knowledge bestowed by the Guru.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

11. Love that too

[Amma: “If goodness exists in our hearts, then we will be able to see only goodness everywhere. When our heart is good, we will be able to enjoy the beauty of lotus flowers even if they are in a muddy pond. On the contrary, if our mind harps on the muddy pond, we won’t be able to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of lotus flowers.”]

Once a householder went to his spiritual master and paid his respects.  He wanted to speak his heart out. He said to the master: “Guruji, till this day in my life, I have never knowingly hurt any person; I have heard in my childhood a saying — ‘if your talk is good, your walk (i.e. behavior) too will be good’ and I have always followed it as a matter of principle right from my young age. I always take extra care to ensure that I don’t hurt anyone with my words…”

In order to explain how harsh words become so unpleasant to hear, he gave an example: “Master, whenever I come to this ashram and stay here, I hear lots of birds chirping in the mornings and evenings. I really enjoy hearing the singing of cuckoos and the chatting of parrots here which are so sweet to the ears. But amid all these, I also hear crows cawing and it really makes me cringe; It is so jarring to my ears and I don’t like it. So, speaking harsh words is similar to that, in my opinion…”

And he continued to speak of something that keeps disturbing him: “Master, despite my speaking nicely with others and never hurting anyone with my words, I find that my life is not smooth nor peaceful. What could be the reason for it?” He asked.

When he kept on talking, the guru, who was seated on the ground in front of him, was drawing something on the sand with his finger and patiently listening to him too.  Not lifting up his face from the picture he was drawing, the master said with a smile on his face: “I think you must try to love the crows too whose cawing  is unpleasant to you. If  your are able to like even the cawing of the crows, then you will be filled with joy in your heart. Further, you will become more eligible to receive God’s grace”.

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

12. Mother is the first guru

Once a group of scholars were discussing about the best commentaries and literary works based on Ramayana. 

One of the scholars said, “I consider such-and-such person’s work on Ramayana to be the best. He has thoroughly elaborated  out the spiritual aspects of Ramayana very well”.

Another person said, “I really love so-and-so’s Ramayana because it is poetry form and it is indeed a very commendable and lucid presentation of the emotions in Ramayana”.

Some other scholars were suggesting some other names.

One scholar said, “I consider my own mother’s version of Ramayana is the best”.

Others got curious. “Has she written a book elaborating Ramayana?” they asked.

“No” said the scholar. “When I was child, she narrated the Ramayana story so many times. I used to listen to her narration with rapture. Through her narration, I received so much valuable teachings for my life — the importance of dharmic conduct, valuing truth, adhering to truth, unselfishness and sacrifice, the importance of love between family members, respecting elders, fostering good friendship, surrendering to God and so many things.  My mother did not just told me Ramayana stories but she actually lived the various values taught by Ramayana in her own life and set an example to me. That’s why I say, her version of Ramayana is the best for me”.

(From Amma’s Ramayana month Satsang – 26/7/2020)

13. Finding God

Once a there was a young boy who was deeply devoted to Devi, the Divine Mother. He had a deep longing to have a vision of the Divine Mother. He approached his guru and expressed his desire.

The Guru said, “It is possible for you to see Devi, but not really in divine form. But you can definitely see Divine Mother coming in the guise of  of a normal woman. I will tell you an identification by which you will be able to know who that woman is. She will have a mole in the little toe of her right foot”.

From that day onwards the boy started looking at the right foot of every lady he came across. He would look for a mole in their small toe. Days and months passed; yet he did not come across any woman with that identity.

One day, his mother came towards him with a vessel in hand to give him something to eat. At that time, the vessel fell down. The boy bent down to pick the vessel from the floor and at that time, he noticed a mole in her right toe. He was overwhelmed by surprise. With devotion welling up in his heart he fell at the feet of his mother and prostrated again and again with tears flowing from his eyes.

