Once upon a time there lived a widow with her only son in a small village. They were very poor and could not afford to live in luxury. They had a small hut adjoining a forest. Their village being very small, there was no school for children. On the other side of the forest there was a bigger village with a school in it. Therefore the widow got her son admitted to that school and the boy had to walk through the forest daily in order to reach the school. He was the only boy going to that school from that village and so he had to walk alone in the forest.
The boy used to feel terribly afraid while walking alone in the forest and often expressed it to his mother. Poor mother, what could she do? She was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. She fervently prayed to God to help her only son. One day the boy was so afraid that he refused to go to the school and started weeping. Then the mother embraced him, wiped his tears and said, "My son, don't be afraid of the forest. Will I send you alone there, if there is any danger? In the forest dwells your elder brother Gopal who promised to look after you daily. Hereafter, when you feel frightened, call upon your brother. He will surely come and keep company with you in the forest."
The boy was surprised. "Really, mother? Have I got a brother in the forest? What does he do there? Why does he not come home to be with us here?" The mother smiled and said, "My dear, your brother looks after the cattle in the forest. That is why he does not get time to come home. But don't worry. He will surely come whenever you call upon him."
Now the boy was reassured. He was no more frightened. On the other hand he was eager to meet his own elder brother and see what he was like. He took his meals and went running into the forest in order to meet his brother. Once he reached the depth of the forest he cried out, "Gopal, my brother, please come out. I am anxious to see you." He waited for some time. No one came. He called out once again. Still no response. Yet a third time. No one came out of the forest. He grew very frightened and out of fear cried out desperately, "Brother, where are you? Mother told me that you would surely come to me. I am very frightened. Please come out quickly."
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As he was thus crying out and shivering in fright, low, from the forest came forth a young boy, blue in complexion, wearing a yellow dhoti and having a peacock feather in the hair and a bewitching smile on the lips. He looked a little older than this boy and said, "O brother, I just heard your cry and came running. Why are you crying? Has not mother told you that I am here?"
The boy was very happy to think that he had such a beautiful brother. He caught hold of the hands of Gopal and gazed at him in rapture. Gopal smiled and asked, "What are you looking at?" The boy laughed out in great joy and said, "O my brother, I never knew that I had a brother until mother told me today morning.
How beautiful you are! Why do you never come home?" Gopal smiled and said, "Did not mother tell you that I am working here? I am always busy. But I shall always come whenever you are in the forest and call me out. Let us go now. It is time for your school." Hand in hand they walked together. Gopal knew the names of all the trees and birds in the forest. He pointed out them all as they walked along. The boy was so much engrossed with this wonderful brother of his, that he never noticed that they were walking. When the forest ended, Gopal said, "Look, we have reached the village. Yonder is your school. Now I shall go back." But the boy did not want to lose sight of his brother. He clang on to Gopal and begged hard that he might also go to school with him, but Gopal shook his head, "I have to tend the cows. How can I attend the school? Don't worry. I shall meet you in the forest in the evening." The boy let him go with great reluctance. The whole day he was thinking of this wonderful brother of his. How lucky he was to have such a brother! He waited impatiently for the evening to come, for he was eager to be with his brother again once more.
As soon as the school closed, he rushed to the forest and called out aloud. "Gopal, Gopal, I have come. Do you hear me!" The blue boy came running and laughing. They embraced one another lovingly and walked towards the home village. As they reached the village and the forest ended, Gopal took leave. The boy parted his company only after repeated assurances from Gopal that he would surely come to him again the next day. The boy ran home bursting with the news of his new-found brother. The mother listened to his tale in wonder and gratitude. From the description of Gopal which her son gave, she had no doubt that Lord
Krishna Himself came to protect her boy in the forest. She shed grateful tears and prayed to the Lord to look after her son.
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Now the boy had no more fear for the forest. He would rush out of the house even before it was time for the school, because he was eager to spend as much time as possible with his brother. In the company of his brother he did not know how the time fled. Gradually the year came to an end and the teacher's birthday approached. It was the custom for each student to bring some present to the teacher on his birthday. All the students were busy planning what things were to be presented by each. Our boy stood aloof not participating in the discussions as he knew how poor his mother was. She would not be able to give anything at all. It would be a matter of shame not to give anything. But where from to get even a tiny present? He was worried. In the evening he asked mother what he could give to the teacher. Poor mother! She had nothing at home she could offer. At last she said, "Why don't you ask your brother Gopal when you meet him tomorrow? Surely he would bring something for you."
The boy's face grew bright. He was certain that his affectionate brother would bring something or other to be presented to the teacher. Why worry about anything as long as he had his brother?
