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Story Of Attachment – Sadhu And A Confectioner Who Was Reborn As Bull – Dog – Snake Before Moksha

A story of attachment and its misery life through the life of a confectioner who was reborn as bull, dog, and snake before attaining moksha which was promised during this human life on earth by a sadhu.

There lived in a village a compassionate confectioner, devoted to God. Once, while he was sitting in his shop while the sun was scorching, a sadhu, exhausted from walking in the sun, came and stood before the shop. He stood in the shadow there for some time and gathered his breath. Then, the confectioner requested the sadhu: ‘Sir, please tell me if you need any kind of help. I will do it.’ The sadhu replied: ‘Son, this garment of mine is torn in many places and so, I could not sleep the whole night yesterday because of the menace of mosquitoes. If you mend this garment, it would be of great help to me.’ The confectioner considered the service to sadhus as the very aim of his life. Hence, he immediately mended the garment and gave it to the sadhu. He was overjoyed that God had given him an opportunity to serve a sadhu. That night,the sadhu had a good and peaceful sleep.

The next day, the sadhu went to the confectioner’s shop. He thanked the confectioner and said: ‘Son, because you helped me, yesterday night I escaped the nuisance of the mosquitoes and I could sleep peacefully. I want to do something for you in return. I am in no position to gift you riches because I have long renounced them. However, I can send you to Vaikuntha, the abode of Bhagavan Vishnu, by the power of my spiritual austerities. By reaching Vaikuntha, you can attain mukti, which is beyond life and death.’

The confectioner replied: ‘Sir, you are giving me this rare fortune because of your pure love for me. But what can I do? Though you are giving me the rare gift that is not attained by many sages and spiritual aspirants, I am not in a position to accept it. I have two young sons. If you come after eight years, and take me to Vaikuntha, I would be able to come. Then, my sons would have grown up into adults and would be in a position to take care of themselves. I am grateful for your love and compassion.’

Time rolled on. The eight years mentioned by the confectioner passed. The sadhu again went to the confectioner’s shop and told the confectioner: ‘Son, I have come to express my gratitude. You had earlier told that you would come with me after eight years. Eight years were completed yesterday. I have come here to give you mukti.’ Hearing these words of the sadhu, the confectioner said: ‘Sir, what can I tell about the compassion you have for me? I am sorry that I cannot act as you wish. My sons have become very bad persons now. They have become drunkards and spendthrifts. Hence, now I have to look after them and their wealth. That is why I am unable to act according to the wishes of your compassionate heart. So, if you can kindly come after another eight years, I would be ready to immediately come with you.’

The sadhu only felt pity for the confectioner. He thought to himself: ‘He is a good person, but he has more attachment to his sons than devotion to God. He has strongly bound himself in the bondage of the love for his sons. How can I take him to the selfless God?’

Nonetheless, the sadhu told the confectioner: ‘I would come again after eight years, just as you say.’ Saying this, the sadhu left. The next eight years mentioned by the confectioner also passed.

The sadhu came to the village again to keep his promise. However, he could not see either the shop or the house of the confectioner. He saw a dilapidated building in that place, much like a rest-house. There, the confectioner’s elder son was doing a poor business, in a small shop. The sadhu approached the elder son and asked him about the confectioner, telling him about the agreement between him and the confectioner.

The confectioner’s elder son said: ‘Sir, our father passed away, leaving us in dire straits. It is because of him that we are so poor now. I am somehow managing this shop. My brother does farming, himself doing the ploughing, in the field that you can see there.’

The sadhu quietly listened to everything. Then, by the power of his spiritual austerities, he saw what had happened. By his intuitive vision, the sadhu understood that after death, due to his attachment to his sons, the confectioner was reborn as the bull used for the ploughing of his family’s field. The sadhu also understood that the bull was helping his younger son in farming.

The sadhu started waiting for the younger son to untie the bull for grazing. The younger son untied the bull when he went for his lunch. The sadhu went to the bull and sprinkled on it the holy water that he had and by the power of his spiritual austerities brought back the bull’s memories of its previous birth. Then, the sadhu asked the bull, which was the confectioner in its previous birth: ‘Son, as promised earlier, I have come to express my gratitude. Yesterday, the eight years you mentioned were completed. I have come here to give you mukti. What, are you ready to come with me?’

