Tales & Parables


A king had a great scholar in his court who was said to be a very learned man. The king, who was interested in spiritual things, once asked the scholar to give a discourse on the Bhagavad Gita.

The scholar started explaining each verse in detail, at the end of which he used to ask the king, “Sir, have you followed the real meaning of the verse?” to which the king used to reply, “Panditji, you must understand it first yourself.”

The scholar did not like this reply and went on wondering why the king was using these words in his reply.

In the course of the studies, he came to realize that the key to the Bhagavad Gita was renunciation of the self, and then he understood that perhaps the king was asking whether he had understood this very important principle contained in this book. This brought about a change in his life and he actually renounced his worldly home and took to the life of Sannyasa.

When leaving his home he sent word to the king that he had understood the meaning of the Gita and was, therefore, unable to continue the discourse.

~ Vedanta through Stories by Swami Sambuddhananda


Once, a group of villagers decided to go out on a pilgrimage to some holy places. A thief thinking that it was time for him to stop thieving and to begin expiating the sins expressed his desire to the leaders of the party to go with him. They agreed to the proposal, thinking that the pilgrimage was more necessary for a man of his type than even themselves and that it might help him to turn over a new leaf.

The party started for Benaras and thence they went to Mathura and Vrindavan.

Every day in the course of their tour they had the curious experience of finding that some of the articles belonging to one or two of the party were missing and that they were mixed up with the baggage belonging to some other persons. Being at a loss to account for this, they suspected the thief, and one night some of the members of the party sat up the whole night in order to see who was at the bottom of the mischief. The thief was caught red-handed while he was transferring some of the articles belonging to one of the parties to the belongings of another. When he was asked to explain his conduct he said, “My good Sirs, owing to my past habits I am unable to have a wink of sleep at night and I have to do something to keep my mind engaged. Having abjured thieving, the best that I could think of was to put one man’s articles into another’s package, and I am thankful that I am doing nothing worse.”



A beggar while on his way to a distant village saw many people riding on horses. As he was very tired he started praying aloud, “Oh God, grant that I may have a horse to ride.”

One of the passengers was riding a mare which was quick with child, and as it came near the beggar it gave birth to a colt.

The rider was in a fix as to what should be done with the new-born colt. He saw the beggar and told him to take the young colt upon his shoulders and to follow him.

The beggar realised that his prayer has been heard by God but that he had been misunderstood. He went with the colt on his shoulders saying, “Oh God, thou hast misconstrued my prayer. I wanted to ride but not to be ridden by a horse.”


An atheist used to meet frequently a friend who was a theist. Each had regard for the other and looked upon each other as sincere friends.

The atheist, however, said to the theist friend one day, “Well, for God’s sake what have you not done? You have given up all the pleasures and comforts of life.”

In reply, the theist said to the atheist, “My sacrifice is nothing when compared with yours. You have renounced the Lord, the creator of the Universe. Your sacrifice is greater than mine.”


Once, in heaven, there was a discussion among the gods to decide where the miraculous secret power, the power by which man can achieve anything in this world, was to be kept hidden. One of the gods suggested that it could be kept hidden in the depths of the Sea. Another said it could be buried on top of high mountains. The third one thought of a cave in the woods as the right place.

At last, the most intelligent among them said, ‘Keep it in the depths of man’s mind. He will never suspect that the power is hidden there because right from his childhood, his mind is prone to wandering and he will not look within, and use the power and become great.’ All gods agreed.

Does God Sleep?

Here is a wonderful piece of conversation between Latu and his Guru Sri Ramakrishna. One night, Latu was fanning The Master. That day, Latu had worked very hard and he was feeling drowsy. Despite his tiredness, his spirit for the service to The Master didn’t slacken.

Sri Ramakrishna knew all about Latu’s hard- working day and tiresome state. In a half – joking, half – serious manner He asked Latu: ” Leto, can you say whether or not God sleeps? ”
The question surprised Latu and he answered that he didn’t know.
Then more seriously, Sri Ramakrishna continued:” Everyone in the world sleeps, but God does not; for if God slept, the universe would be plunged into darkness and would dissolve. God must remain awake day and night taking care of his creatures so that they can sleep without fear.”

Latu was amazed. ” Do you mean that God takes care of his creatures while they are sleeping and that they accept service from him, their Master? ”

Sri Ramakrishna answered:” Yes, that is right. He lulls his creatures to sleep and stays awake to watch over them.”

What an amazing picture Sri Ramakrishna has drawn into Latu’s mind.God is singing a lullaby to make all the creatures sleep. He serves all the creatures out of unconditional love and care.


A FROG had a rupee, which he kept in his hole.

One day an elephant was going over the hole, and the frog, coming out in a fit of anger, raised his foot, as if to kick the elephant, and said, “How dare you walk over my head?”

Such is the pride money begets!

~ Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna



A man who was immensely wealthy, not being blessed with a son, was anxious to adopt a son who would inherit all his wealth.

When his desire for adoption became known, many candidates called at his house and each of them related the merits he possessed and the advantages the wealthy man would derive by adopting him. One of the candidates was an octogenarian who had not only a son and a grandson but a great-grandson also.

The wealthy man and the others seated with him, when the old man appeared for the interview, expressed their surprise that such an old man wanted to be adopted.

The old man, however, said, “Sir, if you adopt me, it would be the best thing possible. You are now worrying as to who should inherit your wealth, but if you adopt me as your son you will not have to worry for three generations to come, for I am a great-grandfather in the direct line.”


A teacher while instructing his students, was describing the evil effects of flattery.

He said, “Have you not seen a kind of fish which you can puff up by blowing into its mouth? The more it is blown into, the more it swells, till a time comes when it bursts and dies.

“Once upon a time, a king was invaded by his enemy. The matter was discussed for hours by his cabinet. Unfortunately, he had a number of flatterers in his cabinet who assured him that nothing could happen to him as he was a very mighty king. “

The king felt so much flattered that he took no action or precaution, with the result that the enemy invaded his kingdom and having conquered it put him to an ignominious death.”


A thief once entered a palace at night and found the king and the queen conversing in their bedroom. The queen was telling the king that their daughter had attained marriageable age and the king should seek a proper young man to whom she could be married. 

After some discussion, they decided that as the princess had a religious bent of mind, she should be given in marriage to a holy man.

The palace was situated near the Ganges, on the banks of which a large number of holy men used to live practicing penances and austerities. The next day, the king asked the Dewan to go there and see if anyone could be found who was suitable and willing to marry the princess.

The thief, who had overheard the conversation between the king and the queen on the previous night, decided to put on the garb of a holy man and sit on the bank of the Ganges next day, and he acted accordingly.

The Dewan went from one holy man to another but all of them refused to marry the princess and enter into worldly life.

When, however, he came to the thief in the holy man’s garb and told him that if he married the princess he would get half the kingdom as her dowry and he would inherit the other half on the death of the king, the thief remained silent.

Suddenly, a thought flashed across his mind that if he could get half the kingdom with the princess by merely disguising himself as a holy man, what better and more valuable things he would not get by really becoming a Sadhu (man of religion). The man completely changed all of a sudden and he decided to take to the religious aspirant’s life.


A child had fallen seriously ill and its grandmother was asked to look after it.

She was given a bottle of medicine which carried a label on which were inscribed the words “Shake before use” in bold letters.

Reading those words she first shook the child briskly and then gave it a dose. In consequence, the child got a relapse of the fever from which it had been suffering.

When the doctor came, he was surprised to find it so seriously ill. He began to inquire as to the details of the nursing and discovered the way in which the old lady had construed the words printed on the label. He told her that it was the medicine that was to be shaken and not the child.