The disciple's offering

An Indian spiritual Master was once celebrating the birthday of one of his dearest disciples. At the end of the function the Master gave the disciple a long blessing. When it was over, while the disciple was bowing to the Master, the disciple happened to see a penny lying on the floor in front of him. He picked it up and gave it to the Master. The Master accepted it gratefully and then gave it back to him.

"This reminds me of a story," the Master said smiling, "about a very well-known spiritual Master who had a great admirer and friend, who later became his disciple. The Master's friend was a very great scholar, magistrate and judge. When the Master worked in politics, this friend was an admirer and helper of his; but when the Master entered the spiritual life it was difficult for the friend to accept him as a Master. He said, 'You have deserted India. India is still not free and independence is not yet established,' and he went to help a great literary figure in India with his work.

"Then one day one of the Master's disciples, who happened to be staying at the home of the literary figure, received a very nice, spiritual letter from the Master. The disciple showed the letter to the Master's old friend and the friend was deeply moved. He wrote a letter to the Master saying he would like to come to the ashram. The Master wrote back and said, 'If you can give up smoking a pipe, then you will be allowed.'

"When the friend came to the ashram and saw the Master, he said to himself, 'If I don't see the Lord Krishna in you, I won't believe that you are realised.' Aloud he said, 'You say you have realised Sri Krishna. Even so, I won't accept you as my Master since I accepted you first as my friend'. Previously also these two friends used to cut jokes like this. But on that day he really felt Lord Krishna's presence in his old friend and he immediately became fully spiritual and devoted.

"The disciple-friend had his copy of the Bhagavad-Gita with him. Every day for thirty years he had recited verses from it. He said, 'Since I feel Krishna's presence in you, then to me you are Krishna. Now that I have accepted you as my Guru I don't have to study the Gita and worship Lord Krishna as he is described here. So I am giving you my copy of the Gita, which represents my only form of spiritual practice.'

"The Master accepted the book and then returned it with his blessing and said, 'I am the modern Sri Krishna. Now, this book is mine. Please take my copy of the Bhagavad-Gita. You gave it to me, it became mine, and now I am telling you to take it and study it.'

"So here also we find the same thing. This penny became my treasure; now it is yours. You please keep it." The Master gave the disciple a broad smile. "So you see what a big story I can make from a small incident!"