The Broken Pot, A Hindu Story About Self-image

The broken pot, a Hindu story about self-image

This is the story of a man who put bread on the table by selling water on the market. He had about 10 pots. Early every morning he put a pole on his shoulders. He hung one pot on each end, carried it to the well and then to the village center. However, one of these pots was broken. Strangely enough, it was this broken pot that he took first every time. He carried it along with the pot, which was in good condition, to the well. He patiently collected the water and then carried it over a mile on his shoulders.

By the time he arrived at the market, the broken pot had already lost quite a bit of water. So the man could only charge half of his usual price for this. The good pot, on the other hand, overflowed, allowing him to charge the full asking price.

The Shame of the Broken Pot

A discussion soon arose among all the other pots. They couldn’t understand why the man had kept the broken pot for so long. After all, it cost him money every day. Nor did they understand why he was always the first to fill it every day.

broken jar

The broken pot began to feel ashamed. He had been with the man for ten years and valued him immensely. He felt bad when he realized he was just a burden, and didn’t understand—like the others—why the man hadn’t got rid of him yet.

He remembered times when he was a great pot and very useful to his owner. There was a time when he had no shortcomings. It was one of the best for this daily trip. One day, however, the man tripped. Then the pot was broken and it became almost useless. This happened a long time ago, yet the man refuses to put away the broken pot.

The road to the well

The man often did something that aroused the interest of all the pots, including the broken pot. At certain times during his trips to the well with all his empty pots, he put his hand in his trouser pocket and watered something as he walked. None of the jars knew what this ‘something’ actually was.

Suddenly the man stopped to carry this object and threw it away by the side of the path. Later he repeated this, but on the other side of the path. All the pots were very curious about this, but since it was something the man didn’t do more often, they quickly forgot and so did their own curiosity.

Water drop in the shape of a heart

Conversations between the intact jars were a real torment for the broken jar. He hated being so useless. He continuously harmed the one who had cared for him so well. Hence, without thinking any further, he asked the man to throw it away.

A beautiful moral

One night, when the man was ready to go to bed, the broken pot called to him and said he would like to talk to the man. He liked to hear the broken pot and listened with great interest to what was being said.

Without giving it a second thought, the broken pot said what it was on. He knew the man would appreciate this, but he wasn’t used to being so useless. He didn’t want to be kept out of a misplaced sense of guilt. The man should throw it away and put an end to it for good.

The man laughed when he heard the broken pot talking. He told him that he had never considered throwing it away precisely because it  was very useful. “Useful?” the jar asked. How could that be if he made the man give up part of his profit every day? The man asked him to remain calm. The next day he would show him why he valued him so much. The broken pot could hardly sleep because of this.

wheat field

Discovering a purpose

The next day the man said, “Please look around you on the way to the well.” So did the broken pot. He looked from left to right and could only see a beautiful path full of blooming flowers. Once they got to the well, he told the man he hadn’t seen anything to answer his earlier question.

The man looked affectionately at the jar and said, “Since you broke up, I’ve been thinking about how best to use you. So I decided to plant seeds along the way from time to time. Thanks to you I was able to water them every day during the journey from the well to the market.”

“And when everything is in bloom, thanks to you I can take the flowers to market and sell them for even more money than the water.” From that moment the broken pot understood what a wonderful purpose it served.

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