Lesson in Etiquettes – by Mulla Nasarudin

nasruddin-back-to-front_thumb

Nasrudin was visited by some students, who asked whether they might hear his lessons. He agreed, and they set out towards the lecture-hall, walking behind the Mulla, who had mounted his donkey with his face to its tail.

People began to stare. They thought that the Mulla must be a fool, and the students who followed him even greater fools. Who, after all, walks behind a man who rides a donkey back to front?

After a little while the students began to become uneasy, and said to the Mulla:
‘O Mulla! People are looking at us. Why do you ride in this manner?’

Nasrudin frowned. ‘You are thinking more about what people think than what we are doing,’ he said. ‘I shall explain it to you. If you walk in front, this would show disrespect to me, because you would have your backs to me. If I walked behind, the same would be true. If I ride ahead with my back towards you, this shows disrespect for you. This is the only way of doing it.’

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Living as what you are

The sage and the mouse

There lived a famous sage in a dense forest. Everyday, the animals of the forest came to him to listen to his spiritual preachings. They would gather around the meditating sage and the sage would tell them the good things of life.

There was also a little mouse living in the same forest. He too used to go to the sage daily to listen to his preachings.

One day, while he was roaming in the forest to collect berries for the sage, he was attacked by a big cat, who was watching him from behind the thick bushes.

The mouse was scared. He ran straight to the ashram of the sage. There he lay prostrate before the sage and narrated to him the whole story in a trembling voice. In the meantime, the cat also arrived there and requested the sage to allow him to take his prey.

The sage was in a fix. He thought for a moment and then with his divine powers transformed the mouse into a bigger cat.

Seeing a huge cat before him the other cat ran away.

Now the mouse was carefree. He began to roam about in the forest like a big cat. He meowed loudly to frighten other animals. He fought with other cats to take revenge on them and in this way killed many of them.

The mouse had hardly enjoyed a few carefree days of his life, when one day, a fox pounced upon him. This was a new problem. He had never taken into acount that there were yet bigger animals who could easily maul him and tear him into pieces. He,ran for his life,- He, somehow, saved himself from the fox and ran straight to the sage for help. The fox too was in his hot persuit. Soon both of them stood before the sage.

The sage seeing the plight of the mouse this time, transformed the mouse into a bigger fox. Seeing a big fox before him the other fox ran away.

The mouse became more carefree and began roaming about in the forest more freely with his newly acquired status of a big fox. But, his happiness was short-lived.

One day, while he was moving around in the forest freely, a tiger pounced upon him. The mouse, somehow, managed to save his life and as usual ran to take shelter in the ashram of the sage.

The sage, once again, took pity on the mouse and transformed him into a tiger.

Now, the mouse, after acquiring the. status of a tiger, roamed fearlessly in the forest. He killed many animals in the forest unnecessarily.

After having been transformed into a tiger, the mouse had become all-powerful for the -forest animals. He behaved like a king and commanded his subjects. But one thing always bothered his mind and kept him worried; and that was, the divine powers of the sage. “What, if, one day for some reason or the other, the sage becomes angry with me and brings me back to my original status,” he would think worriedly. Ultimately, he decided something and one day, he came to the sage roaring loudly. He said to the sage, “I’m hungry. I want to eat you, so that I could enjoy all those divine powers, which you do. Allow me to kill you.”

Hearing these words the sage became very angry. Sensing tiger’s evil designs, he immediately transformed the tiger back into the mouse.

The worst had happened. Now the mouse realised his folly. He apologised to the saint for his evil actions and requested him to change him again into a tiger. But the sage drove the mouse away by beating him with a stick.

He was back to his own self, as he was earlier. The life had taken a full circle, and he learnt that it is better to live contended as what one basically is, and make the best of life.

