Stories for Young and Old - as told by Dr. Svami Purna

stories will be added and changed periodically - the only 'permanent' one will be :  Savitri and the Banyan Tree



Uddhava and the Gopis

Uddhava was a close devotee and a dear friend of Krishna, avatar and King of Dwarika. They had many close discussions and intense dialogues about the mysteries of the Self - as related in the Uddhava Gita.  Uddhava, now very learned in all the scriptures, just could not fathom the relationship between Krishna and the gopis – the cowgirls of Vrindaban

Uddhava was plainly upset at the women’s ignorance, weeping and crying over Krishna.  They had known him for most of their lives; did they not know who they were dealing with?  Why did they not follow the scriptures and learn about the self and the Ultimate Reality.  He discussed his puzzlement about the gopis’ attitudes with his Lord Krishna.  Krishna listened carefully, sagely nodding his head and finally suggested that Uddhava should go to Vrindaban and ‘teach’ the gopis. Uddhava was very pleased and felt rather proud to have been entrusted with this task as the knowledgeable teacher.

So, off he set towards Vrindaban. The gopis received him gladly and all gathered around him as he began to teach the group, expounding his Vedantic wisdom.

“Oh Gopis, you are so attached to the person of Krishna, why do you not focus on his Divine nature, on the Godhead?  You need to study the scriptures, the Vedas, the Upanishads to understand the nature of Krishna; you need to do sadhana, tapasya, etc, etc…”

Uddhava talked for one hour, all the gopis listened politely and with full attention.  Uddhava waited for response, but all was quiet.

Finally he spoke and asked them: “So, did you understand what I was explaining, please, say something…”

One Gopi spoke up: Oh Uddhava, we heard what you said and all I can reply is this:  Shyama (Krishna) dwells in my mind, my whole wealth is Shyama, all what I have is Shyama and every cell of my body is filled with Shyama.  If Krishna represents the Supreme Godhead and he has taken every inch of my body, tell me oh learned Uddhava, where shall I put your knowledge?

Uddhava was no fool and humbled he bowed down to the gopis and left, going back to Krishna.

“Oh my Lord, why did you send me to teach the gopis? You knew all along how they feel and how they relate to you. No one can teach them; they not only know about your being, they are filled with you.

 Well, Krishna replied: “Perhaps that is what was missing in your knowledge…”

Narada describes that that the human experience of love is only a spark of the divine love; when you do the things you like most you get pleasure and they are only the tiniest, minutest part of the divine bliss.  Imagine, that when you are in love in your regular human life and you are prepared to give anything and everything for that love, then compare this to being immersed in the whole ananda, the total bliss – experiencing the totality of love.



The Elephant and the Crocodile  

elephant and croc.jpg Once upon a time there was a beautiful lake, with cool pleasant waters and the water’s edge was covered in long luscious grass. This delightful place often saw elephants grazing near its shores and all should have been just perfect… if it had not been for the presence of a very nasty crocodile that had made its home in this lake.

Everyone knew of Crocodile and drinking from the lake had become a risky business, leave alone going for a swim. However, it happened that on a particularly hot day one of the elephants decided he just had to cool off in the water. Carefully at first, Elephant tiptoed (if an elephant can tiptoe …) into the lake. Nothing happened and bravely he decided to frolic in the cool wetness for a while .

Now, you can imagine that this could not last long… and suddenly there was a big, painful tug on Elephant’s leg and Elephant knew he was in real trouble. He tried to shake off the vicious teeth, but to no avail, and worse: Crocodile was pulling Elephant down into the water.     Elephant knew that there was only one hope: When in real need, call on God…and he began to sing: “Oh God, you are the only one who can help – the only hope – otherwise I will be lost …” On and on Elephant sang, louder and louder, knowing that this was his last refuge.

 Well, the Lord in his celestial palace was relaxing with his consort Lakshmi,   but the intensity of Elephant’s plea vishnu.jpgwas so powerful that it could not be ignored… He jumped up, telling his consort: “I have to go, leave now; one of my devotees is in real trouble…” And he took off running, without shoes, without his cloak… Garuda, his faithful mount followed, “Lord … please… wait and sit on me so I can fly you to wherever you have to go. I am here for this purpose.”

