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All for a Loin-Cloth

Told by his guru, a man built a dam and a little hut overlooking it, at quite a distance from the nearest village. Then, when summer came, he moved in and decorated his hut with flowers and got a daily routine.

Every morning he would hang his washed and wet loin-cloth on a tree close to the hut, to dry it. But one day he found that rats had cut holes in it. Next day he strolled to the village for a fresh one, for there was nothing better to do.

He got it, but a few days later the rats got that one too, and tore it to shreds where it hang. He got annoyed and said to himself: "Who shall I ask for another one?"

He went back to the village and asked those who lived there for advice. They said, "Do one thing - keep a cat, and it will keep away the rats."

He got a kitten in the village and carried it to his hut. From that day the rats stopped troubling him. How glad he was!

His little cat was so useful a creature that he decided to give it warm milk every day, and look after it with great care. Kind villagers gave him milk for it. Then one day one of them said to him, "You come for milk every day. Now, think about it. Who will supply you with milk all year round? A cow! Keep a cow, my friend, and you'll have milk for yourself too. It will be a good thing."

The man did as he was cautioned, and got a milk cow. But the need for hay and straw for his cow rose. He went to the villagers again for straw and hay, and they said, "O dear, there are lots of lands next to your hut. No one owns it. Cultivate it, and then you don't have to go for hay anywhere else."

He took to tilling the land, and it yielded a thousandfold. He had to engage carpenters to build barns to store the crop in. He turned into a land-owner and took a wife to look after his household. He started to live like a too busy householder.

His master came to see him one day, and saw him in the middle of goods and cattle. The guru said, "A fine yogi used to live here in a hut. What has happened? What is all this about?"

The man felt terribly ashamed all of a sudden, fell down at the feet of the master and sobbed, "It was all for a loin-cloth!"

(Ramakrishna 1986, No. 15. Adapted)


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