Depth of devotion

Pride once entered the heart of Arjuna, the beloved friend of Lord Sri Krishna. Arjuna thought that none equalled him in love and devotion to his Lord and friend.  

The omniscient Lord, reading the heart of his friend, took him for a walk one day. They had not proceeded far when Arjuna saw a strange brahmana eating dry grass as food, but nevertheless had a sword dangling at his side.

Arjuna at once knew him to be a holy and pious devotee of Lord Krishna (an avatar of  Vishnu), one whose highest religious duty was to injure no living being. As even grass has life, he would not eat it green but sustained his life by eating it dry and lifeless. Yet he carried a sword.

Arjuna,wondering at the incongruity, turned towards the Lord and said: “How is this? Here is a man who has renounced all ideas of injuring any living being – down to the meanest blade of grass; yet he carries with him a sword, the symbol of death and hatred!”  

The Lord said, “You had better ask the man yourself”.

Arjuna then went up to the brahmana and here is their conversation:

Arjuna: Sir, you injure no living being and you live upon dry grass. Why then do you carry this sharp sword? 

Brahmana: It is to punish four persons if I chance to meet them.

Arjuna: Who are they?

Brahmana: The first is the wretch Narada. 

Arjuna: Why, what has he done?”

Brahmana: Why, look at the audacity of that fellow; he is perpetually keeping Lord Vishnu awake with his songs and music. He has no consideration whatsoever for the comfort of the Lord. Day and night, in and out of season, he disturbs the peace of the Lord by his prayers and praises.

Arjuna: Who is the second person?

Brahmana: The impudent Draupadi!

Arjuna: What is her fault?

Brahmana: Look at the inconsiderate audacity of the woman! She was so rash as to call my beloved Lord just at the moment he was about to dine. He had to give up his dinner and rush to the Kamyaka Vana forest to save the Pandavas from the curse of Durvasa. And her presumption went so far that she even caused my beloved Lord to eat the impure remnant of her own food.

Arjuna: Who is the third?

Brahmana: It is the heartless Prahlada. He was so cruel that he did not hesitate for a moment to ask my Lord to enter the boiling cauldron of oil, to be trodden under the heavy feet of the elephants and to break through an adamantine pillar to rescue him.

 Arjuna: Who is the fourth?

 Brahmana: The wretch Arjuna.

Arjuna: Why, what fault has he committed?

Brahmana: Look at his felony, he made my beloved Lord take the mean office of a charioteer of his car in the great war of Kurukshetra.

Arjuna was amazed at the depth of the poor brahmana’s devotion and love, and from that moment his pride vanished, and he gave up thinking that he was the best devotee of the Lord. 

Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhans

Images courtesy: The Sanskrit Philatelist (

Ramakrishna Paramhans (1836-1886) was an Indian Hindu mystic whose parable-based teachings espoused the ultimate unity of diverse religions as being means to enable the realisation of the same God. After his demise, his chief disciple Swami Vivekananda popularised his ideas and founded the Ramakrishna Order, which provides spiritual training for monastics and householder devotees, and the Ramakrishna Mission which provides charity, social work and education.