Question: Babaji, earlier you were talking about the importance of faith. Is it possible to tell us the story about Kanakadasa and the buffalo?
Yes, just to tell you about faith... Saint Kanakadasa lived in the southern part of India in Karnataka, about 500 years ago, during the reign of the Vijaynagara empire. He was a shepherd boy looking after buffalos and cows. One day when he was on the outskirts of his village looking after them, he saw some priests performing the worship of God, and some people were there. Then he gets attracted. He belonged to a smaller community who the egoistic priests always considered to be untouchable, so he stood from a long distance and watched.
After the puja was over, he goes and requests the priest, "Sir, please teach me this worship. I would also love to do this, it is so wonderful, I am so attracted." They teased and made fun of him, "What can you do? You only look after the buffalos and cows, that is all your wisdom. OK, you do one thing, go underneath the tree, sit down, and go on repeating 'buffalo buffalo buffalo.' God will come to you." So they actually teased him.
But that innocent boy, in the purity of his heart, took it in good faith what the priests told. He went and sat underneath the tree and started repeating "buffalo, buffalo" - in his Kanada language, "kona" (kona means buffalo). He went on repeating that one. And legend has it that he had the vision of Lord Yama, the death god, coming on the buffalo. Lord Yama initiated him into the name of Keshava, one of Vishnu's forms, and guided him to go to Sage Vyasathirta, who was also a Self Realized Master of those days. So there he went later on, took initiation from him, and taking guidance he became a Self Realized soul.
Other students in that institute used to be jealous of him and made fun of him, because he remained silent and quietly absorbed in his own Self, contemplating about the Self always. So one day to teach a lesson to the other students, the Guru gave bananas to each of the students, and told, "You all go out, and go to such a place where nobody would be watching you, eat this banana and then come back and report to me. That is the challenge for you all." They were given a stipulated time to come back before sunset. "Oh this is so easy, Master, this is no problem, within five minutes I can eat and nobody will be watching me." So every student went and ate the banana and came back, and they all reported, "I went behind the mountains," "I went onto the tree," "I hid myself behind the bushes" - like this they gave a hundred reasons - "Nobody was watching me, I can guarantee this to you." And they all sat, waiting for Kanakadasa.
He never came back. It was afternoon, lunchtime was over, and everybody was murmuring, "This small job that the Guru gave, this idiot Kanakadasa could not do even this much also. Today the Guru is going to expel him from this institute," they all thought. They were teasing him. In the end, before sunset, Kanakadasa comes back with the banana. Keeping it at the Lotus Feet of the Master, he tells, "Master, I tried my best to eat this banana where nobody would be watching. I went behind the bushes, I went behind the mountains. I went there, I went here, but everywhere Lord Krishna was watching me. Whenever I tried to open this banana and tried to eat, Krishna was watching . So I failed in the task that you gave me. This is the banana."
And so the Guru rebukes everyone, "You see, this is the knowledge and wisdom. This is the real devotion. If you have the devotion, God will always be visible to you."