A Story of Maya

  Narada was a sage who lived for thousands of years and wandered freely through all the regions of consciousness from heaven to earth.  Narada was on very intimate terms with the Lord, here in the form of Krishna, so he could ask him all forms of questions.  And while they were walking, he asked the Lord, “Sir, can you please explain to me the secret of this magic called maya?”

Sri Krishna hesitated, because to understand maya is to understand the whole of life. But Narada was utterly devoted to him, so the Lord replied, “Of course.  Let’s lie down here in the shade and I shall tell you everything. But first, Narada, it’s terribly hot; would you get me a cool glass of water?”

“Right away,” Narada promised, and he set out across the fields.  The sun beat down and though he was a good walker, the little line of thatched cottages on the horizon that marked the nearest village seemed no closer as he strode along.  The heat grew unbearable.  Narada’s throat became parched too; he began to think that he would ask for two glasses of water, and drink the second himself.

Finally he reached the village and ran to the nearest house.  The door opened – and there stood the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.  She smiled up at Narada through long, dark lashes and something happened to him that had never happened before.  All he could do was hem and haw.  Finally he blurted out, “Will you marry me?”  That is the Indian way, you know; you cannot just say, “What are you doing on Saturday night?”

The couple settled down to a life of connubial bliss.  After a while, children began to arrive.  Narada’s became a very animated household. Somebody was always being bathed or dressed; there were meals to get and people to be provided for.  And all these things were filling up their lives.  Narada and his wife became engrossed in their private little world, quietly building their dreams.  Years passed.  The children grew up, went to school, got married; in time, grandchildren arrived.  Narada became the patriarch of a great family, respected by the whole village; his lands stretched to the horizon. He and his wife would look at each other fondly and say, “Don’t you think being grandparents is the greatest thing on earth?”

Then a flood came.  The village fields became a raging river, and before Narada’s helpless eyes, everything that he loved and lived for – his lands, his cattle, his house, but especially his beloved wife and all their children and grandchildren – were swept away.  Of all the village, only he remained.  Unable to watch the destruction, Narada fell to his knees and cried for help from the very depths of his heart.  “Krishna!  Krishna!”

At once, the raging floods disappeared and there was Sri Krishna, standing casually on the fields where they had walked what seemed to be so many years before.  “Narada,” the Lord asked gently, “where is my glass of water?” 

  --from Dialogue With Death: A Journey Through Consciousness, by Eknath Easwaran

Return to Wisdom          Return to Home