 

How ‘Hanuman’ got this name

hanuman

Lord Shiva was born into this world as Hanuman, the monkey god. His parents were Pawan, the Wind God, and his wife Anjana. Hanuman was a bundle of mischief when he was a child. He was very active. So he had a very healthy appetite too. Most of the time he was hungry. He was ready to eat anything that was tasty and within his reach.

Every day, an hour before dawn, Devi Anjana went out to collect some flowers and fruits. Usually Hanuman was asleep then. So she would leave him at home. And she would return before he woke up.

One day, she was held up on her way back. Hanuman woke up at the usual time. He was terribly hungry. He called out to his mother, “Ma I am hungry”. He waited for his mother to run to him. That did not happen. Where are you, Ma? He said loudly. Still there was no reply. He waited a while; then called again. “Where has Ma gone so early in the morning? I am so hungry,” grumbled Hanuman.

When he found no sign of Anjani he decided to find food on his own. He went into the kitchen. There was nothing there that he could eat. All the pots and pans and baskets were empty. Child Hanuman was getting hungrier and hungrier every minute.

Why should not I go out and get fruits to at?” he thought. He ran down the steps of his home. Then he noticed a red ball to the east. It was at some distance. It was the sun rising.

Hanuman watched the sight. It was beautiful. The whole sky was aglow with morning twilight; the sun looked like a big juicy fruit. Hanuman thought it was a big red ripe watermelon & yumm… I have never eaten this fruit. Ma has never got it for me. I shall get it by myself. It is very big and I am sure it is just what I need now. I can’t stay hungry any more.

Hanuman took a big leap. That took him close to the sun. He reached out for it. He almost had grabbed it. But he missed it.

He looked around. He noticed Rahu. Rahu hated the Sun. And when soever he got a chance, he caught the sun in its shadow. That was what he did now. This was what he had been doing since the time immemorial.

Today, he too reached out to cast his shadow on the sun. But Hanuman beat him to it. He held the son firmly in his hands. Rahu was furious. He tried to snatch the sun from Hanuman. But he failed.

Angrily he ran to Lord Indra the lord of all the Gods and complained, Oh! Lord! You gave me permission to cast shadow on the sun, at will. Today, I wanted to do that. But a young monkey snatched it from under my nose in the nick of the time” Lord Indra thundered, & “who is this rascal? Who is this little monkey that has dared to send you back. I shall teach him a lesson,”

Lord Indira went with Rahu. The two soon came to where Hanuman was holding the sun.

Hanuman was trying to swallow the sun. Indra got enraged. He drew his weapon, the Vajrayudh, and hurled at Hanuman. It hit him below the chin. He blacked out and fell on the ground with a big thud.

Pawan, the wind god, saw him wounded & “Who have done this to my son? ” & he growled and turned. He saw the weapon returning to Lord Indra. He lost his temper. He screamed at Lord Indra, “How dare you hit my son?” He picked up Hanuman and ran into a big cave. He gathered all the wind streams blowing in the universe and kept with him. The universe became empty airless. Not a whiff of wind moved wind anywhere. Soon it was impossible to breathe. All living things started to die. It looked as if all creations would come to an end.

“What brings you to me?” asked Brahma.

“You know Lord,” said the Gods with folded hands.

“Yes I know. Didn’t you know, Indra that Hanuman is none else but Lord Shiva in monkey form? He has gone to the earth to help Lord Rama in the battle against the demon Ravana. How can you hurt him?”

“I dindn’t know, Oh lord. What should we do now?” asked Indra.

“Go to Lord Hanuman and ask for forgiveness. Also grant him some of your divine powers. Then Pawan will be happy,” Lord Brahma suggested.

The Gods realized their folly. “Oh! We were fools to annoy the Lord Shiva and Pawan Dev.” They hurried to the cave where Lord Hanuman and Pawan Dev were.

Lord Indra muttered some mantras and drew back the effect of the Vajrayudh that still held Hanuman unconscious. Hanuman woke up. He found the gods standing with folded arms. They sang his praise. One by one, they gifted immense power to him.

This made Pawan Dev happy. He released the air streams and life returned again on earth. Hanu is chin, which had become a bit bigger because of Vajra hit, and thus he was also called as Hanuman, one with a bigger chin.

Gods returned to Heaven. Lord Hanuman ran back home. He found his mother, holding a basket full of fruits. He enjoyed the fruits while Pawan told Anjani,”Know what? Your son has become very powerful. All the gods came and gifted him some of their secret powers.

Does he need anything from others? Is he not Lord Shiva himself?” Anjani smiled. Pawan Dev bit his tongue and said, & Deva. I forgot. I always forget. I think of Hanuman as our little boy. My mistake.”

Hanuman heard nothing. He was busy eating the last fruit in the basket.

Story of Anjana & Anjaneya

This is the story of Pawanputra Hanuman, the mighty monkey-god. Do you know how he was born? The story of his birth is as fascinating as his mighty deeds. But to know about Hanuman, we have to go back sometime before his birth. Let us go to the palace of Lord Brahma where it all started.

Hanuman

Do you know who Lord Brahma is? He is the Hindu god of creation. He is believed to live in a beautiful divine palace in his heavenly abode. Such was the beauty of the palace that it was a constant source of amazement for even the deities.

There were a number of attendants in the celestial palace-courts of Lord Brahma. Among them was a beautiful attendant named Anjana. Once, happy with her service, Lord Brahma decided to reward her. He called her and asked what she wanted.

Anjana hesitated at first. Then she replied “Lord, I wish you could remove a curse pronounced on me by a sage,”

“Tell me about it. Maybe I can help you” said Lord Brahma.

Hopeful that her curse may be removed, Anjana continued “When I was playing as a child on earth, once I saw a monkey meditating with its legs folded in a lotus pose, like a human sage. It was a funny sight; so I threw some fruits at it.”

“But here I made a mistake. For it was no ordinary monkey. A powerful sage had taken the form of a monkey to do his tapasya (spiritual practice). My fruits disturbed his penance and he opened his eyes in great indignation.”

“As soon as he saw me, he cursed me that I would become a monkey when I fall in love with anyone. I begged him to forgive me.”

“The sage said that as he had already uttered it, he couldn’t change the curse. But he assured me that the man I fall in love with will love me in spite of my monkey face.”

“Lord Brahma, I was born and brought up here. How can I live with a monkey face among my beautiful sisters? If you kindly grant me a boon to become my usual self, I will be very much obliged,” she said anxiously.

Brahma felt sorry for the unfortunate apsara. He thought for a moment. Then he lifted his eyes towards the anxious Anjana.

“I see a way for removing your curse, Anjana,” he said kindly. “Go to earth and live there for a while. You will meet your husband on earth and your curse will be removed if you – give birth to an incarnation of Lord Shiva,” said Lord Brahma.

Anjana accepted Brahma’s advice. She was born in the earth shortly afterwards. She lived in a forest as a young huntress.

One day she saw a strong man fighting with a lion. “What a brave man!” she thought in wonder. “How I wish he will look at me!”

As Anjana looked at the warrior in admiration, the man turned and saw her. As soon as his eyes fell on her, she turned into a monkey!

With a pathetic cry, Anjana sank to the ground and covered her face with her hands. Seeing her fall to the ground, the man came running towards her.

“Who are you fair maiden? Why do you cry? Uncover your face. Let me see you,” he asked her.

“I cannot, brave man,” Anjana answered gloomily. “I am Anjana, an apsara cursed to become a monkey when I fall in love. I request you to please leave me alone in my sorrow,” she wailed and peeked at the handsome man through her fingers.

To her great astonishment she found a big monkey-faced man standing before her! If she didn’t see his face at first, it was because she couldn’t and because till now she saw him from a distance.

The monkey-faced man understood her surprise. He spoke. “I am not human, though I can take the human form if I want. I am Kesari, the king of Monkeys, blessed by Lord Shiva with magical powers. If you become my wife, I will be honoured. Would you honour me by becoming my wife, dear Anjana?”.

