A goldsmith kept a jewellery shop. He looked like a great devotee with beads round his neck, rosary in his hand, and customary holy marks on his forehead. People trusted him and came to his shop on business. They thought that such a pious man would never cheat them. Whenever a party of customers entered the shop, they would hear one of his craftsmen say, "Kesava! Kesava!'
Another would say after a while, "Gopal! Gopal!'
Then a third would mutter, "Hari! Hari!'
Finally someone would say, "Hara! Hara!'
Now these are different names of God. Hearing so much chanting of God's names the customers were led to think that the goldsmith must be a very religious person. But what did the craftsmen mean by what they said?
The man who said "Kesava! Kesava!" meant to ask, "Who are these? - Who are these customers?'
The man who said "Gopal! Gopal!" conveyed the idea that the customers were merely a herd of cows.
The man who said "Hari! Hari!" asked, "Since they are no better than a herd of cows, then may we rob them?'
He who said "Hara! Hara!" gave his assent, meaning by these words, "Do rob by all means; they are mere cows!" (Ramakrishna 1986, No. 8. Adapted)
◎ Appearances may be deceiving.
Snakes live in sandalwood trees;
(Olivelle 1997, v. 105)