23 Jul Meeting of the two sages
This is a story about great sage Narada Muni from the first canto of the Bhagavata Purana. Narada Muni meets another great sage Vyasadeva and narrates the story of his previous life to highlight the importance of devotional service to the Lord. I recounted the original story to be suitable for young children.
High in the Himalaya mountains, where the shining mountain peaks touch the fluffy clouds in the light blue sky, there was a simple cottage in which lived a great sage Vyasadeva. Beside the cottage was flowing the river Sarasvati, whose water was crystal clean and refreshing. In the early morning, sage Vyasadeva took bath in the river Sarasvati and sat down to meditate. He has written the great book of wisdom for the benefit of people in the dark age of Kali, which was about to start. But he felt he is not satisfied with the work he has done. He felt that his work was not complete. Suddenly, his spiritual master Narada Muni came. Narada Muni was a respected sage who could travel throughout the whole universe, carrying his string instrument vina and constantly singing about glories of the Lord. Sage Vyasadeva welcomed Narada Muni bowing down with great respect and offered him a seat. Narada Muni looked at his disciple with a gentle smile and told him: „O great sage, I know what worries you. I am going to narrate a story after which you will know what you need to do.“ And Narada Muni started to narrate.
„In my previous life, I was born as the son of a simple maidservant. One rainy season, my mother was serving four sages who stayed in our cottage, and I was always around to help her. I greatly admired the sages who were always happy, peaceful, and immersed in the talk about the Supreme Lord. They were always very kind to me, and sometimes they were giving me the remnants of their food, which my mother explained to be a holy food to honor. When the rainy season was over, the sages left our cottage. Looking at them while leaving I was wondering and longing when I am going to see them again. One evening my mother went to milk the cow and the snake came and bit her. My poor mother was dead, and I was left alone in the world. While the tears were flowing down my cheeks I remembered the sages and decided to find them. The next morning I set off.
On my journey, I passed through the towns and villages, farms and fields, valleys and forests, mines, and flower gardens. I passed through the mountains full of gold, silver, and copper, through the landscapes with beautiful lakes full of lotus flowers, playful bees, and singing birds. Also, I passed through many forests overgrown with sharp grass and weeds, with caves nearby. It was hard to pass through them alone. Sometimes I went deep into the thickets, scary and dangerous, full of snakes, owls, and jackals. One time while traveling through a lonely forest I felt tired, hungry and thirsty, and went to the nearby lake to take bath and drink some water. After a refreshing bath, I sat down in the shade of a huge banyan tree and started to meditate, remembering instructions I heard from the sages. Following these instructions and focusing my attention on lotus feet of the Lord, I could see the beautiful form of Lord Hari in my own heart. I felt so much happiness and joyful that I forgot about the outside world! But then, suddenly, Lord Hari disappeared, and I felt like waking up from the most beautiful dream. I tried to call Him back, but He did not appear again. I was desperate. Then I heard a voice from the sky: My dear boy, unfortunately, you are not going to see Me again. But, because your desire is so strong, I am giving you the ability to remember Me always and to come to me after this lifetime.“ And I spent the rest of my life remembering my Lord, and in the next lifetime I became Narada Muni, the greatest of all sages, always singing the glories of Lord Hari.“
Ideas for discussion and activities with children
Spiritual master or teacher (guru):
Ask children what they think is a difference between spiritual teacher and ordinary teacher, spiritual knowledge, and ordinary knowledge, and explain it further.
Talk about the qualities of a guru or a saintly person.
Talk about etiquette in dealings between spiritual master and disciple, how to offer respect – bow down, fold hands, offer arati. Do a short dramatic sketch having two children acting as Narada Muni and Vyasadeva and how they met.
Recite together some verses about the guru.
Ask children what they think that meditation is, how Narada Muni did it when he was a boy in a previous life. Today is common that people practice mindfulness as meditation. Explain what is the difference: mindfulness is observing with our mind sensations around us and our feelings, and meditation is focusing our mind on the name, form, and pastimes of the Supreme Lord. Practice with children both. You can practice mindfulness by practicing to be silent for a few minutes and listen to the sounds around you, and after everybody says what they heard. Practice chanting together.
Explain why scriptures are important for people, how they are revealed to people. Ask children why rules are important for people, talk about some rules, and what is the result if we follow, what if we do not follow. To younger children talk about simple rules like offering food, respecting the elders, not hurting anyone, and things like that. Write down some of the rules.
The story mentions the rainy season. We can talk about tropical seasons, continental seasons, and discuss the differences. Discuss how people live according to the seasons: what clothes they wear, what kind of houses they build, etc. Talk about plants, differences between continental forest and tropical jungle. Talk about animals that live there.