Anjana became very happy. She accepted his proposal.

“Then the sage’s word was indeed true,” thought Anjana, “Kesari didn’t mind my appearance because he himself is a monkey!”

Anjana and Kesari were married in the forests. Being a pious devotee, Anjana performed intense tapasya, worshipping Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva was pleased with her. He appeared before her and asked her what she wanted.

“Lord Shiva, I wish you to be born as my son, so that I can be freed from the sage’s curse,” requested Anjana.

“So be it!”. Lord Shiva gave his consent and disappeared.

Soon after this, one day, as Anjana was worshipping Lord Shiva, in another part of the country, Dasaratha, the king of Ayodhya, was performing a yagna (religious rite) to have children. It was the Putrakama Yagna. As a result, Agni, the Fire-God gave him some sacred payasa (pudding) and asked him to share the payasa among his wives so that they may have divine children.

Here, Lord Shiva’s boon to Anjana started to work. While Dasaratha gave payasa to his elder wife Kausalya, by divine ordinance a kite snatched a portion of that pudding.

Holding the pudding in its tails, the kite-bird flew away from Ayodhya towards the forests Anjana lived. It flew over the dense trees and dropped the payasa where Anjana was engaged in tapasya.

Vayu, the ever-present Wind-God, saw this event. “Go, Vayu!” he heard a silent command in his mind from Lord Shiva. Vayu immediately caught that portion of pudding and placed onto the outstretched hands of Anjana.

Anjana felt something drop in her hand. She opened her eyes and looked at the payasa in her hand. “Is this offering from Lord Shiva?” she wondered and swallowed it.

As the divine pudding went inside her throat, Anjana immediately felt the blessings of Lord Shiva. In due course, she gave birth to a little monkey-faced boy. Kesari was very happy to see his son. The child was called as Anjaneya or the son of Anjana.

Having given birth to Lord Shiva’s incarnation, Anjana was released from the curse of the sage. She began to express her wish to return to Heaven.

When Anjaneya came to know about her mother’s wish, he became sad. “Mother, without you what will be my future? How can I feed myself? How will I live?” he asked.

“Don’t worry, Anjaneya,” said Anjana. “Your father is the brave Kesari. Your guardian spirit is the life-giving Vayu. They’ll always protect you. When you feel hungry, fruits as red and ripe as a rising sun would be your nourishment.”

Saying so, Anjana kissed her son and left her alone. She went back to her heavenly abode.

“Fruits as red and ripe as the sun?” thought Anjaneya. “Is sun such a ripe fruit? Let’s see!”

Thinking that the sun was actually some delicious fruit, the baby Anjaneya wanted to taste the sun. Now, Anjaneya was a divine child. His mother was an apsara and his father was a Monkey-King, so it was natural that little Anjaneya should inherit some magical powers. He was, after all, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. So reaching for the sun was not a tough task for him. He made a giant leap to catch the glowing ball on the sky.

Suryadeva, the Sun-God was glowing peacefully in the sky when he suddenly saw a monkey coming towards him. The monkey grew bigger and bigger as he neared the sun. But the terribly hot rays which made any mortal presence impossible near the sun, had no effect on the creature.

Hanuman and Suryadeva

Seeing that, Suryadeva got scared and started calling out for help. “Indra! Indra! Help me!” he shouted.

Indra, king of the gods in heaven, was resting nearby in his heavenly abode. He was surprised to hear the Sun-God pleading for his help.

“Why is Suryadeva yelling for my help?” Indra wondered. “Is he not powerful enough to burn everything that comes near him? Or is it something beyond his control? I have to see what’s happening!”

Indradeva promptly climbed on Airavatha the white elephant, his mount, and left his abode to find the cause of Suryadeva’s fear. Soon he found that a flying monster was trying to catch hold of the sun. “Little wonder then that Suryadeva was so scared!” thought Indra, who had never seen such a creature.

