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A Miracle of Self-Effort

by Swami Jyotirmayananda

One of the most important secrets of spiritual movement is repeated effort, known as abhyasa. The practice of repeated effort enables the human mind to achieve the most amazing heights of glory. If you continue your effort in a sustained manner for a long time, and with profound faith, you can work out a profound change in yourself. Furthermore, those persistent defects that were difficult to remove can be completely rooted out from your personality.
An interesting story is told about a great poet, Kalidas who rose to become one of the most glorious poets in Sanskrit literature. In his early days, it is said that he was just a dull-wit, however by repeated effort, he was able to bring about a great change in his personality.

In the days when Kalidas was a young man there lived a learned princess of great scholarship. Her father, complying with her wishes, declared that anyone who would defeat her in philosophical discussion would be the proper match to marry her. Many princes, scholars, and great personalities came, but she was so bright and skilled in debate that she defeated them all. Some of the suitors became so disgusted and angry with her that they decided upon a plot to ultimately have her married to an uneducated simpleton.

Having decided upon this plan, the first step was to find an individual who would be suitable for their scheme. This would take some time however. The men searched here and there, until one day they saw a man seated on a tree cutting the same branch upon which he was seated. They seemed extremely pleased upon discovering the young man and thought the young village rustic must certainly be the most dull-witted man in town! They called him to come down from the tree, offering him a great reward – he would become a prince by merely acting out, without speaking, whatever comes into his mind in a debate with the princess. The spurned suitors would take care of everything else.

The men dressed the village idiot in a philosopher’s robe and made him appear like someone who is highly advanced and learned. They then introduced him to the princess saying, “Here is one of the greatest scholars ever born. However, he is so advanced that he doesn’t need to use words. He will debate with merely his fingers. Simply by using gestures he will bring out the highest philosophy.”

And so, the young man was placed in front of the princess and a great many other scholars who were assembled in the Royal Court. The princess began the contest. She raised one finger, thereby telling him in her sign language, “God is One. Can you refute this?” But when she raised that one finger he thought, “This lady is going to poke one of my eyes. I will poke both of hers!” Thus, he put two fingers out. The group of pundits who were moderating the philosophical discourse then began to interpret, saying, “Look Princess you are talking about One, but One does not come in the range of words. The Divine Self is to be realized, but in the process of realizing God, you must admit duality. Without duality how can you attain non-duality?”

Well then, seemingly defeated, the Princess began another issue by raising her hand and showing five fingers. At this gesture, the dull-witted pseudo-scholar thought, “She is going to slap me. Well, I will box her!” So, the man clenched his fist. Again the philosophers interpreted this action in his favor. “Princess, you are the loser. You are asserting that the five elements go to create the universe, However, when you raise your hand, your fingers were apart. This great philosopher, the greatest of all time, knows better. It is the combination of these five that involve the world.” And so discussions such as these went on, and each time the village simpleton was declared the winner. Finally, the princess was defeated and she was married to him.

It became very easy for her to subsequently realize what had happened. In a very short while, she discovered that her new spouse couldn’t even speak a few words correctly. Having become exceedingly angry, she drove him out saying, “Get out of my sight! However, I will accept you if only you become learned and a true scholar, not simply a pretender.” The man felt terrible when he was thrown out, and his mind developed the desire, “May I become purposeful. May I be worthy of the glory that was being bestowed upon me.”

However, he felt it was impossible for him to become cultured or educated, and with thoughts of hopelessness racing in his mind, he went towards a well with the idea of jumping in and terminating his life. As he sat by the well however, an unusual observation was made by the despondent man. He saw certain marks made by the rope on the concrete wall where the rope had repeatedly rubbed against the wall. Whenever the water was drawn from the well, this repeated contact between the concrete wall and the rope had created a pattern – a deep groove. Insight dawned in the man’s mind upon his observation. “If The repeated rubbing of a rope created a deep groove in the wall, why shouldn’t there be a change in my mind if I pursue repeatedly and endeavor seriously to change myself?” Following this resolve, in the course of time the once dull man became a completely transformed personality. He exerted all of his energy in the right direction and became one of the greatest poets of all time – Kalidas.

This story tells you the importance of effort. The fact is, deep within your heart there are boundless resources, because everyone is essentially the Self. The Divine Self is the all permeating reality and, is the source of boundless energy and endless glory. If you thus develop that understanding and continue to work towards your goal day by day without being thwarted, inevitably you will bring about a great change in your personality. Repeated effort cuts new grooves in your unconscious, and if you continue to persevere, your whole personality will eventually be transformed.

May God Bless You! Hari OM Tat Sat!

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