[Amma: “If  we really want to see God, we should first see God amid people who are closest to us — mother, father, guru and friends. Then we should be able to see God  in whomsoever we meet. Then we should be able to recognize God inside each and every being. We should be able to love and serve everyone. That is what is needed. If this attitude comes, then in due course, we will be able to have the vision of God in each and every being in this earth.”]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

14. Creating Heaven and hell

Once a person visiting an ashram for the first time, met the guru and asked him a question: “Maharaj, Are heaven and hell really existing?”

The guru asked him, “Who are you?”

The man said with pride: “I am a soldier.”

The guru said, “A person like you, who is essentially very cruel and animal-like, is not qualified to ask this question to me. Don’t waste my time; Go away”.

The soldier could not bear such an insult thrown right on his face. He got very angry. He pulled out his sword from the sheath hanging on his waist and was about to slice the guru in one stroke.

The guru smiled at him without a trace of fear and said,”Aren’t you overwhelmed by anger? You are right now in hell!”

Hearing this, the soldier got bewildered. He felt ashamed to recognize his own fury. He slid back his sword into its sheath and fell at the feet of guru with humility.

The guru said, “You are now in heaven!”

[Amma: “Both heaven and hell are our own creation. If the mind is peaceful, even a gory hell would be like a heaven; If the mind is agitated, even the best heaven would be like a hell. Peace, equanimity and joy are all dependent on one’s mind. “]

(Source: Amritam Gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 2)

15. Acceptance

Once in  village, there lived a farmer who was facing lots of hardships in life. Some f his cattles met with untimely death. His farmland was attacked by pests. Heavy floods damaged his crops once. He had several family problems too. He felt sick of his life.

In his village, there lived a rich businessman who was also considered a very wiseman in the locality.  The farmer approached him for some financial help and and also sought counsel from him. He narrated in detail about his sufferings in life.

After patiently listening to him, the businessman said, “I will give you some job for you tonight.  Please do it well and  I will give you financial help to you and also give you some useful guidelines to face hardships in life.”

The  former nodded his head.

The businessman said, “I have got 100 horses in my stable. You have to ensure that all of them lie down and sleep together. Once you have finished it, come and see me”.

The former gladly accepted the job and went to the stable.

He went around and arranged to feed them all first. He thought that once they are well fed, they will sleep peacefully. Some of the horses ate well and after a while, they lied down to sleep. But several other horses did not eat. They were simply standing. The farmer went near each horse and cajoled it to eat. Some did and some did not.  He forcefully made some horses to lie down. Some of them yielded to his commands and some did not.  Past midnight, he somehow managed to  make 60 horses to lie down but the rest were not. By about 3 AM, when majority of the horses seem to be lying down, a few horses that had lied down earlier started standing up!

Even by dawn, the farmer could never succeed in making all the horses lie down together and sleep! The farmer lost his whole night’s sleep in this process!

Early morning he came and reported the matter to the businessman: “Sir, I could not succeed in making all the hundred horses to lie down and sleep together”.

The businessman smiled; he gave some money to the farmer and said, “You see, this is is how our life too is. You can never solve all your problems fully and enjoy a trouble free life. It is just not possible. Ups and downs will always be there. You have to bear with them, manage as best as you could and lead your life to the best of your ability. That’s  the only way.”

(Amma’s Onam Satsang 31/8/2020)

Amma’s stories on Nature of the World / People – Part 6 (15 more stories)

1. When money comes in excess

[Amma: “Children, it is not wrong to make money. But it should not be as if the entire life is only for that. You can have enough money for your needs; but you should not accumulate money excessively.”]

One there lived a man who earned his living by making and mending umbrellas. He used to make umbrellas peacefully, by chanting God’s name all the time. He would speak about God’s great qualities to the people who come to him. Whatever he could earn this way, he lived a very contented and happy life. His customers loved him. He was never short of income needed to run his family.

One day, a very rich Zamindar came to buy an umbrella from him. He was impressed by the quality of the umbrella, its low price and also the nice behavior of the umbrella maker. He wanted to reward him. He generously gave a huge sum of money to the maker for buying the umbrella.

It was the first time the man ever got to see such a huge sum of money at one go from selling an umbrella. The money started playing with the nature of the man. His mind lost concentration in work; he constantly thought how to save that money. Will it be safe if he kept it at his house? Will it get stolen by thieves?

