A true devotee

        Once upon a time, there lived a king who was very rich and powerful. He was a devotee of the Deity Shiva. Every year, he performed a grand ritual for the worship of Shiva at a special temple he had built. Priests from all parts of the country would come to his kingdom and participate in this ritual and the festivities that followed. During this event, the king would distribute lavish gifts to all the attendees, and free food and clothing to the poor. Thus, the king would spend an enormous amount of wealth in the worship of Shiva.

        The king felt smug in the conviction that he was the greatest devotee of Shiva, considering the wealth and effort he spent on His worship. After one such lavish ritual the king retired to his palace happy and content in the belief that he had done a great service to Shiva. Engrossed in the thoughts of his own greatness, the king soon fell asleep. As he slept, he dreamt that Shiva appeared to him and said, “O king, you are not a true devotee. You are proud of yourself. If you want to meet my true devotee, go to the edge of the forest and visit the poor wood-cutter.” The king woke up distressed and thought to himself, “A mere woodcutter ? How can a woodcutter be a greater devotee than a mighty king like me ?”

        The next morning, the king set out into the nearby forest to find the woodcutter. As he reached the outskirts of the forest, he saw a little hut and a woodcutter setting out for the forest to cut some wood. The king stopped him and said, “I have heard that you are a great devotee of Shiva. Please tell me how you worship Him.” Folding his palms humbly, the woodcutter replied, “I am but a poor woodcutter who earns a mere two coins a day. Out of this I spend half for my food, a fourth for charity, and save the rest. I chant His Name at all times throughout the day, and every Monday, I offer a simple meal of broken rice to Shiva. I know nothing other than Him.” On hearing the woodcutter’s simple and humble form of worship, the king was moved. His heart was purified by meeting the Lord’s true devotee. He returned to the palace chanting the Shiva’s Name, a more humble man.

Moral : Children, you can see that the woodcutter was chosen by God as His true devotee since he possessed the quality of humility. Thus, a true devotee is the one who is humble and is always engrossed in worshipping God and chanting His Name.