But the Lord replied: “No, no, I have no time to sit; it is already getting very late” and he continued to speed away to the rescue of Elephant.

In due turn, the elephant being safe now, the Lord returned to his heavenly abode, trying to relax after the emergency.

But Lakshmi confronted him and complained: “What is this, you leave me with barely an explanation to rescue an elephant? A simple elephant is more important to you than I am?” She really was quite upset.

The Lord replied: “My dearest consort, this was not just a simple elephant, but a most sincere devotee who called me out of pure love. Understand that my true dwelling place is not just my heavenly abode Vaikuntha, nor just the heart of yogis but in the heart of every true devotee. Whenever my devotees call me, I am there.”


The Pin

The village was celebrating a great religious festival and everybody had come to worship at the little temple to pay homage to Lord Shiva. One devoted woman had been waiting patiently all day for a chance to offer flowers and           worship, but the flow of people into the temple had been ceaseless. Finally, at the end of the day her moment came. So absorbed was she in her devotion that she did not notice the priest who had come to lock the temple for the night.  Believing the temple empty, he bolted the heavy door from the outside and went away.

There was the poor woman, unable to leave.  Being of positive mind and thought, she rather welcomed the opportunity to worship all night.  What could be more pleasant?  So, all would have been well if it had not been for the fact that sometime during the night ‘nature called’ and the temple had no toilet facilities.  Finally, when she could no longer control her bodily functions, a miracle happened: by the immeasurable grace of Shiva, it turned into GOLD.

Morning came, the doors were opened and within minutes news of the wondrous happening of the night had spread through the entire village.  Human nature now exerted itself; greed took over.  Every villager started doing the same thing – being the last one in the temple at night.  Consequently the whole village became very rich, all except one man, a Brahmin and great devotee of God.

One day his wife asked him: “Why don’t you go too?  We live in great poverty although we work from morning till night.” 

“No, he replied, “this is not our path to acquire riches by the wrong means, and to abuse the Lord’s bounty can only result in tragedy.  The way this wealth has been earned, it will be lost one day, just wait and see.”

The more he contemplated on the recent events, the more he became convinced that he and his family should leave this village which had become so sinful.  Their few belongings were quickly packed and they hurried on their way.  “You will see, he said, “it won’t be long before the disaster will strike.”

Soon the village boundary was reached and they stopped to see what would happen - nothing happened!  The husband pondered for a while and finally concluded that they must have left something behind.  He went back into the village to take another look at the little cottage which had been their home.  Shortly he returned with a pin, a pin his wife had used for her sewing work.  As he crossed the boundary with the pin, fire sprang up within the village, spreading so rapidly that it was not long before the whole village was reduced to a heap of smoldering ashes.  Mother Earth had cleansed the place where the Lord’s Grace had been so blatantly abused by her most effective means of purification:  FIRE.

 This little story not only warns against the misuse of Divine Grace but it also demonstrates how the virtue and merit of one individual can offset the debts of many.  However, as soon as this stabilizing factor is withdrawn, the catastrophe can take place. 

By that token one may wonder what it is that still ‘holds’ this planet with its ever increasing negativities.  The fact is that there are some Beings who have no debts, no karma of their own, and who, by virtue of their own purity and compassion, can and do take on the load of others, thus creating neutrality and balance.

Contemplation on such a sacrifice should bring about an awareness of the responsibility that each and every one of us bears: to support humankind by consciously adding one’s individual positivity to that of the Divine.


Constructive Anger -The Story of Tulsidas


There are times when anger can be constructive and creative too.  When you follow the path of yoga, you can become creative in the state of in anger.

In Vedic times there once was a man who was married at a very young age.  He was very much in love and so attached to his new young wife that he could not tolerate any separation from her. When one day she decided to visit her mother for a few days,  the young man missed her so much that blinded by his love and attachment to his young bride he decided to follow her to her mother’s house.

