Excerpts from a discourse by our Sri Sri Muralidhara Swamiji
Once Samarta Ramdas wanders about the forest freely. Lots of birds are flying up in the sky. Ramadas had a bag hung from his shoulder. He picks up a stone and hits a flying bird and it falls down dead. He picks up the dead bird and drops it in his bag. In this manner he hits the birds one by one and drops them in his bag. Those who watched him thought, 'Everyone calls him a Mahatma. But, he is killing the birds one by one and is dropping them in his bag.' They go up to him and tell, "Swami! The whole world calls you a Mahatma. But, you are committing such an act!"
Ramadas asks, "Is what I am doing sinful?"
The people reply, "Certainly! What you are doing is sinful. One by one you are killing all the birds and dropping them in your bag!"
Ramadas, "Well! What is the atonement for it?"
They speak elaborately on the atonement to be done and Ramadas performs all of them though them.
Soon after Ramdas asks them, "At your behest I have performed all the atonement rites. But, the birds do not seem to fly!"
They say, "Your sins have flown away. But, the birds will not fly!"
Do you know what Samarta Ramdas said?
"I will now do an atonement. Will you watch?"