Books: Parables – The Genie and The Brahmin

Here is my recollection of an unforgettable fable ‘The Genie and The Brahmin’, of Swami Chinmayananda:

During difficult times, a poor brahmin with a large family sought the help of sage and begged for his blessings. The sage enlightened the poor brahmin with a mantra, upon reciting which, a powerful genie would appear to carry out the wishes of the brahmin. There was a condition though! Once the genie appeared, he had to be constantly engaged. The brahmin had to make sure that there was enough work for the genie to carry out, failing which the genie would eat the brahmin up.

The brahmin did not know how powerful the genie was. He was busy listing out the various things that he wanted to get done through the genie. And the list appeared unending.

The brahmin went back home and recited the mantra. The genie appeared. The brahmin sought all that he could think of, for himself and his family – a palace to live, servants, sumptuous food, expensive clothing and more. The genie had all that delivered in a flash.

He then went a step ahead and asked for something similar for the entire neighborhood. That too, was delivered in a flash. Within a few moments, the entire village became prosperous and soon the brahmin was left with nothing more to seek.

The genie now started pestering the brahmin for more work. “Give me work, or I will eat you!”, the genie was focused. And the brahmin could think of nothing more to ask. So, the genie declared that it would eat up the brahmin. Terrified, the brahmin ran back to the sage and sought his guidance.

The sage advised the brahmin to get a huge pole erected in front of his house. He further advised the brahmin to instruct the genie to keep going up and down the pole, till it was called for again by the brahmin. And when the brahmin had any further work for the genie, he could call the genie, get his work done and instruct the genie to go back and follow the up-down routine on the pole.

The brahmin thanked the sage, went home and did as advised. The genie was brought under control, and everyone was happy.  

Now, our mind is the genie. While it can help us acquire all that we want, it will also eat us up, if we don’t have it under control.

And Swami Chinmayananda’s suggestion on how to keep our mind in check – when we are not engaging it in any productive activity, we must engage it in a thought of the Lord, just like the up-down routine on the pole. So, keep dwelling on the Lord, when you have any productive work to carry out, call up the genie like mind, engage it in the work, and after it is accomplished, direct it back to the thought of the Lord.    

I heard this fable long back. When I was a child, a student of a Chinmaya Mission School. The story itself would have been first preached by His Holiness decades ago. However, its wisdom makes it timeless and ensures that it stays relevant.

For more such fables and enlightening stories by Swami Chinmayananda, please read “PARABLES from Swami Chinmayananda”, published by the Central Chinmaya Mission Trust.

Hari Om!

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