Tales : Which was which?

There was once upon a time a monk who, by his devotion and austerities and meditation, had won the favour of a certain goddess. She observed his habits for a long time, and then one day appeared to him and said, “O worthy devotee! I see that you are wholeheartedly devoted to truth and beauty, and I now give you my boon, that whenever you are in need, I will come to your aid.”

The monk prostrated to her in gratitude for her favour, and declared that when faced with difficulties he would rely upon her aid alone.

Sometime later a brahmin who was passing by saw something he found objectionable in the behaviour of the monk, and therefore said something insulting to him. The monk responded with equally insulting words. The brahmin, now angry, shouted at the monk. The monk, also burning with anger, shouted in reply. Soon they were exchanging blows, and the brahmin, not being weakened by austerities and fasting, soon left the monk lying helpless on the ground.

When the monk was again able to perform his prayers and meditations, the goddess appeared to him, but he would not look at her.

“Why do you turn away?” she asked him.

“You said you would help me when I was in need,” the monk said. “Did you not see me being thrashed by the brahmin?”

“Of course I saw,” the goddess said. “But in that moment you were both lost in the smoke of anger. I could not help because I could not tell through the clouds which was monk and which was brahmin!”

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