Purity forms the absolute bedrock of spirituality. Purity of heart comprises frankness, innocence, straightforwardness and absence of all evil thoughts. Only the pure in heart can attain to Samadhi (God-realization). Through his narration of enclosed story, Swami Vivekananda, who had himself attained to Nirvikalpa Samadhi, has tried to emphasize this very truth.
This story which was a favorite of Swamiji’s, having been recounted to him over and over again in his childhood by his nurse, was retold by him to a small group of disciples at Thousand Island Park, in America. It has been captured in the introduction to the book Inspired Talks (Free Book) by a direct disciple, and has been excerpted below from there.
Krishna’s Gift Of The Endless Pitcher of Milk by Swami Vivekananda
The widow of a Brahmin was left very, very poor with one child, a little boy who was almost a baby. Because he was the son of a Brahmin the boy had to be educated, but how to do it? In the village where the poor widow lived, there was no teacher, so the boy had to go to the neighbouring village to be taught and because his mother was very, very poor he had to walk there.
There was a small forest between the two villages and through this the boy had to pass. In India, as in all hot countries, teaching is given very early in the morning and again towards evening. Through the heat of the day no work is done, so it was always dark when the little boy went to school and also when he came home.
In my country, instruction in religion is free to those who cannot pay, so the little boy could go to this teacher without charge, but he had to walk through the forest and he was all alone and he was terribly afraid.
He went to his mother and said: “I have always to go alone through that terrible forest and I am afraid. Other boys have servants to go with them and take care of them, why cannot I have a servant to go with me?” But his mother said: “Alas my child! I am too poor, I cannot send a servant with you.”
“What can I do then?” asked the little boy. “l will tell you,” said his mother, “do this. In the forest is your shepherd-brother Krishna (Krishna is known in India as the “shepherd-god”); call on him and he will come and take care of you and you will not be alone.”
So the next day the little boy went into the forest and called “Brother-shepherd, brother-shepherd, are you there?” and he heard a voice say “Yes, I am here,” and the little boy was comforted and was no more afraid. By and by he used to meet, coming out of the forest, a boy of his own age who played with him and walked with him and the little boy was happy.
After a while the father of the teacher died and there was a great ceremonial festival (as is common in India on such occasions), when all the scholars made presents to their teacher and the poor little boy went to his mother and asked her to buy him a present to give like the rest.
But his mother told him she was too poor. Then he wept and said: “What shall I do?” And his mother said, “Go to brother-shepherd and ask him.”
So he went into the forest and called, “Brother shepherd, brother-shepherd, can you give me a present to give to my teacher?” And there appeared before him a little pitcher of milk.
The boy took the pitcher gratefully and went to the house of his teacher and stood in a corner waiting for the servants to take his gift to the teacher. But the other presents were so much grander and finer that the servants paid no attention to him, so he spoke and said, “Teacher, here is the present I have brought you.” Still no one took any notice.
Then the little boy spoke up again from his corner and said, “Teacher, here is the present I have brought you,” and the teacher looking over and seeing the pitiful little gift, scorned it, but said to the servant, “Since he makes so much fuss about it, take the pitcher and pour the milk into one of the glasses and let him go.”
So the servant took the pitcher and poured the milk into a cup, but just as soon as he poured out the milk, the pitcher filled right up again and it could not be emptied. Then everybody was surprised and asked, “What is this, where did you get this pitcher?” and the little boy said, “Brother-shepherd gave it to me in the forest.”
“What!” they all exclaimed, “You have seen Krishna and he gave you this?”
“Purification means rejecting from one’s nature all that is egoistic or of the nature of rajasic desire (greed for fame, wealth, power etc.). Purification and a basis of calm are the first necessary steps
in the spiritual life.”
– Sri Aurobindo
“Yes”, said the little boy, “and he plays with me every day and walks with me when I come to school.”
“What!” they all exclaimed “You walk with Krishna! You play with Krishna?” And the teacher said, “Can you take us and show us this?” And the little boy said, “Yes I can, come with me.”
Then the little boy and the teacher went into the forest and the little boy began to call as usual, “Brother-shepherd, brother-shepherd, here is my teacher come to you, where are you?” but no answer came. The little boy called again and again and no answer came. Then he wept and said, “Brother-shepherd do come, or else they will call me a liar.”
Then from afar off a voice was heard saying: “I come to you because you are pure and your time has come (for God-realization), but your teacher has many many rounds to go through [Note 1] before he can see Me.”
Note 1: The teacher had yet to reform his inner nature (mind), a struggle that would necessitate strenuous efforts over many births before his mind became purified enough for him to be able to see God. The child on the other hand already possessed a pure mind.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. In that one sentence is the gist of all religions. Purity is absolutely the bedrock (of spirituality). The sine qua non (essential condition) of acquiring spiritual truth is the purity of heart and soul.
The sages have said that there are two sorts of purification, external (hygiene and cleanliness) and internal. The purification of the body by water, or other materials is the external purification, as bathing etc. Purification of the mind by truth and by all the other virtues, is what is called internal purification.
In the list of the qualities conducive to internal purity, as given by Ramanuja, there are enumerated, Satya, truthfulness; Arjava, sincerity; Daya, doing good to others without any gain to one’s self; Ahimsa, not injuring others by thought, word, or deed; Anabhidhya; not coveting others goods, not thinking vain thoughts, and not brooding over injuries received from another.
Both (internal and external purification) are necessary. It is not sufficient that a man should be internally pure and externally dirty. When both are not attainable the internal purity is the better, but no one will be a Yogi until he has both.
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