The thought of money blocked his chanting of God’s names. He could not finish the jobs in hand in time. ‘How to invest this money? Shall I start building a new house? Should I start a new business?’ such thoughts kept crowding his mind.  He lost concentration on work totally. He felt irritated to speak to others. He lost his habit of talking nicely with his customers.  If anybody disturbed his thoughts about money, he felt angry at them.

In due course, his customers started dwindling.  His income nosedived.  As his mind was constantly on money, it lost its peace. As greed and selfishness increased, he felt painful and agitated. As his income from making umbrellas started drying, he had to spend all the money for his sustenance.

Thus the peace and tranquility that prevailed in his life was totally lost on account of the arrival of a huge sum of money.

2.  Forbearance

[Amma: “When the goal is high, the amount of patience and forbearance needed to achieve it is also high. Without these qualities, any grand declaration of intentions might  turn to be a laughable declaration. It applies to spiritual quest too.”]

Once there was a famous wrestler.  He had lots of fans; he was challenged by many other wrestlers.  The wrestler had a dream that he should be the conqueror of all wrestlers in the world and he should be overawed by others by his sheer looks. So, he thought of an idea. He thought that if he could have a picture of a ferocious tiger tattooed on his back, he would look intimidating.

He called a famous tattoo artist. The artist showed a picture of a wild tiger that looked quite fierce and violent and he agreed. The tattoo artist started his work. He first started with the left ear of the tiger. The wrestler never expected that the tattooing process would be so prickly and painful.  After a short while, he said, “Oh no! That area feels so painful. Please stop there and do the tattooing in some other area”.

The artist stopped there and started to work on the right eye of the tiger. After patiently bearing the pain for a while, the wrestler could not contain himself any more. “Wait, wait! The pain is really excruciating there. Please leave that portion and start somewhere else”.

Now the artist shifted his work to the mouth of the tiger. As usual , within a short while the wrestler started shouting in pain. “No, no! I just cannot bear this pain any more! Better erase everything; I am abandoning this idea”.

The artist said that there is no way of erasing a tattoo work done on the skin. But, the wrestler was not ready to continue with the torture on his back!

Thus, the back of the wrestler now looked ridiculous with a few patches of lines and dots drawn incoherently at his back. Instead of creating an awe, it only created ridicule from the onlookers!

(from Amma’s Gurupurnima message 14/7/2019)

3.  Setting example

[Amma: “Any preaching is best done by living as example.  Mere verbal preaching cannot effectively drive home philosophy. People tend to follow prominent personalities in the society. Hence people in high posts and positions should set examples for others.”]

Once a minister went to the the house of the Head of the Village as a guest. That village was extremely dirty. In every street and road junctions rubbish had accumulated in huge mounds. Gutters were stagnant overflowing with filthy water. Bad smell permeated the entire atmosphere of the village.

The minister inquired why the whole village was so dirty. The Village Head replied: “The people who live here totally lack civic sense. They cannot even understand that we should keep our localities clean. However much we advise or teach them, they would not listen. They are extremely lazy. I have tried my best to give sermons to  them on cleanliness but I am fed up as they just don’t bother. ”

The minister did not say anything. After taking his dinner at the house he went to sleep.

Next day early morning, the village head woke up but he could not find the minister in his bed. He searched for him in the entire house in vain. He came out of the house and looked around. The minister was on the street with a broomstick on hand. He had swept the surroundings clean and was igniting a huge mound of waste. Seeing it, the village Head could not remain a mute spectator. When the minister himself was engaged in scavenging work, how can he be an idle onlooker? He too started cleaning the streets.

As people in the village started coming out of their houses in the morning, they saw the minister and the Head of the village busy in sweeping the village. They were surprised! How could they sit idle when such eminent persons were engaged in cleaning work?  Everybody started joining the work.  Soon, all the rubbish were cleared and burnt. The gutters were cleaned.  the whole village became spic and span. Very soon, the culture of the village changed and cleanliness became their part of life.

