As a young
boy I read a short story which left a deep impact on me at
that time, even though I did not understand its full significance.
The story was about a Pauranika (a person who gives religious
discourses), who was considered to be an expert with regard
to discourses on the Bhagavatha. He approached the king of
Benaras, which was then considered to be the highest seat
of learning, and told him that while he had given discourses
in several courts, he had one desire left, that of giving
a discourse in the Benaras king's court. The king was very
pleased, but got down from his throne and, with folded hands,
told him how it would be a great honour for him to listen
to him but could the Pauranika please read the Bhagavatha
once more before starting his discourse? The Pauranika was
angry but as his anger would be of little avail in the presence
of the king, he had no option but to go back and read the
epic once again. As he did so, he found deeper meanings in
the various passages. His anger evaporated as he realised
that the king had good reason to make the suggestion that
he did. After completing his reading he once again approached
the king with the same request, only to be told by the king
to read the epic once more before starting his discourse.
Dejected, he came back home and plunged into reading the Bhagavatha
once again. As he delved deep into it, he found that he was
getting gradually transformed. His sense of ego left him and
the desire to display his prowess before the king also disappeared.
He read and re-read the book many times. Realising that the
Pauranika was not going to return, the king rushed to his
home, prostrated himself, and requested the Pauranika to begin
the discourse as he had at last found a worthy teacher.