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Sharma The Proud
by P.R. Ramchander

Once upon a time there lived a man called Sharma near to the town of Pataliputra. Sharma was a very religious man and wanted to become a saint. He had a wife and three children. He decided to leave them in the town and do Tapas. All of them cried and told him that they would not get any food and starve, if he goes to do Tapas. For to do Tapas, you have to go to the forest, close your eyes and meditate on God. Sharma went to the nearby forest. Then daily he used to close his eyes and meditate upon God. One day when he was doing Tapas like this, a bird flew over his head. It was carrying a fish in its beak. It dropped this fish on the head of Sharma. Naturally Sharma opened his eyes and stared at the bird. To his surprise, the bird was burnt to ashes. This made Sharma think that he was a saint and had magical powers. So he left the forest and came to Pataliputra.

He dressed himself in ochre cloths and carried a staff with him. Since he became hungry, he stood before a big house and shouted, “Bhiksham Dehi” meaning, “Give me alms”. The lady of the house, who was busy, told him, that she was looking after her child. As soon as her job is over, she would give him alms. This made Sharma very angry. So as soon as the lady came out, he stared at her. She told Sharma, “Do you think, I will be burnt like that bird of the forest?” Sharma was terribly surprised that she knew that a bird was burnt by his stare. She further told him, “Your anger and stare will not do anything to me. Because I was late because I was doing my duty.” Sharma asked for her excuse and asked her, “I am sorry that I stared at you. Do you know any great saint in this town?” The lady replied, “Definitely. You go to the house of Shankar the wood cutter, He is a great saint.”

Sharma then went to the house of Shankar the woodcutter. He reached the house of the woodcutter, early in the morning. He shouted, “Bhiksham Dehi”. Shankar came out and told him, “ Please be seated. I am very busy. If you wait for sometime, I would give you whatever I can.”

Then Shankar went in side the house. His very old parents had just woken up. He slowly gave them break fast. Then he helped them take their bath. Later he cooked and gave them food. Then he made them take rest. He then went to the forest and cut some wood. He brought the wood and sold it in the town. With whatever money he got, he again purchased some food for himself and his parents. He then came home. Sharma was waiting all this time. Shankar then gave him some food. Then Sharma asked him, “Yesterday I met a lady and she told me that you are a great saint. But so far, You have not even called the name of God once. I thought sages were supposed to meditate on him.” Shankar replied, “A man becomes a sage by doing the duties allotted to him sincerely and not necessarily by doing Tapas. The duty of the lady whom, you met yesterday was to look after her baby. My duty is to look after my parents. We both are sages even though we do not do any Tapas. Your duty is to look after your wife and children.”

Sharma realized what Shankar was telling was correct and went to his home. He looked after his wife and children sincerely and became well known as a sage. 

29-Jan-2006
 
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