The family heirloomThere was an old man who always bragged to his children and grandchildren about their family history. He would say that his father, his grandfather and his great-grandfather were all very nice, kind-hearted and pure. One day he said that he had something that had been passed down for five generations. He said it was invaluable, but if someone wanted to buy it, he would sell it for fifty thousand rupees.
Many people heard about what the old man had said. But who could afford to spend fifty thousand rupees, except someone very, very rich? Finally the king himself heard the story. He said, “If it is something truly invaluable, then fifty thousand rupees is nothing for me. I will buy it.”
His minister asked, “What is it?”
The king said, “What does it matter? The old man is selling something for fifty thousand rupees. I want to buy his invaluable heirloom. Then it will be my possession and he won’t be able to brag any more. Anything really precious I should have. Who else should have it? Now go and bring the man to me.”
When the minister brought the man, the king asked, “What is the thing that you have that is worth fifty thousand rupees? I have heard that you are bragging and bragging about it. Now I want it.”
The man said, “O King, it is absolutely true that what I have is worth at least fifty thousand rupees. But will you not have faith in my judgement? If I am asking fifty thousand rupees, then I must have something very great.”
The king said, “Why do you have to waste my time? If I give you fifty thousand rupees now, will you give it to me?”
The man said, “Of course, of course. If you give me fifty thousand rupees and I do not give this heirloom to you, then I know that you will punish me.”
The king said, “You are right. I will hang you.”
The man said, “Then will you give me the money first?”
The king said, “Take it!” and immediately gave the man fifty thousand rupees.
The man was carrying a bag with him. He opened up the bag and took out a blanket which was full of holes where rats had eaten it. He said, “O King, I have been preserving this blanket for many years. My father’s father told me that it had been passed down for three generations before him. If one can preserve something for five generations, then naturally it is invaluable. So King, you take it. I give it to you. You will have blessings from five generations of my ancestors. They will all bless you.”
The king said, “O God, I am not a king. I should go out in the street and tell everyone that I am this kingdom’s worst possible fool for giving you fifty thousand rupees before even seeing your invaluable treasure. Since I am king, I always brag about how wise I am. Now you have fooled me. I should get a prize for my stupidity.”
The king didn’t take the money back. He said, “I deserve to lose the money for my stupidity. Once I give money to someone, I don’t take it back. But now that I have pleased you by giving you the money, will you please me by doing me a favour?”
The man said, “Certainly I will please you.”
The king said, “Take back your five-generation-old blanket full of rat holes. Give it to your sons and let them preserve it for generation after generation. I cannot pass this down to my own children and grandchildren. My children and grandchildren will not be so stupid as to want a blanket full of rat holes, and I don’t want them to preserve the memory of this foolish thing that I have done!”