Do Without Doing
Rishi Durvasa lived on the south bank of the Yamuna River. His ashram was in a glade in a thick forest full of trees, herbs and animals. Villagers and Adivasis (aboriginese) from a large area often came to visit. Some brought gifts. The Rishi was not personally interested in either the visitors or the gifts, but he neither encouraged not discouraged them.
Once a group of peasant women came to visit from the north shore. On meeting the Rishi one woman spontaneously offered to bring a meal with rice pudding (khir) on the occasion of Makar-Sankranti (winter solstice) to occur two months later. On this festival people cook rice pudding in the evening, leave it exposed to the moon light all night and feast on it the following morning. Rishi Durvasa didn’t say no. The women took it as affirmation and decided to make it a joint project.
On the appointed day the women cooked an elaborate and generous meal, packed it neatly and set forth. But Yamuna was in spate. No ferry was plying. They were puzzled and wondered what to do? Young Krishna, whom they all loved dearly, lived in the nearby Vrindavan. They decided to consult him.
Krishna heard them and said, “No problem, ladies. You just go. When you reach the river pick up some water in your palms and say, mother Yamuna, if Krishna is a true yogi, please, in his name recede and let us pass.”
The women exchanged knowing glances, but their love for Krishna was strong and their faith unwavering. They believed Krishna’s word and did what they were told. To their utter amazement the river stopped flowing and let them go across on foot with their load.
They reached Rishi Durvasa’s ashram safely. A big feast was held. Two women were serving the Rishi with devotion; they filled his bowl with khir and he kept eating it with relish. This went on till 3/4th of the pudding was finished. The Rishi stopped only when the women stopped serving. The women shared the rest of the meal.
Party over, the ladies washed the utensils packed and took leave of the Rishi. The river was roaring and flowing at horrendous speed. No ferry, of course, was in sight. They decided to consult the Rishi.
The Rishi said, “This is not a big problem, ladies. When you reach the river pay mother Yamuna your respect and then with water in your palms say, ‘Mother Yamuna, if Rishi Durvasa has truly NOT eaten any khir, then, in his name, please let us pass. Yamuna will oblige, rest assured.’
The women were puzzled and to share this they exchanged knowing glances. Needless to say they were full of disbelief, especially the two who had served bowl after bowl to the Rishi. But they did what they were told; the river responded and let them pass unharmed.
They got home but their puzzlement did not leave them. In fact it increased to the point when they had to seek clarification. But they wondered whom to ask? As usual they decided to go to their beloved Krishna. They asked him, “Krishna, Mother Yamuna has confirmed that you are a true yogi. She has also confirmed that Rishi Durvasa did not eat any khir. But we are puzzled. We see every day that you flirt with us and carry on with all the activities of a man of the world. How then are you a yogi? And the case of Durvasa is even more puzzling. We served the Rishi with our own hands and he ate several bowls of pudding. How then did he not eat the pudding? Kindly explain.”
Krishna smiled in his inimitable, bewitching way and said, “The answer my dear ladies is simple. The key is the desire. If you are free of desire and engage in a right activity at the right time, you act in dharma and in tune with nature. You do not disturb anything by your action. There is neither friction nor action. Your karma is akarma (non action).”
“I have no desire for sex, company of women, butter, or any other so called attractions of the world of being. I need or seek nothing. Yet I flirt with young ladies to bring out the love in them. For love is the most valuable gift nature has given all beings. Love is the very foundation of life in the universe. So my action is non-action and I am a true yogi.”
“Durvasa too had no desire for khir or other food. To keep the body alive he eats what becomes available. When with love you offered him pudding, he ate it, or so you saw. But in fact he ate nothing.”
“After all what goes on around us is the play of energy. Desire and thought makes energy movements freeze in time and space. It is like putting skin on something and binding it down. I hope you understand my answer to your question.”
April 7, 2007