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Lesson from a fish

Updated on October 8, 2015
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Aravind Balasubramanya has spent more than two decades with Sathya Sai Baba. He has studied under Baba and been his personal photographer.

A small story....

Once upon a time, there lived many fishes in a pond. Everyday, they would wake up in the morning with a dread - the fisherman’s net! The fisherman would be there every morning, without fail to cast his net. And without fail every morning, many fishes would get caught in it. Some would be taken by surprise, some caught napping, some would not find any place to hide while some others, even though aware of the lurking danger, would simply find no means to escape the deadly net.

Among the fishes was one young fish that was always cheerful. It had no fear of the fisherman’s net and it seemed to have mastered the art of being alive and staying lively. All the senior fishes wondered as to what might be the secret of this little fish. How could it manage so well when their cumulative experience and wisdom were not enough to save them from the net. Unable to bear their curiosity and desperate to find a way to escape the net, all the fishes went to this little fish one evening.

“Hey little one! We have all come here to talk to you.”

“Me!?” said the little fish, “What do you want to speak to me about?”

“We actually want to ask you something. Tomorrow morning, the fisherman will be back again. Are you not scared of getting caught in his net?”

“The little fish smiled, “No! I will not be caught in his net ever!”

“Share with us little one, the secret behind your confidence and success”, the elders pleaded.

“Very simple”, said the little fish. “When the fisherman comes to cast his net, I rush and stay at his feet. That is one place that the net can never reach, even if the fisherman wants to cast! So, I never get caught.”

All the fishes simply marvelled at the simplicity of the little fish’s wisdom.

When the Supreme Lord or the Avatar makes a descent into this ocean of worldly existence, the only way to escape the Mayajaal or the net of Maya or illusion that He casts is to take refuge at His lotus Feet.

Was not the first bhajan that Swami sang, "Manasa Bhajare Guru Charanam"?

Swimming close to the feet of the Master keeps one safe from the net of Maya or delusion.
Swimming close to the feet of the Master keeps one safe from the net of Maya or delusion.

What it means to be close to the Master's feet...

In a talk to the students, Swami made it crystal clear as to what it means to be at the feet of the Lord or Guru.


It was the year 2003 . All the students who had stayed back with Swami during the summer vacations, were in Brindavan, Whitefield, Swami’s ashram in Bangalore. Swami called all the students into His residence for the famous Trayee Session. As He sat on the lovely ornate jhoola, Swami decided to speak to the boys on the nine fold path of Devotion, the Navavidha Bhakti Marga.

He dilated in length on Shravanam IListening), Keertanam (Singing) and Vishnusmaranam (Remembrance) before arriving to Padasevanam (Worshiping the feet). It was here that Swami gave a unique interpretation - an interpretation that made one’s hairs stand on their ends with its meaning and significance. Swami said that people often thought Padasevanam meant service to the Guru’s feet. And that was the reason why everyone felt it was the easiest route if only Swami allows them to press and massage His feet. But that was not the actual meaning. Swami said that Padasevanam means to walk in the footsteps of Guru. To walk the path that the Guru walks is true service to His feet. And following the Master, is the first step to completing the game of life successfully.

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    • OhioGrant profile image

      Grant Coleman 4 years ago from Ohio

      I enjoyed your story, very nice moral, and a lesson that most of us need reminded about from time to time. Sometimes we complicate that which is actually very simple.

    • profile image

      shalini 5 years ago

      sairam..very nice narration..u hav hit the right chord..simple story vth a gr8 moral

    • aravindb1982 profile image
      Author

      Aravind Balasubramanya 5 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      @Mark Aspa - You have hit the nail right on its head! :)

      Thank you for stopping by. Sairam...

    • profile image

      Mark Aspa 5 years ago

      wow - 2 gems of wisdom in one short article. These days we don't need to study massive books, just practise Swami's simply put wisdom.

    • aravindb1982 profile image
      Author

      Aravind Balasubramanya 5 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      Thank you shea duane for stopping by and commenting! I am acknowledging late but I must do it! :)

      @Remaniki and Mr.Happy - Very often, the scriptures and words of the wise are like codes which can be decoded only when the person is ready for it! Though on the face of it, many things suggested in the scriptures appear as a 'ritual' , hidden in it is the spi'ritual'.

      @ ignugent17 - Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :)

    • profile image

      ignugent17 5 years ago

      Simple story and yet very powerful. Thanks for sharing!

    • remaniki profile image

      Rema T V 5 years ago from Chennai, India

      Hi Aravind,

      Indeed a great lesson learned from a fish. A wonderful explanation about Padasevanam (I did not know this) too. Thanks for the knowledge. I try to follow a few wonderful teachings from the Bhagavad Gita like treating happiness and sad moments alike without showing extreme reactions to both. I am sure I will visit more hubs of yours for more knowledge. Thanks Aravind. God Bless You. Cheers, Rema.

    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      "To walk the path that the Guru walks is true service to His feet." - There is nothing I can say here. It is a perfect explanation.

