Tales of two fishermen

akbanik's picture



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Tales of two fishermen

A man was sitting on the bank of a stream, all alone, fishing. It was getting late and still he had caught no fish. After a while the float on his line began to move. Now and then its tip touched the water. The fisherman was holding the line tight in his hands, ready to pull it up, when somebody came walking by, on the road above the banks of the stream. "Sir," the traveller said to the fisherman, "can you tell me where the Lettermans live? It's somewhere around here..."

There was no reply from the fisherman, because he was just on the verge of pulling up his rod. There seemed to be business at the end of the line. Again and again the traveller said, in a louder voice, "Sir, can you tell me where the Lettermans live?" But the man fishing in the stream was unconscious of everything around him. His hands were trembling, his eyes fixed on the float, the picture of a fine fish about to come up, vivid in his mind. "This man must be stone deaf," said the traveller to himself, very much annoyed, and so he started walking on the road again.

After he had gone quite a way, it happened that the fisherman's float sank under the water and with one pull of the rod he landed a good sized fish. Wiping the sweat from, his brow (it was a hot day) he now turned and shouted after the visitor. "Hey!" he said. "Come here! Listen! But the man would not even turn his face. After much shouting, however, he did come back. He said to the fisherman, "Why are you shouting at me?"

"What did you ask me about?" said the fisherman.

"Why, I repeated my question so many times and here you are, asking me to repeat it again!" The fisherman replied: "At that time a fish was after my bait, so I didn't hear a word of what you said."

Sri Ramakrishna tells us that this is the kind of single-mindedness we must have in meditation; we must become completely absorbed.

This story too is about being absorbed in meditation, but this was a fisherman of a different kind: this fisherman was a thief. Now, in India wealthy persons often keep an estate in the country on which many kinds of flowering trees and shrubs are planted, often surrounding a large lake or pool. At certain hours the gate is kept open so that neighbors and visitors may come in, walk around and enjoy the plants, and sit in the shade. Once in a while a homeless holy man gets into a garden, and makes a place for himself there, and nobody minds. In spite of the brick walls on the boundaries, thieves sometimes crawl over and steal flowers and other things -- like fish, from the lake. One night a fish-thief got into such a garden and threw his net into the lake. But the owner heard noises, and ordered his servants to fan out into the grounds of the garden. They brought lighted torches and began to search for the intruder in the shadows, behind the bushes and at the bottom of the wall. This thief was very clever. He quickly smeared his face with some ashes and sat down under a secluded tree. Then he closed his eyes and pretended to be meditating. He tried to look as if he were deep in meditation. The owner and his men searched a long time but could not find any thief in the garden. All they saw was a holy man marked with ashes, still and silent, meditating.

The next day the news spread in the neighborhood that a great yogi was staying in the garden. People gathered there and honored him with offerings of fruit, flowers and sweets. Many also threw down silver or copper coins in front of him. People in India have so much respect for anyone who leaves everything in search of God! Now the thief began to wonder within himself. "How strange," he thought, "I am only a pretend-holy man, not a genuine one, and still people show me so much respect and devotion! If I were to become a real seeker of Truth, what a difference it would make in my life! Probably I would realize God without much delay." And he gave up his stealing and began to become a holy man himself.

These tales are told by Sri Ramakrishna, who liked to give his visitors spiritual lessons in such simple stories.



bonya basu's picture

Good stories!!!!

Good stories.Love to hear more.

bonya basu | Wed, 12/15/2010 - 14:03
Ganapati's picture

Two Fishermen

Simple and yet deep, I just love these stories as they have tendency to make you think a little deeper.
Thank you

Ganapati | Wed, 01/05/2011 - 23:59
bonya basu's picture

Simple teaching of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa.......

Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa taught his teaching through simple stories so that a ordinary person can also understand it....but there is a deeper meaning underlying behind each story.

bonya basu | Thu, 01/06/2011 - 05:28