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The Loincloth

An amusing story about a wannabe holyman.

TAGS: WHERNTO: heedism 

image of The Loincloth

There is a delightful story told by Sri Ramakrishna about a man who chose to become a sadhu (a holy man who relinquishes worldly possessions and takes a vow of chastity). Under the instruction of his guru, this sadhu lived in a small hut in the middle of the forest. Each morning after his devotional exercises, he would wash and hang his loincloth up to dry. One day, he found that his cloth had been torn to shreds by rats. So he went into the village to beg for another.

Unfortunately, the new cloth met the same fate a few days later. The sadhu was quite perturbed, but one of the villagers suggested that he get a cat to frighten away the rats. This arrangement proved to be quite satisfactory as far as the safety of the loincloth was concerned. However, though the sadhu had no need now to beg for loincloths, he needed to beg for milk since the cat had to be fed.

Another villager suggested that the sadhu keep a cow. All things considered, this seemed like a good idea so that is what was done and the cat had plenty of milk. However, though the sadhu had no need now to beg for milk, he needed to beg for straw in order to feed the cow.

To deal with this dilemma, it was advised the sadhu take to tilling the land in order to grow his own crops. However, since this was not an easy feat for one person, the sadhu had to engage some labourers and found it necessary to build barns to store the crop in. Eventually, he became a landlord and then had to take a wife to look after his large and growing household.

When his guru came to see him, the man fell at his feet in great shame and cried, "My Lord, all for a single piece of loincloth! "

The story ends here, so we don't get to hear the guru's response, but I somehow doubt he accepted that the cloth purloined the sadhu! The path to a noble goal may have potholes, but we can choose whether to walk the path or work for the Department of Roads and Transportation.