171. His Dharma Changes

Man is journeying through the stream of life from one act to another; it is continuous activity, marked by karma throughout. There was a consummate actor who went to the darbar of a king in the role of a sannyâsî. The king honored him as a great monk and asked him various questions on sâdhana and philosophy which he answered using profound vocabulary and appropriate terms. The King was very pleased and he ordered his Minister to bring a plate of gold coins as offerings to the saint. The sannyâsî spurned the gift. He said that as a sarvasanga-parithyogi - one who has renounced all attachment and desire -, he could not even glance at it and left in a huff.

The next day, the same actor came to the palace as a female artist of dance, very orthodox and restrained. The king appreciated it highly and the Minister brought forth the plate full of gold coins. The dancer refused to accept it, because it was too small a recompense for the skill exhibited. The King suspected from the voice that it was the sannyâsî of the day previous that was standing before him as the female artist. Finding that his surmise was correct, he asked him why he was asking for more today, when he had refused to take the same gift the previous day. The actor replied, "Yesterday, I was a sannyâsî and so, it was my dharma to refuse. Today I am a dancer and so it is my dharma to earn as much remuneration as I can from my fans."