A Thousand Years Or A Moment!
“The mind must become bhakthimaya (saturated with devotion to God). The intelligence must be transformed into Jnana (divine knowledge).” (Bhagwan Baba)
The Epic Ramayana has innumerable little anecdotes in it that hold a lot of meaning. Here is one of them.
It is said that once Sage Vashistha visited the hermitage of Sage Vishvamitra who gifted the fruit of one thousand years penance to Sage Vashistha. Sometime later, Sage Vishvamitra, visited Sage Vashistha, who gifted him the fruit of one moment of Satsangh. Satsangh is Satya-sangh i.e. in the company of truth. Time spent in the company of the devotees of God, listening to or singing the praises of God or His devotees is commonly called satsangh. Sage Vishvamitra felt very insulted and thought, “Does he consider that one moment of his Satsangh is equal to my one thousand years of penance?” Sage Vashistha understood what the former was thinking by the looks on his face. He said, “Vishvamitra, it seems you have some doubt about the value of Satsangh. Let us go to a learned person and ask for help to settle the issue.”
Together they went to Lord Brahma, who said, “I am busy all day long with the cause of creation. Where do I have the time to think of such things? It is better if you ask Vishnu.” So they went to Lord Vishnu. He said, “This is a question that can be answered by one who does a lot of penance and meditation. Perhaps you should ask Shiva.”
The duo proceeded to Mount Kailash. Lord Shiva was just about to start his meditation session, so He said, “I would be late for my meditation if I engage in trying to solve the issue. I think you should best go to Sheshanaga and seek his help.” So saying, Shiva closed His eyes and started to meditate.
The two sages went to Sheshanaga, who as per legend holds the Earth up on its head. They posed their problem to the Shesha. He said, “Well Sage Vishvamitra, you see I balance the Earth on my head all the time, so with so much weight on my head, I really cannot think. Would you hold the Earth up for a few seconds, so that I can apply my mind to the problem?” Sage Vishvamitra replied, “How can I do that Shesha? I am not so strong!” “The serpent replied, “So use the strength of one thousand years of penance and request the Earth to lift itself up for a second from my head.” Immediately Sage Vishvamitra took a handful of water and said, “Oh Mother Earth! I give you the fruit of one thousand years of penance. Please raise yourself above Sheshanaga’s head for a few seconds, so that he can think.” That being said, but the Earth did not budge!
Then the Sheshanaga told Sage Vashishtha, “Now you gift one moment of Satsangh to the Earth and request her.” Sage Vashishtha took a handful of water and said, “Oh Mother Earth! I gift you the fruit of one moment of Satsangh. Please raise yourself from the head of the Sheshanaga, just for a few seconds.”
Immediately the Earth raised itself and the Sheshanaga’s head was free from the load! Then Vishvamitra eagerly said, “Now your head is free, now think and tell us quickly, which one is more potent?”
The serpent smiled, a thousand headed smile and said, “Do you still need an answer?”