The Yogi and the Butcher N K Srinivasan

This is a well known story ,drawn from Hindu scriptures---found in many places including Srimad Bhagavatam. It contains the essential concepts of spiritual practice or sadhana in Hindu perspective. It contains valuable lessons for yoga practitioners. It was also narrated by Swami Vivekananda at some place.

The Story

Yogendra was a young yogi, performing intense yoga practice or tapas and was apparently full of Vairagya or detachment. He had a small kutir or hut in a wooded forest and lived on alms by begging in a nearby village of Shivapuri.

He used to practice yoga for several hours in the pre-dawn period under a peepul tree near his hut. Soon his practice of eight -part ashtanga yoga with deep meditation yielded supernatural powers or siddhis., as promised by Patanjali. Yogendra recognized his increasing psychic powers and became puffed up with pride. One day, while he was beginning his meditations, he found a white crane in a nearby bush, making croaking noises. Yogendra was disturbed and got angry. He turned his head and gazed at the crane with angry eyes...Lo and behold, the crane got burnt into ashes and fell. Yogendra was visibly pleased and thought to himself: "What!, I can turn into ashes a crane with mere look; I have indeed attained some advanced siddha stage as a yogi!". He continued with his meditations or penance with renewed vigor. Next day, Yogendra went for his usual round of alms gathering with a begging bowl to Shivapuri. He slowly walked through the main street where many pious

families lived. It was his custom to stand before the open door step of house and clap his hands. The women in those houses would come out with food ,to be dropped into his bowl. He went to a house and stood and clapped his hands to inform the lady of the house of his presence.. He waited for some time and yet the lady did not show up with food. He waited for some more time . Then he found the lady of the house or Griha-lakshmi coming out with the vessel containing the food. Yogendra was getting angry at her due to the long wait and looked at her with stern eyes. How dare she made a sannyasin ( monk) wait that long? The lady gently approached Yogendra and told: " Sadhu, Did you take me for a crane?".....and then dropped the food into his bowl..Without anger in her voice, she said: "Look, my husband is sick and I was attending on him...That is why I got delayed in bringing food for you ". Yogendra was then puzzled..."How did this simple woman

knew about my burning the crane by mere look yesterday". She must be a advanced yogini and possess powers to know about my past and future. Yogendra was now humbled and wanted to get some spiritual instruction or upadesha from her. Yogendra:" Lady of the house, you obviously have some yogic powers due to spiritual practice. I am ready to be instructed by you". Griha-Lakshmi: " Dear Sadhu, I am no great yogini. If you want upadesha, go to the cart puller Raikwa in the town of Rampur and he will instruct you" . Then she went back into her house. Yogendra was puzzled at the guidance given by her.." How could a cart puller know spiritual matters to instruct me and even if you find one, how this lady knows about him!" --he wondered. Yet Yogendra felt that he should locate the cart puller and find out for himself about him. Immediately Yogendra walked to the nearby town of Rampur--- a distance of about 5 miles.

He found Raikwa ,the cart puller, easily near the market in Rampur where one would see several cartmen. Raikwa was relaxing after a hard day's work with a cup of Chai and a burning bidi [country-made leaf cigarette] in hand. Yogendra was again intrigued..."How this cart-puller could instruct me on spiritual matters?" , he thought. Yogendra went near Raikwa who was reclining on the slope of his tilted hand cart. Yogendra greeted him with touching palms. Raikwa smiled and asked whether the lady in Shivpuri village sent him. Yogendra was stunned by this question. How could this car puller know about his meeting the lady who offered him food and directions to meet Raikwa?--he wondered. Raikwa: I am happy to see you....I am no spiritual master or yogi. I am only a daily wage earner and I relax and study nature. But you go to Gubbar Singh, the butcher who has a shop in the meat market.He is a great man and he will instruct you". Yogendra was puzzled again and wondering how this

unlettered man could " study nature". "How could a butcher instruct me?"--he thought . With confused mind and tired legs, Yogendra now walked towards the meat market. It was easy to find Gubbar Singh who was talking to his customers while chopping meat. Now the humbled Yogendra went to him with folded hands and told Gubbar that Raikwa had sent him and he wanted spiritual upadesha from him. A smile spread across Gubbar's face. He asked Yogendra to wait till his business work was over for the day . He offered Yogendra a bench to sit. Yogendra waited for nearly an hour. Gubbar closed his shop for the day and left for his home with Yogendra. Gubbar asked Yogendra to sit in the thinnai or front porch of his house. He entered the house and came with a cup of chai for yogendra. Then Gubbar told him that he had some urgent work and would come back after half hour and entered his home again. Yogendra was wondering what that urgent work could be.

Gubbar returned and told Yogendra that he had his aged father who was blind and that he had to nurse him first.He asked Yogendra what he wanted to discuss with him. Yogendra narrated all the strange happenings since that morning encounter with the lady in Shivapuri. Gubbar told him that he was no philosopher or yogi, but a common butcher doing his job as best as he can and with honesty. Further he discharged his duties at home as required. Yogendra looked at the face of Gubbar. There was a special aura around him and his eyes were bright like a noon day Sun. Yogendra found an inner peace in his heart that was beyond understanding. Gubbar told him that doing one's duty properly was all that is required. The rest was God's grace! Yogendra bowed to Gubbar and took leave for his forest kutir. -----------------------------------------------------

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