Nourish Yourself and Hiss

I know I promised no more with the yoga stories about animals but I just couldn’t help myself. This is one of my favorites and it feels so very relevant right now.

There was once an accomplished yogini and teacher named Sādhvī. She traveled through the countryside to offer service and share her wisdom, making yearly stops at each village.

One day, as Sādhvī approached a small village, the villagers came rushing out to meet her.

“Oh, Sādhvī! We are so happy to see you! We really need your help. Our village has been plagued by the most vicious and menacing snake. This snake attacks us and eats all of our eggs before we can collect them. She is such a menace that many times we are afraid to go beyond the gates. What shall we do?”

Sādhvī assured the villagers that she would teach the snake the yogic path and went off into the jungle.

When she found the snake, Sādhvī asked the snake if she was living a peacful and happy life. The snake admitted that she was not. Sādhvī taught her the lessons of ahimsa, non-harm or non-violence, assuring the snake,

“Non-violence is the way forward towards a life of peace.”

The snake took the teachings to heart and promised Sādhvī she would change her ways.

The next year, when Sādhvī returned to the village, she went to visit the snake to see how she was making out. She found the poor snake emaciated and weak. She was bruised all over and just generally looked miserable.

Sādhvī was alarmed but also perplexed. She asked the snake, “What happened? I thought you were on a path towards peace and taking the teachings of ahimsa seriously?”

The snake explained that she hadn’t been taking any eggs but she hasn’t hunting for food either because that seemed like a violent thing to do. And because she was no longer a menace to the villagers, the children were not frightened of her anymore. When they would see her, they would taunt her and throw rocks at her.

“Ah,” Sādhvī nodded knowingly. “Yes, I can see you are indeed taking your vow of non-violence very seriously. While this is an essential commitment,”

“You must still always nourish yourself and you must never forget how to hiss.”

Take care of yourself and each other, my dears.

Do no harm.

Nourish your body, mind, and soul.

Hiss loudly and as often necessary.