A sadhu under the instruction of his Guru built for himself a small shed, thatched with leaves at a distance from the haunts of men. He began his devotional exercises in this hut.
Now, every morning after ablution he would hang his wet cloth and the kaupina (loin-cloth) on a tree close to the hut, to dry them. One day on his return from the neighboring village, which he would visit to beg for his daily food, he found that the rats had cut holes in his kaupina. So the next day he was obliged to go to the village for a fresh one. A few days later, the sadhu spread his loin-cloth on the roof of his hut to dry it and then went to the village to beg as usual. On his return he found that the rats had torn it into shreds. He felt much annoyed and thought within himself “Where shall I go again to beg for a rag? Whom shall I ask for one?” All the same he saw the villagers the next day and re-presented to them the mischief done by the rats. Having heard all he had to say, the villagers said, “Who will keep you supplied with cloth every day? Just do one thing—keep a cat; it will keep away the rats.”
The sadhu forthwith secured a kitten in the village and carried it to his hut. From that day the rats ceased to trouble him and there was no end to his joy. The sadhu now began to tend the useful little creature with great care and feed it on the milk begged from the village. After some days, a villager said to him: “Sadhuji, you require milk every day; you can supply your want for a few days at most by begging; who will supply you with milk all the year round? Just do one thing—keep a cow. You can satisfy your own creature comforts by drinking its milk and you can also give some to your cat.”
In a few days the sadhu procured a milch cow and had no occasion to beg for milk any more. By and by, the sadhu found it necessary to beg for straw for his cow. He had to visit the neighboring villages for the purpose, but the villagers said, “There are lots of uncultivated lands close to your hut; just cultivate the land and you shall not have to beg for straw for your cow.” Guided by their advice, the sadhu took to tilling the land. Gradually he had to engage some laborers and later on found it necessary to build barns to store the crop in. Thus he became, in course of time, a sort of landlord.
And, at last he had to take a wife to look after his big household. He now passed his days just like a busy householder. After some time, his Guru came to see him. Finding himself surrounded by goods and chattels, the Guru felt puzzled and enquired of a servant, “An ascetic used to live here in a hut; can you tell me where he has removed himself?” The servant did not know what to say in reply. So the Guru ventured to enter into the house, where he met his disciple. The Guru said to him, “My son, what is all this?” The disciple, in great shame fell at the feet of his Guru and said, “My Lord, all for a single piece of loin-cloth!”
From the Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna