The Milkmaid’s Faith

milkmaid
The Milkmaid (ca. 1660) by Johannes Vermeer. Original from The Rijksmuseum. Digitally enhanced by rawpixel.

Once upon a time a great sage was reading out the sacred texts to some people. It so happened that the village milkmaids passed by the sage who was reading out the sacred texts to the people. The maids heard from the lips of the sage these words, “The sacred name of God, the Holy Being, is the great ship which makes us cross the ocean, as if the ocean were simply a small pool”.

Nothing at all. A statement of that kind they heard. These maids took that statement literally. They put implicit faith in that saying. They had to cross the river everyday to sell their milk. Milk-maids they were. They reflected in their minds, “It is a sacred text, it cannot be wrong, it must be right”. They said, “Why should we give a four aana piece to the boat-man everyday. Why not cross the river by taking the holy name of God and chanting OM? Why should we pay four aanas everyday”? Their faith was so strong as adamant. The next day they came and simply chanted OM, paid nothing to the boat-man. They began to wade the river, they crossed the river and were not drowned.

Day after day they began to cross the river, they paid no money to the boat-man. After about a month or so they felt very grateful to the teacher who had recited the texts which saved their aanas, saved their money. They asked the sage to be kind enough to dine at their house. Well, the request was granted and the sage had to go to their house on the appointed day. One of those maids came to fetch him. While this maid was conducting the sage to their village, they came to the river, and there in a trice the maid went up to the opposite shore and the sage remained on the other bank, could not follow her.

In a short while the maid came back and asked the reason for his delay. He said that he was waiting for the boatman. The boatman ought to take him to the opposite shore. The maid replied, “Sir, we are thankful to you. You have been so kind as to save us full one rupee, and not only this one rupee but all our lifelong we shall spend no money to pay the boatman. Why don’t you yourself save the money and come to the opposite bank with us? We go to the opposite bank uninjured, unharmed through your advice and teaching. You yourself also can go to the opposite shore”.

The sage asked what piece of advice was it that saved their money. The maid reminded him of the text he once gave. That God’s name was a ship that carried us across the ocean of this world. He said, alright, alright, he too must practice it. There were other companions. There was a long, long rope. He fastened the rope to his waist and asked companions to keep the remaining part of the rope to themselves, and said he would jump into the river and take the name of God and would venture to cross the river on faith, but if they felt that he was being drowned, they should draw him back. The sage jumped into the river, went on for a few steps and was found to be drowning. They drew him out.

The sage drowned because there was no conviction on his faith. Where as the milk maids had strong and headstrong faith in God that made them cross the river without boatman.

Moral: Faith full of conviction and devoid of the least doubt is true faith and works wonders.

Also read: The Man Who Invited Death (The Consequences of Desires)

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