When Ayaz first arrived at the court of Mahmud, he possessed only a tattered shawl and an old piece of fur. After donning the clothing of the court, he kept his old clothing locked in a room. Everyday, he would enter the room by himself for a few moments and look at his old clothing, while addressing himself, “Ayaz, not long ago you arrived here with these tattered clothes, but today you are closely attached to the King. Never forget your origin. You enjoy the favours of the King in abundance, but don’t ever become proud and boastful. Rather, be grateful that a person, who once dressed in tattered clothing, has won the favour of a great King and is the envy of all the courtiers and servants.”
Slowly but surely the news of Ayaz and his daily seclusion in the room spread. His enemies could not bear to see a simple and poor man like Ayaz enjoying the King’s favours. They began discussing the matter, “Why does he seclude himself and what has he got locked up in that room? Perhaps, he is stealing from the treasury and gathering it in there! The King should be alerted about this so that Ayaz’s true colours are exposed.”
After collectively agreeing to the idea they approached the King and explained, “Beloved King, Ayaz is a thief and a hypocrite. He does not have true love for you. We have proof that he is stealing from your treasury and gathering all the riches in a locked room.”
The King did not entertain the slightest doubt in Ayaz’s loyalty, but to silence them and prove Ayaz’s honesty and sincerity he announced that Ayaz’s room would be searched that night. Ayaz’s enemies were overjoyed, “Finally, Ayaz shall be disgraced!” they thought.
That night, the lock to his room was broken and the investigating team began their search. But, they could find nothing, but a tattered shawl and an old piece of fur. They went to the extent of digging open the floor to check whether he had hidden anything in a secret vault. Finally, exhausted and disappointed, they presented themselves before the King, greatly embarrassed. They had no choice but to apologise for thinking evil of Ayaz.
The incident increased the King’s affection for him and he asked, “Ayaz, why did you keep these old clothes locked in a room?”
Ayaz replied, “Beloved King, these clothes serve as a lesson for me. I look at them to remind myself that I am constantly enjoying the King’s favours and gifts, but once I possessed nothing but a pair of tatter clothes.” [Pearls from the Path]