In a Brindavan temple, a Pandit was considered an authority on the Bhagwat Purana. During his expositions, he used to graphically describe how the Lord, as living Balkrishna, partook of the fare he daily prepared. Of course, he ate up the Prasad when the Lord had ‘eaten’ in camera!.
As the temple gained in repute, he employed a small boy to help him in various chores. The boy believed in each word of the Pandit, and there was no doubt in his mind that the elaborate offering his master made to Balkrishna was actually eaten by the Lord.
One day the priest was invited to a large religious gathering at a distant place. He went, after instructing the boy to prepare ‘naivedyam’ daily and offer it to Balkrishna. The boy was delighted to see the plates empty. He prepared some more ‘bhoga’. That was also eaten up! He had to borrow articles from the grocer, as Balkrishna seemed to have a very healthy appetite. When the priest returned, the boy told him that the Lord relished the offerings so much that he had to borrow things. The priest lost his temper. “You have eaten all the stuff and are trying to fool me. How can a piece of stone eat anything?” The boy was aghast. The Pandit was describing Krishna as a piece of stone!
But Balkrishna did eat, the boy insisted. The priest decided to call his ‘bluff’. He asked him to offer the ‘naivedyam’ in front of him. The boy prepared the bhoga and placed it before the idol. Nothing happened. The boy picked up a stick and beat the idol fiercely. “How is it that after eating so much everyday, you are not eating today; and my master thinks I am telling a lie.” A miracle happened. Balkrishna emerged out of the idol and started eating.
The Pandit could not believe his eyes. He wept in remorse that he had all along maintained pretence of faith, while this unlettered small boy had indeed believed.
So it is with most of us. We play-act; seldom do we sincerely believe.