(Source: Oliyai nokki-Tamil-Part 1)

5. Never lose hope

Once a huge flock of birds were flying away from the forest where they were living all along. After flying for while, they came down to rest. They noticed a huge contingent of snails moving slowly towards the direction of the forest. “Where are you going?” asked the birds. The head of the snails said, “We are moving to the forest ahead of us; we want to go and live there”.

The chief of the birds said. “What? To that forest? I would advise you not to go there. We are all coming only from there; we have abandoned it and going in search of greener pastures. That forest is unfit to live; As all ponds there have dried up, there is no source of water there; trees have withered; there is nothing to eat and live there. You can’t find any green leaf there”.

The head of the snail said, “It does not matter. By the time we reach there, we are sure, things would change. We have enough time and enough hope”.

6. Gaining attention

Once a man was standing at the terrace of his house. He saw his friend walking along the road. Instead of calling him aloud, he somehow wanted to get the attention of the friend. He plucked a bunch of flowers from an adjacent tree and threw towards his friend. The friend stopped, picked up the flowers and smelled them. Taking them along, he moved forward.

Now the friend from the terrace throw a coin towards him. The walker noticed the coin on the road; he looked around to see whether anyone is noticing him. But he did not look upward towards the house. He picked up the coin, put it into his pocket and walked away. Now the friend from the terrace threw a pebble stone at his friend; it hit him on the head. Infuriated, the man looked around in all directions and also upward and  only then he noticed his friend standing at the terrace and smiling at him.

[Amma: “This is how most of us behave with God too. When good things happen in our lives, we never bother to think of God. But when a calamity strikes, only then we start looking for God’s help!”]

 

7. The little boy and the pilot

A pilot on duty on a specific and regular flight route always would fly low over a meadow and look eagerly down. Noticing his habit, the co-pilot asked him, “What is so special about this meadow? Why are you eagerly looking at it each time?”

The pilot said, “When I was a boy, I lived in a village in this meadow. I used to go for fishing in the stream nearby. As I sat there with my fishing rod, normally, a plane would fly overhead; I used to eagerly look at the plane; I longed to become a pilot and fly a plane those days. Over the years, I have indeed become a pilot. But now, as I fly over this meadow, I long for my childhood. I would love to sit peacefully by the stream with a fishing rod in hand and do my fishing leisurely!”

[Amma: ” By thinking of the past or worrying about the future, most of us miss to live in the present fully.”]

(Amma Onam Satsang 11/9/19)

8.  Donated Air?

Once an Old Age Home was celebrating its anniversary. A cultural show was arranged for the celebration and all the inmates and other invitees were sitting in the hall and enjoying the program.

Suddenly, a person came into the hall and switched off all the ceiling fans. He was a well known businessman in the town. One of the inmates asked him, “Why did you switch off all the fans? Don’t you see that people are sweating profusely in this hot climate without air circulation?”

The businessman said, “It is me who donated all the fans in this old age home. My name has been written in all the fans in this hall.If all the fans are running, no one would be able to read my name written in them. I wanted to make sure that people who have come here for this program should know that it is me who has donated all these fans. That’s why I switched off the fans”.

[Amma: ” Such a donation can never be called a real donation.  Such an attitude will even cancel out the punya that one accrues through donation”.]

(Source: Amritam gamaya – Malayalam – Vol 1)

9. Selective hearing

A small crowd of people were waiting outside a shop to buy various provisions. The shopkeeper was busy picking up things that the customers asked and packing them.

Suddenly, the shopkeeper stopped all his work, closed his eyes and joined his palms in prayer. A couple of minutes passed and then he opened his eyes. He noticed that there was a look of irritation in the customers’ faces. One of them said to him curtly, “What is it you are doing all of a sudden by closing your eyes? When all of us are waiting to be taken care of in the shop, aren’t you showing disrespect to your customers by stopping your work and doing like this?”

The shopkeeper relied patiently, “It is evening arati time in the adjacent temple. Did you not hear the temple bell ringing? Hearing the sound of the bell, I just closed my eyes and prayed to God for a few moments”.

