Timur and the mendicant

The Emperor Timur was an ancestor of Akbar the Great. When Timur was in India, one day he saw a religious mendicant praying and meditating most soulfully at the foot of a tree. Timur was not a spiritual person, but he appreciated spiritual people. He was so deeply moved by the religious mendicant that he told him he could have anything he wanted from him.

The mendicant said, "I do not need anything from you."

Timur asked, "But why not?"

The mendicant replied, "Because God has supplied me with all my material needs. I have got such a beautiful tree and I can draw water from the river. During the day I have the sun, at night I have the moon, and all the time I have such a vast sky over my head! What else do I need?"

Timur said, "You do not have any money!" The mendicant said, "I do not need money."

"Then please come and visit my palace," said Timur.

"There is no need for me to visit your palace," said the mendicant. "It is true that each place has its own outer beauty, but I care only for the inner beauty."

Finally, Timur said, "I am the Emperor. You have to take something from me."

The mendicant said, "Then give me something that will increase my aspiration and my love for God."

Timur said, "I do not have any aspiration. How can I give you something that will increase your aspiration?"

"Aspiration is the only thing I need," said the mendicant. "Anything else that I take I will not be able to appreciate or use."

Timur said, "No, you have to ask me for something else. Since I do not have anything to increase your aspiration, give me another chance to offer you something!"

The mendicant finally said, "All right. When I meditate here, sometimes flies bother me. Can you stop them from bothering me?" The Emperor tried for a few minutes to stop the flies from bothering the mendicant, but they came back again and again. At last the Emperor said, "It is an impossible task! How can I do it?"

The mendicant told him, "Oh, you are a real Emperor, indeed! You cannot even save me from these flies. Yet just now you were bragging about your wealth and capacity."

The Emperor was deeply humiliated. He stopped disturbing the poor spiritual mendicant and went away.