A monk and his disciple reached a river bank. They had to cross it to reach their monastery. The river was full and the flow heavy. But they could walk across the river. A young woman was on the bank. She had to cross the river but could not cross it alone. She sought the help of the monk. He immediately picked her up and carried her on his back, across the river. When they reached the other side of the river, he lowered her to the ground. She thanked him. They went in different directions.
The disciple was tremendously shocked to see the monk carry a woman on his back. He believed that it was against their vow of chastity to touch a woman. But he did not dare to question his teacher. He was constantly being disturbed by the incident and after three months, one day he asked the teacher why he had broken the vows of chastity and celibacy.
The monk laughed and remarked, I carried her across the river and left her at the bank. You have been carrying that burden for three months! Clearly the sage had kept his vow but the disciple had been breaking the vow of chastity in his mind all those days!
The story teaches that the merit of an action is determined by our attitude. The saintly and scholarly sage had done an act of charity without affecting his vow of chastity. We must do our duty without caring for reward or recognition or ridicule. It is said, Do your duty. That is your beauty.
Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! Happy are the pure in heart; they will see God!