Amusement I enjoy, enlightenment I study, part 5

The three questions

There was a young traveller who had been walking for hours and hours. Finally the day was drawing to a close and he was becoming extremely tired. At last he noticed a small hut. Entering the hut, he saw that the owner was cooking something over a fire.

The traveller asked, “Could I please pass the night here with you?”

The owner answered, “Certainly! I am always glad to offer hospitality to travellers. You have come at the right time. I am cooking and I shall soon be able to offer you a most delicious meal. Just wait a little.

“By the way, I shall ask you a few questions. If you can answer them, I shall be very happy. If you cannot answer them to my satisfaction, I tell you, I may not give you shelter and I may not allow you to eat anything. In fact, I may even punish you!”

“I am to be punished?” responded the traveller. “What kind of hospitality is this?”

“The questions will be very simple,” the host assured him.

The traveller said, “All right. If the questions are simple, I shall agree to your condition. It is quite dark outside and I do not know where I shall find another hut to pass the night. And you are tempting me with a most delicious meal. But mind you, the questions have to be very simple and straightforward.”

His host repeated, “Yes, yes, the questions will be so simple, so simple.”

Just as the host was preparing to ask the traveller the first question, the traveller saw that a cat had strolled into the hut. The cat had a bandage on its tail, but this did not seem to bother it at all.

The host pointed at the cat and said, “My first question is: what is this?”

The traveller was deeply relieved to hear such an easy question. He said, “It is just a cat. I feel sorry for it because it is forced to wear a bandage on its tail. Perhaps it is injured.”

The host said, “A cat? How dare you say this is just a cat! This is Agni. I gave it the name Agni, and now you have to say it is just a cat!”

So he gave his guest a very smart slap as the punishment for his wrong answer. Then the host showed the traveller a jug containing water. He asked, “What do you think I have inside the jug?”

The traveller replied, “That is easy! It is water.”

“What an insult!” shouted the host. “You are saying that this is water? No, for me it is life itself that is inside this jug! It can never be mere water.” Again he gave the traveller a smart slap.

Even after punishing the traveller, the host was still exclaiming, “My very life exists inside this jug and he has to call it water!”

Finally the host said, “I have one more question.”

“If your third question is like the first two, then after the third question I will leave,” said the poor traveller.

His host said, “If you can answer the third question, then I will forget your first two deplorable answers. You will be able to stay and eat the most delicious meal that I am preparing and you can spend the night here.”

Then the host indicated the roof of his house and asked, “What is this?”

“It is a roof,” said the traveller.

“Roof!” cried the host. “You fool, I am showing you the height of my house!” For the third time he gave the traveller a very painful slap.

By now the traveller was extremely disgusted and angry. He said, “This is too much, too much! O God, what is happening to me? Why should I endure this for the sake of a meal and a place to spend the night? I do not need these things. I am going away this very moment!”

The traveller gathered his belongings and marched out of the house. At the foot of a large tree nearby, he stopped for a few minutes to recover himself. He lit a cigarette and threw the matchstick on the ground. Then he started smoking. To his astonishment, he noticed that the cat had followed him. The cat went up to investigate the matchstick. Unfortunately the matchstick was still smouldering. Suddenly, the bandage on the cat’s tail caught fire. In a frenzy, the cat ran back to the hut and climbed onto the roof. The roof was made of straw and it was soon consumed with flames.

The owner of the hut rushed out and cried, “What have you done? What have you done?”

The traveller said, “I have not done anything. It was your Agni who did it! Agni is the god of fire. He wanted to show you his true nature. He is revealing himself to you. Agni is like that. He rewards his devotees by showing his power. Now, for God’s sake, take your jug of ‘life’ and save your hut!”

But it was too late. The hut was burned to ashes, and the traveller went on his way. What a bad fellow the owner was!

The proud student

At a special boarding school for young boys, examination time was fast approaching. One particular boy was reading far into the night, when all the other boys were fast asleep. Most of them were planning to get up early in the morning to study because they felt that was the best time.

The student who remained awake was so happy and proud that he alone was studying at that hour. He felt that he would do much better than all the others. After some time, one of the senior teachers passed by and noticed that this boy had kept his light on. He asked the boy, “What are you doing?”

“As you can see, I am the only one studying for the examination,” replied the student in a very superior manner. “Others are fast asleep, snoring. But I am so proud of myself! I have been studying for hours and hours.”

The teacher said, “Yes, I suppose you can be proud of yourself, but I have to say that I am ashamed of you!”

