Once a young boy found a job in a barn. Everyday he had to remove all the cow dung, clean the whole place, feed, milk and bathe the cows, let them graze for sometime and tie them back in the shed. His employer was a very strict person. He would not tolerate even a minor slip-up and would punish anyone who failed at his duty.
A new Ganesh temple was being built in the town. It was decided that the Ganesh idol should be taken in procession along the streets of the town before consecration in the temple. This boy was chosen for the job. He was bathed and clothed in new silk robes. Fragrant sandal paste was applied all over his body and he was adorned with garlands. The Ganesh idol was then placed over his head and he was taken in procession with the accompaniment of traditional music, bursting of firecrackers and chanting of the Vedas.
Everybody prostrated to him. They lighted camphor and took ‘Arati’ reverently. They also offered him milk, tender coconut water and the like to quench his thirst. They held an umbrella over his head. They even washed his feet and applied sandal paste and vermilion. His joy knew no bounds! He thought that his life had changed forever. After the procession, he returned to the barn with a fattened ego and felt no inclination to work. He went to his master’s room and ate the food that was kept aside for his master. He also lay down on his master’s cot and slept.
The master on his return saw the whole thing and was infuriated. He shook the boy awake and gave him a sound thrashing. The boy was shocked and could not understand anything. He thought, “Every body treated me with such reverence just a few moments back! Even my master prostrated to me! Now why does he behave indifferently? Why is he beating me so cruelly?” Thinking thus, he cried inconsolably. His colleague told him, “You are such a fool! The respect that was shown right from the morning was not for you but for the idol of Ganesh on your head. You nurtured a misconception that it was for you and that is the cause for your suffering.” Realizing the truth, the boy came back to his senses and behaved normally as before.
Moral: Children! People respect us only for our social status, wealth, education or skills. If these are taken away, they might not even look at us. If this fact is understood properly, we will never tend to be egoistic in our lives.