A Squirrel’s Tale
Do you know how much liberty our brother squirrel has with Bhagavan? Two or three years back, there used to be one very active and mischievous fellow amongst the squirrels. One day it so happened that when he came for food, Bhagavan was reading and otherwise occupied and so delayed a bit in giving him food. That mischievous fellow would not eat anything unless Bhagavan himself held it to his mouth. Perhaps because of his anger at the delay he abruptly bit Bhagavan’s finger, but Bhagavan still did not offer him food. Bhagavan was amused and said, “You are a naughty creature! You have bit my finger! I will no longer feed you. Go away!” so saying he stopped feeding the squirrel for some days.
Would that fellow stay quiet? No, he began begging of Bhagavan for forgiveness by crawling hither and thither. Bhagavan put the nuts on the window sill and on the sofa and told him to help himself. But no, he wouldn’t even touch them. Bhagavan pretended to be indifferent and not to notice. But he would crawl up to Bhagavan’s legs, jump on his body, climb on his shoulders and do ever so many things to attract attention. Then Bhagavan told us all. “Look, this fellow is begging me to forgive him his mischief in biting my finger and to give up my refusal to feed him with my own hands.”
He pushed the squirrel away for some days saying, “Naughty creature! Why did you bite my finger? I won’t feed you now. That is your punishment. Look, the nuts are there. Eat them all.” The squirrel would not give up his obstinacy either. Some days passed and Bhagavan had finally to admit defeat because of his mercy towards devotees. It then occurred to me that it was through pertinacity that devotees attained salvation.
That squirrel did not stop at that. He gathered together a number of his gang and began building a nest in the roof of the hall exactly above the sofa. They began squeezing into the beam bits of string, coconut fibre and the like. Whenever there was wind, those things used to fall down; so people got angry and began to drive them away. Bhagavan however used to feel very grieved at the thought that there was not sufficient room for the squirrels to build a nest and that the people in the hall were driving them away. We have only to see Bhagavan’s face on such occasions to understand the depth of his love and affection for such beings.
When I told Bhagavan that I had written to you about the squirrels in my usual letter, he remarked with evident pleasure: “There is a big story about these squirrels. Some time back they used to have a nest near the beam above me. They had children and then grand children and thus the members of their family grew very large. They used to play about on this sofa in whatever way they liked. When I went out for my usual walk, some little squirrels used to hide under the pillow and when on my return, I reclined on the pillow, they used to get crushed. We could not bear the sight of this, and so Madhawa drove the squirrels out of the nest and sealed it by nailing some wooden boards over it. There are lots of incidents about them if one cared to write them.”
Letters from Sri Ramanasramam
3rd January 1946