One day, all the disciples went eagerly to the Master. They said, “Master, we wish to go on a pilgrimage.”
The Master asked them, “Why do you want to go on a pilgrimage?”
Disciples: So that we can purify ourselves and be more devoted to the Divine.
Master: Oh that is wonderful! You must go. And would you also do me a favor? Please take this bitter gourd along with you. Wherever you go, whichever temple you visit, place this bitter gourd at the altar of the Deity, take the blessings of the Divine and bring it back.
So, the disciples and the bitter gourd all went on the pilgrimage together. They visited many sacred temples in their pilgrimage.
And finally when they came back, the Master said very eagerly, “Cook that bitter gourd and serve it to me.”
The disciples cooked it and served it to the Master. After having the first bite, the Master exclaimed, “Surprising!”
Disciples: “What is so surprising Master?”
Master: “Even after the pilgrimage the bitter gourd is still bitter. How is that possible?”
Disciples: But that’s the very nature of the bitter gourd, Master. How will it change simply by going on a Pilgrimage?
The Master smiled wisely at the disciples. Even as they spoke it out loud, they realised what the bitter gourd really represented.
The lesson had been taught. The disciples had started on a new pilgrimage into themselves.