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The Poor Man

A huge temple, dedicated to Bhagwan Shiv, stood in the middle of a serene city. The temple was majestical and beautiful. It was always filled with devotees who visited from both far and near. As usual, many people were coming in and going out of the temple when the dressed-for-office man came in.

He was in a hurry and so he entered the temple quickly. He prayed, asked God to fulfill his long list of wishes and offered something in return, took prasad from the pujari, and came out. He was wearing his shoes when he spotted beggars sitting by the side of a tree, begging. He looked at his watch and concluded he can spare some minutes. Time for some good deed, he thought, smilingly.

“What do you want baba?” He approached an old beggar.

The old man merely looked at him with an expressionless face. He wore torn clothes and looked like he had not eaten for weeks.

“What do you want baba?” He asked loudly this time, thinking the old man was deaf to low voices.

Again, he got the same non-spoken, dead-face reaction. The face was devoid of expressions but still conveyed a lot to the person who had the eye to see it.

Bewildered, and a little embarrassed because they had both started attracting a lot of amazed and eager-for-some-drama gazes, the man tried one last time. “Why are you looking at me like that when I am asking you what is it that you want? Go on, ask for anything, I am in a ‘giving’ mood today.”

But this time, he got more than the silent reaction. The old man opened his dry and chapped lips and said in a weak voice that was still loud and clear enough for anyone standing close by to hear.

“You are asking me what I need when you can clearly SEE what it is that I need. You wait for me to beg and ask for something only then can you give it to me. And ask whom? You? Who is the biggest beggar of all? I don’t need anything from you. No”.

And shaking his head, the beggar left the spot.

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