There was a temple of Lord Shiva (God of destruction) near a southern city called Mahilaropyam.
A holy sage used to live and look after the temple. He would visit the city everyday for alms, and return in the evening for meal. He collected more than he required for himself, and would keep the excess in a bowl, and distribute it among poor workers, who cleaned and decorated the temple in return.
A mouse, who lived in a hole in the hermitage would creep in everyday and steal some of the food from the bowl. When the hermit realized that a mouse has been stealing the food. He tried all ways to stop it. He hung the bowl as high as he could, and even tried to beat the mouse with a stick, but the mouse would find some way to reach the bowl and steal some food.
One day, a mendicant came to visit the temple, and the sage. But the hermit was absent-minded and looked for an opportunity to hit the mouse with his stick, lest it come again. This made the mendicant angry, “I will not visit your hermitage again, for you are giving only vague and abstract replies to by queries. You seem to be pre-occupied with something more important than talking to me!”
The hermit humbly explained his troubles, and how the mouse keeps stealing from him, somehow or the other, “This mouse would even put a cat or a monkey to shame, when it comes to jumping and reaching my bowl! I have tried everything. I keep hitting my bowl with my stick, even while talking to you, to save the food I keep for my workers being stolen from the mouse.”
The mendicant understood the hermit’s troubles, and advised, “A mouse that jumps more than it should be, a mouse that is faster than the others, must have some reason for it. I am sure it must have accumulated a lot of food in his hole. This is the reason that the mouse feels exalted, and has the energy to jump so high. The mouse knows he has nothing to lose, and thus nothing to fear.”
And thus, the holy man and the mendicant concluded that if they can track the mouse to its hole, they will be able to reach a store of food. They decided to follow the tracks of the mouse the very next morning.
They followed the mouse’s tracks and arrived at the entrance of the hole. At once, they started digging with a pickaxe and uncovered a huge collection of food stored by the mouse, which it guarded. They collected the food and stored it safely in the temple.
On the other hand, the mouse was very depressed on realizing the entire store of food that it had accumulated for so long had been lost. It felt deeply dejected, and lost all its confidence.
The mouse had no food, and decided to jump for the bowl at nightfall. But when it tried to reach the bowl, it realized that it had neither the strength, nor the confidence to reach the bowl.
During this time, the sage charged it with a stick. It was so depressed, that it was not able to react quickly, and was hit.
It was not a deadly blow, but it was hurt. Somehow, it managed to escape and left the temple at once. It decided not to return to the temple again.