The rich mendicant

There was once a businessman who had become a millionaire by adopting both fair means and foul means. He did not always do the right thing, but he did become very rich. When he reached the age of sixty he decided he wanted to change his life. In India, sixty is considered very old. When he told his wife, his children and his relatives that he wanted to become a religious mendicant, the members of his family all started crying.

His wife said, “If you are leaving, then you have to take me. Without my husband, how can I exist?”

His son said, “How will we be able to reach you when we need you? How can one get in touch with a mendicant roaming from one place to another? If you get a special place to stay, then several times a week we will be able to visit you. I will build you a cottage where you will be able to lead a spiritual life peacefully. Even if it is only a cottage, let me build it for you.”

So the son made a very comfortable home for his father. Since his son had made it, what could the mendicant do? He had to use it.

Daily the wife used to send food for the husband. One day he said, “This is too much luxury. I don’t want to eat the food that my wife sends. If this continues, I will end up having a comfortable life again. Whatever I get from begging on the street, I will eat.” But his wife played a trick on him. She gave money to all the families living near his cottage and told them, “Every day he will go from door to door begging for food and I wish you to be very generous to him.” So every day the villagers gave him lots of food, sweets and nice things.

The mendicant said, “I thought that I would be leading a very simple life. But whenever I go begging, everyone gives me most expensive things. O God, still I am leading such a comfortable life. Did I leave my house only to lead this same kind of life?”

Then one night he dreamt that Lord Indra sent a chariot to come for him. His time had come. But his wife said, “I must go also.” The son also wanted to come and said, “But how can I go without my wife?” He had been recently married and he could not bear to be away from his new bride. The mendicant’s mother also wanted to come. But she said, “O God, I also have another son. If I go away with this one, what will he think of me? Let him also come with us and his wife and children too.” So everyone piled into the chariot. As soon as they all sat down, the chariot gave way; it broke into pieces. In the dream he jumped up and his own life-cord broke. What actually happened is that he jumped up from the bed and his own bed collapsed.

He said, “From this dream I see that God wants me to go alone to Heaven. That means God wants me to become a real mendicant.” This time he left the village without telling his family where he was going and he lived the life of a true mendicant.