This is a very beautiful story. It is a story about Krishna. Krishna has another name, Rakhal Raja. Raja means king, and Rakhal means cowherd, one who takes the cows to the pastures to graze. Krishna was a king, and he was also a cowherd, so he was called Rakhal Raja, King of the Cowherds.
Once there lived an elderly man who was kind, generous and pious. He used to pray to God every day. When he became very old, and was about to die, he said to his wife, “I am dying. I will leave you here on earth, but don’t worry. God will take care of you.”
His wife replied, “You are going to Heaven, but don’t worry. God will take care of you there.”
Now, this elderly couple had only one child, a little boy named Gopal. He was seven years old when his father died. This little family had always lived in the forest, and they were very poor. After Gopal’s father died, his mother, who had only one cow, used to sell the milk from the cow to get some money. With this money she fed Gopal and herself. Although she was very, very poor, she was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. She prayed to Lord Krishna twenty-four hours a day. She never forgot him for a moment. Her entire life was a prayer.
Because Gopal was seven years old, he had to begin going to school. He lived in the forest, and the school was quite far from his home, so he had to go through the thick of the forest to get there. There were wild animals all around, and naturally he was afraid of these animals. He went to school in the morning with great fear and difficulty, and when he came back in the evening it was worse. At that time there was little light, and he was even more afraid. He came home trembling and practically weeping with fear.
One day he said to his mother, “I am not going to school any more. I am afraid. You have to send someone with me or I will not go any more.”
His mother replied, “My child, tomorrow you will have your elder brother with you. I have another son. He stays in the thick of the forest, and you will see him with the cows. When you call him, he will come and play with you. He will take you right up to the school and he will bring you home again.”
Gopal was so happy. He asked his mother, “What is the name of my brother whom I have not seen?”
“Your brother’s name is Rakhal Raja,” said his mother. “Rakhal Raja is his name.”
The following day when Gopal entered the thick of the forest on his way to school, he called out, “Rakhal Raja, Rakhal Raja, where are you?” Rakhal Raja immediately came. He looked like a real king, with a crown and a peacock-feather.
So Rakhal Raja met Gopal and they went together to the school. When they came near the school building Rakhal Raja said to Gopal, “Now you go, and I will come to take you home when your school is over.” In this way every day Rakhal Raja took Gopal to school in the morning and brought him back home safely in the evening. Gopal was delighted with his new brother.
One day his mother asked him, “Gopal, does Rakhal Raja come?”
“Yes, he comes,” said Gopal.
“I told you he would come. He is your elder brother,” said his mother.
Both Rakhal Raja and Gopal were very happy together. They played all sorts of games in the forest. Rakhal used to bring nice sweets and all kinds of good things for his little brother, so Gopal was always happy and pleased. When he came home late, his mother was not worried because his elder brother Rakhal Raja was taking care of him.
After a few months, Gopal’s schoolteacher lost his mother. In India, when somebody dies, we have a festival at the end of the month. Everybody comes and has a feast. You eat as much as you can, and if you don’t want to eat, they will force you. You have to eat. So a month after the schoolteacher’s mother died, there was a feast for the schoolchildren, and naturally, all the students were bringing presents to the teacher. Gopal knew that everybody was going to bring a present for the schoolteacher, but poor Gopal didn’t have any money. He asked his mother sadly, “What can I do? I wish to take something to my teacher, but we are so poor. What can I do?”
“Ask your Rakhal Raja,” said Gopal’s mother. “He will give you something to give to your teacher.”
In the morning while Rakhal Raja was taking Gopal to school, Gopal said to him, “Rakhal Raja, today everyone will give a gift to the teacher, but I am too poor. Can you give me something?”
Rakhal Raja said, “I am also very poor, but I will give you something.” Gopal was happy to have anything that he could give his teacher.
Rakhal Raja, who was really a god, immediately placed before Gopal a small pot of sour-milk, or curd. It is something like what you call yoghurt. “Take this,” he said. “Your teacher knows that you are very poor. He will not mind.”
