Stories By Swami – The Beggar & The Emperor

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The Beggar & The Emperor

(A lecture delivered in the Unitarian Church of Detroit on February 20, 1894

and reported in the Detroit Free Press)

Christians are always wanting God to give them something. They appear as beggars before the throne of the Almighty. A story is told of a beggar who applied to an emperor for alms. While he was waiting, it was time for the emperor to offer up prayers. The emperor prayed, “O God, give me more wealth; give me more power; give me a greater empire.” The beggar started to leave. The emperor turned and asked him, “Why are you going?” “I do not beg of beggars”, was the reply.

Some people find it really difficult to understand the frenzy of religious fervour which moved the heart of Mohammed. He would grovel in the dust and writhe in agony. Holy men who have experienced these extreme emotions have been called epileptic. The absence of the thought of self is the essential characteristic of the love for God. Religion nowadays has become a mere hobby and fashion. People go to church like a flock of sheep. They do not embrace God because they need Him. Most persons are unconscious atheists who self-complacently think that they are devout believers.

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