This is a story from the Mahaabhaarata. Aruni of Panchala (a place in ancient India) was a dedicated disciple of Sage Dhoumya. Aruni lived in his Guru’s aashram and participated in the satsevaa (service into God) of the aashram’s daily chores in order to receive the divine knowledge he sought.
One cold winter day, Aruni was carrying back the firewood he had collected for the aashram. As he was passing by a field which belonged to his Guru, he noticed a breach in the embankment that was holding water in the field. He realised that the water would seep away due to the breach and the crops in the field would die without the water.
Aruni thought, "What should I do? If I stop to rebuild the embankment, I will be delayed and there is no firewood at the aashram to keep the place warm. I’d better rush to the hermitage with the firewood and then come back to take care of the breach."
Meanwhile, the Sage and His disciples had assembled for the day’s lessons. Aruni was missing. Soon Aruni rushed in, dropped the firewood in the courtyard, informed the teacher about the break in the embankment and quickly rushed back out.
Sage Dhoumya was pleased with the responsible disciple.
Aruni ran all the way back to that field and tried to stop the leakage of water by blocking it with some logs and mud. However, this did not stop the leak. The heavy pressure of the water washed away the temporary dam Aruni had constructed. He felt helpless. It seemed impossible for him to stop the leakage without help, but time was running out! He thought for a while and then had an idea about how to stop the water from leaking out.
As evening fell and it became dark, everyone at the ashram started worrying about Aruni. The Sage gathered the other disciples and they all set out to look for Aruni. When they reached the field and the Sage called out Aruni’s name, they heard a faint voice, "Here I am, Master!"
Everyone rushed towards the sound. They saw Aruni lying in the breach to prevent the water from leaking out. When nothing else had worked, he had used his own body to stop the flow. The disciples quickly pulled Aruni out of the freezing water. They assured him, "Don’t worry Aruni! We will fix the breach."
"My son you are more precious than the crop," said the Guru.
Aruni was covered in a blanket and brought back to the aashram. Sage Dhoumya himself tended to Aruni. The Sage then blessed His disciple, "You shall be renowned forever, for your unmatched devotion and obedience to your Guru."
Moral: The kind of obedience that Aruni had was crucial in his quest to win the Guru’s grace. We too can see what efforts we can make to develop this quality so that God and Guru will bless us. An example of this quality is, listening to our parents and teachers.