Gopal was happy that at least he had something to give to his teacher, but, poor boy, when He brought it to the school, he saw that his fellow students had all brought expensive and beautiful things. He was very sad. He stood at the door like a thief. He did not want anybody to see him because he had brought only a little sour-milk in a small pot. He was very embarrassed. But the teacher was extremely kind. He took the little pot from Gopal and poured the sour-milk into a large pot. He thought that his servants would soon bring sour-milk for the festival and that it could be added to the small potful of sour-milk in the large vessel.
But what happened? When the teacher emptied the sour-milk from the little pot into the big pot, the sour-milk suddenly increased in quantity and filled the big pot to the brim! The teacher was astonished that this tiny little amount of sour-milk was now so vast.
During the festival the people who ate the sour-milk from Gopal’s little pot kept exclaiming about how good it was. “We have never tasted anything like this!” they said. “It is so fragrant and delightful! The flavour is delicious! It is simply excellent!”
The teacher said, “Gopal brought it for me. It was Gopal’s gift.” Then he asked Gopal, “Where did you get the pot of sour-milk that you gave me?”
Gopal replied, “My Rakhal Raja gave it to me.”
“Who is your Rakhal Raja?” asked the teacher.
“Oh, Rakhal Raja is my brother. He is my most intimate friend. He always comes with me to school and takes me back home,” said Gopal.
The teacher knew that Gopal had no brother. He had only one relative, and that was his mother. So he asked, “Can you show me your Rakhal Raja?”
“Yes,” replied Gopal. “He is most beautiful. He has a crown, and he has a peacock-feather in his crown. He is so beautiful!” Gopal promised the teacher that he would take him to Rakhal Raja. “Yes, you come with me, Sir,” he said. “I will take you to my Rakhal Raja.”
In the evening, when the festival was over and everybody had eaten and gone home, Gopal took his teacher along with him to the forest. At the usual place where he used to meet his older brother, he cried out, “Rakhal Raja, Rakhal Raja, Rakhal Raja!” But Rakhal Raja did not come to him.
He called again, “Rakhal Raja, why are you so naughty? You know that my teacher will think I am a liar. Every day you come here even if I don’t call you. Today I am crying for you and you are not coming. Why are you so unkind to me? Why are you so cruel? My teacher will not believe me. He will think that I am a liar. Please come, Rakhal Raja, please come.” He cried and begged, but Rakhal Raja did not appear.
The teacher said, “You are a liar. Somebody else has given this to you.”
Gopal shook his head and said, “No, no, my Rakhal Raja has given it to me. I don’t know why he is angry with me today. I don’t know why he is not coming to me.” And again he started calling, “Rakhal Raja, please, please, come!” But Rakhal Raja would not come.
Then Gopal and the teacher heard a voice from the forest saying, “Gopal, today I won’t come. I come to you because of your mother. Your mother prays to me every day. She prays to me all the time. I am extremely pleased with your mother, and that is why I come to help you and play with you. But your teacher has never prayed to me. Why should I show my face to him? He also has to pray to me like your mother does. Your teacher does not deserve me. You deserve me because your mother prays to me every day, all day. I am only for those who pray to me, for those who need me. Your teacher has never prayed to me, so I will not come.”
The teacher, who was a grown-up man, understood, and he was extremely pleased that Gopal’s mother was so spiritual. He could not see Lord Krishna himself, but he knew that there was somebody who could see him because she prayed to him every day, and that person was Gopal’s mother.
You too can pray, in the morning and in the evening. If you pray in the morning and in the evening, then God will be pleased. Pray for five minutes in the morning and in the evening. Your mother or your father will teach you how. When you do it, you will see that you will get your own Rakhal Raja to help you whenever you are in difficulty or danger.
In the story you saw how Rakhal Raja came and helped Gopal. In the same way, God is bound to come to you when you are in real difficulty, if you pray regularly. If you pray every day, then you will see God’s most beautiful Form. Now you see a beautiful flower or picture and you say to your mother, “Look, how beautiful!” But when you see God face to face you will be surprised, because He is infinitely more beautiful.