Next day as they were walking through the forest, the boy asked Gopal whether he could give something to be presented to the teacher on the morrow. Gopal replied, "I am not very rich. But never mind, I shall try to get something tomorrow." The boy was happy. He slept peacefully in the night without any worry. Next day when he met Gopal, he eagerly looked at him to see whether he remembered yesterday's promise. Sure, Gopal was not one to forget his promise. He took out a small pot with curds from his bag and gave it to the boy. It was a very small pot but the boy was happy. He won't have to go empty handed to the school today.
Inside the school everything wore a festive look. There were to be no classes that day. Along with the pupils, their parents also gathered and several rich presents were given to the teacher by the students as well as the elders. The teacher smiled and laughed in joy as he was getting the presents. Somebody brought a bag of rice, another a cow. A third one brought fruit and a fourth one loads of flowers. The school was filled with the presents..... curds, milk, ghee and what not. Looking at all the rich presents brought by others, the boy felt ashamed. He brought such a tiny present! What would the teacher think? Would the other pupils laugh at him? Fearful of their mockery, the boy stood in one corner, not daring to approach the teacher and hiding the small pot of curds under his shirt.
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As one by one were coming forward offering their presents, the teacher who was receiving them with a smile and a kind word for all, observed the boy shyly standing in a corner hiding something under his shirt. He knew that the boy's mother was a poor widow who couldn't afford to send any present, nor did he expect anything from her. Out of love he taught one and all irrespective of their wealth. When he saw that the boy brought something which he was hesitating to show, he was overwhelmed with pity for the young boy. He called out with an encouraging smile, " Son, why are you standing there? Come forward and show me what you brought for me."
The boy slowly moved forward and brought out the tiny pot from under his shirt. His face grew crimson with shame from the thought that his friends would make fun of him. As he offered the tiny cup to the teacher, there was suppressed laughter of derision form behind. But the kindly teacher received the pot from his hands, "How nice of you to have brought such shining white curds. Thank you very much." He poured the curd into the big pot of curd brought by some other pupil and was about to throw away the empty pot outside the window. Suddenly his hand stopped and he glared at the pot in disbelief. Instead of being empty, the pot was again full with curds. Surprised, he poured the curds again into the big pot and looked. The tiny pot was again full with white shining curd. Again he poured it out. Again the pot was full. The whole class and the elders who gathered there looked on in wonderment as the teacher again and again emptied the pot and it got filled again and again. The boy also looked on in fascination. He never knew that his brother Gopal gave him such a fine gift for the teacher. His heart filled with pride, as other looked at him with respect. He knew that his was the best gift offered that day, thanks to his brother.
The teacher was puzzled. He looked at the boy and asked, "My dear boy, where did you get this magic pot from? The boy answered, "My brother Gopal gave it to me, Sir." "Brother!" exclaimed the teacher, 'You have no brothers. Which brother is this?" "I have no brother at home, Sir," replied the boy. "It is my brother Gopal who is in the forest that gave the pot."
Thus the whole story came out. When the teacher heard the description of Gopal the teacher at once knew that the boy's brother was none other than the Divine Cowherd Himself. He shed tears in ecstasy and asked the boy in a choked voice, "Son, will you take me to your brother?" The boy was eager to introduce his unique brother to one and all. He readily agreed to take the teacher to his brother in the forest. Not only the teacher but all others who were there wished to have a vision of the Divine brother of this boy. All followed the boy to the forest. They entered the forest and the boy took a few steps forward and called out, "Gopal, my brother Gopal, please come out. My teacher, class-mates, and several elders have come out to see you. Please quickly come out." He waited for some time. Gopal did not come. The boy thought that his brother must have gone far today, and hadn't heard him. So he called out louder again and yet louder. Still no response. The boy ran from one corner to another corner calling upon his brother again and again but in vain. The boy was very much disappointed. He was afraid that his brother might have become angry with him for having brought all the visitors without taking his permission. With tears in his eyes, the boy begged, "Gopal, are you angry with me for bringing these people without your permission? Please do not be angry with me. If you don't appear before them they will not believe me and consider me as a liar. Please come out if only for once."
As the boy thus importuned in a piteous voice, there came a voice from afar, wafted over the air, "No, brother, I am not angry with you. I love you very much. But your teacher and others can't see Me. They are not yet fit to see me. You alone can see Me but not others."
All heard the Divine voice. The teacher's eyes were filled with tears. He embraced the boy and said, "Son, it is true. We are not pure enough to have a vision of the Lord. You are pure in mind and simple in faith. That is why you could get His darshan. We are to some extent lucky. We could hear His voice at least because of you. Thank you very much, my dear boy. Here after it will be my genuine aim to make myself as pure as you, so that one day I shall be fit to have the vision of the Lord."