ONE day, a king of Travancore overheard his peon mutter to himself, 'This is an unjust age. I who work all day long am paid seven rupees per month whereas the minister who rolls about in motor cars and idles the whole time is paid two thousand rupees per month. What injustice!'
The king wanted to show the peon the injustice of his remarks. Just then, he saw a palanquin in the distance and asked the peon to go and enquire who it was who was travelling in the palanquin. The peon went running and came back and said: 'It is Sankaracharya.' 'Of which Mutt?' asked the king. The peon went running again and came back panting and said, 'Of Sringeri Mutt.' 'Where is His Holiness coming from?' asked the king. Again ran the peon and came back and said, 'From Shencottah.' 'Where does he go to?' asked the king. The peon took another trip and came back and said, 'The Holiness is going to Kaladi.' 'Is His Holiness going to stop here' asked the king. Again ran the peon and came back and said, 'Yes.' 'For how long?' asked the king. The peon had another exhausting run and came back tired and said 'For a day.'
'Where does he intend to stop?' asked the king. The exhausted peon again ran to the palanquin which was going further and further and came back and said, 'In the Mutt attached to the temple.'
'Will His Holiness be able to see me?' asked the king. The peon had an even more exhausting journey and came back and said, 'Yes.'
'When?' asked the king. Again, the peon dragged his weary body to the palanquin which was now nearing the Mutt and came and said, 'At 3 p.m.' and fell down in a heap utterly exhausted even in the presence of the king.
The king sent for his minister, who had not witnessed any of the above incidents, and asked him to go and enquire who had come in a palanquin that morning. The minister returned in half an hour and in the presence of the peon told the king, 'Sire, it is the Sankaracharya of Sringeri Mutt His Holiness came from Shencottah and is going to Kaladi. He will be stopping at the local Mutt for a day and will be able to see Your Highness at 3 p.m. to-day. If possible, His Holiness will also conduct the service at the temple this evening.'
'You see,' said the king turning to the peon, 'what took you nine weary journies and five hours has taken the minister only half an hour and one single journey. Now you see the reason why you are paid only seven rupees and he two thousand rupees.' The peon stood confounded with shame.