Baba’s Story on Humility

baba sun

Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No.1111; Dated 16th June 2104.

Sri Sathya Sai Baba, in one of his lectures, stressed the importance of humility. He said that one of the methods to cultivate humility is not only to bow before god but also prostrate before holy saints and obtain their blessings. Baba narrated a story from the life of Emperor Asoka.

“Once Asoka went round the capital city with his minister. When he saw a Buddhist monk, he placed his head at the feet of the monk and bowed. But his minister did not like this. Asoka knew what was going on in the mind of his minister. He asked him to fetch the heads of a goat, a tiger and a man’s. When they were brought he asked the minister to sell them in a market. While the heads of animals had buyers, no one came to purchase that of the human being. There was none even to take it free.

The king then said, “This head is valued only when there is life in the body. Hence, when there is an opportunity, place your head at the feet of the noble men and secure their good wishes.”

Tamil King who had Siva’s Feet on His Head
Seran Senguttuvan was a powerful Tamil king who ruled Tamil Nadu about 2000 years ago. He decided to go to holy Himalayas to bring a stone for making a statue for the chaste woman Kannaki. On the eve of his expedition to North India, he went to the Siva temple and bore the feet (sandals) of Lord Siva on the head as a mark of respect to Him (See Kalkot Katai, Silappadikaram).

Kings of those days were so humble that they did not hesitate even to take bricks on their head to build temples.

Another powerful Pandya king Muthu Kudumi Peruvazuthi was praised by one of the Sangam poets that his head would bow on two occasions only:
1.When the king goes round the temple of Lord Siva and
2.When Brahmins raise their hands to bless him.
(See Karikizar’s poem on Mudukudumi, Purananuru verse 6)
baba ratha

Varaguna Pandyan was another great Pandya king who saw God in everything and I have narrated eight incidents that happened in his life time (Please see “The King who saw God in Everything”- posted April 26, 2013).
Another Saivite saint fell at the feet of a Dhobi (washer man) because his body was smeared with white sand. The saint saw holy ash ‘Vibhuti’ in everything that looked white!

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa’s Story
A man went to a saint and said with a great show of humility, “Sir, I am a very low person. Tell me, O Master, how I am to be saved”. The saint reading the heart of the man, told him, “Well, go and bring that which is meaner than you”. The man went out and looked all around, but found nothing whatsoever meaner than himself. At last he saw his own excrement and said, “Well here is something worse than myself”. He stretched forth his hand to take it up and carry it to the saint when suddenly he heard a voice say from within the ordure, “Touch me not, O Sinner, I was a sweet and delicious cake, fit to be offered to the Gods, and in appearance so pleasing to all the spectators. But my ill-fortune brought me to you. And by your evil contact I have been reduced to such a detestable condition that men runaway from me with handkerchiefs covering their noses. Once only did I come in contact with you and this has been my fate. What deeper degradation may I not be thrown into if you touch me again”. The man was thus taught humility and became the humblest of the humble. As a result he attained the highest perfection.
(See page 311, Sayings of Sri Ramakrishna , Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai)


“Humility is good for all, it is an ornament for the rich in particular”, says Tamil poet Tiruvalluvar in Tirukkural (125).

“Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
And before honour is humility”, says the Bible (Proverbs 18-12).


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