Hindu Traditional Story on the Worthlessness of Rituals

Once a Sanyasi wanted to take bath in the Ganga River. He had a Kamandalu (water pot) with him. It was very old and had belonged to his Guru and it was his prized possession. He wanted to keep it in a safe place before he took bath. He looked around at the people on the banks of Ganga to see if anyone looked trustworthy to be entrusted with its care. The Sanyasi saw no one he could trust.

Then he had a brainwave, ‘why not bury the pot in the sand on the river bank?’ He made a small pit in the sand and buried his water pot under the sand and made a small heap to mark the location. He then went to take a dip in the Ganga.

A farmer happened to watch this man from a distance. He thought, ‘Oh! It looks like we need to make a sand heap before taking a bath in the river’ and proceeded to do just that. Another man witnessed it and saw the farmer make a sand heap before taking a bath. He too followed suit.

Soon all the people who went into the river for a bath did exactly the same thing. They made heaps of sand that now covered the entire river bank. When the Sanyasi waded ashore after his ritual bath, he was astonished to see hundreds of sand heaps all over Ganga bed! He had a problem now. Where was his pot? Which heap was his pot under? He started to search for it by breaking the heaps.

The farmer saw this and ran to the Sanyasi scolding him ‘Why are you destroying our Shivalinga? Don’t you know that you are supposed to make a Shivalinga before bathing in the holy river? And here you go about trampling and disturbing our Shivalinga! Don’t you have respect for God Shiva?’

A sand heap does look like a Shivalinga. The Sanyasi said to himself, ‘oh my God! I started the ritual. It is for the sake of my water pot that I started this. Now I have to move on without my pot’.

We start many rituals in our life for some reason. Then the rituals start ruling us. Today, they may have no meaning or purpose for us and yet we are trapped in them. We sabotage our own progress. Break your heaps and move on in bliss!