There was a very, very poor woodcutter who had worked extremely hard for many years. Even so, it was difficult for him to make both ends meet. He also happened to be a genuine spiritual seeker. One day he was praying most soulfully to Mother Kali for some money-power. Although Mother Kali is the goddess of power, she has everything at her command. She can do things for us in a fleeting second that other gods and goddesses will take fifty, sixty or one hundred years to do. She is the mother of speed. She has all the capacities, including wealth.
In a dream, Mother Kali appeared before the simple woodcutter and said, “Although I am not usually invoked for money-power, since you are my great devotee, I shall help you.”
The following day, early in the morning, the woodcutter was leaving his hut to go and work in the forest. Right near his house on the grass he saw a man’s wristband, and it was golden. He was so thrilled. He said, “Mother Kali, you have listened to my prayer. I will be able to sell this for a large sum of money.” He immediately offered all his gratitude to Mother Kali.
When the woodcutter looked at the wristband more carefully, he saw that at one place it was studded with a small diamond. He was beside himself with joy. He hurried to the jeweller’s shop with his treasure. When the jeweller saw the wristband, he examined it in minute detail. At first he was surprised, but then he concealed his surprise very cleverly.
The jeweller told the woodcutter, “I do not think this is such an expensive wristband. It looks very beautiful, but I am sure it has glass inside it. I am ready to buy it from you, but today I do not have any money here in the shop. Please bring it tomorrow. Then I will buy it for whatever price you want. Since it is not very expensive, I do not think you will ask me for much, but whatever you want, I will give.”
The woodcutter was very pleased that on the following day he would receive some money, and perhaps he would not have to work for a few months.
That night the jeweller hired some hooligans to give the woodcutter a sound thrashing. The poor fellow was beaten black and blue. The hooligans demanded, “Show us where you have kept the wristband.” The woodcutter showed them where it was hidden. Then the hooligans bound the woodcutter and took him away along with the wristband.
The next day the jeweller took the woodcutter to the king. He said, “I have caught a thief. This fellow came to my shop yesterday. I had to do something urgent, so I could not pay attention to him. I just turned around for a minute and he ran away with this valuable wristband. It is from my shop that he stole it. My associates and I caught him and punished him. Now you can decide what additional punishment he deserves. This is such an expensive thing he has stolen from me!”
The poor woodcutter said, “I did not steal it. I was coming out of my hut and I found it on the ground.”
The king was very, very serious. The king said, “Do you expect us to believe that you found this kind of thing on the ground?”
The king seemed to have taken the side of the jeweller one hundred per cent. He continued, “I must definitely visit your hut, woodcutter. You have such beautiful and expensive things lying about.”
The woodcutter said, “Yes, yes, please, please come to my place. I need your blessings, O King.”
The woodcutter was so miserable. He said to himself, “What kind of king is this? Here I am telling the simple truth, but he is not taking my side. He is taking the side of the jeweller.” He was filled with sadness.
Then the king said to the jeweller, “Since this wristband was for sale in your shop, I definitely feel that you had a pair of them, not just one wristband. I am sure you had one more of the same kind.”
The jeweller said, “Oh yes, you are absolutely right, I had one more.”
“Then what happened to that one?” enquired the king.
“Oh, just three or four days ago it was stolen,” said the jeweller.
“Another robbery!” exclaimed the king. “Do you mean somebody else stole the other one?”
The jeweller said, “Yes, somebody else stole it. I am so miserable. I forgot to tell you, O King, that one wristband was stolen by this rogue, but the other thief I could not catch. I do not know who has stolen it.”
The king said, “Oh, I see. You are so unfortunate. I sympathise with you.”
The king paused for a moment. Then he said to the jeweller, “Now get ready for punishment.”
The jeweller was horrified. He said, “What? What kind of punishment will I get? Here is the thief.”
The king said, “Four days ago I made a small excursion. I took some noblemen out for hunting. When we were returning to the palace at night, I accidentally dropped my wristband. I discovered the loss when I arrived home, but I did not know where I had dropped it. Now I see that I must have dropped it as I was passing by this poor woodcutter’s place. It is definitely mine. The other one is still with me.”
The king asked his men to bring him the other wristband. He showed it to the jeweller and said, “Here is the other one. You can clearly see that it is identical. That means that I am the one who stole the other wristband from your shop!”
Then the king said, “Now the punishment comes. Your first lie was that this woodcutter, such an innocent man, stole this wristband. Your second lie was when you told me that it came from your shop. The third lie was that the other wristband was also stolen from your place. Three lies! For each lie I will put you in jail for five years because I feel you have deceived many, many people this way. So five years, five years, five years — fifteen years you will be in jail.” By now the king was very, very angry.
In the meantime, the jeweller’s sons came to know of what was happening, so they came running to the palace. They said to the king, “O King, if we give you some money, will you reconsider your sentence?”
The king said, “Do I need money from people like you? I have given my judgement. It is final.”
Then the jeweller’s wife arrived on the scene. She said, “O King, please keep my husband in jail for the full fifteen years.” The king could not believe his ears.
The sons were shocked. They said, “What are you saying, Mother? What kind of wife are you?”
She said, “Your father has been doing this kind of thing for many years, and his nature has to be changed. Only the most severe punishment will change his nature. I will not mind at all. Please keep him in jail for fifteen years, or give him lifelong imprisonment.”
The king was very pleased with the wife, and at the same time he was amused. Everyone was wondering what the king would do. The king said, “All right, since you are such a wonderful wife, such a good wife, I shall keep your husband in jail only for five years.”
Then the wife said, “No, no, no! Only five years? Then he will come back again and do the same kind of thing.”
The king said, “I see your sincerity, but something is telling me that five years is enough. I shall pray to God on your behalf, and you will pray to God. After five years your husband will be released. Let us both pray to God that he turns over a new leaf and becomes a good person. I am sure that God will listen to our prayers.”
So the jeweller received five years’ imprisonment, and then he returned to his family. After he came back, he felt miserable for his wife, and he also felt grateful to the king for his good heart. So the jeweller gave up his old undivine life and became a very good person.