“None of us heard any bell ringing from the temple” said the customers.

The shopkeeper did not speak further and was busy with his work. After a while, when others were not noticing, he threw a coin on to the road. When the coin hit the road, it made a clinking sound. All the customers immediately turned back. Some of them rushed to pick up the coin.

Immediately the shopkeeper said to them, “See, when the sound of the bell from the temple was loud and clear, none of you noticed it; but all of you did not miss the mild clinking of a coin!”

[Amma: ” The awareness of all the people who came to the shop were only  in money and worldly matters; That’s why they all could hear the mild sound of a coin hitting the floor. On the other hand, the shopkeeper gave considerable significance to the thoughts of God in his life. That’s why, despite being extremely busy with his work, he could instantly turn his attention towards God at the sound of the temple bell. Like this, our centre of attention should always be God in our lives. Then whether we are engaged in worldly matters  or extremely busy in some activity, our awareness on God will always be sharp”.]

(Source: Amritam gamaya-Malayalam- Vol 1)

10.  The signature signifies…

[Amma: ” In the past, men had a bloated pride claiming ‘I am more powerful than women’ and the tendency to dominate and subjugate women. Women of the present day tend to think differently. They think, “Across so many years in the past, men dominated and controlled us. We shall no longer allow it. It is time to teach them a lesson”. Now there is constant wrangling in the present day families; both men and women are busy trying to teach the others who is bigger. This tendency should go. Instead of supporting and nurturing each other, couples tend to become two banks of a river with no connecting bridge in between.”]

Once a man got married. After the formal ceremonies in the traditional way are over, the couple proceeded to the Registrar Office to formally register the marriage.

After going through the formalities, the husband first signed in the register. Subsequently, the wife too signed. After seeing his wife’s signature, the man shouted, “Finished. I don’t want to live with this woman. I want divorce immediately!”

Everyone who accompanied them were shocked. The registrar asked, “What nonsense are you talking? What went wrong?”

The man said, “You are asking me what went wrong? Open your eyes widely and note what you see here…” saying so, he pointed out his signature and that of his wife below. “Do you notice how small and compact my signature is? Now look at hers. See how big and long — as if she is occupying the entire page for it? I have rightly understood its meaning and purport. Even in life, she wants to dwarf me and dominate me. I just can’t allow it. I will not allow her to make me small”.

(Source: Amritam gamaya-Malayalam- Vol 1)

11. Judgement depends (1)

Once a relative came to meet his aunt after a long time. They were chit chatting on various family matters.

“Your son got married recently, right? How is your daughter-in-law?” asked the relative.

The aunt said, “Oh don’t ask me anything about her. The less said, the better. She is the laziest woman I have ever seen in my life. She never gets up from her bed before 8 AM.  My son prepares coffee and wakes her up with the cup of coffee in hand. She does not know the spelling of ‘cooking’. She hardly does any household chores. ..”

“So, your son must be suffering a lot?”

“Suffering? Poor fellow. He is such an idiot that he does not find anything faulty with her.  Instead, he is  totally supportive to her and does all the domestic chores himself. It is he who pampers her and dances totally to her whims.  He is just a puppet in her hands; that’s all”.

After a while, the relative asked about the aunt’s daughter.

The aunt’s face brightened up immediately. She said, “Oh! My daughter is extremely lucky. She has got such a nice and loving husband, who treats her virtually like a queen. He simply does not allow her to do any domestic work; he permits her freely to sleep till late in the morning; he has engaged maids to do all the domestic work; he is such a gem of a person!”

(From Amma’s Onam satsang 14/4/2020)

12. Judgement depends (2)

[Amma: “If we develop liking on something, we will start praising it. If a man falls in love with a not-so-good-looking girl, he would see her only as an epitome of all beauties. At the same time, however good looking a person may be, one who hates him/her will only see shortfalls in him/her. This is how, unknowingly our own likes and dislikes tend to dictate our judgements.”]

