There was a small hermitage in the mountains. The air was cool and clean. Some young sadhus lived there. They lived simply. They ate mostly wild fruits and berries. They slept on jute mats on the floor. They brought water from the nearby stream to cook, wash and clean the hermitage. They bathed in the stream. Most importantly, they spent most of their time in meditation. They had left behind their families to meditate and free themselves from worldly attachment.
One day, two of the sadhus went to the stream to fetch water. They filled a bucket each and set them near the hermitage. They then went to collect fire wood. It was a very cold day, so they thought that they would heat some water for bathing. After collecting some dried wood, they got back. A little sparrow was sitting on the edge of one of the buckets; her beak was in the water. One of the sadhus ran forward to scare it away, “Hush! Hush! That’s our water,” he cried out. The tiny bird flew away.
When they reached the buckets, the first sadhu reached out to pick up the bucket that had not been touched by the sparrow. The other sage said, “Wait a minute that was my bucket.”
“Of course not, that one is mine.”
“I put mine, on this side. That one is yours. Leave my bucket alone.”
“Why should I leave it, it is mine.”
The argument went on, till they caught hold of each other’s neck. They had a scuffle and one of the sadhus, being more able bodied, was able to physically lift the other one and throw him further. The sadhu landed with a thud and his foot hit the same bucket over which they had been fighting.
All the water spilled onto the ground!
Let us look at this objectively –
Firstly, how much water could the sparrow possibly have drunk, that the quantity of water was affected!
Secondly, had the water become impure due to the sparrow’s touch? It was drawn from the stream. All wild birds and animals would be drinking from it all the time!
Thirdly, the water was going to be used for just bathing. Neither the quantity nor the purity of the bathing water had been affected.
What is the use of talking about detachment from worldly objects when one can fight over a bucket full of bath water!