INDIA, August 3, 2012 – It is a challenge to do anything for the first time. For a moment while writing this, my first Communities article, I just started dreaming about how successful this space will be, how well this column will be recognized and so on.
Dreams we have. But then you wake up and you realize that even spirituality comes with its own share of expectations and aspirations.
Then you realize you are just not there yet.
I will be writing about a lot of ancient Indian stories, mythological themes and ideas of spirituality in this blog. The concept of spirituality is so strongly ingrained in India that even if you want, you can’t ignore it.
You may have heard these stories before, but the charming part of these stories is that they can be heard over and over again. And they can be contested for a contradictory version. Each story comes with a lesson or two to learn. It makes for an interesting journey.
Today, I bring to you the story of a grain of rice.
Legend has it that when the Pandavas and their wife, Draupadi* were in exile, they were once visited by a group of rishis (saints). The head saint was Rishi Durvasa, who was known for his short temper and ability (yes, ability) to curse at the drop of a hat!
Rishi Durvasa and his followers landed at Draupadi’s kutiya (hut) and asked for a meal as they were very hungry. Now you must know that it is a crime according to the Hindu tradition to turn back a hungry person without serving him anything.
Add to that the trouble that he was a known short-tempered person!
Draupadi had just finished her kitchen chores and had no food left for them. She gets extremely worried and just to buy some time, she asks the Rishi and his men to go to the nearby river to freshen up.
As she worries and wonders what will happen when the Rishis return, she says ‘Oh Lord Krishna, please help, what should I do now?’
Right then, Lord Krishna (who also called Draupadi his sister) visits her hut too.
As he enters, he says to Draupadi, ‘I am very hungry sister, please give me some food’.
She says in return, ‘Sorry oh lord! I am in big trouble any way. Rishi Durvasa and his followers will be here any time for a meal and all I have left in my vessel is this one grain of rice!’
‘One grain of rice?’ asks Krishna.
‘Yes, sakha (friend), that’s all that I have’, she replies.
Lord Krishna then picked up that grain of rice, ate that, and said with a sense of contentment, ‘that was enough for me sister. Your one grain of rice had the energy of the universe in it. It filled up the whole world today’
Rishi Durvasa and his followers all of a sudden felt extremely full and decided not to return to her hut so that they didn’t insult her food by not eating. Draupadi was saved of all the embarrassment, and of course, a potential curse!
The beauty of this story is it just shows that when the Lord helps you, you don’t need anything else.
It is ironic that a country with legendry stories like this one also has millions of people who are starving, kids who are malnourished and food grains that are rotting due to lack of a proper storage and distribution system.
India has a lot to learn from that One Grain of Rice. So has the world. Think about it.
*(Pandavas were five brothers that were exiled in a battle for the throne for 12 years. They all shared one wife-Draupadi (and there is a story behind that too!!)
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