In a village a cowherd used to take his cows to the edge of a forest to graze. It was a routine for him to take the cows from the village every morning and return back at the sunset. It so happened that one day a cow which strayed away a bit got separated from the herd. Alone it lost its way and went deeper into the jungle. Suddenly the cow heard the roar of a lion. The cow turned back to notice a huge lion rushing towards it. The cow fled fearing that at any moment the lion might sink its canine into her jugular vein. The cow knew it cannot run faster than the lion and looked for some way to escape. At last the cow saw a shallow pond and without a second thought it jumped into the pond. In the heat of the chase, the mighty lion blindly leaped after the cow.
To the astonishment that pond turned out to be a pool filled with deep recesses of sticky mud. After toppling over each other the cow and the lion found themselves a short distance apart stuck in the slurry of mud up to their neck. With their heads above the slush they were unable to free themselves no matter how much they writhed. The more they wiggled the deeper they slipped.
The lion feeling frustrated snarled at the cow and roared in fury. It cursed itself for chasing the cow and falling in a helpless situation. The lion became fretful as he found no prospect of getting out of the muddy grave.
The cow thoughtfully smiled as the lion struggled to free himself and asked him, “Do you have a master?”
The lion was taken back and scornfully replied, “How dare you ask that to the king of the jungle??? I myself am the master!”
The cow said, “I know you are the king of the jungle, but neither your crown nor your throne is of any help to you here now. Your lordship has failed to save your life.”
“And you are also in the same situation, you are no special.” remarked the lion. “You are also going to die in this mud along with me.”
The cow smilingly said, “My dear king, I will not die here. I very well know that I cannot free myself from this mud, but my master can get me out. At sunset my herd will return to the shed and my master finds me absent among the herd, he will definitely come searching for me. Once he finds me stuck here he will pull me out and take me home.”
The lion remained silent and coldly glared at the cow which was indifferent to the situation. Soon the sun began to set and at the twilight the cowherd arrived with a lantern in his hand. He immediately recognized the plight the cow was in and threw a rope around its horns and pulled her to safety. As they walked home the cow and its master both felt renewed gratitude for each other and pitied the lion. The cowherd would have been happy to save the lion, only if it had slowed him to.
This is not just a story to narrate some moral theme, but a spiritual guidance. Here the cow represents the surrendered mind and the lion depicts an egoistic mind. The cowherd is Nandagopala, the universal master. The slurry mud is the materialistic world and the wriggling is the struggle for existence.
We hear that it is good to be independent and not rely on anyone in life, but we always need someone as mentor who will be always be on the lookout for us like the cowherd.
To have someone does not mean one is weak, it is just that with a mentor the emotional energy is strengthened.