Nearing the sun, Indra was surprised to see that the monster was actually a giant monkey.

“Stop!” he ordered. “Who are you? Why are you trying to catch the sun?”

“I’m Anjaneya, son of Kesari and Anjana.” replied the giant child. “My mother told me that fruits as ripe as the red sun will be my food so I’m going to catch the sun and eat it.”

At first, Indra was amused by the child’s innocence, so he advised him to return to earth. “This is not a fruit, Anjaneya, this is the sun- the source of all light and life.” said he and commanded, “Return whence you came”.

But naughty Anjaneya ignored his commands and continued on his journey to capture the sun.

Now Indra became angry at the child’s impertinence. He warned him several times not to go near the sun, but Anjaneya did not listen to him.

Finally, the King of Devas became so enraged that he struck Anjaneya with his thunderbolt “vajra”.

Kaaabuuuuuuum!!! The thunderbolt hit the child, wounding his chin and causing him to fall down to earth. The “vajra” hit Anjaneya’s face. So his cheeks were swollen twice its size. As the boy fell, his body became smaller and smaller. Finally he became the child-sized monkey he really was and hit the ground.

Vayu, the Wind God, was roaming here and there when he heard a big “thud”. Curious, he went towards the direction of the noise to investigate.

What he saw shocked Vayu. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Anjaneya was lying unconscious on the ground. Who had dared to injure his god-son?

“Who has done this?” he roared but no one answered. Indra had already left for his abode and the sun was once again peacefully glowing in the sky.

The Wind God was terribly angry. “Why should I bother to do my duty when no one answers my question?” he thought.

With great affection, he lifted his godson in his hands and went to the Patalloka, the world below the grounds of the earth.

As Vayu left the earth, there was no air in the world. People, animals and trees struggled to breathe and started to die.

The Sun-God was shocked at the turn of the events and he ran to Brahma, telling Him about the calamity on earth.

Brahma became worried about the situation on Earth. He called Indra and accused him.

“Look what your silly anger has caused!” he thundered. “You have hurt a divine child and now the people on earth are suffering because of your mistake. This is all because of you!”.

Indra hung his head in shame. “I am sorry for my actions” he murmured.

Brahma took him and the other gods to Patalloka and begged Vayu to return to earth.

“I beg pardon on behalf of all men, all creatures and divine beings. Please return to the earth, o gentle Vayu.”

“I’ll not come anywhere without my Anjaneya”, Vayu said firmly. Then, using his powers, Brahma magically cured Anjaneya’s wounds. He also gave him a boon saying, “No weapon will be ever able to have an effect on Anjaneya again.”

To please Vayu further, Indra said to the boy, “You will be a ‘Chiranjeevi’ (immortal). I had taken my aim in your hanu (cheek). So from now, you will be called as the valiant Hanuman!”

Thus Anjaneya came to be known as Hanuman and had many more adventures during his childhood. With the blessings of all the gods,Hanuman became a great warrior later and had helped Lord Rama in his quest to bring back the latter’s wife, Sita. This incident is known to everyone and is recorded in the great epic called Ramyana.

You become what you think

A thought – is the most important thing, because we become that what we think of.

Once upon a time there lived a Sannyasi – a holy man, sitting by the tree and teaching people. He drank milk, and ate only fruits, endlessly was doing pranayama and thought of himself as a saint. In the same village a poor woman, that was called witch, lived. Everyday Sannyasi went to warn the woman that the black magic she was doing will bring her to hell. The poor woman couldn’t change her lifestyle because her black magic was the only way for her existence. She was strongly impressed by the story of her future that Sannyasi told her. She cried and prayed to God begging to forgive her, because she couldn’t help herself.

And then the saint and the witch died. Angels came and took her soul to heaven, and for the soul of Sannyasi came the devils.

Why is that? – He protested, – didn’t I live a life of a saint? Why are they taking me to hell and the evil witch has gone to heaven?

