What you want and what you need.

This is a rather philosophical story which I am going to narrate. We have come across many situations in our life where we want something but end up getting something else.

In India, mostly, we reconcile ourselves that a particular thing had to happen that way and so it happened.This attitude is sometimes even beneficial especially to overcome sorrows. There is even a saying, “Man proposes God disposes” though we never know why God disposes some things. Sometimes it seems that there is a Mastermind or Sutradhar who is doing all that is happening. Maybe it is true. This story is on the above lines.

Once Lord Krishna called his friend Uddhava and asked him to come for a walk with Him. Uddhava was pleasantly surprised and suspected some mischief ahead as he saw a twinkle in Krishna’s eyes.He agreed to go with Him.

They went out to the country side where the houses were far and few and walked for some time.Krishna was in plain clothes without his paraphernalia.  After a while, they spotted a huge mansion, upon which Krishna said, “Uddhava, I am feeling very, very thirsty. Can you go to that mansion and ask the owner if he can give me something to drink?” Uddhava sincerely believed Krishna and went to the mansion and told the owner that his friend out there needed something to drink. The owner was very pleased that he had an “Athithi” (guest) to serve (Those days people were excited to have guests!!) and welcomed both of them in and washed their feet and offered them a seat and gave Krishna the best fruit juice ever in a large cup. Krishna drank the juice with great relish, smacked his lips, thanked the owner and both of them came out. After walking for some distance, Krishna turned around and looked at the mansion, raised his hands and said, “May he get more and more wealth and more prosperity!!”. Uddhava was relieved that there was no mischief after all. Maybe Krishna was really thirsty.

They continued to walk and had come to the woods nearby. At a distance, they saw a small hut and a beautiful cow tied  to a tree in front of the hut. Krishna told Uddhava, “Uddhava, I am feeling thirsty again. Just go and see if any one is there in the hut so that I can get something to drink?” Uddhava was puzzled. He asked Krishna, “Hey Krishna, you had juice just a while back. Now you say you are thirsty again. Is this the start of any mischief? I am not going to take part in your mischief!” Krishna said, “Uddhava, please do as I say. That is why I called you for this walk. Now, go and see if anyone is there to give me a drink.”

Uddhava had no other way than to obey Krishna. He walked to the hut and there was an old Sadhu, who wore nothing else but a loin cloth. His  hair was matted and he did  not seem to have any possession in his hut other than the young cow. Uddhava walked to the sadhu and told him that his friend out there wanted something to drink as he was thirsty. The sadhu was, for a moment extremely happy that a guest had come, but suddenly remembered that he had nothing to offer, not even water. His face fell, but just in a flash he remembered something and told Uddhava, “Well it is a pleasure for me to welcome your friend. Do you see my cow there? I shall just milk her and give it to him.” He looked at the cow with pride and told Uddhava, “Can you see how beautiful she is?” he said, “She is my only possession and I love her so much”. His voice was so passionate when he spoke of the cow. Admiring his only possession, he milked the cow and brought a jug full of frothy milk to Krishna. Krishna drank the milk with even more relish than he drank the juice. They both took leave of the sadhu and went for some distance and then, when the sadhu was out of earshot, Krishna raised his hands in the direction of the hut and said, ” May the cow die!!”

Uddhava  was shocked. What was going on here? He looked at Krishna with anger and said, “What is this Krishna? I thought you were a just person and what have you done now? What harm did the sadhu  do to you? The cow was the only possession of the poor man and you have commanded it to die!!. I am thoroughly disgusted Krishna”

Krishna was as cool as ever. He calmly turned to Uddhava and said, “Uddhava, you know me for so many years and you did not understand what I did? Well, let me tell you. The wealthy man in the mansion is still immersed in material pleasures. He has not moved one inch towards spiritualism or towards seeking a higher goal other than material pleasures. Hence I blessed him with more material pleasures. But see the sadhu, he  has given up all material possessions. He has moved up so much towards the higher goal and is very near to reaching me. The cow was the only hindrance in his ascent to the higher goal and so I removed the hindrance. The moment the cow died, he has also given up his life because he had nothing left to live for. He needs to reach me for all the penance he has done but you want him to live on here with his cow.” Krishna gave his usual charming smile.

Just then Uddhava saw a small beacon  of light coming from the direction of the hut of the sadhu and merging  with Krishna. The life energy of the sadhu had merged with the Supreme energy.

Now Uddhava understood Krishna. He also understood that what one wants is not always what one needs.

2 Comments


  1. Nice story, but not something I agree with. Greatness does not lie in material wealth. It is in what one leaves behind for the society. A person does not become great just because he is in penury or vice versa. And you do not reward the greatness by killing him or the cow. Justice is not done to the poor man nor to the poor cow.

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  2. The story just goes to show that if you take one step towards god, he will take you in his fold. It is his infinite Grace that he did not allow the sanyasin languishing and directionless in his pursuit of god. Lovely story. Will read it again to understand more. Thanks VIdya.

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