“Who’s in the Deity Room? –“I Didn’t Take Banana!”

A wealthy landlord established a temple and arranged for elaborate worship and costly offerings. He engaged a priest whose character was not very good. The priest, now responsible for opulence far beyond his wildest dreams, thought, “So many valuable ornaments! So much nice foodstuff! And all I get is a measly monthly salary. I’d like to enjoy some of these facilities myself! But how? The temple is well-guarded. That landlord is very careful to collect all the mahaprasadam for distribution to his family and friends.”

One day the landlord brought several bunches of first-class amrtasagar and agnisvar bananas to the priest. “Please offer these to the Lord at the noon worship,” he instructed, “and send the whole lot over to my quarters. Some friends are visiting today and the banana-prasada will be reserved for them.”

At noontime the landlord entered the temple, thinking that the Lord would be enjoying the bananas. He found the altar doors locked. This was unusual. Normally the curtains would be drawn for the offering, and then opened for the arati. Only when the Deity took rest was the door closed and locked. A little alarmed, the landlord called out, “Who’s in the Deity room?” He heard the muffled voice of the pujari reply, “I didn’t take banana!”

Indeed the priest was eating bananas on the altar. To insure that no-one would disturb him he had locked the altar doors, not expecting a visit from the landlord. He considered that the landlord surely hadn’t counted the bananas and would not miss a few from each bunch. By his reply, he gave himself away to the landlord, who now knew exactly what he was up to.

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This story illustrates the psychology of a person guilty of wrongful deeds–he is quick to deny having done wrong even before an accusation is leveled against him. Always expecting to be accused, he mistakes a harmless comment or inquiry for an accusation, and thus lauches into an unnecessary defense that in itself makes clear what misdeeds he’s perpetrated.


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