The Poorest Man

A king once marched his armies across a snowy region to attack and conquer another kingdom. En route he saw a hermit who sat in meditation. He sat cross legged with his eyes closed and motionless. What intrigued the king most was that the hermit was naked. It was Thursday and the king was in the habit of distributing things to poor people, each Thursday. But today because he was on such an arduous journey, he had not remembered to give away alms. Seeing the hermit in meditation, the king was moved with pity and thought to himself, “What a poor man he must be, to be sitting stark naked in this inclement weather.” The king stood across the man and coughed slightly to attract his attention.

A short while later the hermit came out of his trance and the king offered his expensive shawl to him saying, “Oh Holy one! Take this shawl. It shall keep you warm in this treacherous weather.” The man slowly turned his head from side to side and said, “I don’t need it, I have all the clothing I need. Why don’t you give it to a poor man?” The king asked in amazement, “Forgive me for my impertinence, if you have enough clothes, why aren’t you wearing them?” The hermit pinched the skin of his arm and said, “God wove this dress for me Himself. I have worn it since my birth and shall wear it till my grave! It’s the warmest coat anyone could have! Give your shawl to a poor man; to someone who really needs it!”

The king smiled in amusement, thinking where from he would find anyone poorer than him, saying, “Where shall I find such a poor man?”

The hermit casually asked, “Where are you headed?” The king replied, “I am headed for the kingdom across this mountain range, so that I can annex that kingdom to my own.”

It was the hermit’s turn to smile now, “If you who has so much, is ready to wage a battle and put to risk the lives of so many innocent people, just to annex another patch of land to your kingdom, then you are the poorest man that I know of! You should offer the shawl to yourself, for you are the one who needs it most!”