Can you overlook the humanity?

A sannyasin, in the strictest sense of the term, is always a free soul. Like a river, he is always on the move. Sometimes he spends the night at a burning ghat, sometimes he sleeps in the palace of the king, sometimes he rests at a railway station but he is always happy. Such a sannyasin was Swami Vivekananda whom we now find living at a railway station in Rajasthan. People kept coming to him all day long. They had many questions, mostly religious, and Swamiji was tireless in answering them. Three days and three nights passed in this manner. Swamiji was so engrossed in talking about spiritual matters that he did not even stop to eat. The people who flocked to him also did not think of asking him if he had any food to eat!

On the third night of his stay there, when the visitors had all left, a poor man came forward and said to him lovingly, `Swamiji, I have noticed that for three days you have been talking and talking. You have not taken even a drop of water! This has pained me very much.'

Swamiji felt that God had appeared before him in the form of this poor man. He looked at him and said, `Will you please give me something to eat?' The man was a cobbler by profession, so he said with some hesitation, `Swamiji, my heart yearns to give you some bread, but how can I? I have touched it. If you permit, I will bring you some coarse flour and dal and you can prepare them as you please!'

Swamiji said, `No, my child; give me the bread you have baked. I shall be happy to eat it.' The poor man was frightened at first. He feared the king might punish him if he came to know that he, a low caste person, had prepared food for a sannyasin. But the eagerness to serve a monk overpowered his fear. He hurriedly went back home and soon returned with bread freshly baked for Swamiji. The kindness and unselfish love of this penurious man brought tears to Swamiji's eyes. How many persons like this live in the huts of our country unnoticed, he thought. They are materially poor and of so-called humble origin, yet they are so noble and large-hearted.

In the meantime, some gentlemen found that Swamiji was eating food offered by a shoemaker and were annoyed. They came to Swamiji and told him that it was improper for him to accept food from a man of low birth. Swamiji patiently heard them and then said, `You people made me talk without respite for the past three days, but you did not even care to inquire if I had taken any food and rest. You claim you are gentlemen and boast of your high caste; what is more shameful, you condemn this man for being of a low caste. Can you overlook the humanity he has just shown and despise him without feeling ashamed?'