“I’ve come with great hope, O King!” the aghori said. “Can Your Majesty grant my wish?”
“Say what you seek,” the king replied. “I’ve plenty for charity.”
“Just this bowl I need filled.” The aghori extended his bowl.
“That’s all? The social affairs minister could have done that. Are you mocking the royalty? Just the alms bowl! I am offended.”

Bhadraghosha, the king, had a point for his philanthropy was as acclaimed as his opulence. He ruled a vast empire and for an ascetic smeared in ash to approach him for a mere bowl-full of alms was a waste of his time, at...