The Strange Well
The Strange Well
The Strange Well

King Bhoj was a spiritual person. He wished that the wisdom, happiness and joy of his subjects may increase; and that they should be able to enjoy the ‘Spiritual Bliss’ while living, not after death. The great poet Kalidasa was the Poet Laureate of his royal court. So, only such questions were discussed in the court as would enhance the wisdom of the subjects. The rich would take care of the poor, while the poor wouldn’t feel jealous of the rich. They were satisfied with knowledge. His kingdom was spiritual. The state of King Bhoj was more like the states of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna whom he admired and emulated.
Once in the royal court of King Bhoj there arose a question – ‘Name that well  from which one can’t come out having fallen therein once.’ As nobody answered, the king finally said to the Royal Pundit, “O Royal Pundit, I salute you! Till date it has been you who have answered all questions that were not answered by others in the court; and for that you have also been respected and awarded many gifts and prizes. Now, I pray to you to find the answer to this question of great import as well. It does not matter if you cannot answer it here and now; but I expect you to get the answer within 7 days, failing which you will have to return all the gifts and prizes that you have received till date and you will exiled to another city.”
The challenge was tough, so the Pundit put himself heart and soul to the task of finding an answer to the question. One by one six days elapsed, but without getting any answer. So he decided to go into the open air, which might purify his intellect to some extent. He went towards the forest; where he came across a shepherd, who instantly recognized him, “Hey, you are the Royal Pundit and so very dear to the king! What makes you look so solemn and upset today?”
The Pundit said, “You cannot even think of my problem. All my name, fame, earnings and rewards are now at stake and exiled from the city of such a great king, where in the world would I get respected? This keeps me worried.”
“But what is the matter?”
“It is of no use to tell you/”
“Still you please tell me, for although I am a shepherd, my Guru is a Self-realized one; and I have availed myself of His pious Satsang. So, maybe I can help you.”
Sometimes a disciple of a Self-realized saint can do such great things that would leave even eminent pundits totally amazed.
“Oh my dear friend, if you have so much of self-confidence, then let me tell you the problem. It is actually caused by a riddle which is as follows –‘Name that well from which one can’t come back having fallen therein once.”
That shepherd had received a Mantra from a Self-realized Guru. He started counting breaths. He did mental repetition of Aum while inhaling and counting the breath while exhaling. In this way he delved within, into the Supreme Self, the Brahman. Being a rustic shepherd, he was a petty man, when compared to that Pundit; but then, he was a disciple of a Brhmajnani, (Self-realized) saint. He had a great support. Through counting of breaths, he gradually found repose in his Self, the substratum of Aum. He hit upon an idea. He said, “Well Sire, now what should be done?”
“See, we have only one day; tomorrow, I will be exiled from the city by the king.”
“Why do you fear exile? I have something special for you.”
“What’s that?”
“Sire, you are a learned pundit, just collect a pile of iron every day and convert it into gold. Then millions of kings like Bhoj will seek your favour.”
“Well, that’s a good idea; but how to convert iron into gold?”
“Just become my disciple, and then I shall give you a paras (magic stone that converts base metals into gold).”
“You are a rustic shepherd, and I am a court pundit. How can I become your disciple?”
“Well, that’s your choice after all.”
“Okay, I am ready to become your disciple.”
“Now the offer is over; once refused, it stands nullified.”
“Please give me another option.”
“The option is – you will have to drink the milk of a sheep and become my disciple; only then shall I give you the paras.”
“But sheep-milk is prohibited for the Brahmins. It would dull my intellect.”
“Then go away.”
“Okay, suppose I drink the sheep-milk and become your disciple too, then will you give me the paras>”
“Again the offer has become void, for you have refused it on the first instance.”
“So, what should I do now?”
“Just drinking the sheep-milk would not do; now first I will drink the milk and you will have to drink the defiled milk left in the vessel.”
“You are simply crossing the limit; now you are bent upon making me, a Brahmin, drink your defiled milk!”
“Then forget it.”
“Okay, okay, I am ready to do that too.”
“That offer too is closed. Now, do you see that skull in the skeleton of a dead body? I will collect sheep-milk in that skull, drink some milk from it and let a dog lick the same. Then if you drink that leftover milk, you will get the paras. Otherwise, you may go your way.”
“For a pundit to drink milk from a human skull is very tough; but I am ready to do that.”
“There you are ! This is that ‘Well’ – of greed, hopes and endless yearnings – wherein man goes on falling deeper and deeper…”
Expectations alone keep the jiva wandering in the cycle of birth and death endlessly. The man having desire suffers more agony than a deer writhing in pain at the time of death finding no water in a desert. Writhing of a man in his death-bed may last for 5-10 hours or at the most 9-10 days; but the jiva, caught as it is in the snare of desire, has been writhing for eons together. From womb to tomb, the jiva  has been making rounds without an end. One can count the number of sand particles along the banks of the Ganges, but one cannot count the number of births the jiva has taken for satisfaction of desires. The jiva goes on earning more and more money, from a thousand to a lakh, from a lakh to a crore, from a crore to ten crores, from ten crores to a hundred crores, from a hundred crores to a thousand crores but can hardly ever stop exploiting the people. By hook or by crook, he desires to earn more and more. The hoading of money causes impairment of health, corruption of intellect, diseases like heart attack, spoiling of sons, daughters, sons-in –law. Yet one hankers after for more and more wealth. All are drowning in the well of desire.
-Rishi Prasad –July 2013


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