How Much for a Pair of Shoes?
Nizamuddin was a great saint, and it is said that no one who ever approached him came away empty-handed.
A poor man who had a daughter to marry, once came to him and begged for his help. The saint told him: “My son, whatever offerings come to me during the next three days, I will gladly give them to you.”
Filled with hopeful anticipation, the poor man stayed for three days with the saint. But during that time not a single soul brought an offering to him.
On the evening of the third day, when the poor man – his high hopes dashed – was weeping miserably, Nizamuddin gave him his own shoes, saying: “Take these, my good man, for what they may be worth. They are the only possessions I have, and at the least, you can sell them for enough to buy a day’s supply of food.”
Greatly disappointed, the poor man nevertheless thanked the saint, and left him to return to his own village. As he trudged wearily along the dusty road, he saw approaching him a large caravan of richly appointed and heavily laden camels. It was the caravan of Amir Khusro, who was returning from Kabul with all of his luxurious possessions, after retiring from the king’s service.
Amir Khusro himself was riding at the head of the caravan and, as he approached the poor man, he began to smell the fragrance of his beloved Satguru. After he had ridden past the poor man, he noticed that the fragrance came from behind him. Both puzzled and intensely curious, Amir Khusro at once got down from his camel, ran after the poor man, and asked him: “Who are you, friend, and where are you coming from?”
The poor man still feeling very miserable and wretched, told the whole story of his three days’ stay with the great saint, and held up the pair of shoes to show how old and of what little value they were.
Amir Khusro asked with some impatience: “Would you sell the shoes to me, my good man?”
“Why, by all means, noble sir, I was hoping to sell them in the next village, so I could get a little food; for otherwise I would go hungry,” the wretched fellow replied.
“I will pay you well for them,” said Amir Khusro. “Give me the shoes, and in return you may have all my caravan, including all the camels and their loads, except for the two beasts that are carrying my personal belongings.”
Overjoyed at this totally unexpected good fortune, the poor man thanked Amir Khusro profusely, and went away rejoicing at the head of the caravan.
Within a very short time, Amir Khusro reached his Satguru, and placed the pair of shoes at his feet. Nizamuddin, smiling asked:
“And how much, my son, did you pay for such an old pair of shoes?”
“Sir, I gave my entire caravan and all my worldly possessions for them, except for the two camels that are standing here,” Amir Khusro told him humbly.
Again Nizamuddin smiled. “Brother,” he said, “you paid a very low price indeed. They were truly a tremendous bargain; and actually, you got them for practically nothing.”
“To find a saint of the beloved Lord is the highest good fortune that can come to any man; for the saints are the rarest jewels in all the world. And the gift of Nam, the divine melody of the Word of God that takes one to God, which the saints bestow on their disciples, is a treasure beyond any price.”
Glimpses of the Great Master