Guru Ramdas had many disciples in his ashram. Prabhudas was one of them. He fluently quoted from the scriptures and was never tired of talking to and advising anyone who was willing to listen.
“It’s a pleasure to have such a student,” commented the sages who visited the ashram. But the guru himself was hardly enthusiastic about Prabhudas. He only smiled, whenever others spoke in praise of the disciple. Once the guru had to send a message to the king. He asked his students, “Who amongst you is willing to visit the court?”
All but Prabhudas said, “Whoever you choose, sir!” Prabhudas alone said, “I shall be happy to go, master!”
Guru Ramdas was quiet for some time. But after an hour Prabhudas approached him and asked humbly, “When do I start?”
The guru thought for a moment and said, “I’ve no doubt you’ve learnt all that I’ve taught you, but I’m not sure if you can make the right use of them!”
“I can, master. You may test me if you so wish,” said Prabhudas enthusiastically.
“Very well. Here’s my letter to the king. Take it carefully and come back with his reply soon,” said the guru, handing over a sheaf of palm leaves to Prabhudas.
Soon Prabhudas set out. On the way, he recollected a number of lessons he had learnt. One that came to his mind readily was his guru’s advice to look upon every being, human or animal as a manifestation of God.
‘The road I’m walking, the breeze, these trees, are all manifestations of God. I’ve realized what my guru had taught. That too, very quickly!’ thought Prabhudas.
Suddenly, he heard some noise. He saw a mad elephant rushing towards him. ‘Everything is God. I’m God, so is this elephant. God cannot harm God,’ argued Prabhudas within himself and continued to walk. The elephant was closing in. “Get away, young man, get away!” shouted the mahout while trying to control the animal.
‘Here’s an opportunity to put the guru’s teaching into practice. I’m God, the elephant, too, is God. There’s no sense in God fearing God!’ thought Prabhudas and continued on the road.
“Get off the road, you fool!” shouted the mahout. But Prabhudas refused to move. Before anyone could come to his rescue, the elephant caught him in its trunk and hurled him away.
Prabhudas fell down unconscious. He was taken to the ashram. He regained his sense soon. “Why didn’t you move away from the mad elephant’s way?” asked Guru Ramdas. “Master, I thought Prabhudas the God would not be treated badly by elephant the God,” replied Prabhudas, naively.
The guru smiled and asked, “If you saw God in the elephant, why didn’t you see the God in the mahout? How could Prabhudas the God disobey Mahout the God?”
Prabhudas fell silent. The guru explained, “It’s easy to remember or recite a theory. It’s difficult to realize it. You forgot your common sense. If you hadn’t done so, you would have listened to the mahout.”