This little anecdote was narrated by Bhagwan Baba during one of his discourses.
A priest was offering the daily prayers to the deity at a temple. Each day he would perform the Abhishekham (ritual bath) and then adorn the idol with fresh clothes and ornaments. Then he would put garlands of fresh flowers. All through this routine he would chant shalokas and Mantras from the Vedas. On this day, while he was offering prayers to the deity, a metallic plate fell from above in front of the deity with a clatter. The priest saw that it was made of gold! There was an inscription on it. It said, “This plate may be given to my greatest devotee.”
The priest thought, “I spend all my waking hours chanting the name of God. I perform the personal upkeep of the idol too. I have spent all my life in working for God. Who can be a greater devotee than me? This plate is surely meant for me alone.” He reached out for the plate, but as soon as he touched it, it turned into an earthen-ware plate. The priest was dumbfounded. He thought, “If anyone sees me carrying this plate out of the temple, they shall laugh at me. I don’t want this plate. I think I’ll just put it back, where it was.” No sooner did he put it back, the plate turned into gold and shone in the light of the lamps lit before the deity. The priest was confused.
Later in the day, the priest asked one of the other priests in the temple to pick up the gold plate. To his astonishment, the plate turned into a mud plate again! The priest asked him to put it back. Sure enough, it turned back into gold again. Soon a very religious man, who frequented the temple after came in. He put a large sum of money as offering before the deity. The priest asked this devotee to pick up the plate for a minute. As before, the plate became an ordinary earthen-ware utensil.
The day passed. The priest became more and more restless. He spotted a man who used to offer service at the temple for the menial chores. He called him inside and said, “Please pick up that plate, my friend.” The man looked at him and said, “Why would I want to pick up that golden plate. I have no desire for such luxuries. I don’t want it.” The priest pleaded again, “Alright, even if you don’t want it, please pick it up once, just for my satisfaction.” The man raised his eyebrows and said, “Alright, if it makes you happy, I will.” So saying, he picked up the plate. The Gold started shining more brightly than before!
The priest was awe-struck. Here was a man who spent his life offering services to God’s men. He emulated the saying, “Manav Seva is Madhav Seva.” In the eyes of God, he was the greatest devotee.
The man put the plate back and turned around to leave the temple. The plate started following the man! In addition, the coins that lay before the deity also started rolling after him.
Wealth kisses the path of the person who loves God without a desire for rewards.