Once there lived a Mahatma in a village. A pious godly man, always in touch with the bliss inward. Due to his gentle and pleasing disposition emanating from the peace within, he was very popular among the villagers. They found pleasure in serving him, taking care of his daily needs. So friendly was he with the villagers that they would often share their daily life problems and seek solutions from him.
Once a lady came to him with her son, a 10 year old lively lad.
“Maharaj ji, I need your help. This boy has the habit of eating too much of jaggery”, she said pointing at the boy. “I have been telling him time and again to stop eating jaggery. But he doesn’t care.”
“But why do you want to stop him. Children like jaggery so much”, said the Mahatma jokingly.
“Maharaj ji you know how harmful it is to eat jaggery. It causes so much of problem- boils, pimples and so on. I have asked him so many times to stop eating jaggery, but he always gives me a slip. Maharaj ji, can you kindly speak to him. He will surely obey what you say.”
Looking at the boy and the mother calmly the Mahatma, said “All right, come next week. We will do something about it.”
The lady went home. “Perhaps Maharaj ji will prepare some charm for the boy. That is why he must have asked for one week’s time”, she said to herself.
After exactly one week, she went again to the Mahatma with her child. The Mahatma called the boy, caressed his head, blessing him affectionately and said in a calm serene voice “Will you do what I say my son”
The boy, looking at the Mahatma with equal affection, nodded in affirmative.
“From today onwards do not eat jaggery”, said the Mahatma, his voice reflecting peacefulness and love.
“Yes, Maharaj ji”, said the boy, his voice reflecting the love and affection showered by the Mahatma.
The mother was glad, the boy had agreed so readily. At the same time she was a little perplexed too. Why did the Mahatma take one week to say such a simple thing?
She could not resist asking the Mahatma. “Maharaj ji, why did you wait for one week to a thing simple as that? You could have said that last week also.”
In reply, the Mahatma posed a counter question. “Did you say these words to him ever?”
“Not once, not twice Maharaj ji, but countless times. But he would not listen.”
“Do you now understand, why he wouldn’t listen”, smiled the Mahatma.
“How do I know. I am not a saint like you”, was the innocent reply.
“You yourself must have been eating jaggery dear”, said the Mahatma softly, “therefore your utterances did not have the desired effect.”
The lady stood in silence. Perhaps she was beginning to understand her mistake.
“When you came last week”, continued the Mahatma, “even I used to eat jaggery, occasionally. “ I had no right to ask him to stop, when I myself ate jaggery. During the week, I did not eat jaggery at all. In fact I gave away my box of jaggery to someone. I have grown old. I should not be eating jaggery, except when needed as a medicine.”
The lady was convinced but not fully. At the same time she, was grateful that the Mahatma had taken a serious step just to reform her son’s habit. But she still had some doubt.
”Maharaj ji, what you have said applies well to us, Grihasts. But you are a saint. The boy would have obeyed you even if you had not imposed the rule of not eating jaggery on yourself.”
“You may be right. The child may have obeyed me otherwise too, but, asking someone not to do something which I cannot resist doing myself, is not a righteous thing to do. I have no right to preach until I practice it myself. If you want your son to stop eating jaggery, you will have to stopping eating it yourself, because you are his mother.”
The mother had understood things now. Both the mother and the son went home happily.
This is a story relevant to all of us. Most of the parents always complain, “Our children do not obey us: They do not study. They do not stop watching television.”
However we conveniently forget one fact. If we want them to stop watching television, we ourselves would have to show the way. We will have to get the television set out of our bed room. The logic of ‘we do not have to study, while the children have to’ is nothing but a hollow excuse to support our temptation.
The parents keep shouting angrily at the children, but always complain that the children do not control their anger.
“He does not obey me”, is the perpetual complaint of the parents; and it will continue until they start listening patiently to the child; until they themselves get rid of the habit of saying “NO” to what ever the child has to say.
Mohan Singh was a married man with a flourishing family. Once in a pensive mood, he called his son Sohan and said “Sohan, today I want to convey to you, the essence of what I have learnt all my life. Look, today I want to Meditate, serve and undertake so many spiritual practices. But I cannot do so, since I have a family to look after, my business to be attended to. My sincere advise to you is, do not marry, if you really want to achieve the bliss of realization. In the days of my youth, my father also gave this advise to me , but I did not realize it’s importance then. Now my experience tells me how relevant that advise was. My father used to tell me that my grandfather had also given this advise to him, but he did not pay heed. So what I have told you is the experience of three generations in a nutshell.”
Sohan was listening carefully. “Do not worry father, I appreciate your advise. In line with the family tradition, after my marriage I will also advise my son not to marry, but follow the spiritual path.