Scorpion and the Sage

Once upon a time, a sage while trying to cross a shallow river saw a scorpion helplessly treading the water, trying to come out of the river. The sage saw the scorpion’s struggle and decided to save it.


He picked up the scorpion in his right palm with the intention to place it on the dry surface. No sooner did he do that, than the scorpion stung and rushed off the palm in frenzy, landing in the water again. It resumed its struggle to come out of water.

The sage caressed his ailing right hand with his left. His body was in pain but his mind calm. Seeing that the scorpion could lose its life, the sage used his left hand this time to lift the scorpion out of water. However it panicked and stung again. Once again it sped off the hand and fell in to the water and resumed its struggle to come out.

The saint was left with excruciating pain. He was not one to give up either. He tried again. This time he cupped his hands together, lifted the scorpion and safely dropped on the land before it could react.

The sage felt elated, for he succeeded in carrying out his resolve to save another life. It was worth the pain, he thought.

At a distance, a man who was observing the whole episode was surprised and shocked.

He promptly approached the sage and asked him a question. “First of all, there was no need to save a scorpion. It does no good to anybody. Secondly, if you must save him out of compassion, you could have simply tried once. I am surprised that even after it stung you so ungratefully, you persisted with your efforts. Why?”

The sage replied, “This was a scorpion, a creature whose nature is to sting, to harm. Whereas, I am supposed to be a saint, a person whose nature is to love everybody & show compassion.? A creature as lowly and weak as a scorpion; does not change its basic nature in the presence of a holy man. Should I, the one who is supposed to be a saint let go off my righteous conduct in the presence of a scorpion?”

The man prostrated at the feet of the sage and expressed his gratitude for the profound wisdom.