(This story is based on one of the famous sayings of the ancient tamil Siddha traditions)
Somu, a seeker, was searching for a Siddha who can show him the way to God. One day he met a Siddha in a Temple and requested him to accept him as his disciple. The Siddha told Somu, “You follow my three instructions for three months and come back to me”.
The Siddha’s three instructions to Somu were: Be Alone, Be Awake, and Be Hungry.
Somu was happy. He went to a nearby lone hillock and literally put into practice the Siddha’s instruction. He sat in the hillock alone, unsleeping, without taking any food, fasting and hungry. A day and a night passed. The next day Somu was sleepy and tired but continued his austere discipline with grim determination. But at the end of the day he was so exhausted he fell down from the hillock. Severely bruised and injured and angry with the Siddha, Somu was lying in agony at the bottom of the hillock.
After some time, he heard someone laughing. He turned and saw the Siddha who instructed him, sitting near and looking at him. Somu muttered in violent anger, “You scoundrel—- bogus Siddha—- I will kill you”. But the Siddha laughed loudly and said, “You can’t even move, how you are going to kill me”. Then, laughingly, the Siddha placed his hands gently on Somu’s forehead. Somu felt a blue, soft and healing stream of light pass through his whole being. A great wave of Peace swept through him. After a few minutes, Somu got up fully healed, refreshed and happy in body and mind.
The Siddha still laughing said, “I have never seen a greater fool than you”. Somu said meekly, “I only did what you have told me”. The Siddha replied “Yes, but literally, without understanding the meaning. When I said ‘be Awake’, I did not mean not to sleep but to be inwardly alert and conscious always. When I said ‘be hungry’, I did not mean not taking food or fasting but to be in a state of constant inner aspiration for truth. When I said ‘be alone’, I did not mean externally alone but to be inwardly detached and free from desire or attachment to people and things, then you are inwardly alone. “But why”, asked Somu, “You didn’t tell me this first”. The Siddha replied, “Because I want you to learn by experience an important lesson: Don’t take the words of a Siddha literally and rush to put into practice immediately. Contemplate on them for a few days, try to understand their deeper meaning and then put into practice”.