People used to do fasts in order to cleanse themselves to make it easier to pray. In one Kingdom everyone was observing the fast of Ekadasi in honor of the god Vishnu. There was one man however, that didn’t do the fast.
Soon the Raja heard that there was someone in the kingdom who wasn’t fasting. He was furious. The man who wasn’t fasting was brought before the Raja.
The king demanded, “Why don’t you show your respect and fast on this holy day?!” The virtuous man replied, “My Guru has taught me to always fast. Every single day I do a great fast. I eat a little, sleep a little and I avoid all temptations that distract my faith. I am in constant devotion to the One and I merge myself with the holy Naam. Dear Raja, every day is a most holy holiday.”
The Raja was so touched and impressed by the words of this virtuous student. He said, “On my life, I would be honored to meet your Guru.” The man replied, “If you pray to see him, he will surely answer you.”
Sure enough, after he prayed, he was able to meet Guru Nanak. He brought many expensive gifts and valuable offerings. “Please accept these offerings and accept me as your student.” The Guru didn’t accept his invitation. He tried again, “Dear Guru, please come to my palace, I will feed you and take care of you in every way. I beg you.”
The Guru asked him a question, “Why, do you have some other special offering for me there?”
“But, the whole Kingdom is an offering to you!”
“No Raja, offer something which belongs to you.”
“Guru Ji, I am the raja, the kingdom is mine.”
“Raja, your ancestors also claimed to own the Kingdom. Where are they now? Do they still own it? In your past lifetimes you have claimed to own things. Do you still own those things? You don’t own these things. Offer something which is yours.”
The king tried to think of what he could offer the Guru besides his wealth. “Guru ji, in that case, I offer you my body.”
“Raja, this body of yours will one day become a pile of dust. You will drop it and leave this earthly realm. So how can it be yours? Offer something that is yours.”
“Guru Ji, if my Kingdom is not mine and my body is not mine, then I shall offer you my mind.”
“Raja, your mind constantly leads you astray. You are a slave of your own mind. You cannot say you own something that controls you. Offer something that is yours!”
Again the king was confused and out of ideas. So he said, “Guru Ji, if my Kingdom, my body and my mind are not mine, then I have nothing left. What do I have left to offer you?”
“Offer your ‘me and your mine.’” Guru Ji was asking him to give up his ego.
The Raja, hearing his words, drifted in to a sublime state of contemplation. He had grasped the teaching and found that for the first time he wasn’t thinking about himself. He had a taste of selflessness.
Guru Ji told him, “Now go rule the Kingdom.”
“O, Guru Ji, only you can make me understand. I have just given everything to you. I am no one and I have nothing, how can I rule now? Please guide me further.”
“Raja, you have always ruled with the idea of ‘my Kingdom’, ‘my palace’, ‘my family’, ‘my treasure’, ‘my people’. Now you have given up your ‘my.’ You are not trapped within yourself any more. Now just be an instrument of the Divine, just be like the hand of God. Do your royal duties as a holy offering to the Creator.”
This sense of ego, this idea of ‘me,’ ‘my,’ ‘mine,’ that is what binds a soul to this earth. For the Raja, now all “my-ness” had left him. His bonds to the earth were broken and his soul was free. He continued to live his life and rule as he had before. Inside, though, he felt completely different. He truly felt released. He no longer had to reincarnate on this earth. He was liberated.
We can all do this. Giving up thinking of “me” and “mine” is very difficult but it is also very simple. By the grace of the Guru may we all give up “mine” and know that everything is “Thine.”
Storyteller: Navpreet Khalsa