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"The heavenly thief"- A short story for kids
Oka Chinna Katha
It is with nostalgia and fondness that I remember my student days during my MSc. It was a time when Swami (Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba) encouraged all of us students to put up short programmes in His divine presence in the Sai Kulwant Hall. In fact, it is with some pride that I say that these programmes were the precursors for the plethora of programmes organized by different states in India and different zones of the world in the divine presence at Prasanthi Nilayam. That ‘programming’ which began in mid 2004 continues to this day with programmes being organized by devotees as part of the Parthi Yatras and the international pilgrimages on an annual basis.
While the chance to act a part and speak a line or dance to a rhythm and sing a tune was a great incentive to do regular ‘programming’, the joy of Satsangh and group discussions on Swami’s life and teachings. It was during such group talks and discussions that a wonderful story took birth. So sweet and nice was the story that it has been depicted in His physical presence twice already.
Stories have some magic about them. They charm and disarm the listener. They thrill and thrall him too! That is why, during any divine discourse, when Swami made the statement, “Oka Chinna Katha”, (one small story) all ears would perk up and eyes light up. This story that was created is perfect as a small play or skit to be performed during the Bal Vikas programmes. If not anything, it is lovely as a story to be narrated to any lover of Sai!
The story is based on the large number of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. The story goes thus:
The Heavenly Thief
The patrolling sentries of the Lord of the Heavens, Indra, came rushing to him in great anxiety and distress. They had witnessed something like never before in the heavens - a crime! In a place which is better than utopia (is that possible?), where truth and righteousness reign supreme, there had been a robbery. And the act was a very dastardly one.
“What sort of robbery are you here to report?”, Indra asked, perplexed at this first time occurrence in his ‘God’dom.
“O great King! The celestial lotuses that served as the seats for the creator, Lord Brahma and the Goddess of Learning, Mother Saraswati, are missing from their pods! The whole of Brahmaloka has been searched and yet, there is no sign of the missing flowers.”
“This is serious indeed”, Indra said after considering pensively for a few moments, “unrighteousness seems to have finally struck at the heavens too!”
“But this crime pales into insignificance when you hear another shocking news O King...”
Indra braced himself. This was not how he had thought of spending a beautiful day. His face contorted with great dismay and shock as he heard the sentries reveal the terrifying kidnapping of the great Goddess of Learning herself!
“No! That cannot be! Don’t tell me that Mother Saraswati has been kidnapped...”, Indra moaned as he drooped and fell back to the royal seat.
However, he quickly regained composure. He was the ruler of the heavens and he had faced many crises, though this was really unique. He came up with a ruse,
“The best search party would be one comprised of the five elements because there is no place in the universe that is not pervaded by the five elements. Summon Space, Wind, Fire, Water and Earth!”, he commanded.
More alarming news
Indra had absolutely no idea what he was up against. That was when the celestial sage, Narada, made his appearance. Indra quickly updated him on what had happened and enquired from the triloka sanchari (wanderer of the 3 worlds) whether he had seen the Mother or the missing lotuses anywhere.
“Narayan Narayan”, Narada replied in his characteristic remark, “I do not have the slightest idea.”
In the meanwhile, the elements assembled in Indra’s presence. Bhoomi, Vayu, Akasa and Varuna stood in perfect attention. But hey! Wait a minute! Where was Agni? The God of fire, Agni, was conspicuous byhis absence.
“Where is the fire god?”, Indra asked.
The remaining four elements hung their heads low as Varuna, the God of water, spoke,
“My Lord! Agni is missing! It appears that fire has been stolen away from us.”
Indra went numb in shock. In the meanwhile, the God of Dharma and Death, Lord Yama, arrived on the scene. He seemed furious and came swirling his mighty mace.
“Who has dared to steal the mount of the the Lord of Death?”, he bellowed.
One quick look and it became evident to all the that Yama’s buffalo was missing! Oh God! The thief seemed to have struck simultaneously at multiple places. Was terrorism setting planting its foot in the heavens?
As Indra sat dazed, more news poured in. The Moon God had gone missing! And so had the beautiful mountain, Meru. Nature too had not been spared. Tough times called for tough measures. Indra decided to use the last power in his arsenal - his might cloud army! Being the Lord of the Rains and wielding the powerful Vajra or the thunderbolt, he decided to search out the thief and punish him. That was when the last straw arrived. A messenger ran in stating that the entire cloud army itself had gone missing!
Everyone seemed to be at their wits end. All their sources of strength and power seemed to have been taken away. They decided to seek the help of the powerful Rudra, Lord Shiva.
Chaos in Kailas
If what had happened thus far was doomsday, then no term could be used to describe what met Indra’s eyes when he arrived with all the gods and demigods to Mount Kailas, the abode of Lord Shiva. Only Lord Karthikeya, the second son of Shiva, sat steeped in sorrow on his mount, the peacock. Shiva’s mount, the Nandi said in sorrow,
“Today morning, we found to our utter shock that Lord Shiva, Mother Parvati and their elder son, the beloved of the universe, Lord Ganesha were all missing.”
The words landed like deathblows on everyone’s hearts. This thief was so powerful and if he had taken even the great Rudra captive, there was little they could do against him.
Even as they began to despair, a great bird, the eagle Garuda, swooped from the skies above. Lord Vishnu gracefully descended from His mount and flashed a gentle smile to all that had gathered.
The thief is caught!
“Lord! You alone can save us from this impending calamity”, cried out the great Indra on behalf of all the gods and goddesses.
“What has happened? Why such despair in your voice?”
“Oh Narayana! Today morning, several thefts have been reported - the divine lotuses, the moon, fire, Yama’s buffaloes, Mount Meru and even my huge cloud army. Added to that Mother Saraswati and, now, the whole family at Kailas barring Karthikeya have been kidnapped. we don’t know who is the culprit, but we fear his power.”
“That you must!” Lord Vishnu said, “for he wields the greatest power in the Universe.”
“And pray which weapon is that O lord”, asked Indra.
“The weapon called Love!”
The whole assembly stood confused. What was Lord Vishnu saying? Vishnu smiled and then revealed,
“Listen Oh denizens of the heavens! Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati have not been kidnapped! They have gone to the world on their own accord as Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba - the Shiva-Shakti swaroopa! And to assist this Avatarhood, the moon has been taken to serve as the face, the lotuses serve as His eyes! Agni, the Lord of fire serves Him now as His vesture and the beautiful mountain Meru, sits on His cheek as the divine mole. And Indra! Your cloud army is in His service as His beautiful curly hair. Lord Ganesha sits at the entrance of His abode while Goddess Saraswati is at the entrance of His educational training grounds. He has gone to the earth to empower man with the greatest force in the Universe - Love.”
There was jubilation and applauding everywhere! This revelation and assurance from Lord Vishnu brought celebration everywhere. However, in the sea of happy faces was one unhappy one - Yama.
“Lord! What about my buffaloes?”, he cried.
“Ah! I forgot! He has only taken them all as His students - Dunnapota - He calls them!
And so it was the the heavenly thief turned out to be our dear Chitta Chora Swami!
As this skit progressed in Swami's presence, He seemed so engrossed. The suspense seemed to build on Him too. We were thoroughly enjoying the fact that Swami was in suspense. The appearance of Yama on the stage evoked a hearty laughter from Him. When the final revelation was made, Swami laughed so hard that His cheeks turned red and He almost began to cough. He was so happy and that made us all so happy too.
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© 2013 Aravind Balasubramanya