Once a woman was busy in her kitchen and she was listening to radio too. She heard a woman singing beautifully.  She said to her husband, “Oh! This song is so nice. It is sung so beautifully. When I hear this, I feel dropping all my work in the kitchen and sit aside to hear and enjoy the singing”.

The husband asked: “Do you know who is singing?”

The woman said, “I don’t know”.

The husband said, “It is our neighboring woman who gave a police complaint about you is the singer!”

The moment she heard it, she asked her husband to switch off the radio saying, “Oh! I don’t think this song is so good. The voice is horrible and there is no alignnment with shruti and tala too!”

13. Two beggars

Once  in a village two beggars lived together, sharing a small space in a choultry. One of them was blind and the other, lame.  They would sit outside the choultry and beg at the passersby.  Since there was not much of crowd in that area, they could hardly get any income and they  found it extremely difficult to get even one square meal a day.

One day, the blind beggar said, “It is becoming hopeless to sit here and eke out a living. Let us do one thing.  I have strong legs ; I can carry you on my shoulders and walk. Since you have eyes, you can show me the way. We can walk to the market place where there will be a big crowd and we can get more money from people who will take pity on us.”

The idea immediately appealed to the lame beggar. Soon the blind beggar carried the lame one on his shoulders and they walked to the market place by inquiring their way. They sat together and begged at the people. Many people started dropping coins and currency in their begging bowl.

It was indeed proved to be  a big bonanza for them. At the end of the day, they shared the amount collected equally. A few days went smoothly like this and their pockets started swelling with more and more money. But the arrival of money started creating cracks in their friendship.  They started fighting over the money. Each one demanded a higher share.

“You must thank me for the fortune we are receiving daily. Unless I carried you on my shoulders and took all the trouble of walking to the town, you would never have earned such an amount. Naturally, I deserve a higher amount in the collection!”

The lame man said, “But unless I had guided you in the path, how could you reach the market place? It is me who deserve a better share.”

Soon they started arguing. The argument grew to become a big fight.  The next morning, each of them did not want to talk to the other.  The blind man did not want to carry the lame man and the lame man was in no mood to go with the blind man unless the money sharing issue was sorted out. They did not go to the marketplace for begging. It continued for more days, till all their cash collection got exhausted.  They started sitting outside the choultry to beg once again. Their hunger and poverty returned to them as earlier.

(From Oliyi Nokki – Tamil Vol 3)

14. Which world?

[Amma: “People nowadays are driven by attraction towards new things. Once attained, only dissatisfaction increases. Constant unhappiness widens gap between family members. Though husband and wife life under the same roof, they seem to live in two different worlds. Amma remembers a funny anecdote:”]

Once a man asked his friend, “When do you think this world  would come to an end?”

His friend asked: “Which world are you talking about?”

Man: “What do you mean? How many worlds are there?
Friend: “As for me, there are two worlds. ”

Man: “How?”

Friend: “There is one world of my wife and there is another world of mine. When my wife dies, her world would cease to exist. When I die, my world would come to an end!”

(From Oliyi Nokki – Tamil Vol 3)

15. Really?

[Amma: “Nobody wants to die. Every being wants to  live life the fullest. But no one seems to have any idea of how to lead that life to bring happiness to oneself  and to others.”]

Once there lived an old woman in a village all alone; she had no relatives to call her own or to take care of her at her old age.  She was eking out a living by going into the forest  to collect some firewood, bring it to the village on her head and then selling it for money.

Because of aging, she found it very difficult to carry heavy loads on her head.  Her suffering became unbearable.  She would call out to God panting and cry, “Oh God, Can’t you bring an end to my suffering by taking away my life? What is the point in living a life like this?”

One day, mid way, the old lady dropped her load, unable to carry it any more. She prayed, “Oh God, please end my suffering. I can’t go on like this anymore”.

At that moment a dark and ugly figure came and stood in front of her.  The old lady got terribly scared. “Who are you?” she asked.

The figure replied, “I am the lord of death. I have come to take away your life. Didn’t you call me just now? I have come conceding to your prayers”.

