The honesty diploma

There was a very rich village zamindar who was a great philanthropist. Everybody liked him. Once he decided that for three days he would give away things, including money, to the poor — only to the poor. People were getting rice, vegetables, money and all kinds of things.

One poor man got a very heavy sack of rice. Since he was such a poor man, he was very happy. O God, when he came home and emptied the sack, he found inside the rice twenty gold coins. His wife was delighted.

The husband said, "The zamindar didn't intend to give me these gold coins. He wanted to give me rice. This was a mistake. I should return these coins."

The wife said, "You fool! You fool! We are so poor. This is the time to take the gold to the market and exchange it for lots of money."

The husband said, "No, I can't do that. I have to go and return them." The wife and husband had a fight about the gold. Of course, the husband won because it was he who had brought the rice home.

The following day he went back and said to the rich man, "You were so kind to give all of us so many things. I have found these twenty gold coins that were in the rice sack by mistake. Now I have come to return them to you. If you want to give them to me, all right. But although I am only a beggar, I can never accept this kind of gift if it was a mistake." The rich man was so moved by his sincerity. He said, "No, you take them. And because of your sincerity, I am giving you double the amount. You brought me twenty gold coins and now you are getting forty. This time I am giving these to you personally so you don't have to come back again. You are such an honest man. I need honest men like you."

A greedy businessman happened to overhear the story and he came up with a brilliant idea. He went to the beggar and said, "I heard that you have got lots of gold coins. Do you want to sell a few to me?"

The poor man said, "Certainly. I can sell them to you. Since I have not received them by mistake nor stolen them, they are mine to sell."

The businessman bought six gold coins from the poor man.

Then he put on beggar's clothes and went to the rich man's house. "I will do the same thing that this beggar did and I will be able to double my wealth," he thought. "Since over the past three days hundreds and hundreds of beggars have received bags of food from the zamindar, I am sure that he will not remember that I was not one of those beggars."

So the businessman went to the zamindar and said, "Yesterday you gave me three gold coins but by some magic today it has become six gold coins. So now I have come to give you back the original ones, while I am keeping the extra ones. I got these extra ones by the magic of the previous ones, so I am giving you back the original ones free."

The zamindar said, "That means that you are the only person to whom I gave coins whose wealth has increased. I gave coins to others, but in their case the number did not increase. One man brought back the same amount that I gave him. But in your case the amount increased. I am so proud of you. I am so grateful to you. What do you want from me?"

The businessman-beggar said, "If you are pleased with my honesty because I am returning these three coins, you can give me a little more. If I had not returned these three coins, you would not have known that the original coins produced three more. So if you value honesty, then please give me a few more. But if you don't want to, then you are under no obligation."

The rich man said, "You really deserve much more. Since from three coins you have got six, let me do one thing. I will give you something much more important than a few more gold coins."

The businessman was so happy. He said, "Please, please tell me what it is."

The zamindar asked his servant to write out an 'honesty diploma'. The servant wrote it out and the zamindar put it on this fellow's back and signed it. Then he told the businessman-beggar, "See, with this diploma you can tell the whole world that the zamindar has said that you are the most honest person. This kind of 'honesty diploma' I have not given to anybody. But you deserve it."