“God is hungering only for love. He is not satisfied with mere religious forms and ceremonial worship. Pure love and devotion alone satisfies Him,” Papa Ramdas used to say. In this context, he narrates a beautiful story.
[This story has been adapted from the book The Gospel of Swami Ramdas by Swami Satchidananda.]
Once there was a butcher in a small town. He was a great devotee of the Lord. Even while doing his business, he used to chant God’s Name mentally, and in course of time started feeling bad about killing animals. But he had to carry on his business as he had no other means of livelihood. So he purchased meat and sold it at a small profit. For weighing the meat, the butcher used a stone which happened to be a salagram (a holy pebble-like stone which is worshipped as the Lord Himself), the sanctity of which he had no idea about. He did not even remember how the stone came to his hands. He had been using it for a long time.
One day a learned man, who passed by the butcher’s shop, chanced to see him placing the salagram on the balance in order to weigh meat. Surprised, he approached the butcher and asked him to wash the stone and hand it over to him for closer scrutiny. He looked at it, and having confirmed that it was indeed a salagram, he chided the butcher for using the sacred stone to weigh meat. The innocent butcher replied that he did not know about the salagram or its sanctity. The learned man explained to him that a salagram was a sacred stone and had to be worshipped with flowers, sandal paste, etc. He then asked the butcher to hand over the salagram to him so that it could be worshipped like the other deities in his house. The innocent butcher readily agreed.
The learned man kept the salagram in his pooja room and carried on his usual worship with elaborate rituals and expensive offerings.
But the Lord, who was present in the salagram, missed true love and devotion in this house. Unable to bear the loveless worship, despite costly offerings and elaborate rituals, He appeared in the learned man’s dream and asked, “Why did you bring me here? I was very happy with the butcher who is a true devotee. Even though the butcher’s hands were stained with blood and meat, I felt a perpetual warmth when he touched me every time. His touch was like a warm embrace. The butcher always chanted My Name and always spoke to his customers about my glories, which is bhakti in the true sense. I wish to enjoy his company again. Please take me back to the butcher!”