Remembering his past life, the confectioner in the form of the bull said with eyes full of tears: ‘Sir, you have come after eight years just as I requested. But, what can I do? You can well see the poverty of my sons. If they continue in this manner in poverty, they will die out of starvation. So, please come after some more years and take me with you.

Please allow me to help them now.’ Hearing these words of the confectioner in the form of the bull, the sadhu felt compassion towards him, who was bound by attachment. The sadhu promised to return after some more years to free that soul, which was deluded at the self-created bondage and was unable to break it.

Some years passed. The sadhu’s body was getting weaker by the day because of old age. He went again to the confectioner so that he could pay his gratitude and not have any debts in this world. However, he saw a dog dying in starvation in front of a dilapidated old house. The dog barked as it saw the sadhu and made the people in the house come out. The elder son came out hearing the dog’s barking. The sadhu asked him about the family’s condition. Then, he enquired about the bull that had been helping them.

The elder son told the sadhu: ‘Sir, that bull died a year ago. Do you know how helpful that bull was? It would not eat much. But, it toiled heavily for us, without any rest. The poor creature died! We would never get such a bull now!’ The elder son thus highly praised the bull. The sadhu could understand through intuition that the confectioner in the form of the bull had now taken birth as the dog that was barking at him. After being born as a bull, the confectioner was now born as a dog because of his attachment to his sons, and was now guarding them. He was being a companion to his sons and was ensuring that no one takes away anything that belonged to them.

The sadhu went near the dog that barked at him. By the power of his austerities, he reminded the dog of its previous births. As soon as the dog remembered its past births, it fell at the feet of the sadhu and started shedding tears and said to the sadhu: ‘Sir, you can well see the pitiable condition of my sons. Hence, how can I come with you leaving them in this condition? Therefore, if you come after some more time, I will immediately come with you.’ The sadhu thought with compassion: ‘This soul is bound because of his previous actions and is suffering by moving in the cycle of samsara!

Even after so much time, he cannot give up the bonds arising out of the petty ideas like “my wife” and “my children”, and he cannot strive for attaining moksha.’ Then, the sadhu accepted the request of the confectioner turned dog, and promised to return after some time, in his old age. Some time passed. The sadhu again went to the house of the confectioner’s sons. He observed that the sons and their families were now in a worse condition than before. Both the sons became angry at the sight of the sadhu. They thought: ‘Every time this sadhu visits us, we end up being in a worse condition than before. It appears that he is the carrier of misfortune.’ Hence, they started scolding the sadhu. However, the sadhu said to them full of compassion: ‘Children, you have become quite impoverished. Do you need money? If so, dig up the place your parents used for sleeping. There you would find a jar full of gold coins. You two can take it.’

Immediately, both the sons went to the place used by their parents for sleeping, dug up the place, and just after digging a little, a snake came out hissing. At the sight of the snake both of them stopped digging and angrily went to the sadhu to give a piece of their mind. Understanding their state of mind, the sadhu said: ‘You are angry thinking that I lied. But, see the pit properly. There, you can see the tip of the jar. Do as I say. Both of you kill this snake.’ The anger of both the sons subsided and they looked closely at the pit. They could see under the snake, what could be called the tip of a jar. Then, they beat the snake with full force and garnered all their strength to retrieve the jar. Heavily beaten, the snake died. The sons brought out the jar from the pit. Seeing a large number of gold coins, their joy knew no bounds.

However, the sadhu went near the dead snake and sprinkled holy water on it and started observing it unabatedly. It was the confectioner, who was reborn as a bull and then as a dog because of his attachment to his family, that was born as a snake in this lifetime. Because he was killed and because of the great compassion of the sadhu, the confectioner in the form of the snake gradually became free of his attachments. The confectioner became very happy knowing that the sadhu will take him to Vaikuntha, the abode of Bhagavan Vishnu, and get him moksha.

Selfish interest only brings misery. It was the inconsequential attachment of the confectioner towards his sons that made him take birth over and again in various lifetimes. He himself created more and more attachments. It was his lack of discernment that made him go through repeated cycles of births and deaths. Had he just met his obligations in this world without any attachments, he would have attained moksha in one lifetime itself by the great compassion of the sadhu. Therefore, we should meet our obligations without any attachments just like water that does not stick to lotus leaf. Let us pray to God that we get a suitable state of mind and mental strength to do so.