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The Story Of the Prodigal Son
The following story retold from the Bible, conveys a theme that goes with any religion: how a soul leaves the company of God, comes to material world, suffers here and at last returns to the Lord through repentance and surrender. Once upon a time, there was a very wealthy man, who owned many acres of land. He had two sons; the first son was very obedient and always assisted his father in his work, but the second son was disobedient.
One day, the second son came to his father and told him, "My dear father, now I have decided to live separately. Give me my share in property and money so that I may become independent °f you, stay alone and enjoy. I don't want to live with you any longer." When the father heard this, he became very sorrowful. He tried to explain to his son, "My dear child, it is not possible for you to enjoy alone. You don't know how to spend money. You will be cheated by worldly people if you do so. Please kindly stay in this house with us and do not try to go away." But the second son was adamant. He said, "Nothing doing.Give me my share of money and I will enjoy independently. No more useless advice and talks." The father reluctantly agreed, "If you really want to be alone, how can I stop you?" Then he gave his share of money to the second son. This son took the money and went off to live in a far away place. Because he had a huge amount of money, he got many friends. When a person has a lot of money, people will surround him because money is like honey for them. They like to enjoy life in various ways using money. So, many people became his friends, flattered him, took him to parties, taught him smoking and drinking and got him entangled in all sorts of vices. In this way, he spent all his money in drinking, smoking, meat-eating and womanizing. When all his money was squandered away on useless things and he became like a beggar in the street, all his friends soon deserted him.
The second son thus found himself crying alone in the middle of a street with no shelter, no protection, no money and not knowing know what to do. Finally he approached a wealthy zamindar for a job. The zamindar told him, "You have to take care of these 100 pigs by feeding them this low quality wheat flour and you may also eat the same. That will be your remuneration; do not expect anything more." Having no other alternative, the second son agreed. Everyday he would feed the white pigs and then he would also eat the same low quality flour. After going through this ordeal for several days, the second son started crying at his condition and started remembering his loving father. He said to himself, "O my dear loving father, you were so kind to me. You used to give me so many varieties of foodstuffs and so many nice dresses. You used to love me so much. And I left it all for what? To eat this low quality flour and suffer. What should I do now? If I come back to you, will you accept me? Even if you don't accept me as your son, I would still like to come back to you as your servant. Will you not accept me at least as your servant?" In this way he started meditating about his father in his mind. Very soon he gave up all reservations and decided to return to his father.
As soon as he entered his village, the villagers rushed to his father to inform him about the return of his son. When the father heard this he became overjoyed. He immediately arranged for a bullock-cart and rushed to meet his second son. When the father caught sight of his son, he jumped down from the cart, rushed to his son, embraced him and showered him with his tears of love and joy. He seated his son on the bullock-cart and took him back home. There the father announced to everyone, "Today my son has come back and he will be the king of the house." On hearing these words of love from his father, the second son burst into tears, thinking, "I rejected my father and squandered away all his wealth. Still he loves me so much and wants to give me respect and honor. How great he is!"
What do we understand from this story? Because we became disobedient to God's will, we came to this world and are suffering here. If we once again start obeying God's will, we will be able to please God and return to His kingdom. ¦ Sin means disobedience to God. So how can we know whether we are obeying or disobeying God? Whenever we buy a complicated instrument, we are provided an instruction manual, which tells how to operate that instrument. Similarly when God created this world, he also gave the scriptures - thej/edas - to teach us how we should behave in this world in order to make our lives successful and return to the kingdom of God. By living in accordance with the principles given in the scriptures, we can very soon return back home, back to Godhead.