“Why? Why?” asked the boy.

The teacher said, “You should go to sleep like your friends.”

“You do not want me to do well?” asked the boy, puzzled.

The teacher told him, “I do want you to do well, but you are so full of pride that I do not see how it is possible. I am telling you, your pride will ruin you. It is far better for you to sleep like the other students than to go on studying with this attitude. Those who are sleeping are doing the right thing. They will get up in the morning with new inspiration and enthusiasm. You go and join them; otherwise, I can clearly see that your pride will be your destruction!”

The tell-tale plants

A young man had just graduated from medical school. Fortunately, his family was quite wealthy and he was able to open up a clinic of his own. Outside the clinic, he put up a big sign saying “Qualified Physician” and listing all his degrees and diplomas.

The very day the clinic opened, the doctor was standing in the doorway when he saw a most respectable-looking man approaching. The man was very well-dressed. The doctor was so happy. He took it as a sign of good fortune that his first patient should be someone very wealthy. He watched the man approach the clinic and read the sign very carefully. Then the man looked at the outside of the clinic itself.

All of a sudden, the man turned around and started walking away. The doctor ran after him and cried out, “Why are you leaving? You have come to the right place! I am the doctor who is mentioned on the sign and my clinic is now open. You can rest assured that I will do the needful for you. I am very well-qualified. Please come back for a consultation.”

The man said, “I was coming to your place to get treatment, but I am leaving because of certain plants that you have placed right outside the door of your clinic.”

“Yes,” said the doctor, very confused, “I placed them there for decoration.”

“May I ask when you last watered them?” enquired the man. “In case you have not noticed, all the plants are dying. They are dying because of your negligence, and for no other reason. You could have saved them if you had given them water, but you did not care for the lives of these innocent plants. Why then should I expect you to care for my human life? No, you are indeed a horrible doctor!”

“People will come to me so that I can give them life,” protested the doctor. “They are not coming to see some stupid decorations.”

At this point the man became really angry. He said, “You are the last one to be qualified to care for human lives. Take care of your plants first! Then you can think of human beings. I am disgusted by your callous attitude! You have no genuine concern or compassion for God’s creation; otherwise, you would immediately have seen that your own plants were dying.”

Then the man turned and left without another word.

The coconut vendor

There was a shrewd old man who used to sell green coconuts on the street. He had quite a few regular customers, one of whom was a little girl. Every day she would come and buy a coconut for her father. He was not doing well physically and he believed that coconut water would help to improve his condition. All the coconuts had a fixed price, no matter what their size. Sometimes there was a great difference in the size, but the old man always charged the same. What is more, whenever the little girl came with her rupees, he would select the smallest possible coconut for her to take home. She could not understand why he always gave her the smallest one.

One day, after he had handed her a particularly small coconut, she became brave and asked the old man, “If you are saying the price is the same for all, why do you always choose the smallest one for me? My father is asking me why I bring home such small coconuts. He says he has never seen them this size. I told him that you do have big ones, but you keep those for other people. So he has asked me to tell you that he is prepared to give you more money so that I can take home a larger one.”

The old man said, “Oh, no, no! You are right. They are all the same price. But tell your father that I have a heart of compassion. You are such a little girl. If I give you a big one, it will be too heavy for you to carry. Your home is quite far away. So I was only showing my concern for you. I am sure your father will understand. I give you the smallest one so it will be easier for you to carry.”

The little girl returned home and told her father what the old man had said by way of explanation. The next day, her father said to her, “This time I want you to look in the baskets and select a very big coconut. First you pick up the coconut and then you give the old man the money. But do not give him the full amount. Just give him a few rupees and keep the rest in your pocket.”

The little girl ran to the coconut vendor and found a huge coconut in one of his baskets. She grabbed it and then quickly gave the man a few rupees, saying, “I am going. Here is your money.” The old man was very surprised by her behaviour. When he started counting the coins, he discovered that she had not given him the full amount, so he ran after her. She was going quite slowly because the coconut was so heavy. The old man grabbed her and screamed, “You rogue! You little thief! You took my best coconut, and you did not give me the full amount!”

The little girl began to scream with fright. Then the old man let his monkey loose and it jumped on the girl to bite her. There was such a commotion on the street that many people gathered to see what was happening. Finally someone summoned a policeman. He rescued the little girl from the monkey and the old man. Then he questioned the old man and asked the girl, “Why did you deceive this man? He says that you have not given him the full amount for your coconut.”

