The Shepherd And The Priest

"There was once a brahmin priest who earned his livelihood by performing religious services for the people in his village. He was known for his devotion to the god Vishnu, and people regarded him as a holy man. Among his hundreds of followers was a shepherd who wanted to see God - even though he had no idea of what God was. His sheep did not require much attention, so he had plenty of time to visit the priest and barrage him with questions about God. "Why does Vishnu have four arms?" he would ask. "Why does he always sleep on a snake? Why does he have a lotus growing from his navel? Why does his wife just sit next to him without doing anything? If Vishnu is God, then who is Shiva? Which of them is the most powerful? Is there any God higher than Vishnu and Shiva? Which kind of God is the most powerful and kind to human beings?" 

The priest gave the shepherd all kinds of philosophical answers, even explaining the symbolic meaning of the different limbs, weapons, and other characteristics of the gods, but the shepherd was so dense he could not grasp any of these theological answers. Finally, in frustration, the priest thought of how to explain God in a way that made sense to the simple man. He convinced the shepherd that 

God looks like a sheep - the healthiest and most beautiful sheep ever known. He then instructed the shepherd to go into the forest and pray to this Sheep God and not to eat, drink, or sleep until He appeared. Delighted, the shepherd did exactly as the priest instructed. 

On the third day, God came. But he looked like Vishnu, not like a sheep. "I am pleased with your devotion," Vishnu said. "Tell me, what boon do you wish from me?" 

Startled, the shepherd asked, "Who are you? You are beautiful, but what are you doing here in the forest?" 

"I am God," Vishnu replied. "You have been praying to me." 

"God looks like a sheep," the shepherd retorted. "You are a fake. Don't waste my time." 

So Vishnu left. An hour later the Sheep God came. He too said, "I am pleased with your devotion. Tell me, what boon do you wish from me?" 

This time the shepherd was overwhelmed. He got up and greeted God, yet he wondered how a sheep could speak in human language and suspected that he was being tricked again. So he said, "You look like God, but why are you speaking in the human tongue?" 

Immediately God emitted a magnificent bleat. Then he said, "That is how I usually speak, but unless I speak your language, how can you understand?" 

The shepherd was still a bit skeptical, so he asked God to come with him so his priest could verify that he was really God. 

"Wonderful," God replied. "Lead the way and I will follow." 

"You might change your mind," the shepherd replied. "Let me take you by the ear." 

So it was that the shepherd arrived at the home of the priest leading God by the ear. "Look, sir!" he called. "God is here!" 

Annoyed, the priest came out and shouted at the shepherd. "It's a sheep, idiot! You have lost your mind."

The shepherd began praying, "O God, help my priest to understand you." 

The priest was also praying: "O Lord, help this foolish man to understand you." 

As they prayed, God appeared simultaneously as Vishnu to the priest and as a sheep to the shepherd. At least, that's how they perceived it. 

When the priest fell at the feet of Vishnu the shepherd thought he was prostrating to the Sheep, so he too prostrated. 

Both were happy because they had seen God. They were grateful to each other for a few hours - but by the next day they had resumed their old habits." truth, OdiliaCarmen