The Doctor’s Knife

Once there was a village boy whose name was Amar. Amar had a boil on his back and the pain was so unbearable that he contemplated suicide. Seeing the boy’s state, his mother, paternal grandmother, maternal grandmother maternal aunt, paternal aunt and other close relatives all tried to alleviate his pain by using hand-fans and even tried blowing on the boil.

One neighbour advised that to save the boy from such pain they should make him unconscious by giving him anesthetic. Another neighbour said that temporarily unconsciousness was not a permanent solution to remove his pain – instead of letting the boy suffer, arrangements should be made to end his life. If he has life, he feels pain – if he has no life, he will not feel any pain! Then both the disease and the diseased will be peaceful!

The boy’s intelligent father declined to listen to such advice and immediately sent for a skilled doctor. When the doctor advised that surgery be performed, all the relatives of the boy including his mother, grandmother etc. began to cry loudly. The uneducated boy started insulting the physician saying, “You’ve come to murder me! Get out of our house right now! I’ll call the police and have you arrested! Why don’t you stick a knife in your own back? Go! Butcher your own son with your knife! I’d rather drink poison and kill myself than die at your hands!”

However, the doctor did not listen to the boy’s insults and, pushing him down, he performed the operation. After some time, the boy was completely free from all pain. Within a few days the boy’s health improved and he was well again.


Just like the doctor, many times gurus and sadhus also need to cut through the knot-like anarthas found in the wicked minds of living beings by giving them apparently undesirable instructions according to the various degrees of material attachment that they have. But a patient never wants that. Instead he looks at the doctor as an executioner and hurls bad words at the sadhu.

Those that fear the apparent pain of an operation recommend pseudo-compassion to maintain the disease. The patient takes them to be his relative and friend.

Some, who claim to be friends, advocate taking shelter of impersonalism in order to commit suicide (atma-hatya) and ultimately remove the problem.

Just as in the example of the boy, his mother, grandmother etc. and other close relatives, in order to give peace to the boy, advocate the path of enjoyment. Those who take the path of temporary unconsciousness or suicide, support the path of impersonalists.

Actually, neither of these can eternally benefit the living being. The constitutional position of a living being can only be realized after the knot of the heart and all perverse mundane attachments are cut by sincerely following the instructions of sadhus. Then the living being can enter the realm of service to the Lord which is the only means of attaining eternal bliss and supreme peace.

(From Upakhyane Upadesa, Volume One, by Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura)