In the Puranas, there’s an inspiring history of a dacoit (thief) who due to his karma was going through a difficult period. One evening he shared the camp of a party of pilgrims who invited him to share their meal. While honoring their prasadam together, the pilgrims, who were devotees, were describing the wonderful opulence of the beautiful temple of Lord BALAJI that they have recently visited. The dacoit then prayed within his mind as follows, “O Lord, You are the cause of all causes and the maintainer of every living being, by Your transcendental sanction (anumanta), my destiny is that of being a thief, and it has been many months since I have not been able to steal anything worthwhile in order to maintain my livelihood. My situation has now become so desperate that I shall now steal from You at this opulent temple that these pilgrims have described to me”.
And so the dacoit went to the holy place where the temple of Lord Balaji was situated and upon entering the temple through the seven gates, he saw that the opulence was much more than what he expected. SHREE BALAJI were decorated with fabulous gold ornaments incrusted with huge diamonds, rubies and emeralds, even Lord Krishna’s arati plates and bowls were made of solid gold. Following the example of the other pilgrims, he offered his prostrated obeisances and mentally prayed to the Lord for forgiveness for coming there to steal from Him. But that he had no choice seeing his situation was so desperate.
After carefully studying the rounds of the guards and the temple timings, he made his plan and, choosing a stormy night during the new moon, he climbed over the temple walls and entered into the temple. Due to the stormy weather, he noticed his feet were covered in mud. On the marble floor slabs of the temple entrance, there was one corner of a floor slab that was missing, so he scraped the mud off his feet against the hole, thus filling up that missing corner of the slab. Then he broke in.
Once in front of the Deities he offered his obeisances, took the Deity’s dhoti off, spread it on the floor, put all the valuables and gold articles on it, thus making a bundle. Then he again offered his obeisances, praying to the Lord for forgiveness for having stolen from him, and made his escape. While climbing over the last wall, due to the rain he slipped from the rope and fell down at the bottom of the wall. The bundle of paraphernalia made a loud clattering sound which alerted the soldiers guarding the entrance gate. Upon discovering that the thief had dared to steal from their worshipable Lord, they became so angry that they beat the dacoit to death. The Yamadutas (the servants of the demigod of death and hell, Yamaraja), came to take him to hell, but were prevented from doing so by effulgent Vishnudutas (four handed servants of Lord Vishnu) who suddenly appeared before them. The Yamadutas inquired, “How come you want to save this sinful soul from the punishment in hell? All his life he has been committing all kinds of crimes and sinful activities, and now he has had the audacity to steal from the Supreme Lord Himself.”
The vishnudutas replied, “By his prostrated obeisance when first entering the temple, all his past sinful activities were forgiven. Just by filling up the missing corner of the temple room floor slab with mud, still he could acquire a house in Vaikuntha (the anxiety-free Kingdom of God). After stealing from Lord Krishna’s Deity, he prayed for forgiveness while offering his humble obeisance. Thus the all merciful Lord has pardoned him and sent us to bring him to His spiritual world.” So we can see from this story how beneficial it is to participate in even the smallest way in the construction of a temple where the Supreme Personality of Godhead is worshipped with love and devotion.