The old lady shook in fear, hearing his words. She suddenly thought of an idea. She said, “You mean my crying just now? Actually I called out somebody to help carry this load of firewood. Will you please help me?”

(From Oliyi Nokki – Tamil Vol 3)

Getting rid of our likes and dislikes – only after self-realization?

Satsang with Amma…

10th Dec 2012 – At Amritapuri Beach

Q: “Amma! We all know that our likes and dislikes are essentially due to our egos. To get rid of our ego, we have to get self-realization and only when we get self-realization, we will be in a position to love one and all equally without any reservations. It is quite a long drawn process and maybe advanced sadakas will be able to attain that state after quite some effort. But how about ordinary worldly people like us? Is there any quick mode of transport ( “a Concorde plane”) for us to reach such a state of self-realization?

The gist of Amma’s reply was as follows:

“It is true that one can reach the ultimate state of loving all only after self-realization. But a lot depends on our mental attitude. It does not mean that we can neglect our shortcomings and need not take any efforts to eradicate our ego-based likes and dislikes. If one says ‘I will take bath in the sea after all the waves subside’, he is never going to have a sea-bath.

“We are all essentially Atman; it is our true nature. But our ego is a product that we created. Our ego is like a bubble in the sea that thinks it is different from the sea.

“Satsang (company with the holy) is very important for us to develop the right mental attitude and to get awareness about what is right and what is wrong. We should shun bad company. Take the example of Kaikeyi. She was in possession of such a good heart that she rewarded a servant maid with a diamond necklace when the maid brought the news that Rama was going to be crowned as the prince. But what happened to the same Kaikeyi when Mandara stated giving her evil counsel? Kaikeyi’s heart totally turned negative towards Rama and she went to the extent of forcing her husband King Dasaratha to send Rama on exile to forest for 14 years.

“Qualities like love and compassion must be cultivated by effort. Once there was this young girl of a rich landlord, who was always found playing with the physically handicapped little daughter of the servant maid.

“The landlord did not like to see his daughter playing with a lowly servant maid’s child. He scolded her several times on this issue, but to no avail. In order to wean her away from that habit, he brought to home a nice child from the family of another rich landlord befitting his status. His daughter exchanged pleasantries with the new girl just for while, but she went back to playing with the handicapped child again.

“This infuriated the landlord and he asked his daughter why she was bent upon doing it. The daughter replied: ‘Father! This nice, rich girl whom you brought to play with me can get any number of friends to play with her. But what about this handicapped little girl? No one except me is willing to play with her; she finds so much of joy when I spend time with her; that’s why I play with her always’. “It is developing such a mental attitude that one can gradually get over with likes and dislikes on others.

“Yes. It is true that getting self-realization is a very long drawn process. It requires lots of patience and effort. One cannot afford to slack efforts and abort one’s goal midway. Once two spiritual aspirants were doing ‘Sadhana’ under a banyan tree for quite some years. The Celestial Sage Narada happened to pass by one day. As Narada had his daily contacts with the Lord Narayana, the aspirants were eager to know from God when they would attain God-realization. They appealed to Narada to inquire about it when he would meet Lord Narayana the next time. Narada agreed.

“A few days later, Narada came by. One of the aspirants eagerly asked whether Narada spoke to Lord Narayana and got the answer. Narada said that he did and what Narayana told him was that this person would require as many births as the number of leaves found in the Banyan tree to attain his self-realization. The person who heard this was devastated. He felt highly infuriated. “I have been doing severe sadhana for so many years and still Narayana says I will require so many births? Oh! Then its all a waste of time. It’s all a mere humbug then; I would rather go back to the world and enjoy it instead of wasting my time here” . He left the place fretting and fuming.

“Now the other aspirant posed the same question and Narada gave the same reply. Upon hearing it, the second aspirant was full of joy and started dancing in ecstasy! “O! Is it true that Lord Narayana indeed said that I would get my salvation after these many births, for sure? Oh! I am really lucky then! I am indeed blessed!” So saying, he continued to jump around and dance.

“At that very moment, the second aspirant got his self-realization instantly. Such was the reward he got for his mental attitude and patience.”