To see God you don’t need anything. In order to buy something you need money, but in order to see God you don’t need money. You only need to pray, and this is as easy as drinking water. Just pray and you will get Him. When you get Him, He will give you everything.
Sweet, sweeter, sweetest
Sweet is my Lord.
Him I have realised as the Eternal Truth.
Sweeter is my Lord.
Him I have realised as the only Doer.
Sweetest is my Lord.
Him I have realised as the Enjoyer Supreme.
Who is the highest?
Once there was a very pious Brahmin who was utterly devoted to his family deity. He worshipped this deity every day, sitting cross-legged in front of the shrine in his home.
One day during his meditation, he observed that the prasad or food offered to the deity, which is customarily eaten by the devotee after worship, was snatched away by a mouse and eaten in front of his very eyes. The Brahmin was astonished to see this and concluded that the mouse was more powerful than the deity. Otherwise, how could it dare to eat the offering? So he grabbed hold of the mouse, and tying it with a string to the place of worship, decided to worship this creature instead of the deity.
He removed the picture of the deity from the shrine, and started worshipping the mouse. One day his cat, jealous of the attention the mouse was receiving, pounced upon the tiny creature. The two had a terrible fight, but of course the poor mouse was killed in the battle.
Now it was quite clear to the Brahmin that the cat was more powerful than the mouse, so he started worshipping the cat whom he had previously neglected. This continued for some time until one day the Brahmin’s dog entered the room of worship. Seeing the attention that the cat was getting from his master, the dog became furiously jealous and violently attacked the cat. The unhappy cat was bitten and scratched all over and bled in many places. When the Brahmin considered the situation, it became quite clear to him that the dog was more powerful than the cat.
So he removed the cat from the place of worship and placed the dog there instead. He now began to worship the dog, who was tied with a rope to the shrine. The animal’s continual barking, however, was a source of great irritation to the Brahmin’s wife. One day in utter exasperation, she threw a brick at the barking dog. It landed on his head with a thump. The poor dog was in great pain and cried piteously over his wound. The Brahmin, hearing the whimpering of the poor dog, came into the room, and seeing what had happened, concluded that it must be due to the superior power of his wife.
So he decided to let the dog go and to worship his wife. He said to her, “At long last I realise that you are the most powerful. Only you can be the object of my adoration!”
The wife was thunderstruck at these remarks, to say nothing of being puzzled and embarrassed. How could she be the object of his adoration, she thought, since all her life she had been made to feel like his servant, constantly at his beck and call? She finally consented, however, since she had no alternative.
Now the Brahmin’s wife had become his object of adoration and worship. He addressed her with words of devotion and praised her divine qualities. So devoted was he that he had the impulse to worship her even when she was asleep. He would awaken her and make her take her place at the shrine where he could adore her. Or if she were in the shower, he would call her to come out. No matter what she was doing she would have to stop and come to the shrine to be worshipped.
Finally the Brahmin’s wife became so fed up with this farce that she told him the whole thing was nonsense. At this he became furious. “Nonsense?” he echoed. “How dare you criticise my wisdom?” And he slapped her violently. The poor frightened woman began weeping bitter tears.
Now, seeing his own power, it became very clear to the Brahmin that he was the strongest of all. So he started worshipping himself, saying, “I am God, I am the greatest, I am everything.”
But it did not take him much time to realise that he was merely a prey to his desires. It was his desires that were compelling him to action, either good or bad. So since his habit was to worship the most powerful force, he started worshipping his desires. But he quickly gave this up, for he saw immediately that his desires had no strength of their own. It was his senses that compelled the desires to possess and be possessed.
Then the Brahmin started worshipping the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. He was now pondering deeply on these subtle things which he was worshipping. After much thought, he concluded that it was the mind which was responsible for the functioning of the senses.
So he began worshipping his mind, and felt proud that he had progressed so far from the ignorant animals he had worshipped only a few months before. But he found that his mind was far from satisfaction, and even farther from perfection. So he entered into his heart.
