Thousands of years ago, a group of villagers approached a saintly man who was meditating inside a cave in a mountain. Years of meditation had given him the wisdom to solve any problem that came his way. Restless and scared the villagers approached him, when one out of them pleaded, ‘O Sadhu baba! Please help us. There is a large venomous snake that is terrorising the whole village.’ But the sage did not respond. As he was in deep meditation. The villagers looked at each other and then nudged their spokesman to speak again. ‘You can hear the hiss of the snake from miles. He cunningly bites anyone on his path, regardless of whether or not he is threatened. As a consequence of this, we are all fearful, to venture out in the fields all by ourselves, which has led to our crops dying for want of care. The snake’s venom is not the only thing that is killing us one by one. We are also dying because of starvation. So, we beg of you to help us.’
The saint was compassionate, soft and a spiritual-minded person. After understanding the gravity of the situation. He got up from his straw mat and looked at the villagers. ‘Let’s find that snake,’ he said softly. The villagers cheered at this. They now saw hope, and thought, the Saint will solve their problem. So they trailed behind him in search of their hissing enemy.
As they approached the deserted ghost land, which was once their home, the scary sound of the snake echoed from the other side of the village. It approached the group of villagers at great speed, paying no regard to their pitchforks nor their torches of fire. The villagers fled for their lives. But the saint stood there, undeterred by the hooded creature that came to attack him. The snake’s slithering and undulating green and black scales shimmered majestically in the sunlight. What beauty! The saint exclaimed.
This confused the snake since the saint wasn’t fleeing like the rest of its prey. The snake stopped and stared at him. ‘Come ahead, you magnificent creature,’ yelled the saint. The snake, who had never been treated with such kindness before, was mesmerized by these fascinating words. The warmth of the saint’s words, replaced the heat of the blazing fire, it was used to. For a moment the snake lost all its ferocity, and glided towards the saint, and coiled up meekly by his feet in reverence. The villagers, some of them hiding in the trees, and some on the other side of the fields, couldn’t hear this conversation between the two. They looked on from a distance, astounded by what they were now seeing.
‘I am stunned by your beauty.’ Said the saint to the snake, as if they were old friends. ‘But why do you frighten these villagers? The snake responded by lowering its hood. ‘Leave your destructive ways and do not terrorise the poor villagers needlessly. Stop biting them—they are no match for you. There is plenty for you to eat in the forest.’ Rattled the saint. Upon hearing this the snake bowed at the saint, and resolved to leave the villagers alone. It had taken a new vow.
Soon the snake began a new life of innocence, without attempting to harm anyone. From that day onwards the villagers had become elated. Their crop yield doubled, their cattle grazed without fear and even their children played games in the forest. The saint returned to his cave to continue his spiritual journey. A happy story? Not yet
Some months later, the saint came down from the mountain to beg for food from the villagers, just enough to keep him alive. As he travelled to the village, he saw the same snake, coiled up near the root of a tree, lying mangled, practically dead, its scales had fallen off, it looked emaciated and injured, with sores all over his body.
‘My dear friend what happened to you? The saint enquired in deep concern.
‘This is the fruit of being good.’ The snake replied. Although, his venom had dried up, yet he spoke with bitterness. ‘I obeyed you. I gave up my tormenting ways. I left the villagers alone and stopped attacking them. But in the process see what has happened to me. Everyone pelts me with stones, beats me with sticks, and even children tease me and drag me mercilessly by my tail. I am now a laughing stock. However, I have kept my promise to you.’
The saint smiled and said, ‘Dear snake you did what I had asked you to do. But you didn’t understand my discourse, in the right spirit. I had told you not to bite them, but I had said nothing, about stopping, your ferocious hiss, that could deter people for miles on end.’
The snake uncoiled itself and finally understood what it had to do to survive. The villagers trembled once again as the hissing sound of the snake, returned to the area, like a bad dream. But now the snake exactly knew, where to draw the line, the laxman rekha. And thereafter both the villagers and the snake lived happily.
Moral of the story: Humility or meekness does not mean you’re a weakling. Everyone was scared of the snake as long as he was wild and used to bite people. But when he adopted to a peaceful living the villagers started poking, fun at him. And when the saint re-appeared in his life, and advised him again, he was able to find the right balance to lead a happy life and so did the villagers.
Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi
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