Story: Where is my glass of water? Narada

There is a story from long ago India of a great yogi – Narada – who is requested by the sage Vishnu to fetch him a glass of water from the river. Narada is a highly evolved soul who has shunned the world but never understood the power of ‘maya’ – our enthrallment with the appearances and enchantments of the world – and is about to experience this.

At the river Narada sees a beautiful girl, and captivated by her beauty follows her to her village and requests her father for her hand in marriage. Years go by and Narada has forgotten his original purpose and Vishnu’s request – he is immersed in his human life in the world with his wife and family. One night a terrible storm comes, sweeping away the village and his family in a flood – desperate, Narada remembers his Guru Vishnu and calls out for his help. Vishnu appears before him and asks him:

Narada, where is my glass of water? I am still thirsty.’ The distraught Narada is still grieving though for his family, and does not understand.

‘Where does this pain and suffering come from, Narada?’ asked Vishnu with a smile. ‘I thought you had full knowledge of Maya before you set out to fetch water for me.

You knew all about the spiritual truths and realities. Yet you forgot all about them as soon as you experienced the material world – home, family, children, and village. Your understanding of Maya could have helped you in the tumult of pleasure and pain, but it did not. Such is the spell of Maya, the illusory nature and powerful enchantments of this world.’

The story remains relevant even today, our tendency to easily forget our deeper spiritual nature and purpose as we become absorbed in the human dramas of our lives that resemble, in Shakespeare’s words ‘a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more’. When we become interested in meditation though, there is a remembering of something more, a questing beyond the usual attractions of our lives that have failed to fully satisfy. This is a special time in our journey of self-discovery, an awakening to some deeper realisation. Vishnu has come to us and asks of us…

‘But where is my glass of water?’



Revisiting the Upanishads

I have been browsing through the Upanishads of late, enjoying their perennial wisdom and marvelling at the common ground they share with 21st century revelations about the primary nature of the universe and with modern quantum theory. The Upanishads are a summation of the knowledge, insights and sacred wisdom of the Vedic sages and seers and date back some 4,000 years.


In his introduction to selected translations from the Upanishads, Alistair Shearer writes that the Vedic teachings propose ‘the ground of all being is an infinite and unified field of Consciousness, eternal and self-luminous. This Consciousness creates the universe from its own depths, by reverberating within itself….Thus, Veda is said to be the source of creation; it is the DNA of the universe, containing all manifest possibilities in seed form.’ The Upanishadic teachings also reflect the ancient Greek understanding of philosophy or ‘gnosis’ – the cultivation of true and sacred wisdom. Plato described such a philosopher as one who would ‘live in constant companionship with the divine order of the world’. Continue Reading →

The only news I know

The only news I know
Is Bulletins all Day
From Immortality.
The only Shows I see —
Tomorrow and Today —
Perchance Eternity —
The only one I meet
Is God — The only Street
Existence — This traversed
If other news there be —
Or Admirabler Show —
I’ll tell it You —
– Emily Dickinson

Last Days of Swami Vivekananda

Vivekananda3Swami Vivekananda was a close disciple of the great spiritual Master Sri Ramakrishna. After Ramakrishna’s passing, Vivekananda began a whirlwind of activity. He travelled across India, United States and Europe – giving lectures on Vedenta, philosophy and encouraging dynamic action – especially in India. Towards the end of his short life, his hectic schedule told on his health and he retreated to the Himalayas to spend more time in quiet contemplation.

In his final days, he became aware of his limited time left on earth; he was moved to practise more meditation and contemplate on the deepest spiritual truths.

“I am making ready for death. A great tapasya and meditation has come upon me, and I am making ready for death.” – Belur Math, 1902

As his final days came, Swami Vivekananda, a great Vedantist, reveals how his devotion to Mother Kali increased and he began to be more aware of the world beyond this earth of joy and suffering. Continue Reading →

The mystery of death


Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

Emily Dickinson

The mystery of death holds both fear and fascination. On the one hand we fear death – death of the body and death of the ego; to some, death is the extinction of all that we hold dear in the world.

But, if we live not only for worldly possessions, we come to feel that maybe there is more to life than this physical being. The Seers and mystics proclaim that death is but a transition: a chance for renewal and rebirth. Death is an end for the body; but for the soul, death is merely the process of discarding its worn-out garment and moving to something higher.


Death is not the end
Death can never be the end.

Death is the road.
Life is the traveller.
The Soul is the Guide

Sri Chinmoy

“They will come back – come back again, as long as the red Earth rolls.
He never wasted a leaf or a tree. Do you think He would squander souls ?”

Rudyard Kipling


 Sri Aurobindo on death

“Death is a stair, a door, a stumbling stride
The soul must take to cross from birth to birth,
A grey defeat pregnant with victory”

– Sri Aurobindo, Savitri

To understand the perspective of a Seer poet on death, I recommend the Debate of love and death in Savitri by Sri Aurobindo. It is a beautiful and thought provoking dialogue between Savitri and death – between human mortality and the divine.


[1] Because I could not stop for death

[2] Quotes on Death

[3] The Sack of the Gods R.Kipling

Single Object of Faith – Sri Ramakrishna


“A man began to sink a well, but having dug down to the depth of twenty cubits he could not find the least trace of the water-spring which was to feed his well. So he desisted from the work and selected another place for the purpose. There he dug deeper than before, but even then he could not find any water. So again he selected another spot and dug still deeper than before, but it was also of no avail. At last in utter disgust he gave up the task altogether. The sum total of the depths of these three wells was little short of a hundred cubits. Had he had the patience to devote even a half of the whole of this labour to his first well, without shifting the site of the well from place to place, he would surely have been successful in getting water. Such is the case with men who continually shift their positions in regard to faith. In order to meet with success we should devote ourselves entirely to a single object of faith, without being doubtful as to its efficacy.”

– The Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna

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