The miser

There was once a very, very rich man, but you cannot imagine how miserly he was. He had hundreds of thousands of rupees, but for him to spend one rupee was extremely difficult. Although he did not have the capacity to be content, he thought that if he got married, his wife would have to get at least a little of his money. He therefore remained a bachelor all his life, since he did not want to share his money with anyone.

This poor rich miser had no friends and no relatives. He had only a servant to do his cleaning and cooking while he carried on the business of amassing a fortune. This apparent luxury was an unavoidable necessity for him; he could not do without a servant.

One day many years later when this miser was quite old, he fell sick. He said to his servant, “All my life I have advised you. Now I need your advice. Tell me what I should do. If I go to a doctor, the doctor will ask for a fee. But if I don’t go, people will speak ill of me. They will say, ‘Look at this foolish man. He is sick, and still he won’t go to a doctor.’ Now what do you think? I don’t want to waste any money on a doctor. Do you think that I will die from this sickness?”

“Forgive me for saying this,” answered the servant, “but there is some possibility that you may die.”

At first the rich man became annoyed at this reply. Then he said, “All right. I have an excellent idea. Go to the undertaker and ask him how much money he will charge when I die. Then go to a doctor and find out how much it will cost to treat me.”

So the servant went to the undertaker, who told him that his lowest fee was 110 rupees, and to a doctor, who said that his minimum fee was 150 rupees. When the servant told this to his master, the master said, “In that case, the best thing is for me to go to the undertaker. The cure is too expensive.”

The old miser would not spend the extra forty rupees to cure his illness, and he soon died. Then the servant paid 110 rupees to the undertaker, and since his master had made no will, and had no family to claim his money, all the rest of it — thousands and thousands of rupees — went to the servant.

Spiritual comments

Of course the miser was a fool. His attachment to his money became such an obsession at the end of his life that he preferred to die rather than part with any of it, not thinking that once he died his money would all be gone from him anyway. If he had had any sense, all the money that he had amassed he would have given to some charity or religious organisation. But he never even thought of giving it away. He only wanted to hoard and grasp. Why did he want to save money? Just in order to hear people say how rich he was. What would have happened if he had given the money to some worthy cause? His name would have become immortal. But instead he kept his money, and in the end the servant got it all. For the servant this conclusion is like a dream. All of a sudden he has become a millionaire. Everyone will exploit him, and the money will go to people who are not at all spiritual. It will go from one materialist to another materialist, and it will all be wasted.

The miser wanted to be very, very rich, and God made him rich. But if he had had a bit of generosity, a bit of spirituality, even a little brain-power, he could have made himself immortal by giving or just by willing his money to the right people. But he did not have that capacity. His life was all stupid selfishness.