It was summer, the rains had begun and the river was swollen. A young mother returning home to her child, was stuck at the river bank. The flash flood up in the mountains had made the river turbulent.
In the morning, she had crossed over on a boat to buy some household things at the weekly market. But now, no boatman would dare to ford the river. As the dusk came on, the mother grew very anxious. Her child must be fearful and starving, she thought.
Just then two young and well-built brahmacharis were passing by. They had been asked by their master to collect some firewood from the riverside. The mother, crying and begging, asked them to help her cross the river.
The brahmacharis hesitated, remembering the strict rules laid down by their master. They had been told to avoid the company of females, which might rouse their base passions and compromise their vows of celibacy.
One brahmachari Harshanda, reminded himself of his vow and said he could not help the young woman. But the other brahmachari Devanda had made up his mind. Immediately lifting the woman onto his shoulders, he started swimming across the river. It was a dangerous journey; the strong currents could have swept away both at any moment.
But the brahmachari kept uttering the me of the Lord and struggled on. Filly, he reached the other side safely and bade farewell to the grateful woman. He then swam back.
The two brahmacharis returned to their ashram in silence. Harshanda was furious; he could not believe his friend and fellow disciple could flout the rules of their master so blatantly. The thought gave him no peace.
Their master was meditating when they came in. When he asked how their day went, the fuming Harshanda could not hold himself any longer. He blurted out his anger and condemtion about the behavior of his companion.
The master turned to his other disciple and calmly asked him if the allegation was true. Devanda told him his side of the story. He then concluded: ‘I carried a mother across the river to her child. I would have failed had not the Lord given me strength. After His will was carried out, I thanked Him and forgot about it. But it seems my friend is still carrying the woman in his mind!’
Smiling, the master blessed Devanda. This disciple had, after all, risen above his base ture to do what was right. He could do it because he had compassion and had then prayed to the Lord for guidance. The master then taught them the precepts of duty and how to forswear hypocrisy as enjoined in the scriptures.