It is an old story, but the truth contained in it is ever relevant. A Guru and his disciple were extremely tired due to continuous walking. Seeing a proper place, the master stopped for taking rest. When the disciple was fast asleep, the master was awake. Suddenly a black serpent came hissing and moving towards the disciple. Moving aside, the master tried to divert it, but the serpent had come very close to the sleeping disciple. When the master tried to stop it, the serpent spoke in human tongue, “Oh! Great Sage, I have to bite this disciple of yours; so do not stop me.”
“After all you must have some reason to bite him,” the master asked.
The serpent put forth the reason. “In the previous birth he had drunk my blood; now I have to drink his. In the previous birth he had tortured me a lot. It is in order to take revenge that I have taken birth as a serpent. So you please don’t stop me. If you now stop me, I will come at some other time in your absence and do my job”.
The serpent continued – “In the previous birth, I was a sheep. In order to satisfy his selfishness, he mercilessly slaughtered me with a sword and drank my blood. In front of his eyes I fluttered in agony and died.”
“Is the ire of previous birth is still there?” The master asked, as if immersed in deep contemplation. The sage thus explained to the irate serpent bent upon taking revenge, the eternal secret of spiritual wisdom. “Dear One! Our own soul is our enemy and no one else. If you bite him, hatred towards you will be generated in his heart. After leaving this body, he will take a new one and take revenge. You will again die bearing hatred and after death take revenge in the next birth. Then it will be his turn. In this way the chain of hatred will go on forever. And what will be the gain?”
“Oh! Great Master, what you say is true, but I am not as spiritually enlightened as you are. Please excuse me, I will not leave him without taking revenge,” the serpent said.
When, even after repeated persuasions and pleadings, the serpent did not give up his resolve for revenge, the sage said, “Would your blind urge for revenge be satisfied, if I take out his blood and give it for you to drink?”
The serpent agreed to the sage’s suggestion.
The wise sage then sat on the disciple’s chest and holding a cup made of leaves he made a slit in his throat with a knife. Collecting the blood in the cup, he began to feed it to the serpent. No sooner did the knife touch his throat, the disciple woke up, but seeing his master he remained calm and assured. Sitting on the chest, the master was taking out blood from the throat and feeding the serpent. Seeing all this he immediately closed his eyes and lay calm. When the serpent drank the blood to its satisfaction, it went off. Like a surgeon, the master closed the slit and after applying herbal medical paste, bandaged it. When he got off the disciple’s chest, the latter sat up.
Scoldingly, the master asked him, “How deep is your sleep?”
“Yes master, under your protection, I was calmly seeing everything. You were sitting on my chest. You had a cup of leaves in your hand. Making a slit in the throat, you were taking out blood. As soon as the knife touched the throat I became awake”, the disciple said humbly.
“Yes, my son! Why didn’t you speak then?” Asked the master.
The disciple said “I have unshakable faith in you. I have surrendered myself completely body, mind, and soul at your feet. On hearing the serpent’s talk, seeing its deed and listening to your advice to renounce the feeling of hatred my blind urge for revenge, too, was calmed down like that of the serpent. I am blessed.”
He continued “No other harm can touch me as I have taken refuge under your protection. You are not only my spiritual guide, but also the protector of my body. Everything of mine is yours body as well as life. You can use them, as you deem proper. How can I, a mere novice, understand your supreme wisdom? I have fully surrendered myself to you. I have no worry about my well-being and safety.”
Hearing these words of the disciple, blessings poured out from deep within the master’s heart.