You may have heard a story like this: once a Brahmin bought a goat and was taking it home. Three or four thieves saw him and thought the goat could be snatches away from away from him. But the Brahmin was strong and to steal from him would be no easy job; so they decided to try diplomacy, a little trickery.

One came up to him on the road saying, “Well done! How much did you pay for the dog?”

That man, that Brahmin said, “Dog! Are you blind? Or only mad? It is a goat! I am bringing her from the market. I paid fifty rupees for her.”

The thief said, “It’s up to you, but you know…seeing a Brahmin carrying a dog on his shoulders… Dear brother, to me it looks like a dog. Could there be some mistake?”

The Brahmin went on his way, wondering what kind of man was that! But he touched the feet of the goat just to check, saying to himself, “It is a goat.” Another of the gang was waiting across the road. He called over to the Brahmin, “What a fine dog you brought!”

Now the Brahmin hadn’t the courage to insist it was not a dog: who knows, maybe it was a dog – two men could not be wrong. Still he said, “No, no it’s not a dog.” But it was weaker now. He said it, but the foundations inside were shaken. He said, “No, no it’s a goat.”

The man said, “It’s a goat? You call this a goat? Then, respected Brahmin, the definition of goat needs to be changed. If you call this a goat, then what will you call a dog? But it’s up to you. You are a scholarly man; you can change it if you want. It’s just a name. Perhaps you say goat – a dog it remains. Nothing changes just by calling it a goat.”

The man went away. The Brahmin put the goat down and looked: it was definitely a goat…a goat like any other goat. He rubbed his eyes and slashed them with water from a roadside tap. He was nearing his own neighborhood: if people saw a Brahmin carrying a dog on his shoulders it would be a blow against worship in the temple and against scholarship. People paid for his worship – they would stop paying, they would think him mad… Again he thoroughly inspected the animal, making sure it was a goat. But what was with those two guys?

Again he shouldered the goat and started off, but now he moved a little nervously. What if anyone else saw him? Then he came across the third fellow. He exclaimed, “What a fine dog! Where did you get it? I too have wanted to have wanted a dog for a long time.”

The Brahmin said, “Friend, you just take it! If you want a dog, take it. It is really a dog. A friend gave it to me, you please relieve me of it.” And he ran home before anyone could find out that he had bought a dog.

This is how man lives. You have become what you believe.


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