The heart, in spite of having peace and joy and harmony, was still lacking in absolute fulfilment. He was yearning for the supreme power. He concluded that the heart was not enough, so he entered into his soul.
There, in union with his own soul, he got the first glimpse of his divine fulfilment. He plunged deep into the spiritual life. But the individual soul, he found, is not all-pervading or all-fulfilling. He aspired for the highest. He went even deeper. Deep within he discovered the Supreme Self.
Here, at the end of his journey, the Brahmin saw that the Supreme Self is the most powerful. The Supreme Self, which has neither beginning nor end, is all-pervading and all-fulfilling. The Supreme Self, which is both Creator and creation, is the Highest.
My name – my age – my home
At last I know my name.
My name is God’s eternal Game.
At last I know my name.
At last I know my age.
My age is Infinity’s page.
At last I know my age.
At last I know my home.
My home is where my flame-worlds roam.
At last I know my home.
Blessing or curse?
Briksha was a very powerful and cruel king. He used to torture people and kill people for no reason. He killed hundreds of innocent people just for fun. Briksha wanted to be the most powerful king on earth.
Now, in India we believe in one main God, and under Him many little gods, or lesser gods. It takes a long time to please some gods, but other gods are very easy to satisfy. One of the gods is called Shiva, and Shiva is very easily pleased.
Shiva used to meditate in the Himalayas. He would sit and meditate on the top of the highest mountain. Briksha went to the Himalayas and prayed to Shiva for a few years. He sat with his eyes closed and prayed most devotedly, repeating Shiva’s name: “Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva…” Sometimes he didn’t take food. He fasted and he practised austerities.
After a couple of years, Shiva was pleased with him, and came and stood in front of him. But Briksha had his eyes closed while he was repeating Shiva’s name.
Shiva said, “I am standing in front of you, but you have your eyes closed and you don’t see me.” But Briksha didn’t believe it, and he continued to pray and chant.
Shiva said, “You have pleased me, and I am willing to grant you a boon. What do you want?”
Finally Briksha opened his eyes and saw Shiva standing in front of him. He was surprised and amazed. “Oh, you have come!” he cried.
“Now, what boon do you want?” Shiva asked again.
“I want to be able to bless someone in a certain way. I want to be able to put my hand on someone’s head and immediately burn him to ashes.”
Shiva said, “All right. You have your boon. I have granted it.”
Then Briksha said, “I want to see if you have actually done it. Let me touch your head.”
When he came near, Shiva started to run, and Briksha followed him. Shiva ran very fast to the house of Narayana, another god who was Shiva’s friend.
Narayana is a very clever god. Narayana said that he would protect Shiva. They were standing together at the door when Briksha came up.
Briksha said, “He gave me the power to burn somebody to ashes, and now he won’t let me test it on him.”
Narayana said, “When you come to visit a god, you should be clean-shaven and neat, with clean clothes and your hair combed. But look at you! I thought you were a great king. Look at your clothes. Your clothes are torn and soiled. Look at your hair. Your hair is all dirty and matted.”
Putting his hand up to his head, Briksha said, “What’s wrong with my hair?” and was immediately burnt to ashes.
What do we learn from this? Pray to God only for good things, divine things. Don’t pray for anything destructive. Then you will never harm anyone. If you pray for something bad, God may give it to you, but you will be ruined by it.
The best prayer is to pray to God to give you what He wants you to have. If you can’t do that because you are really fond of something, the next best prayer is, “God, please give me this. I want this, but only give it to me if You want me to have it.”
If you ask your mother for a knife, she won’t give it to you. Why? Because if you were angry with someone, you might stab him with it. Or you might accidentally cut yourself or someone else. And if someone were stronger than you, he might take the knife away from you by force and hurt you with it.
If you ask for something destructive, you can hurt somebody with it, and also you may be hurt yourself. Pray to God for good things — Love, Peace, Joy. Those are the things that God always wants to give to everybody. If you ask God for Love, Peace and Joy, you will get as much of them as you sincerely cry for.
