A young boy was notorious for quarreling with people and insulting them. His father had died several years earlier, so his mother had to raise him by herself. She was very sad because he would not behave. She was at her wit’s end. The villagers spoke ill not only of him, but also of his mother because they thought she was indulgent. Actually, it was just the opposite. His mother was very strict with him, but he wouldn’t listen to her.
One day he insulted an elderly man and the villagers wanted to thrash him. The mother came and pleaded with the villagers. She said, “True, my son is wrong, but please forgive him and forgive me as well. I’m trying to help him.”
The village head was kind enough to release the son because of the mother’s pleas. The mother brought the boy home and said, “I will soon die because I am old. After my death, perhaps you will start heeding my advice and become a good boy. I will leave some money for you when I die, so use the money and think of me. Right now, because you are mischievous and naughty I am miserable. I am going to send you away to a boarding school.”
When the boy went to the boarding school, he argued with his teachers and the other students. Then one day he got word that his mother had died. He returned to his village shedding bitter tears, and said, “Mother, I could not please you when you were alive. But I now take this oath: I will become an excellent boy.” From then on he never quarreled. He became simple, honest and kindhearted.
Although his mother had left him some money, it was not enough for him to continue his studies for very long. Since he didn’t have any real interest in school, after studying for a year or two he began looking for a job. Finally, the village zamindar gave him some work taking care of his garden and looking after his children.
one day the boy was holding the garden hose in one arm and the zamindar’s youngest child in his other arm. The zamindar happened to pass by and said, “When you water the garden, put the child down. For everything there is a time. You cannot do both jobs at the same time and do them well. You can water the garden now and later show your affection to the child.”
The boy obediently put the child on the ground and continued watering the garden. Ten minutes later the zamindar’s wife came by and saw the child sitting on the ground while the boy watered the garden. She was furious. She said, “How dare you keep my child on the ground. Can’t you hold him in one arm? With one arm you can water the garden and with the other you can carry my child. Besides, who wants you to water plants? Right now you should take care of my youngest child and forget about watering the garden.”
The boy kept silent and stopped watering the garden to take care of the child. in this way he pleased both his master and his master’s wife.
By now everyone in the village liked this young man because he was kindhearted and a good worker. Now, it happened that in the school where he used to study, a younger student had developed the same kind of mischievous nature that this boy used to possess. This younger student always fought with his teachers and the other students. His mother was in distress all the time because of her son’s bad behavior.
This ill-behaved student was very jealous of the zamindar’s servant. His mother said to him, “I know you are jealous of the zamindar’s servant. But by being jealous you are not going to get his good qualities. Only by admiring him and doing what he does will you be able to develop the same qualities one day.”
The son didn’t listen to his mother. He continued to do mischievous things, arguing with people and hitting them. One day some stronger boys got angry with him and beat him up. He ran home crying.
He decided to go to the zamindar’s servant to see how he could change his nature. He said to the servant, “You are kind, good and modest. You have no pride, anger or restlessness. How did you develop these good qualities?”
The servant told him, “My mother always begged me to be good, but I wouldn’t listen. When she died, I took an oath to change my nature, to be good. When you try to please people they become grateful to you and proud of you.)l
The servant continued, “This morning I was watering the plants, holding the hose in one arm and my master’s youngest child in the other arm. My master got mad and said I should not try to do two things at once. He said I should put the child on the ground while I watered the garden with both hands. So I put down the child with utmost humility and began watering the garden. The master was very pleased that I had listened to him.
“A few minutes later my master’s wife saw me watering the garden. She insulted me and said, ‘Why have you left the child on the ground? Is he inferior to the plants?’ She wanted me to pick the child up immediately. She said I should stop watering the plants and take care of the child. So I stopped watering the garden.
“I didn’t lose anything by making both my master and his wife happy. I always try to please my master and his wife. Because of this they are fond of me. In your case, too, if you practice being peaceful and harmonious with your mother, your teachers and friends, they will be happy. Only by giving happiness to others can you become happy yourself.
“I feel awful that I waited until my mother died before I tried to please her. I advise you to change your nature now and please your mother while she is still alive. Then you will see how much joy you will find. The enjoyment you get now by being mischievous is false. It is stupid. If you bring joy to others you will be happy.”
The young boy went and told his mother what the servant had said. His mother went to the zamindar’s house and approached the servant. She told him, “I won’t allow you to be anybody’s servant. From now on I want you to be my oldest son. I will take care of you and you can continue your studies. Your mother is not on earth, so I want to be your mother and offer you the same kind of affection and love.”
The woman brought the boy home and sent both her sons to school to complete their higher studies.
from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy
Published by Health Communications