There was a great god-sage called Narada. Just as there are sages among mankind, great yogis, so there are great yogis among the gods. Narada was a good yogi, and very great. He travelled everywhere. One day he was passing through a forest, and saw a man who had been meditating until the white ants had built a huge mound round his body— so long had he been sitting in that position.
He said to Narada, ‘Where are you going?’
Narada replied, ‘I am going to heaven.’
‘Then ask God when He will be merciful to me; when I shall attain freedom.’
Further on Narada saw another man. He was jumping about, singing, dancing, and said, ‘Oh, Narada, where are you going?’ His voice and his gestures were wild.
Narada said, ‘I am going to heaven.’
‘Then, ask when I shall be free.’
Narada went on. In the course of time he came again by the same road, and there was the man who had been meditating with the ant-hill round him. He said, ‘Oh, Narada, did you ask the Lord about me?’
‘What did He say?’
‘The Lord told me that you would attain freedom in four more births.’
Then the man began to weep and wail, and said, ‘I have meditated until an ant-hill has grown around me, and I have four more births yet!’ Narada went to the other man. ‘Did you ask my question?’
‘Oh, yes. Do you see this tamarind tree? I have to tell you that as many leaves as there are on that tree, so many times, you shall be born, and then you shall attain freedom.’
The man began to dance for joy, and said, ‘I shall have freedom after such a short time!’
A voice came, ‘My child, you will have freedom this minute.’ That was the reward for his perseverance. He was ready to work through all those births, nothing discouraged him. But the first man felt that even four more births were too long. Only perseverance, like that of the man who was willing to wait aeons brings about the highest result.