Today's Beautiful Gem: An episode from Ramayana
retold by Shanta Rameshwar Rad.
"While the monkeys were building the bridge, a small squirrel
took pebbles in its mouth and brought them to the workers:
`These are to help in building the bridge to Lanka so that blessed
Rama may bring back his wife. I must do my share of the work.'
`You, what?' cried a monkey. `I am helping to build the bridge,
sir,' replied the squirrel. `Look, I am carrying the small
pebbles that with your rocks will help to from the bridge.'
"The monkeys burst into a mighty roar of laughter. By this time
a crowd of monkeys had collected and the first monkey roared out,
`Did you hear that? The squirrel says she's building a bridge
with her pebbles! Haha! I've never heard anything so funny in
my life.' The other monkeys thought it was a good joke too.
They held their sides and laughed. When they could laugh no more
they said to the squirrel: `Here, little creature. Do you think
Rama is in need of your pebbles? He commands the largest army
in the Seven Worlds, and for him we carry whole mountains with
their granite and rock. He does not want your little pebbles.'
The squirrel said, `I cannot carry mountains or rocks. God has
only given me strength to carry my pebbles. I cannot do more,
but this I will do, for my heart weeps for the sorrowing Rama,
and what I can do to help, I will.' The monkeys said, `Enough
of your foolishness, little one. We have no time for play and
for the likes of you. Go home to your nest in the trees and
let us get on with our work.'
"But the squirrel would not go. Again and again the monkeys
picked her up and put her down out of the way, and again and
again she returned, with her pebbles. Then the monkeys were
angry and threatened to throw her into the sea. Still the
squirrel said, `But I want to help too.' Then an angry monkey
picked up the little squirrel and flung her away. But she, crying
the name of Rama, fell into his hands, where he stood. And Rama
held the little squirrel close to him and said to the monkeys,
`Despise not the weak and the small, for according to each man's
strength will he serve. And to me what matters is not how great
the strength and service, but how great the love and devotion.
This little squirrel with her pebbles has love in her heart that
would move the earth and the heavens by its strength and power.'
And he chid them for their pride. But the squirrel he held
close to him and said: `Little one, your devotion has touched
my heart. Be blessed then by me whom you have loved and served.'
So saying, he stroked the little squirrel's furry back. And as
he put her down all who had crowded round saw upon the brown fur
the three white lines that were the marks of Sri Rama's fingers.
And ever since, the Indian squirrel has carried the three white
stripes on its back."
Om Santih! Peace! - J. K. Mohana Rao