Sri Chinmoy told the following traditional Indian story to his disciples on 13 October 1976.

The foolish wisdom of a Brahmin

They say that all fools are not really fools; some pretend to be fools. And again, all wise men are not really wise; some just pretend.

There was a very poor Brahmin and Brahmini. The Brahmin was very, very idle and his wife always used to insult him. One day she insulted him and kicked him out of the house. “You are such a fool,” she said. “Your idleness I can forgive, but not your stupidity.” So the poor man was thrown out. He went away from his home and at the end of six months he came back. On that day his wife was making special cakes and although he did not enter into the house, from outside he was secretly listening to the noise, and he could easily count how many cakes she was making.

Then he shouted aloud, “Are you at home?” In India husbands don’t call their wives by name. It is just our Indian custom. His wife came outside and she was so happy to see her husband. “This time you can’t call me a fool anymore,” he said. “I have developed intuition-power. I can easily say how many cakes you have made.” “How many?” she asked. “Twenty-one,” he replied. She was so moved. How could he have known when he had not even entered into the room? She was so happy and proud that her husband had become so wise, so full of intuitive knowledge. “Now that you know everything,” she said, “let us beat the drum and tell all the villagers you can save each and every one of them from their difficulties and dangers.” The husband agreed, “Certainly.”

Now many people would come to see the poor Brahmin and he used to tell them, “Not today, not today. Today the Supreme Goddess is not pleased with me because I have done something wrong. I will speak to you some other day.” His wife had taught him to say this. One day a man came who was very sad because he had lost his donkey. When the Brahmini heard the petition of the man, she instructed her husband, “Don’t say you will speak to him today.” Then on behalf of her husband she said, “Today the Goddess is not pleased with him. Please do not bother him. If you come tomorrow, he will be able to help you. I can see that tomorrow the Goddess will be pleased with him.” The man was so happy that perhaps tomorrow the Brahmin would do something for him.

The wife was so tricky. At night around midnight the husband was sleeping, but not the wife. She heard a donkey braying and she followed the sound. She found the donkey and tied it to one of the pillars of the house. When the man came the following morning to see the Brahmin, he found the donkey there. It happened to be the same one he had lost. He was so happy and pleased and he gave the couple some money.

The Brahmin’s name spread all over the village. Finally the King came to know about the incident. The King had lost the Queen’s golden necklace and both the King and the Queen were very upset. They summoned this poor man to the palace. His wife also came with him, for she knew that he wouldn’t know how to find the necklace. The man was trembling all over because he was afraid that the King and Queen would punish him. The wife told the King, “He is trembling, not because he will not be able to tell you who has taken the necklace, but because you are so great. It is not because he does not have the capacity, but because we are so insignificant.” The King said, “You have to find the necklace. I have no idea whether it was stolen or misplaced.” “Please give me a few days,” replied the Brahmin, “as this is a serious matter.” Take as many days as you want,” said the King, “But I have to get it back! When I get it back, I will reward you.”

The Brahmin and Brahmini went home and the Brahmin started crying to the Goddess Jagadhambha, “Save me, save me, save me! I do not know who has taken the necklace. The King is no good. Perhaps the King will kill me. Are you so unkind? Please save me!” At night he cried in silence; during the day he cried aloud. That day one of the King’s maidservants, whose namesake was the Goddess Jagadhambha, happened to be passing by. She heard somebody crying because he was going to be killed, saying, “Goddess Jagadhambha, why are you so unkind? Where have you taken the necklace? You have to save me. Save me!”

The maidservant felt extremely sorry because she was the culprit; she had stolen the necklace. She said to herself, “I stole it and because of me this man is going to be hanged. He is crying so badly.” She came and told the Brahmin it was she who had stolen the necklace. “If you tell the King, the King will kill me,” she said. “You have to do something so that the King will not punish either you or me.” The wife was so clever. She said, “You have saved us; now we will save you. Bring the necklace.”

The maidservant went home and brought the necklace to the wife. Then the wife said, “We will save you. Don’t worry, we will not disclose you.” The maidservant said, “Oh, they will never suspect me. They are so fond of me.” The wife put the necklace into a box that could float on water and went to the King. “It will be good for my husband to concentrate at night,” she said. “He can concentrate better in the dark. He will come to your palace and concentrate on the necklace and let you know where it is.” The King was very happy. “Do anything you want, only find the necklace,” the King said.

That night the husband and wife went to the palace. All the lights were extinguished and they threw the box containing the necklace into a small pond near the palace. Then they went to the King and said, “Now we would like to meditate and definitely we will be able to tell you where the necklace is.” They meditated for some time and vision dawned on them. Their vision was working powerfully today; yesterday they had had no vision.

“Please send someone to yonder pond,” said the man. “There is a tiny box floating on the water and the Queen’s necklace is definitely inside it. My intuition is working today.” The King’s guards found the box and indeed, inside it was the necklace. So the King said, “Who stole it?”

“You have the necklace,” said the Brahmin. “My intuition goes only this far. You wanted to know where it was and we found it. We have fulfilled your request. Now it is up to you whether you will give us the reward or not.” The King said, “Why wouldn’t I give it to you? You found the thing which I had lost. It is so precious to me, so invaluable.”

Thus the King gave the Brahmin and his wife a very good fortune and with that fortune they left their village. After all, if this kind of thing ever happened again, perhaps Jagadhamba the Goddess would not save them at that time and even now, perhaps Jagadhamba the maidservant is not satisfied!