The Power of Being Unattached

The Power of Being Unattached

The Power of Being Unattached

Let me tell you a beautiful story that has been adapted from the writings of Swami Vivekanand.

Once upon a time, there was a sannyasi who had been practicing yoga and meditation for many years. As a result, he had developed many yogic powers.

Once while he was meditating under a tree, a crow and a crane got in a fight in the tree branches above. Due to their frantic wing flapping, a few leaves from the branches broke and fell on the yogi’s head. The noise and the falling of the leaves enraged the yogi. He looked up at the birds, and due to the rage in the sannyasi’s eyes, a flash of fire erupted and burned the birds to ashes. As a result, the sannyasi was very pleased by the demonstration of his yogic powers.

The sannyasis renunciate all their worldly belongings searching for the Divine Truth. Therefore, they even have to beg for their food. To ask for food, they would go and stand at the door of a household and wait. If there is no response from the household, they will move to the next household. Since the sannyasis are holy people, the householders are also keen to give them food. Therefore, they often look forward to donating food to a sannyasi.

After demonstrating his yogic powers, the sannyasi was hungry and went to beg for food. As he went and stood in front of a household, a lady’s voice came from inside the house, “Wait there.” The sannyasi got angry as he was being asked to wait. Just as he was getting angrier, the lady spoke again, “Hold your anger! Here there is neither a crow nor a crane that you can burn to ashes”. The sannyasi was stunned. How did this lady come to know about the birds that he had burned down?

The sannyasi had no option but to curb his pride and wait to talk to the lady. After some time, when the lady came out to give food to the sannyasi, he fell at her feet and said, “How did you know that?”. The lady replied very calmly, “My son, I am not a yogi like you, and I do not have the yogic powers as you do. I am a common everyday woman. I had to make you wait because my husband is ill and I was nursing him. By doing my duty, I have become illumined. That is why I could read your mind. But if you really want to learn something higher than this, go to the market downtown to this shop and talk to the owner there.”

The sannyasi thanked the lady and decided to go and see the person downtown. After a long walk, when he reached the address, he saw that he had reached a butcher’s shop. The owner was busy cutting meat. The sannyasi was appalled at the sight of the slaying and cutting of animals. He wondered how this butcher could know anything about spiritual powers. As he approached, the butcher looked at the sannyasi and said, “O Swami, did that lady send you here? Take a seat till I am done with my business”. The sannyasi was amazed how this seemingly cruel butcher could know that the woman sent him there. He had no choice but to wait.

After a few hours, when the butcher was done with his work, he came over and invited the sannyasi to his home. After reaching home, the butcher told the sannyasi, “Please wait here till I am done serving my old parents.”

The butcher washed his old father and mother, fed them, and did all he could do to please them. Then, after he was done helping his parents, the butcher came over to talk with the sannyasi. He gave the sannyasi profound knowledge about God and soul. When the butcher was done teaching, the sannyasi asked him, “With such knowledge as yours, why are you in a butcher’s body and doing such filthy and ugly work?” “My son,” replied the butcher, “no duty is ugly, no duty is impure. My birth placed me in these circumstances and environments. I try to do my duty to support my household and keep my parents happy. I do not know any yoga. What you have heard and seen, has come to me through the unattached doing the duty that belongs to my position.”

That is what the yogis explain. Performing your duty just because that is what you are supposed to do is called being unattached.