The following series of short stories are collected from lectures of Srila Prabhupada as well as Vedic wisdom texts, with our commentary.
We hope you enjoy their entertaining yet educational instructions.
It’s Just Two Paisa Worth
Once, a man left his village. After ten years, he returned, claiming he’d mastered yoga. The villagers were curious, asking what he’d learned. He said, “I can walk on water.” People gathered in amazement.
As they arranged for him to cross a river by walking on water, an old man had a simple perspective. He said, “It’s impressive, but it’s only worth two paisa.” The man was puzzled, asking why. The old man replied, “You’ll walk on water to the other side, and I’ll take a boat for two paisa to do the same. So what’s special about your skill?”
The purport of this story is that we should not be impressed by the mystical powers of the yogis. Mystic Siddhis (perfections) [aka. ashta siddhi] are considered 8 in number in yoga:
Becoming small like a particle (anima-siddhi), or lighter than a soft feather (laghima-siddhi). They do not have to get anything and everything from anywhere and everywhere (prapti-siddhi), to become heavier than the heaviest (mahima-siddhi), to act freely even to create something wonderful or to annihilate anything at will (isitva-siddhi), to control all material elements (vasitva-siddhi), to possess such power as will never be frustrated in any desire (prakamya-siddhi), or to assume any shape or form one may even whimsically desire (kamavasayita-siddhi).
(quoted from Srimad Bhagavatam 2.2.22 purport by Srila Prabhupada)
Actually, in Bhakti yoga we don’t consider these mystic siddhis very important. We understand that perfect practitioners of bhakti automatically possess all mystic siddhis. There is no need to endeavor separately for mystic siddhis in this time and age (kali yuga) the digital age where performing yoga is very difficult. Actually, we don’t even have the desire for them. Because they are MATERIAL, not SPIRITUAL (which may sound shocking). Materialists can fly in planes, go through mountains with tunnels or underwater etc. Mystic siddhis are not spiritual, they are extensions of the material energy.
So REAL siddhi means to understand that you are not this body but a spiritual being. The real problems of life are repeated birth, death, disease and old age. By practicing bhakti one becomes situated in his original spiritual consciousness, beyond these problems of life.
It’s So Easy to Practice Krishna Consciousness
In the temple there are many lamps burning that require adjustment of the wick to keep alight. Once, a rat, thinking the wick was food, touched it with its mouth, inadvertently adjusting it so that the flame could continue to burn without being extinguished. Surprisingly, this simple act of service to the temple brought spiritual liberation to the rat.
Careful Who You Give Your Heart
Once, a crocodile invited a monkey from a tree to ride on his back. The monkey, in his foolishness, jumped down and found himself on the crocodile’s back in the river.
The monkey asked, “Where are we going?”
The crocodile replied, “I’m taking you home, where my wife will cut out your heart for lunch!”
The monkey said, “But I left my heart on the shore. Can I get it?”
The crocodile thought it was a good idea and let the monkey go ashore. However, the monkey didn’t return, choosing to stay safe in his tree.
The purport is if we are put into a situation where we must be around those with bad intentions, don’t give them your heart. Keep your heart close. Ultimately your heart is meant for Krishna.
The Hand That Rebelled Against the Stomach
The body works to provide food to the stomach, which in turn distributes energy throughout the body. Every part of our system has its role. Take the example of a delicious cake held by the fingers. If the fingers decide not to share with the stomach and instead try to eat it themselves, it’s improper and won’t work. No element is satisfied, nor properly utilized.
There is a Sanskrit story about a meeting of the bodily senses. They decided they wouldn’t work for the stomach, as it seemed idle and only consumed. They went on strike. Gradually, the entire body weakened. The hands, fingers, eyes, and ears all suffered. They realized it was a mistake not to provide food to the stomach, and supplying it was beneficial.
In a similar way, establishing a civilization without spiritual values doesn’t lead to happiness. It’s like not giving food to the stomach and expecting happiness. To find happiness in this world, there’s no alternative to performing spiritual activities, which in this age is the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra.