A wanderer, following the guidance of his mentor, constructed a modest shelter, adorned with foliage, far away from the bustling areas. He commenced his spiritual practices within this dwelling. Every morning, after purifying himself, he would hang his damp garment and loincloth on a tree adjacent to the shelter to dry. One day, upon returning from the nearby town where he sought alms for sustenance, he discovered that mice had gnawed holes in his loincloth. Consequently, he had to venture to the village the following day to obtain a new one. Several days later, the ascetic laid his loincloth on the roof of his shelter to dry before leaving for the village as usual. Upon his return, he found that the rodents had torn it to shreds. Irritated by this, he pondered, “Where shall I go now to procure a piece of cloth? Who shall I approach for assistance?” Nevertheless, he encountered the villagers the next day and recounted the mischief caused by the mice. After hearing his account, they responded, “Who will provide you with cloth every day? Here’s what you can do—keep a feline companion. It will keep the mice at bay.” The ascetic promptly obtained a kitten from the village and brought it to his shelter. From that day onward, the mice ceased to trouble him, and his joy knew no bounds. The ascetic began tending to the helpful little creature diligently and fed it with milk obtained through begging in the village. After some time, a villager advised him, saying, “Sadhuji, you require milk on a daily basis, and you can only sustain yourself for a few days by begging. Who will supply you with milk throughout the year?

Here’s what you can do—keep a cow. You can fulfill your own needs by consuming its milk and also provide some for your cat.” In a matter of days, the ascetic acquired a cow and no longer needed to beg for milk. Eventually, he found himself in need of straw for his cow. To procure it, he had to visit the neighboring villages. However, the villagers suggested, “There is an abundance of uncultivated land near your shelter. Simply cultivate the land, and you won’t have to beg for straw anymore.” Following their advice, the ascetic turned to cultivating the land. Gradually, he employed laborers and later found it necessary to construct barns for storing the harvested crops. Over time, he transformed into a kind of landowner. Eventually, he even took a wife to manage his large household. Consequently, his days became busy, resembling those of a typical householder. After a while, his mentor paid him a visit. Witnessing the abundance of possessions and belongings surrounding him, the mentor felt bewildered and asked a servant, “A recluse used to reside here in a hut. Can you inform me of his current whereabouts?” The servant was at a loss for words. Therefore, the mentor ventured into the house and encountered his disciple. Addressing him, the mentor asked, “My child, what is all this?” Overwhelmed with shame, the disciple prostrated himself at his mentor’s feet and uttered, “My revered teacher, it all started with a mere piece of loincloth!”

Attachments and desires have the power to gradually divert us from our original path and purpose. It highlights how even the smallest attachment, symbolized by the loincloth, can lead to a chain of desires and entanglements that ultimately transform a renunciant into a busy householder. It teaches us the importance of maintaining detachment and remaining vigilant against the allure of materialistic desires. By recognizing and restraining our attachments, we can preserve our focus on our spiritual or chosen path, avoiding the distractions that may lead us astray.