Tuesday 10 July 2007
The Immature Pot
Vithoba found Namdev had not yet realised the Supreme Truth and wanted to teach him. When Jnaneswar and Namdev returned from their pilgrimage, Gora Kumbhar gave a feast to all the saints in his place and among them were Jnaneswar and Namdev. At the feast Jnaneswar, in collusion with Gora, told Gora publicly, “You are a potter, daily engaged in making pots and testing them to see which are properly baked and which are not. These pots before you (i.e., the saints) are the pots of Brahma. See which of these are sound and which not.”
Thereupon Gora said, “Yes, Swami, I shall do so,” and took up the stick with which he used to tap his pots to test their soundness. Holding it aloft in his hand he went to each of his guests and tapped each on the head as he usually did to his pots. Each guest humbly submitted to such tapping. But when Gora approached Namdev, the latter indignantly called out, “You potter, what do you mean by coming to tap me with that stick?” Gora thereupon told Jnaneswar, “Swami, all the other pots have been properly baked. This one (i.e. Namdev) alone is not yet properly baked.” All the assembled guests burst into laughter.
Namdev felt greatly humiliated and ran up to Vitthala (the deity he worshipped) with whom he was on the most intimate terms, playing with him, eating with him, sleeping with him and so on. Namdev complained of this humiliation which had happened to him, the closest friend and companion of Vitthala. Vitthala (who of course knew all this) pretended to sympathise with him, asked for all the details of the happenings at Gora’s house and after hearing everything said, “Why should you not have kept quiet and submitted to the tapping, as all the others did? That is why all this trouble has come.” Thereupon Namdev cried all the more and said, “You also want to join the others and humiliate me. Why should I have submitted like the others? Am I not your closest friend, your child?” Vitthala said, “You have not yet properly understood the truth, and you won’t understand if I tell you. But go to the saint who is in a ruined temple in such and such a forest. He will be able to give you enlightenment.”
Namdev accordingly went there and found an old, unassuming man sleeping in a corner of the temple with his feet on a Sivalingam. Namdev could hardly believe this was the man from whom he – the companion of Vitthala – was to gain enlightenment. However, as there was none else there, Namdev went near the man and clapped his hands. The old man woke up with a start and seeing Namdev, said, “Oh – you are Namdev whom Vitthala has sent here. Come!” Namdev was dumbfounded and began to think, “This must be a great man.” Still he thought it was revolting that any man however great, should be resting his feet on a lingam. He asked the old man, “You seem to be a great personage. But is it proper for you to have your feet on a lingam?” The old man replied, “Oh, are my feet on a lingam? Where is it? Please remove my feet elsewhere.” Namdev removed the feet and put them in various places. Wherever they were put, there was a Sivalingam. Finally, he took them on his lap and he himself became a Sivalingam! Then he realised the truth and the old gentleman said, “Now you can go back.”
Bhagavan added, “It is to be noted that only when he surrendered himself, and touched the feet of his guru, enlightenment came. After this final enlightenment Namdev returned to his house and for some days did not go to Vitthala at the temple, though it had been his habit not only to visit Vitthala every day, but to spend most of his time with Vitthala at the temple. So, after a few days, Vitthala went to Namdev’s house and like a guileless soul, enquired how it was that Namdev had forgotten him and never visited him. Namdev replied, ‘No more of your fooling me. I know now. Where is the place where you are not! To be with you, should I go to the temple? Do I exist apart from you?’ Then Vitthala said, ‘So you now understand the truth. That is why you had to be sent for this final lesson’.”