The Sage Of The Ant Hill
In ancient India there lived a highway robber. Young and strong, he could
easily attack and overcome travellers on lonely roads. Then he would rob
them of all their money and valuables. Many were his victims. The robber
knew better, but he thought it was the only way of earning a livelihood.
Moreover, his parents and wife were dependant on him.
One day the robber caught hold of a traveller who had nothing. Angry and
disappointed, he asked his victim how he could wander around like that. “I
am the sage Narada,” said explained. “I travel freely even between heaven
and earth. I am one of the immortals.” The robber who had some sense of
right and wrong, felt respect for the sage.
“Don’t you know it is a great sin to rob and kill human beings?” asked
Narada, “Why do you do all this?”
“I want to support my family,” the robber replied.
“All right,” said Narada, “You tie me up securely, and then go ask your
family if they will share in your sins, the way they share your money.”
The robber agreed, tied Narada to a tree, and went to find his father.
“Do you know how I support you?” he asked.
“No, but I have always wondered,” the father replied.
“I am a robber on the highway. I rob travellers and sometimes I have to
“What?” This is horrible! the father exclaimed, “Get away from me.”
“So will you not share in my guilt, in the eyes of God?”
“No! Why should I?” answered his father.
He then related it to his mother and his wife, asking whether they would
share his sins and help him bear his karma. The mother said, “Why should I?
I never stole anything in my life!” And his wife said, “Of course not! It
is your duty to support me.
The robber’s eyes were opened. He went back to the tree where Narada was
tied and told the sage what had happened. “Now I understand that each of us
travels a lonely road, a single track in life. Even my nearest and dearest,
who live by my plunder, do not agree to share in my guilt. Tell me, O sage,
what can I do?”
“Give up your lifestyle, foolish one. The love of your loved ones is
fair-weather love, it lasts only when you have riches and vanishes when
there is none. Learn to love and worship Him who is the only one who stands
by us, at all times.”
Narada taught the young man to worship, and told him to go into the forest.
He went into solitude and began to practise meditation and prayer. He kept
this up for many years, living on fruits and roots. Eventually he became so
absorbed in meditation that he forgot himself and even the awareness of his
body. As a result, ants came and built huge ant hills around him, and soon
he looked liked a mountain of ants.
After many years a divine voice came to him. “Arise, O Sage.” it said.
“Sage?” he exclaimed, “I am a robber.”
“No more robber,” the voice went on, “You are a purified soul. Your guilt
has been erased; you have had a new birth, and you now have a new name,
valmaki, meaning that you were born in an anthill.
Source: Indian Mythology
As I understand the philosophy of karma, I realise that no matter how close
someone maybe to me, yet it is I, alone, who has to suffer the consequences
of my own actions. And that change is possible, if only I realize. It
needs perseverance and dedication. Valmiki went on to write the great epic
Ramayan with its 24,000 shlokas (verses).