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Story Of Kaushika – Housewife And Butcher – Profession And Place Does Not Matter In Spirituality

The story of Kaushika and butcher is found in the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata. The story clearly demonstrates that place and profession does not matter in spirituality. The story also shows how a housewife is more spiritual than a person living in solitude in forest.

Kaushika was born to his parents when they were old. Right from his childhood, Kaushika was spiritually inclined. As he entered youth hood, he announced to his parents that he wished to quit family life and go off to forest to attain self realization.

But his old parents were unhappy with his decision. They were fragile and needed the help of their son in old age.

Kaushika was determined to attain his spiritual goal. He ignored his weak parents and left for forest. With single-minded devotion he mastered several spiritual practices.

One day when Kaushika was meditating under a tree, a crane sat on the tree and started crying out loud. An angry Kaushika opened his eyes and stared at the crane. The crane burst into flames.

Kaushika felt remorse at killing the crane. But at the same time he also felt proud of his powers.  

Kaushika then went to a nearby village to beg for his daily alms. He went to a small house and the woman of the house went into get some food for Kaushika. But at the same time her husband came home and asked for food. The lady first attended to her husband and told Kaushika to wait for few minutes.

Kaushika could not bear this insult and was brimming with anger. When the woman of the house came to serve food, Kaushika angrily stared at her. The woman smiled and told Kaushika that she was not a crane to die at his angry stare.

Kaushika was taken aback as to how the woman came to know about an incident that had no witness. Kaushika realized that the woman before him was no ordinary housewife.

Kaushika bowed before her and asked her to enlighten him with her knowledge. The housewife told Kaushika that he has merely mugged up the scriptures and has not realized the true meaning of those scriptures.

She told him that as a housewife her complete focus is on the welfare of her family. Similarly, as a student of spirituality, his focus should be on learning and not on some crane on a tree. What is the use of such learning, when it cannot protect him from anger, the gateway to hell.

The housewife then asked Kaushika to go to Mithila and meet Dharmavyadha who would be an ideal Guru for him.

On reaching Mithila, Kaushika realized that Dharmavyadha was a famous person and everyone knew about him and considered him to be the greatest teacher of the region.
But Kaushika was stunned on spotting Dharmavyadha and could not believe his eyes. Dharmavyadha was a butcher by profession.

Dharmavyadha immediately recognized Kaushika as the man who was sent by the housewife. This perplexed Kaushika.

Dharmavyadha asked Kaushika to wait as he had to serve his customers who had queued up on his shop for meat.

When the day’s work was over, Dharmavyadha invited Kaushika to his home.

Kaushika was full of doubts. He wanted to know how a man who butchered animals could be a great teacher.

Dharmavyadha understood the thoughts of Kaushika and told him that he was following his family trade. He worked all day to feed his family.

Dharmavyadha then told the great secret of nature. No living being can survive without harming another living. To satisfy hunger, every living has to kill something or the other. Killing for the sake of killing is sin. But killing for satisfying one’s hunger is not a sin. This rule is followed by animals in nature.

Warriors and hardworking laborers need to consume meat. As he lives in a society, it is his duty to do his profession and so he serves meat to his customers and makes a living. True spirituality is doing one’s duty without fear and not bothering about the end result.

When the butcher entered his house his children came running to him. He saw the butcher attending to his ailing parents. He saw his butcher getting daily essentials for the family.
Kaushika now remembered his parents who begged him not to abandon them.

Kaushika realized that like the butcher he too could attain true self realization by living with his parents.