It Is My Poverty-Life That Has Kept Me Spiritual

There was once a great Sanskrit scholar who specialised in logic. He lived a very simple life, and he did not care for money. His wife was also very simple. Both of them were very simple, pure and kind-hearted.

Because he was such a great scholar, everybody had great admiration for him. His friends advised him to come to Calcutta so that he could live a decent life. But he said, “No. It is my poverty-life that has kept me spiritual. If I become rich, then my religious life, my spiritual life, will come to an end.”

The King heard much about this scholar, and one day he invited him to come to his palace. But the scholar declined the offer. He said, “O King, you are protecting us. You are doing your duty well. Therefore, I am very grateful to you and very proud of you. But I personally do not need anything from you. But I wish to thank you deeply for your kind offer.”

The King was deeply moved, and he decided to come to this man’s cottage himself. When he came he said, “Please, please take something from me. You are such a nice man. You are so religious and kind-hearted, and such a great scholar, too. Everybody appreciates you. Please take some material help from me. I am the King and I am asking you to take something from me.”

The man said, “No, no. I do not need anything. I can’t take your help. But my wife is here. She may need something, so please ask her.”

With folded hands the King asked the wife if she needed anything. He said, “I will be so happy and grateful if you will take anything you need.” But she said, “No, I do not need anything. I have rice and dal; I have tamarind from the tree; I have water and I have matches. I have everything in plentiful quantity. What else do I need? I am very grateful to you for offering to give me something, but I don’t need anything. If I need something, then I will tell you.”

The King couldn’t believe his ears. He wanted to leave a large sum of money with the woman. The scholar said, “For so long you have been my friend. Inwardly I have always considered you my friend because you are a just king. If you leave money with my wife, we will not take it. If you force us to take it, then we will take it. But you will become our enemy instead of our friend, because this money will bring our spiritual life to an end.”

Upon hearing this the King left the man and his wife, feeling great joy and admiration and tremendous peace of mind.

A few months later a great Sanskrit scholar came to Calcutta and challenged all the scholars there. All the other scholars lost to him. Only this particular scholar was left. So the King sent a messenger to his village and asked him to come to the palace to challenge this other scholar. The man said, “I don’t want to compete, but to please the King I will do it. The King came to my place and was so kind to me. Only to please him I will compete. The result I will leave at the Feet of God.”

So the pious man accepted the challenge of the very great scholar who had defeated all the other scholars in Calcutta. The debate went on for four hours. At the end of the debate it was quite clear that the pious man, the village scholar, had defeated the challenger.

All the Calcutta scholars were so proud of the winner and they wanted to honour him. They wanted to give him money and fine clothes and make him rich overnight.

But the pious man said, “No, I won’t take anything from you. I don’t want honour and I don’t want material gifts. I don’t want anything from you. Calcutta is a very bad place. Here everything is temptation, temptation. I need only God. The King was very kind to me when he came to my house, and it was because of him that I entered this competition. If his subjects had been defeated by somebody from another place, then it would have been a disgrace to him. So I accepted the challenge only to please him. I have only done my duty as a subject of the King. I am very happy that I could be of some service to him, but now I want to go back to my village. Here there is nothing but temptation.”

So the pious man and his wife together went back to their village, where they continued to live a life of utmost simplicity and purity.