I had been recently to a temple in Southern India.The entrance was as usual lined with beggars entreating with pleas for giving alms.I normally give them some coins on my return after the prayer at the temple.When I entered inside the temple this day, I saw a man in a dirty safforn dhoti that covered upto his knees and a small towel swathed over his back and his shoulders.He must be around 40 years old, lean and lanky, a bit dusky in complexion..His dark hair matted in some places hung up to the nape of his neck. When I walked past him,I heard him muttering something to himself and smiling.He made no demand for alms and his eyes shone brightly..There was a tiwnkle in his eyes.His face was unshaved with an unkempt beard and mustache I lingered a little thinking him to be a beggar different from others.He was sometimes dancing with his hands on his hips and sometimes singing with his fingers of both hands playing on a non existing drum.He even gave me the impression of a man gone soft on his head.
As it was closing time for the temple I hurried to have the darsan of the presiding diety.Luckily there was no crowd with hardly two or three devotees in the sanctum.The priest enabled a good darsan of the God and His consort explaining in detail the specialities of the temple and the benefits of praying Him.I prayed to the God with my usual shopping list of desires that included the well being of my children and grand children.After doing the rounds(Pradakshinams) of the temple I came out.
When I saw the ochre robed man still dancing and singing, I stopped and proffered a ten rupee note.On seeing my extended hand he moved away quickly waving his hand exclaiming”Go away ,go away”.
He then laughed hysterically and said loudly “Oh Lord, look at this person giving me a paper thinking I am a beggar.Am I a beggar? Yes I am a beggar, the worst beggar.You know what I beg of You”
He turned to me and asked “When you went inside what did you beg of the Lord.You too are a beggar but a mad one at that.”
I said “I am sorry I thought you were also expecting some alms like others as you are here along with them“
“”Answer my question.What did you beg Him for? Did you really beg Him for one thing He is there ready to give? I am not a mad man.You are a mad beggar asking for cheap things like wealth and happiness.You don’t even know what to beg for ” he admonished.He then started jumping in ecstasy making wild motions with his hands towarsd the sanctum and imitating as if he was playing a drum or a flute .
It struck me then that I had squandered the few moments before the God in asking for material possessions for my children and grand children and never sought His grace to bestow me with true knowledge to deliver me from this earthly bondage and give me the wisdom.I had failed to invoke the presence of God in my mind.There was no humility in me by shedding all my pride.My mind was wandering hither and thither...I failed in His presence to surrender totally unto Him.My prayer was nothing more than sheer beggary and a fake devotion..
I realised then that the dancing person is no beggar and that I am the real mad beggar asking for foolish blessings.When I looked at him, I found he had totally ignored my presence and dancing feverishly thinking of God. After this unexpected encounter with this starnge man I was humbled, chastened and made a different man. I was very uncomfortable there after. I felt sure that the strange man must be an evolved soul nearer God teaching by his attitude those who cared to observe him.He truly awakened me from my deep slumber atleast for a shortwhile.