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Monday, 30 December 2019

Margazhi Blogotsavam: Day 14: Brother Gopal

Subala was a widow, living alone with her young son Gopal. She spun yarn on her spinning wheel and did odd jobs for other people, somehow eking out a living, all the time praying to her beloved Sri Krishna, singing his bhajans and chanting His name.

Soon, Gopal was old enough to be educated, so Subala got him admitted to the village school. Full of enthusiasm, Gopal set out for his first day of school. The path took him through a dense forest and as he walked deeper inside, the darkness and eerie sounds he heard scared him very much. Heart racing, he ran and ran till finally, he reached the school.

The teacher was good, and Gopal being a bright kid, could grasp all the lessons. He made some friends too, and they had great fun playing together. By late afternoon, it was time to go back home.

As evening fell, the forest became even scarier for little Gopal, but he somehow managed to run all the way home. Subala hugged him as soon as he entered, but before she could ask any questions, Gopal burst into tears and blurted, “Ma! I’m not going to school tomorrow!”

Shocked, Subala slowly drew the whole story out of Gopal. The school was fine; it was walking through the forest that scared him. “I’ll go to school only if someone comes with me, Ma!” was his ultimatum.

Poor Subala had no one to help. She couldn’t go herself for then, how would she earn her living? Desperate, she turned to her only source. Praying to Krishna to help her and Gopal, she went to bed.

The next morning, Gopal again flatly refused to go to school! “Get ready soon, Gopal. Your older brother is waiting to go with you!” she announced. Gopal was surprised. Who was this elder brother? Where did he live? How would he know where to come? Would he really come? With unwavering faith, Subala told Gopal, “Your brother is also called Gopal. He lives in the forest, and he will surely come ...all you need to do is call him when you feel afraid.”

Reassured, Gopal left for school. As soon as he entered the forest he called, “Brother Gopal! Where are you? Come to me!”

The next moment, Gopal heard the jingling of cowbells, and a boy little older than him, came, leading a few cows. “Come, little Gopal, Ma told me you would come. Let me take you to school!” 

Image courtesy: Amar Chitra Katha
Talking, laughing, playing, the two boys happily crossed the forest. The same thing happened on the way back. That night, Gopal was full of stories of his ‘Brother Gopal’ who wore a beautiful peacock feather in his headband, and Subala had tears in her eyes, grateful that her prayers had been heard.

This continued for a few days and then, it was the day of Guru Pournima, the day to honor the teacher. Gopal’s friends all spoke about costly gifts they would take for the teacher, and poor Gopal knew he would have nothing. When he asked his mother, she told him, “Ask your Brother Gopal, I’m sure he will arrange something.”

Brother Gopal gave him a small pot of curds; everyone at school, including the teacher, sniggered at Gopal’s tiny gift. When the teacher began serving the curd, it was so delicious that everyone wanted second servings. Wonder of wonders! No matter how much curd was drawn from the pot, it kept getting replenished again and again and again!

The teacher asked Gopal where he got the curds from, and refused to believe when he said he had a big brother Gopal living in the forest. So little Gopal took him into the forest to show him and called out to Brother Gopal. Alas, no one showed up. Little Gopal burst into tears.

At that moment, a heavenly voice was heard. “Don’t cry, little brother Gopal! I’m here only, but visible only to those who are pure in mind, like you and your mother. Those who are impure in mind can never hope to see me!”

As we read this story, let us ask of ourselves – would we have been able to see ‘Brother Gopal’? 

As we go through our busy lives, how many times have we missed seeing ‘Brother Gopal’?

6 comments:

  1. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻 Hare Krishna 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

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  2. Very cute story, my heart goes out to the little Gopal and his strong belief. No wonder then that the Lord acknowledges such an innocence personally. 🙏🌹🙏

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    1. Yes, faith moves mountains, they say...

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  3. I first read this story as told by Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. My nephew and niece love it - and they want me to retell it again and again, the story of Jatila & Madhusudhana :-) https://www.talkativeman.com/ramakrishna_paramahamsa_god_jatila_madhusudhan/

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    1. True! There's something magical about it. Remember my son too insisting on hearing this every night before going to sleep!

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