THE VOICE WITHIN
Faith can move mountains. Ramakrish Paramhansa used to tell a story to highlight the importance of faith.
“There once lived a milkmaid who sold fresh milk to customers in several villages. She would get up early in the morning, bathe her cows, milk them, cook a meal for her old father and feed him, after which she would set out to deliver the milk.
One of her customers was a priest. He used to perform worship daily at a temple by offering the deity fresh milk. To reach the temple, the milkmaid had to cross a good-sized stream by ferry boat.
One day the priest waited past sunrise for the milk. When the milkmaid arrived at last, he gave her a scolding. “Please forgive me,” said the poor woman, “I started out early from my house as usual, but then had to wait a long time for the boatman to come.”
The annoyed priest however wanted to make it clear he was not to be trifled with, being so learned in the scriptures and temple rituals. “People have walked across the ocean by repeating the me of God, and you cannot cross this little river?”, he said.
The milkmaid took the priest’s words seriously. From then on, she brought his milk every morning before sunrise. Growing curious, the priest one day asked her how it was that she was never late anymore.
“I cross the stream on foot chanting the me of the Lord,” she replied, “just as you told me to do, without waiting for the boatman.” The priest didn’t believe her. “That is impossible! Can you show me how you do it?”, he challenged.
So they went down together to the stream and the milkmaid began to walk over it. She soon reached the other bank, remaining completely dry.
The priest was astounded. Chanting the me of his deity, he tried to follow her but began to flounder and fell into the water.
The milkmaid looked across, and in a trice, she understood what was happening. “Sire! You are chanting the me of God, yet all the while you are holding up your dhoti from getting wet. Surely, that is not trusting in God!”
Marveling at the milkmaid’s devotion, the priest humbly accepted that her faith was more powerful than his empty learning. He blessed her and went back to his temple a wiser man.”
Ramakrish concluded his story by saying: “If you lose faith, you lose everything. Have faith in yourself, have faith in God. This alone is the road to salvation.”