The King's Offer

From Light on the Guru-Disciple Relationship, Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati

The following story was told to me by my guru.

One day a rishi came to the court of a king. The king said, "What can I offer you?"

"Whatever is your own," was the rishi's reply.

"Very well," said the king, "I offer you ten thousand cows."

"But they are not yours," said the rishi, "they belong to your empire. I will only accept something which is your very own."

"Then I will offer you one of my sons," said the king.

"Your son is also not your own," replied the rishi.

The discussion continued, the sadhu declining all the king's offerings on the grounds that he did not really own them.

"All right," said the king at last, "I offer myself."

"What do you mean by that?" asked the rishi. "You do not even know who you are. How can you offer yourself to me?"

"Then I will give you my mind," said the king after some deep thought, "that is my own."

Still the rishi was not satisfied. "If you give your mind to someone, it means that you will think of that person and nothing else, unless it is specifically permitted. What is the point of giving away five hundred gold coins and then spending them on yourself?"

So the rishi left the court. After a few months he returned.

"Tell me honestly and seriously," he said to the king, "whether you are now ready to give me your mind. I don't want to hear about your property, your empire, your queen or your children."

The king thought deeply and replied, "No. I'm not ready yet."

So the rishi went away again, and came back a third time. During his absence the emperor had prepared his mind through yoga.

"I will try to offer you my mind this time," he said, "If I fail, forgive me."

The rishi accepted the king as his disciple, and from that day on the king's mind stopped thinking about everything except his guru. He did not care for his own welfare or for the welfare of his kingdom, he only wished to be with his guru.

The people reported this to the guru, who called the king to come to him. "Now it is time for you to get back to the business of ruling the kingdom. This is my command," he said.

This story illustrates clearly how total surrender forms the core of the guru-disciple relationship. The disciple offers his or her limited self to the guru, completely merging the mind in him, and then receives it back in its fullness. This is the true concept of surrender. But how many of us can hope to achieve it? The life of every disciple should be dedicated towards the attainment of this goal.