The zamindar and the hermit

Two village zamindars had a quarrel and then started fighting. They brought their supporters to join the fight. They fought for a long time, and on both sides people were very, very badly injured. Finally, everybody left the place of the battle, near a forest, except one of the two village zamindars. He was so badly hurt that he was unconscious. His people all left because they did not want to be beaten by the other side. They left this zamindar alone and senseless. Nobody came to help him.

In the forest there lived a hermit. The hermit came out of the forest and started strolling and moving around. Suddenly he saw the man lying down, practically dead. He brought water for the man, fanned him and washed his face. Finally he revived the zamindar. He was so happy that the zamindar was revived, and the zamindar was also very happy.

The zamindar said to the hermit, “Please, please, take something from me. If you come to my house, I will give you something.”

The hermit said, “I am a hermit. I have everything, absolutely everything. I have the sun, I have the moon, I have fruits to eat. I do not need anything at all.”

The zamindar said, “My pride is hurt. I took an oath that in this lifetime I would never be indebted to anybody. I said that I would only give and give, and I would not owe anything to anybody. You are a hermit. You have nothing, like a beggar. I am a zamindar. I am so rich. You have to come to my place. I will give you whatever you want so that your poverty will disappear.”

The hermit said, “No, no, no, I do not need anything.”

The zamindar said, “But I am indebted to you.”

Then the hermit said, “All right. In the future, if I need any help, I will come to you.”

The zamindar begged him, “Please, please, you must come now. Otherwise, I will remain indebted to you. I do not want that. My pride will be hurt. I am so rich. My people, my children, my friends, my guards — all have left me. They betrayed me because they were being beaten by the enemy. All my dear ones deserted me because they did not want to be attacked and beaten mercilessly. Now you have come here to rescue me. I am so grateful to you.”

The hermit said, “When I am in need, I will come to you.”

The zamindar was proud, but he was a good man who really wanted to help the hermit. A few years later when the hermit became very, very old, he started suffering from this disease and that disease. Then he remembered that the zamindar had promised to help him, so he went to the zamindar’s place. The guard knew that the zamindar had once upon a time been helped by the hermit. The guard said, “He is now taking a shower. After the shower, he will come and see you.”

The hermit waited near the zamindar’s meditation room. After finishing his shower, the zamindar went to his meditation room. With folded hands he knelt down and started praying to God, “Give me more wealth, give me more name, give me more fame! Please give me more people, more strength.” For all these things he started praying.

The hermit said to himself, “I came here to beg this zamindar to give me some medicine or to find a doctor to cure me. Now I see that he is begging God to give him this and give him that. I have only one desire: for my disease to be cured. He has so many desires! He wants money, name, fame and everything else. He is such a beggar!”

The hermit started to go away very fast. The zamindar came out of his meditation room and asked the guard, “What did he want?”

Then the zamindar saw that it was the hermit. He started running after the hermit saying, “Why are you going away? You did me such a big favour when I was dying, when I was practically dead. Now you have come to my place, and I am so happy. Please, please, please tell me what you want!”

The hermit said, “No, I will not ask you for anything.”

The zamindar said, “You came here, and I still owe you so much. Do you want me to remain indebted to you all my life? If you take my help, I will be so happy and so grateful. Then I will know that you helped me, and now I am helping you.”

The hermit said, “You have already helped me.”

The zamindar asked, “How could I have helped you? You have not taken anything from me.”

The hermit said, “Look, I am a hermit. I pray to God every day for my illumination. Here I am seeing that you are also praying to God for what you need. You have taught me that there is only one Person who can give us what we need. You have everything: you have name, fame, money and property. But you have gone to the one Person who is infinitely richer than you and infinitely stronger than you for help. You have gone to the Highest, and you have taught me today that for everything we must go to the Highest. I came to you, but you gave me the lesson that you are nobody in comparison to God. You have taught me to go to the Highest, so I am going to the Highest.

“You do not owe me anything because you have given me the real illumination: always, for everything we have to go to God. To cure my disease I am going to God, and this lesson I got from you. Going to God for everything is the best way in our life. This lesson I have learned from you. You have everything, but you still need more things from God for your fulfilment. In my case, I have been praying for so many years, and I should have realised this. But this lesson I got from you, so you do not owe me anything.

“I helped you, true. For that you owed me something, but now you have illumined me by showing me that for everything we have to go to God. Now you do not owe me anything. Both of us are equal.”