The Bhakti movement saint, Namdev served society by running a school. Any person could send their child, and no fee was charged. A rich merchant decided to send his child to the great Bhagat. On the appointed day, the young child was dressed in her best clothes, and the doting mother put a gold chain in her neck, bangles on her wrists, and golden bells and chain around her ankles. The father took his child to Namdev, and leaving her at school, left town on a business tour.

Namdev notices the little child laden with jewellery. This is not safe, he thinks, for any thief can take these away, and worse, the child might even get hurt. He takes off the ornaments, puts them away in a safe.

The child returns home, and her mother asks her about the jewellery, and is told that Namdev took it off. “Namdev is no saint, but a robber,” she said, and the news spread quickly through the town, with all people speaking ill about Namdev.

When the merchant returned in the night, he is told about the events. The next day, he goes to Namdev, who hands over the jewellery, and advises the father to avoid making the child wear expensive ornaments. The mother realizes her folly, and starts praising Namdev, and by the evening, the town exalted him from the status of a robber, to that of a hero.

A devotee was very upset at these events, and asked Namdev how he is feeling. “No ripple in me,” said Namdev, “long ago, I realized both slander and praise are traps, because they address the ego. If I respond to slander, I will become bitter. If I respond to praise, I will become vain, and I want to be neither.”

Guru Granth Sahib says:

Renounce both praise and blame; seek instead the state of equanimity.//O servant Nanak, this is such a difficult game; very few will understand.


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