What ambition can do!

A village priest was very proud of himself because he was conversant with the shastras and with countless religious books. He had read all the spiritual scriptures. In his own village and all the nearby villages he was the supreme authority. He had a big family, and everybody was very good to him because he was a nice man. All the villagers respected him, admired him and adored him. Quite often they offered him presents because he had brought such prestige to their village.

One day the news came that the king wanted to appoint a new priest for the royal family, and that the king himself would make the choice. This particular priest said, “Here in my own village I am appreciated and admired, but I am eager to have a better position. I am sure that the king will definitely select me because I am the greatest scholar. When it is a matter of religion and spirituality, I have no equal. Once I go to the king’s palace, I shall never come back here again.”

The priest sold his house, and he and his wife and children set out for the king’s palace. They were so happy that they would be going to live in the king’s palace. The whole family believed that the king would definitely select that priest. The priest himself was absolutely confident that the king would choose him. Having sold everything they owned, now the family had enough money for the journey.

Alas, on the very day they arrived at the king’s palace, the king’s youngest son passed away. The king was utterly grief-stricken. He said, “I shall never be able to overcome this loss.”

Previously the king had wanted to have his own priest and to build a very big temple that would be most beautiful, extremely wonderful and supremely glorious. On that day, though, the king took an oath that as long as he continued to suffer from the loss of his youngest son, he would not build a temple and he did not need a personal priest. So the king did not appoint the priest who had come to see him. The king said, “I do not need a priest. If ever I erect a temple, then I will need a priest. At that time I will invite you to come here. I will examine you, and I will tell you where you stand.”

So the great scholar had to go back to his village, but now he had no home! Something more, when he left, he was replaced by somebody else. Now those people who loved him, appreciated him and admired him once upon a time no longer cared for him. They said, “Because of your ambition, you deserted us. We do not need you any more. Our new priest is good enough for us.”

So the priest lost his job and he did not get it back. He lost his house and his property, and he became poor and miserable. This was the reward of his ambition.