      Thank You for the write, Mr. Aravind.

      All the best!

    • profile image

      SRINIVASA RAO 5 years ago

      VERY INTERESTING AND TODAY I REALLY UNDERSTOOD WHAT EXACTLY PADASEVANAM IS. THANK YOU BROTHER AND KEEP POSTING SUCH INSPIRING THINGS. SAIRAM AND GOD BLESS YOU.

    • Shantidevi profile image

      Shantidevi 5 years ago from USA

      Great story. Goes along with a current study circle where we are reviewing in our lives point #s 1&2 of the 9 point code of conduct. :-) Thank you brother!

    • poornimasrinath profile image

      poornimasrinath 5 years ago from Midrand, Johannesburg, RSA

      This is little different from the fish story in chinna katha that I've read :) ..The interpretation of the meaning is excellent..

      BTW I feel like the fish in the other story having come out of the ocean called FB before I get trapped in the net of addiction ;)

    • profile image

      Rajeshwar Singh Amar 5 years ago

      IT IS EDUCATIVE. VERY REFRESHING THOUGHTS.BASICALLY IN DAY TO DAY DIN WE OVERLOOK THESE TEACHINGS OF BHAGWAN WHICH ARE PROFOUND ALTHOUGH VERY SIMPLE.THIS NEW DEFINITION OF PADASEVANAM IS EXCELLENT.WE NEED TO FOLLOW THESE IN OUR LIVES TO REALLY BENEFIT. SAIRAM!

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      Arpita Mallajosyula 6 years ago

      Aaahhh...!! My fav fish example..its lovely 2 hear this once again frm u...!! And the interpretation of Padasevanam Swami has given is jus so wonderful...on thinking over now..i feel this interpretation is more apt than the other one..!! neways so good 2 read dis article...thnx a ton aravind anna...!!! :) :)

    • profile image

      radhika godya 6 years ago

      thanx..sairam.just lovely....there is another story about the lesson a fish can teach us...our love for swami should be like the love a fish has for water..when the fisherman`s net catches the fish water leaves the fish and flows out of the net....the fish unable to bear the separation from water dies....while being cooked also it needs water....and after one eats the cooked fish he still needs to drink water...even though water has left the fish ...it still does not leave its beloved water...our love for swami should be like the fish... not that swami leaves us...we waver.....

    • profile image

      kysubramanian 6 years ago

      Very eductive. interpretation of Padasevanam is nice.

    • profile image

      kirti 6 years ago

      how refreshing these stories and experiences are!

    • aravindb1982 profile image
      Author

      Aravind Balasubramanya 6 years ago from Puttaparthi, India

      Thank you Karthikeyan, Anjali Sai, Suman, Swamy and Shea Duane, Balasubramanya Subbarao, Jayanthi, Sreedhar, Yogesh and Shruti for positive comments! :)

      @ Darshi - the week just got awesomer with your exuberant comment!

      @Rajesh - Very correct. Swami makes so many concepts simple for us. I pray that I always make Him proud.

      @ Spirit Whisperer - "clinging to the hem of His robe" - sigh! beautiful!

    • profile image

      Yogesh 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this beautiful interpretation of Padasevanam.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 6 years ago from Isle of Man

      This is another wonderful hub with a priceless message. It is an image I have always kept in my heart of clinging to the hem of his robe. Thank you.

    • profile image

      sreedhar 6 years ago

      Nice Fish..It is so beautiful and of course the tale and interesting meaning of Padasevanam.

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      Shruti 6 years ago

      Lovely narration!!!

    • profile image

      Rajesh 6 years ago

      Sairam! Arvind, it is an eye opener.Most of the people did not know else they would not be craving for padnamaskar when Swami used to come out for Darshans.Same thing Bhagwan used to say when he said your life is my message. We can only be true Sai Devotees if we follow Swami in Words and Deeds. Great Sharings. Arvind Swami is proud of you. Keep it up.God bless you!

    • profile image

      Balasubramanya Subbarao 6 years ago

      Eye opener.

    • profile image

      darshi 6 years ago

      First of all, I love the fish! Its soo cute and colourful :) Reflects the super happy fish in the story.

      "Padasevanam is to walk the path that the Guru walks."

      I learnt something new today big bro :) As always, a heart filled with gratitude reaches out to you across the oceans between these two countries (can't remember what they are right now, but I'm pretty sure the Indian Ocean should be somewhere in between lol).

      Have an awesome week Anna, Sairam!

    • profile image

      JAYANTHI 6 years ago

      Sairam Mindblowing!!!!!!!!!

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 6 years ago from new jersey

      very intesting and compellingly written. great hub

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      Swamy 6 years ago

      Sai Ram. Very educative. Thanks for sharing.

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      Suman 6 years ago

      Thank you for your wonderful articles...

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      Anjali Sai 6 years ago

      gr8 leson ...CTM (close to mind):)

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      Karthikeyan 6 years ago

      Awesome !!!