Symbols of the world's religions



Mani S. Irani

Before joining Baba at thirteen years of age, I spent my life in Poona with my parents in the House-with-the-Well, now known as "Baba-House."

At Baba-House we had a pet goat. Mother named her Sundri which means "pretty girl." She was that, white and tall and graceful, with a little bell tied round her neck. When she was not standing by the well in our courtyard watching Father water the garden, she was all over the lanes keeping an eye on the neighbours. If she wandered too far, Mother would call out to her from the entrance of our home: "Soondree." Sundri would bleat in reply and race down the long lane to Mother. Sundri was a special pet in Baba-House.

Perhaps that is why the heroine of my favourite-childhood story was a goat. I made Mother repeat the story many times, and I would like to share it with you.

Here it is:

Once upon a time there was a "mullah" (one versed in the Islamic religion). He was a good and pious man who regularly attended the mosque. He did not lie or cheat or steal. He was very proud of it.

Then there was this bad man, known to be a rascal. The rascal never prayed. He stole, he lied, he cheated. He knew it was wrong, and therefore he was humble.

One day the mullah caught the rascal stealing. He caught him red-handed and was dragging him to the "kaazi" (judge) for punishment.

On the way, they saw a goat tethered to a pole. In front of her, but just out of reach, was a fresh bundle of green grass. The goat was hungry and was straining with all her might to get the grass, the rope round her neck choking her.

The good man saw this, but he was in such a hurry to punish the bad man that he couldn't stop to move the grass closer to the animal. The only solution would be to kick the grass bundle nearer to the goat. But as everyone in India knows (or ought to know), it is a sin to kick any kind of food. The mullah was too pious to commit such a sin.

The bad man also took in the situation at a glance. He couldn't stop either, because he was being pulled along very fast by the mullah. But as he passed by, he managed to give a good kick to the grass bundle. It fell right beside the goat. The goat began eating it with great relish.

The bad man had done a good deed. Or rather one of his legs had done a good deed — the leg which helped to feed a hungry goat.

"All who are good go to heaven," said my mother. "So, this 'good' leg of the bad man went straight to heaven."

I could see that good leg, bright and golden, dancing happily in heaven. But I was very worried about his other leg.

"What happened to the other leg?" I'd ask Mother. She'd try to ignore my question, but I'd follow her around, pulling at her skirt and asking, "What happened to the other leg, Mother?" And she'd tell me, "I don't know."

When I'd ask how come she didn't know, she'd say, "Because the other leg is not in the story."

I like to think the two legs eventually got together, perhaps in heaven. Anything is possible by Baba's grace.


GOD-BROTHER, pp. 16-18
1993 © Avatar Meher Baba Perpetual Public Charitable Trust


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