When Peace once sang
My world became my Father’s Light.
When Love once sang
My world became my Father’s Delight.
When Truth once sang
My world became my Father’s Height.
There lived a pious man in Bengal, India. Every day a Sanskrit scholar would come to his house and read aloud a few soul-stirring spiritual teachings from the Gita, the Upanishads and the Vedas. The master of the house was an aspirant. He would listen most devotedly to these discourses.
The family had a bird called Krishna. Krishna was kept in a cage in the room where the discourses were given. It also listened to these talks.
One day the bird spoke to its master, “Could you please tell me what benefit you actually derive from these spiritual talks?”
The master answered, “O Krishna, you don’t seem to understand that these spiritual talks will liberate me, free me from bondage!”
The bird said: “You have been listening to these discourses for the last few years, but I don’t see any change in you. Would you kindly ask your teacher what will actually happen to you?”
On the following day the master of the house said to his teacher, “Guru, I have been listening to your spiritual talks for the last ten years. Is it not true that I will get liberation and freedom?”
The teacher kept quiet. He scratched his head, pondered over the question, but found no reply. He just remained unhappily silent for about an hour and then left the house.
The master of the house was stunned. His Guru could not give an answer to the bird’s question, but the bird found an answer. The Answer.
From that day on, the bird stopped eating. It stopped even its usual chirping. It became absolutely silent. The master and his family placed food inside the cage every day, but the bird would not touch anything.
One day the master looked at the bird, and seeing no sign of life in it, took it gently out of the cage. With a tearful heart, he placed his Krishna on the floor. In a twinkling, the bird flew away into the infinite freedom of the sky!
The bird taught. Its master and his Guru learnt:
Where Peace once sang
I became my Father’s flowing Grace.
Where Love once sang
I became my Father’s glowing Face.
Where Truth once sang
I became my Father’s master Race.
Silence forgives, silence awakens, silence illumines
A young man of twenty-eight opened a stationery shop to make better use of his idle hours. Monetary gain was, for him, secondary. He was a great aspirant and had a famous spiritual Master as his Guru.
One day, while he was in his shop chanting his favorite verses from the Upanishads, a stocky man of about forty-five walked in. His complexion was unusually ugly and although his name was Hanuman, the monkey-Chief, his face resembled that of a tiger. He was the conductor of the local opera company and everyone hated him for his rude manner. He shouted aggressively at the owner of the shop, “Stop singing! Stop singing! You so-called pious man!”
The aspirant became silent.
“When are you going to return my money?” continued the intruder. “How many times have I asked you to give me my money back? Isn’t it a pity that I have to remind you so many times about my money!”
The young man remained silent.
“I hear that every year you go out on a pilgrimage. You visit temples and spiritual places to acquire virtue. How do you reconcile your outer life with your so-called spiritual life? Your outer life is so full of deception!”
The shopkeeper said nothing.
“It is a pity that God tolerates a scoundrel like you,” the man continued his tirade. “In His name you do so many evil things — deception being the least of them! We who admittedly have very little to do with God care much about maintaining a moral life, a life of integrity. But you who are constantly uttering the name of God, you who are intoxicated with words like “divinity”, “love”, and “mercy” are far more apt to deceive people — not just once, but day in, day out!”
The attack mounted, the customer’s voice becoming louder and more pugnacious. “It is beneath my dignity, in fact, even to speak to you. I knew your father who was also a man of unscrupulous character. No wonder — like father, like son!”
It happened that the youngest brother of the shopkeeper, an athlete twelve years of age, was at the back of the store, busily pumping air into his football. Until now, this boy had tolerated the insults of the customer, but upon hearing his deceased father’s name besmirched, he flew into a rage and came running to the front of the store. He was about to lunge at the customer and punch him in the nose, but the forgiving eyes of his elder brother, looking at the man with deep compassion, abruptly stopped the boy.
The customer, in a tone that was now quick and trembling, demanded again, “Why don’t you give me my money back…I just want to have my money back and that is all. My time is as precious as yours.”
