Once Shivaji Maharaj, a great king from India, lost his way while going from one fort to another. He looked around from a hilltop but could not see any village nearby. The night was advancing fast. As he started coming down the hill, he saw a dim light twinkling in the distance. Going in that direction, he soon reached a hut.
Inside the hut was an old woman who welcomed him, thinking that he was a soldier from Shivaji’s army. Seeing that he was tired and hungry, she gave him warm water to wash his hands and face and also spread a mat for him to relax upon. After he had sufficient rest, she brought a plateful of hot rice and curry and placed it before him.
Shivaji was so hungry that he quickly put his hand into the rice and curry to lift a big morsel to his mouth. The hot food burnt his fingers and immediately, he grabbed his hand, spilling some food on the floor.
The old woman saw what had happened and remarked, “Oh, you seem to be as impatient and hasty as your master, Shivaji, that’s why you burnt your fingers and lost some food, too.”
Shivaji was both amused and surprised by these words. “Why do you think my master Shivaji is impatient and hasty?” he asked.
The old lady innocently began to explain. “Look here, my dear son. Don’t you see, Shivaji is ignoring the smaller forts of his enemy and trying to capture only the big forts? Just as your impatience to eat burned your fingers and caused spillage of food on the floor, Shivaji’s impatience to defeat the enemy is causing him both worry and loss of a number of men from his brave army.
You should have first eaten the cooler food at the edge of the plate and then the food in the center. So, too, Shivaji should start taking the small forts first and strengthen his position. That will help him to conquer the bigger forts quickly and without much loss of his soldiers.”
Shivaji was quick to grasp the wisdom in the old woman’s words. He realised that one should avoid making haste in any undertaking.
The above incident teaches us the virtue of patience. In any undertaking, one should patiently take small and steady steps instead of hurrying to take big ones to be successful. For example, if one normally wakes up daily at 8am but wants to wake up early at 6am, instead of trying to immediately start waking up at 6am, one should change one’s waking hour in short steps, such as 15 minutes at a time. Similarly, one should not be impatient about one’s spiritual progress.