It was difficult journey; the monsoon had brought heavy rain, flooding the small streams and turning them into torrents of gushing waters. As he came to a wide river, he saw no boat with which to cross to and he decided to brave the currents and swim across. The current was powerful but he found what in his haste he took for a floating log, and holding on to it he was totally unaware that the “log” was actually a dead body floating in the river…

Eventually as he reached his mother-in-law’s house, late at night,  he could not wait to go to the door but wanted to climb up to his wife’s window expecting her to be happily surprised.  He noticed what he assumed to be a vine hanging outside the house and nimbly proceeded to climb up on what in fact was a large snake. But so besotted was he that he was totally oblivious of the reality of the situation.

Finally facing his wife he met with quite an unexpected reception.  Instead of kissing and hugging him for the show of his ‘great love’ his wife greeted him irritated and upset at this overabundance of devotion, and scolded him thoroughly.  “You risked your life to simply reach your wife, just gone for a few days?  You have that much attachment to me, to this bundle of flesh, that you overcame all these obstacles?  Well, if you had used only 1% of this energy for your spiritual attainment, you would be enlightened by now….!”

That was a shock!  The scolded husband was absolutely stunned by these words, and equally upset and angry.

“After all I did, all I went through to be with her, she does not even appreciate my love and devotion.  She does not deserve my love…” He was very angry indeed.  After some time however, when he had cooled down, common sense and awareness prevailed. For some time he pondered the words of his wife and finally he made the decision to do exactly as she had outlined in her scolding.  “Now I will make it my goal to become enlightened and I will only see her again when I have achieved this goal.” Such was his determination.

In the heat of the situation this young man had been angry enough to have killed, yet he was able to transform his anger into a positive force; he realized that he had been blinded by his love ever since his marriage, and that her harsh comments had actually helped him to truly ‘see’.

Thereafter he considered his wife to be his first guru and asked for her blessing to shift his obsessive love into a spiritual pursuit…  Thus this man once obsessed by the love for his wife truly became enlightened and has become known as the famous mystic poet Tulsidas and author of  “The Ramcharitmanasa”.






There lived in ancient India the powerful King Uttanpad, whose wife bore him a son, named Dhruva.  After some time the king’s attention shifted to another woman, so he discarded the first wife and son to marry the second, who also bore him a son.  Dhruva loved to sit upon his father’s knee, but the second wife objected strongly, saying hers was the only princely heir who could have that privilege. 

Confused and dejected, Dhruva pleaded with his mother, who told him it was true – he must forget his wish to sit upon the Maharaja’s throne.  She could see, though, that her son would not be satisfied with any explanation she could give.  So she suggested he take his problem to Lord Vishnu, thinking the request would be forgotten with the fervor of prayer.

However, the five year old Dhruva possessed exceedingly strong determination and ventured with unyielding faith into the forests surrounding the kingdom.

Years passed by filled with asceticism most uncommon for a small child. Finally he came to the ‘dwelling’ of Lord Vishnu and was met with much praise by Narada, the God’s servant. Narada also tried to convince the child to turn back; this was not the place for a young person and he needed to return.  But Dhruva was adamant.  He had set out to meet the Lord, he was here now and there was no turning back.  That was his test.  Narada initiated Dhruva, becoming his Guru. When after further sadhana and practice Dhruva finally reached the abode of Lord Vishnu, Dhruva wanted to offer praise, but did not know what to say.  Seeing this, Vishnu pressed His conch to the mouth of His speechless devotee, instantly granting him the boon of understanding.  This done, the young seeker lost all desire for meaningless power. Wisdom illumined the unreality of the world and he was enlightened.


However, he was told to return to the palace and take his place upon the throne; his wisdom would reflect in benevolent rule over the vast kingdom. He was bound to fulfill the karma created by earlier intention. 

Anything conceived before or during sadhana one must go through.  That is why Wise Beings do not wish for anything, but maintain a state of void, nothingness.  Accordingly, Dhruva had to become not only king, but emperor of India.  After leaving his body, he became ‘Lord of the Planets’ embodied in the Morning Star of the Milky Way – a symbol of firm, fixed purpose and perseverance.  Such is the power of will.