The boy, puzzled, spoke out on behalf of his elder brother. “What money? When did you give it? How much? And to whom did you give it?”
With a defensive smile, the customer said, “Young man, I shall answer all your questions, one by one. How much money? Two hundred rupees. When was it given? Two years ago. To whom was it given?” There was a momentary pause as the customer struck his own chest with his fist. “To this rascal!” he cried, indicating himself.
The next instant he flung himself at the feet of the shopkeeper. “Forgive me! Forgive me!” he cried, his eyes flooding with tears. “I have never seen, and perhaps will never see again a man like you who is forgiveness incarnate. It is I who am the culprit. I have been trying in every way to trick you, to arouse anger in you, to make your blood boil, but I must confess that I have failed.
“I have also failed,” he continued, “to keep my promise to you, my promise of two years ago. When you loaned me money, I said I would return it in two months’ time. Never have you reminded me of that loan, never!” The customer continued in bitter remorse, “I have had many experiences in taking loans, and all my creditors became Shylocks. It is here for the first time that I have seen the magnanimity of forgiveness.
“You have forgiven my ignorance. You have awakened my soul. You have illumined my life.”
Another day, another day.
My Lord Supreme is far away.
Another day, my heart can be
The all-giving breath of patience-tree.
Another day, my life can feed
My soulful world with its crying need.
Another day, I own to hear
God’s Voice of Light and feel Him near.
Another day, another day.
My tears shall win His blue-gold Ray.
Another day, another day.
And then, no more my ignorance-clay.
Another day, I’ll be God’s Love
Within, without, below, above.
The wish-fulfilling tree
A young aspirant was sitting at the foot of a tree in the summer heat. Fortunately or unfortunately, the tree he happened to be sitting under was the Kalpataru tree, the tree that fulfils all desires, but he did not know this. After a while the heat became scorching and he said, “How I wish somebody would come and fan me!” Right away a young boy came and started fanning him. First he was very surprised. Then he began to think that whatever he wished for would be granted. So he said, “This is a young boy. I don’t want him. Let me have a beautiful girl.” Immediately a beautiful girl came and started fanning him. After a while he said, “Now I would like to have food here. I am very hungry.” The young girl went and fetched food for him. He ate his fill and then said, “Oh, how beautiful this place is. But I don’t see any animals here. I am in a forest, but how is it that there are no animals? A forest should always be alive with animals. How I wish to see at least one tiger in front of me!” In no time a tiger appeared — only to devour him!
So, as George Bernard Shaw said, “There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart’s desire, the other is to get it.” In this story, the young aspirant got it!
Never the same again
Never the same again
Lost peace restored
Never the same again.
Never the same again
Lost joy regained
Never the same again.
Never the same again
Lost power reborn
Never the same again.
Nanak and the two villages
Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, came with one of his disciples into a village where most of the people were very nice, sweet, generous and religious. Nanak and his disciple were extremely happy to see this village where people were so pious. Nanak was very pleased. He said, “Let this place be extinguished. Let this place have no existence.”
“How can you do this?” said his disciple. “This is such a wonderful village! All the villagers are so devoted to God. Is this how you show your compassion?”
Then Nanak took the disciple to another village where the people were corrupt and evil and there was all kinds of fighting and quarreling. Nanak said, “I wish this village to prosper.”
“What is this? This is the place that deserves to be destroyed and you are saying it should prosper!”
Nanak replied, “Look here. I said that the first place should be destroyed. This is why: The people there are so good, so spiritual. When the village is destroyed, those people will be scattered. One will go to one village, another to another village, another to some other place, so that each person will be able to spread his good qualities. In destruction good will be spread, so there is no real destruction. In the second village, which is very bad, I said, let them prosper. Let them not go outside the boundaries of their own village or otherwise their evil will spread everywhere. Let them prosper here. This is divine justice. If we go deep within we will see the larger reality and then we will understand the divine dispensation. Otherwise, we will be really confused.”
(Gopal’s eternal brother and other stories for children)