The pages of history are filled with many stories of disciples who have gone to great heights and the extent to which they have gone to acquire something that belonged to their master. Nizamuddin Auliya was a great saint and master. His most devoted disciple was Amir Khusrau.
A poor man, who wanted to get his daughter married off, came to Nizamuddin Auliya and begged him for financial help.
The guru told the man that he would give to him whatever donations came to his mission in the next three days. The man felt relieved and decided to stay with the guru for the next three days.
Unfortunately for the man, not a single donation came in over that three-day period.
Finally, on the last night of the third day, when the man checked with the treasurer and found there had been no donations, he began to weep bitterly. He went to Nizamuddin in a hopeless state.
The guru said, “Don’t worry. Here take my own pair of shoes.” The man could not believe that his high hopes for enough money for the wedding had been dashed.
The guru said, “Take these shoes for what they may be worth. They are the only possessions I have. At least you can try to sell them for a day’s supply of food.”
As the man was returning to his village on foot, he saw a herd of camels burdened with many riches. The man found out that this was the caravan of Amir Khusrau, who had just retired from the king’s service in Kabul and was moving all his possessions from there.
Amir Khusrau was leading the caravan, and he said, “I smell the fragrance of my beloved guru.” He stopped the caravan, approached the man and asked him, “Where are you coming from?”
The man then narrated his long story. He said, “All he has given me is this pair of old worn-out shoes that has little value.”
Khusrau said, “Would you sell the shoes to me?” He told the old man that he would pay him well for the shoes.
“If you give me the shoes, in return you can have my entire caravan, including all the camels and all the riches they carry. I will only keep the two camels.”
Amir Khusrau proceeded to his guru’s place. With even more joy than the man who had inherited his caravan, he embraced the shoes, holding them close to his heart.
Nizamuddin asked, “Son, how much did you pay for this old pair of shoes?” Khusrau said, “I gave my entire caravan and all my worldly possessions for these shoes. I only kept the two camels that are standing here.”
Nizamuddin then said, “You have paid a very low price for the shoes. They were truly a bargain and you have literally paid nothing for them!”
The guru said, “To find a saint who can give you initiation into the mysteries of the beyond is the greatest fortune.
He added, “Saints are the rarest jewels in the world. The gift of Naam, or contact with the light and sound of god, bestowed at the time of initiation is a priceless treasure. Compared to it, the cost of your caravan is nothing.”