Because, – the devils responded, – she was forced to commit improper deeds, but her soul was always stretching to God, she prayed for forgiveness and now redemption came to her. And you did opposite, you committed only good deeds, but in your mind you were always concentrated on evil coming from others. You saw only sin, thought only about sin, so now you will go somewhere where there is only sin.

Mother’s test of Swami Vivekanand

SWAMI VIVEKANAND’S inspiring personality has been well known in India and abroad from decades to come. This unknown monk of India suddenly rose to fame at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago (America) in 1893, representing Hinduism. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, brilliant conversation skills, empathy and colorful personality made a mark on the hearts of many. People who ever happen to see or hear Swami Vivekanand even once still cherish his memory after a lapse of more than half a century.

The test of Swami Vivekanand

Before leaving for abroad for the first time to preach Hinduism, Vivekanand’s mother wanted to know whether he is all perfect for this mission or not, she invited him for dinner. Vivekanand enjoyed the food that had the additional flavor of his mother’s special love and affection. After the delicious dinner, Vivekanand’s mother offered Vivekanand a dish of fruits and a knife. Vivekanand cut the fruit, ate it and after that his mother said, “Son, can you please give me the knife, I need it.” Vivekanand immediately responded by giving the knife.

Vivekanand’s mother calmly said, “Son, you have passed my test and I heartily bless you for going abroad.” Vivekanand surprisingly asked, “Mother, how did you test me? I did not understand.”

Mother replied, “Son, when I asked for the knife, I saw how you handed it to me, you gave the knife by holding its sharp edge and kept the wooden handle of knife towards me. This way, I would not get hurt when I take it and this means you took care of me. And this was your test in which you passed.

The person who thinks of others welfare rather than thinking about self has got the right of preaching the world and you have got that right. You have all my blessings.”

This was the most important mark he left in the hearts of many he met in his lifetime – to think of others before thinking for self.

Positive Vision

One teacher had two disciples. One of them had an auspicious positive vision and he always sought out good points from anything he observed while the other one had an inauspicious vision and always found out some negative or faults from his observations.

One day, the teacher went out to a park with both the disciples and while wandering in the garden, they came across a mango tree from which some ripe and juicy mangoes were hanging. On seeing this, the teacher thought to test both of his students. Therefore, he called them beside him and asked them to observe the tree full of mangoes very carefully. Then, he asked the first one, “My dear child, what do you think of this mango tree?”

The disciple answered instantly, “Teacher, in spite of people hitting this tree with stones, it gives us sweet and juicy mangoes. It feels hurt but still it gives us fruits. I wish all human beings learn this important message from the mango tree – to share their belongings even if they have to suffer for this.”

Positive vision

After that, the teacher asked the same question to the other disciple, “My dear child, what do you think of this mango tree?” The student aggressively answered, “Teacher, this mango tree is no good and will not give mangoes by itself but only when we hit it with stones and sticks. Therefore, we should hit it hard to get sweet mangoes from it. That is the only way to get these mangoes. It is also clear from this tree that in order to get good fruits from others, we need to be violent and only when we become violent, then and only then will we get happiness.”

Teacher was delighted with the answer given by the first student because he had an admirable vision and  appreciated the tree with positive vision while on the other hand the second student’s answer dissatisfied him because he saw the tree with negative vision and insisted on learning the wrong way of getting fruits in life. He showered his blessings on the first disciple whole-heartedly.

So friends, even though the situation is same, it still depends on how we interpret it, which shows our mental status and the way we think of others. Let’s take an example of lovely roses that have thorns on them. A person with an inauspicious vision would say, “Oh God! Even these beautiful roses have thorns on them”, while a person with an auspicious vision would say, “Wow! What a wonderful creation of nature – a beautiful rose amongst thorns.”

Always develop a vision that can find out something good even from a bad thing or person. And by doing so, slowly your mind and intellect will become pure day by day.