The little girl said, “For weeks and weeks I have been buying coconuts from this man. Every morning I come here. But he always gives me the smallest ones because he says that it is too difficult for me to carry the large ones. The price is exactly the same, but I get only half the amount of coconut water from the small ones. I told my father last night, and he said to me, ‘Since the old man is so kind to you, I want you to give him less money. When he catches you, just tell him it is for his own good that you have done it. Tell him that you also know how to be kind. If you give him the full amount, he will have to spend such a long time counting all the coins. He has many, many customers to serve, so if you give him less money, it will take him less time to count and then he will have more time to help others.’ That is what my father told me to do. Now may I keep this coconut and go? I am sure my father is waiting for me.”

The policeman took the little girl to one side and said, “Your father is a wise man. You did the right thing. Now you can go home with your coconut.”

Then the policeman severely scolded the coconut vendor for cheating the little girl day after day.

Alexander the Great and the pirate

There was once a pirate who was notorious to the extreme. He used to sail here and there, plundering small boats and raiding villages along the coastline. He would torture people and then make off with their valuables. It was very difficult for people to resist him because he had all kinds of guns and knives. Everybody was afraid of him.

Nevertheless, there came a time when the people were able to trap this scoundrel and make him their prisoner. They brought him before the mighty Emperor, Alexander the Great. It was almost certain that he would be hanged for his misdeeds.

Alexander the Great said to him, “Now that we have caught you, are you not ashamed of the life you have led? You must know that you will receive a most severe punishment. Before you are condemned, I would like to give you the chance to ask for forgiveness from all those whom you have injured. I cannot restore their valuables, because you have already disposed of them. But if you beg these people to forgive you, I feel it will give them some consolation.”

The pirate said, “I do not want to be punished. I do not want to be forgiven. But there is something that I would like to say.”

“What do you want to say?” asked the Emperor.

The pirate looked directly at the Emperor and said, “If you feel that I should be ashamed of the life I have led, then I want to tell you that you should be infinitely more ashamed of what you are doing.”

No one had ever spoken to the Emperor in this manner before. He was profoundly shocked and disturbed. “Go on,” he said to the prisoner.

The pirate continued, “You and I are doing the same thing. We are leading exactly the same kind of life, only I am doing it in a very small measure. I may rob a few individuals and trading boats here and there, but you are doing it on a wide scale. How many countries you have conquered! How many lives you have needlessly destroyed! How many valuable treasures you and your soldiers have plundered! I tell you, it is you who should be ashamed, not I!”

The Emperor remained quiet for some time, lost in thought. Then he said, “You have spoken the truth. But for me it will be extremely difficult to change my way of life. In your case, since you are an individual, it will be infinitely easier for you to change. I have decided to give you enough material wealth so that you can give up this life of piracy. You can make a fresh start. I know that I also need the transformation of my nature, but I am starting with you because it will be easier for you to do it. In my case, gradually, gradually, I will try, but I fear it will prove too difficult.”

This is how Alexander the Great came to free the notorious pirate.

The old lady who acted in self-defence

In their march across Asia, Alexander the Great and his soldiers invaded a new country. There they found everything to be lush and prosperous. One village lay right across their path. Alexander’s soldiers entered the village and immediately started pillaging everything in sight.

One soldier entered into the cottage of an old lady and began threatening her with his weapons. He said, “Give me all your coins and jewels!” While he was brandishing his weapons and frightening her, a large gold coin fell out of his tunic. He did not notice that it had dropped to the ground, but the old lady immediately pointed to it and said, “Look, look! That is your own money that you have dropped!”

The soldier snatched up the coin and said to her, “Now give me all your money!”

The old lady responded, “I showed you the coin that you dropped. I do not have that kind of money. What little money I have, I keep in that corner over there.” She showed the soldier where to look for her money and he grabbed it. Then he said, “You are a crafty old lady. I am sure you must have some more money hidden somewhere.”

She said, “All right. I can see it is no use lying to you. I do have a secret hiding place. Come with me and I will show you where I have kept all my savings.”

The old lady led the soldier outside. In the garden was a deep, empty well. She said to him, “I have kept my savings under a rock at the bottom of the well. If you go down, you will easily find the bag of coins.”

The soldier came near the well and bent over to see how deep it was. As he did so, the old lady gave him a mighty push. The soldier was caught off guard and he tumbled down into the well. There he met his death.

