Theory Vs. Practicals

After a guru had completed all the training for his disciples in the gurukulam, he told a disciple,’ I have given you the theoretical knowledge. What remains is practical application of that knowledge. Your project is a pilgrimage to Kasi’. So the disciple set out on the pilgrimage – the story is of old times where one would have to travel through dense forest woods. His sandals broke, so he approached a cobbler who had put up his shop by the forest way. After mending the sandals, when the disciple gave his money, the cobbler asked, ‘Where are you headed?’ to which the pilgrim replied, ‘I am undertaking a pilgrimage to Kasi’. The cobbler requested, ‘Please put the money as an offering in the Hundi’.

The disciple continued his travel and was accosted by bandits on horseback. The bandit chief jumped down and commanded the pilgrim to hand over all his possessions. The disciple handed over everything except then offering the cobbler had given, and the bandit chief threatened him, ‘Are those diamonds in that bundle? Hand them over’. The pilgrim pleaded, ‘It is an offering from a poor cobbler to God; please do not ask for it; if you take it away by force, that will be at the cost of my life’. Thinking to himself, ‘This scholar gave away his possessions but is holding on to the offering of the cobbler for dear life; I am the leader of a huge bandit group, I too must offer something to the Lord’, the bandit gave a huge bundle of wealth to the pilgrim requesting him to offer that on his behalf.


A few miles from Kasi, the pilgrim was confronted by a Brahmarakshas.




Brahmins, who have not transferred their knowledge of Vedas to anyone, are cursed to become a brahmarakshas. If a Siddha Purusha does not transfer his powers to someone, he takes another birth. If they do not find anyone suitable, they can transfer their powers to a tree or a temple idol, and then transfer it back to themselves in their next birth. Learning cannot go waste; this is the Lord’s Dictum.


A brahmarakshas is a learned being; he will ask questions – if a person gives the right answers, the brahmarakshas will be redeemed from the curse; if he does not answer well, the brahmarakshas will eat him up.


The brahmarakshas told the pilgrim, ‘I have been hungry, deprived of any wayfarers for a long time. Come to me; I will gobble you up’, to which the pilgrim responded, ‘I do not mind your eating me. But please give me a week’s time. I have offerings that a cobbler and a bandit have entrusted to me to offer to Kasi. Let me carry that out and you can eat me on my return.’ The brahmarakshas asked, ‘What if you cheat me?’ and the scholar promised him over fire that he would return.




The pilgrim proceeded to Kasi, tendered the offerings and returned to the forest path in a week. He called out loud and high to the brahmarakshas but there was no response. He started weeping, ‘It will seems as if I broke my word if the brahmarakshas does not eat me up’. A celestial appeared before him and paid his respects. The disciple questioned, ‘Who are you? And why are you offering me respect?’ to which the celestial replied, ‘Don’t you remember me? I am the erstwhile brahmarakshas; by virtue of having helped you complete your pilgrimage, I was redeemed of my curse. Thank you very much for the help’. The happy pilgrim walked onward and met a king on his way. The king got down from his elephant, and wished the pilgrim, ‘Sir! Don’t you recognize me? I was the bandit chief. After giving you the offering for Kasi Viswanatha, I was resting under a tree, when the royal elephant garlanded me as the next king.’ The overjoyed pilgrim walked on, curious to known what came of the cobbler. The cobbler had now set up a huge shop and when he saw the scholar, came running to him, thanking him for the blessing of the offering that had given him unexpected prosperity.


Having completed his pilgrimage, the disciple returned to the guru and asked, ‘Please clarify my doubt. A poor person has turned wealthy – but he will continue to toil for his success, so that is all right. A bandit who has caused trouble to so many passers-by has become a king. A brahmarakshas who has brought grief to many households by devouring travelers has become a celestial. I do not understand the logic behind these’. The guru replied, there is a Supreme Force that has destined and is witnessing everything happening in the world. He has an account of every action that everyone does. He is just waiting for opportunities to uplift people based on the least good that they do. The bandit chief did a good deed by offering some money to Kasi Viswanatha. That was an opportunity for the Lord to place him in a good position that would prevent him from waylaying travelers. The advantage in making him a King would be that he would know the hideouts of bandits and by rooting them out would create a safe living place for his citizens.

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The brahmarakshas was consuming everyone who passed through the forest. As a return for the single good deed of allowing you to proceed to Kasi, God granted him a celestial form and placed him in the skies, so that there would be no further trouble to anyone from him’.


The disciple asked, ‘I was the reason for a cobbler to become a prosperous trader, a bandit to become a king and a brahmarakshas to become a celestial. What do I personally gain from all these? The guru responded, ‘Remember that I told you your pilgrimage to Kasi was a practical workshop for you. Through this pilgrimage you learnt that there is a Sovereign Force beyond that is watching everything and arranging for a smooth flow of happenings in the world. That Force can convert even a fool like you into its instrument and accomplish what It ordains’.


Learning from scriptures is the theoretical part of spiritual progress. Practical application of spirituality is the process of comprehending that there is some Force that moves us at Will. God as the Script-writer has composed this exquisite script of life. We are only puppets in the Hands of This Master Director who enables us play our roles on earth to perfection.

Source:Samartchana