Once there were two sages (rishis) who lived in a hermitage located in a forest. They spent most of their time worshipping Vayu, the wind god.
One afternoon, as the sages were beginning their meal, a Brahmachari (an unmarried monk) beggar arrived holding his begging bowl.
The Brahmachari pleaded to the sages, “Pardon me respectful sages, could I beg for a part of your excess meal?”
“Sorry young man, we cannot spare you any food,” sourly replied one of the sages.
The persistent young monk continued, “May I ask you most humbly, which Deva (God) do you worship?”
“We worship Vayu, the wind god” answered the sage with pride. “He is also know as Prana, the breath of life.”
“Ah! Then you must know that Prana pervades the whole universe” said the young Brahmachari.
The sages were getting impatient, “Yes, yes, we know all that young man.”
The beggar than asked firmly, “Oh honorable sages, could you tell me to whom did you make this food-offering?”begger2.jpg (34908 bytes)
“Prana, the life, who else?” said the irritated sage.
The young monk smiled and retorted, “If life pervades the universe, it pervades me too. Am I not a part of that universe?”
“Yes, that’s right” replied the sage, in a puzzled state of mind.
“It is Prana, or life, that pulsates in me, as this hungry body of mine stands before you and speaks,” appealed the beggar.
The sages were trapped in the argument and admitted, “You speak the truth.”
The beggar then made his final appeal, “Then Oh revered rishis (sages), in denying me food, you are denying Prana for whom you have prepared the food.”
The rishis had no answer. They realized that merely the reading of scriptures can not assure them of their assimilation and true understanding. Ashamed at their ignorance, the sages gladly shared their food with the young Brahmachari.
The Bold Begger – Stories from Upanishads – Moral Stories