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Katha Series: What’s In Your Pitcher?

It was a beautiful morning and the sun was peeking out from behind the mountain tops casting its rosy hue across the sky and within minutes the warmest hues of yellow, orange and red spread across the celestial sphere stirring up gentle passions in the souls of God’s living creations.  Sounds of the birds chirping and welcoming the new day filled the ashram of Rishi Kapilacharya who, along with his pupils sat under the mammoth banyan tree, hands folded in prayers, singing praise in the glory of the Lord for giving them an opportunity to wake up to another glorious day.

Gently, the strict yet compassionate Guru opened his eyes casting a genial glance at all of his disciples one by one, but stopped at Bholeshankar whose face was etched with expressions of unpleasantness.  The ‘Trikaldarshi’ Rishi closed his eyes again for a second or two as if to fathom the reason for this little boy’s misery and said, “Bhole my child, can you please fetch me a pitcher full of water, I am very thirsty.”  Obediently Bhole, the youngest and the ‘healthiest’ of the lot took the pitcher to a nearby pond and filled it with water, but then as he carelessly turned back with pitcher in his hand, he failed to see a huge stone in his path, stumbled over it and groaned loudly in pain, and in the process spilled most of the water.  Limping in agony and looking like a complete picture of misery, Bhole handed over the pitcher to his guru.  Rishi Kapilacharya was intently watching this entire episode – calmness never left his face for even a second.  Taking the pitcher from him, he gently held Bhole’s hand and sat him down next to him.

“Okay,” began the noble teacher, “Today, we will have a story session!” This one sentence was enough to enthrall the pupils who loved these story sessions that always ended with moral lessons.  The excited children looked at their guru with inquisitiveness and engrossment.  “I will narrate a situation and each one of you will tell how you will respond to it.”  It all sounded so exciting!

Began the Rishi, “Imagine you have spent your entire morning chopping wood; the scorching heat of the sun has sapped out all your energies.  Your body is dripping with sweat.  You are very hungry, but finally you have finished chopping all the wood.  Contended, you sit down under a tree.  You feel the cool gentle breeze blowing that soaks up all the perspiration from your face.  Your body begins to loosen, you relax and even before you know it, you fall into a peaceful slumber.  Barely you’ve slept for a minute or two when suddenly you feel struck by a hand across your face and you wake up to find a little boy sitting next to you.  Tell me, how would you react?”

“I’ll slap the little brat for spoiling my siesta time,” said one.

“I’ll request the boy to go away and then go back to sleep,” replied the other.

“I will be worried to see a boy sitting in front of me.  I’ll ask him if he is in trouble and try to help him,” spoke another.

“Oh Gurudev, I’m sure that little boy is Bhole.  He would have definitely brought some food or water for me,” replied Achintya, Rishi Kapilacharya’s own son and disciple smiling with brotherly affection for Bhole.  On hearing Achintya’s answer, Bhole started weeping.

In this way, everyone responded differently to the same situation.

Now, Rishi Kapilacharya turned to Bhole, but before he could say anything, Bhole stood up, bowed before his guru and said, “Gurudev, I know that somehow this story is related to the pitcher that you asked me to fill.  I am having a vague idea, but please help us connect the dots appropriately.  Pleased with Bhole’s acumen, Kapilacharya continued, “Yes my child, you are right, but before that please tell me what happened in the morning today that upset you.”  Bhole hung his head low and said, “Today morning Gurumaiya had cooked my favourite breakfast, but it was just enough for all of us.  An adequate amount was served to me, but then I became greedy and ended up eating twice the amount.  As a result, Gurumaiya looked at me with disappointment and because of my greed Gurubhrata Achintya had to remain hungry.  Consequently, I was mad at myself for not living up to Gurumaiya’s expectations and the pain that I caused to Gurubhrata, and yet in the story, he envisioned me as the boy who got him food and water!” Tears continued to roll down his cheek.

Taking the pitcher into his hands, Kapilacharya turned to his disciples, “This pitcher represents your outer self or the physical form, the water contained in it is your inner self – the mental and spiritual form, and the stone that Bhole stumbled upon depicts the hardships in life.”

He took a long pause and continued, “You notice that when the pitcher in Bhole’s hand was shaken, water spilled out of it.  Had there been milk in the pitcher, milk would have spilled out, so whatever is inside spills out when shaken.”

Now he glanced at his intently looking pupils and resumed, “It is easy to remain calm and composed until hardships in life come along and jiggle us up.  So what do you spill over in tough times? What is inside of you comes out!  Carefully understand the reactions of different people in the same situation in the story that I narrated.  An angry person displayed anger and wanted to slap the boy while another caring one showed concern wondering if the boy needed help.  In this way, life provided you with a pitcher.  You have to choose what you want to fill it with.”

Bhole took the pitcher from the Rishi, turned it upside down and said, “Gurudev, I am emptying my pitcher of all the anger, bitterness, jealously, hate, hopelessness and sadness.”

“Good,” said Kapilacharya, “And what will each one of you now fill it with?”

“Hope,” uttered one.

“Gratitude,” declared another.

“Kindness,” shouted Bhole.

The list was endless.

In this way, a simple life lesson for humans was taught by Rishi Kapilacharya right under the banyan tree.  God provides each of us with this pitcher.  It is up to us what we fill it with.  So let’s work towards filling it with gratitude, hope, kindness, love, joy, happiness, innocence, care, gentleness, faith, sympathy and empathy for others.

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