The soldier’s comrades had seen him go inside the cottage and they were wondering why he did not appear again. They confronted the old lady and she told them, “I threw him down the well and he died. He was such a bad fellow! I am not ashamed of what I have done.”

The soldiers were furious. They seized the old lady and brought her before the Emperor. The Emperor asked the old lady, “Why did you take my soldier to the well? Did you really have money hidden there?”

“No, I did not have any money there,” she said truthfully.

“Then why did you tell a lie?” asked the Emperor.

She said, “He was such a bad fellow that I was afraid for my life. He was threatening me with his weapons and forcing me to give him the little money that I had. His own gold coin he dropped. I could have kept quiet, but I showed him where the coin had rolled. Still he was suspecting me of having more money, so I fooled him. I told him that the money was at the bottom of the well. When he took a close look inside the well, I pushed him and he fell to his death.”

“Are you not repentant now that this man is dead?” asked the Emperor.

“Yes,” replied the old lady, “but I feel that bad people should pay their karma. I did not want him to die, but I thought he should be punished. If he had lived, he would have gone on torturing helpless people like me.”

Alexander the Great said, “You are right. Now let me give you back all the money that he stole from you.”

The old lady gratefully accepted some money from the Emperor.

“Now take more money,” the Emperor said.

“More money?” she asked.

“Yes,” said the Emperor. “I want to reward you because you informed him that he had dropped his own coin. You could easily have kept it for yourself. He did not even notice that it was missing. So you deserve more.”

Alexander gave her a second purse of coins and said, “I assure you that my soldiers will not harass you anymore.”

Belated sincerity

There was a certain king who liked to display his wealth. From time to time, he used to invite neighbouring kings and other noble personages to visit his palace so that he could show off his latest acquisitions.

Once it happened that he obtained a most extraordinary diamond ring. It was extremely expensive, but he felt that it was worth the price because it was the largest diamond that he had ever seen. The king was filled with innocent, childlike joy and he invited twelve of his friends to come and see his new treasure. These friends were all kings in their own right.

When they arrived, the host king took them into one of his private chambers. There the ring was displayed on a golden plate. The visiting kings greatly appreciated the ring, and they stayed in the room chatting and praising the excellent taste of the host king.

All of a sudden, the king’s minister noticed that the diamond ring was missing. The minister looked around the room and thought, “Here there are no common thieves. These are all kings and great figures. This matter must be handled very carefully.”

So the minister approached his king and quietly whispered to him that the ring had been stolen. The minister asked, “What should we do?”

The king immediately replied, “I do not wish to embarrass my guests. Their happiness and goodwill matter more to me than the ring. Kindly forget about the ring. I shall find another one in the course of time.”

The minister said, “My King, I cannot allow this shameful crime to be dismissed. Please allow me to try something. I promise I will not embarrass your guests. I shall be as tactful as possible.”

With a movement of his head, the king gave permission for his minister to try to recover the diamond ring in a diplomatic way. The minister began by addressing the gathering: “O great kings who have assembled here, you are all friends of my king and you have enjoyed his hospitality many times. Unfortunately, something has happened in this room today which is not the action of a friend. The diamond ring is missing. Perhaps one of you picked it up to examine it more closely. Perhaps someone removed it out of curiosity as to what would happen. Perhaps someone played a joke. And, again, perhaps it has truly been stolen. Since nobody has left the room, I can only assume that it is here somewhere.

“I am now going to extinguish the lamps for two minutes. If you are in possession of the ring, for any of the reasons I have mentioned, please return it to its place on the gold plate during these two minutes. In this way, nobody will be exposed and nobody will be embarrassed. Otherwise, if I command the palace guards to search you, it will be a most embarrassing and humiliating situation for the king in question. Are you all in agreement with this method?”

The kings were profoundly shocked at the disappearance of the ring and they immediately agreed to the minister’s solution. The minister extinguished the lights and waited for two minutes. When the lamps were re-lit, everybody looked in the direction of the gold plate — only to discover that now the gold plate itself was missing! Nobody had anticipated this new development. The minister was particularly upset. He realised that now he had to catch not only one thief, but perhaps two.

With a sad smile, the host king brought the gathering to a close and they all retired to their respective rooms for the afternoon. The minister went at once to the queen to report to her all the untoward events of the day. The queen was absolutely furious. She confronted her husband and said, “This kind of friends you have! They must be searched, each and every one, before they are allowed to return to their own kingdoms.”

The king replied, “No, I will not allow them to be searched. One of my friends has definitely stolen my ring. If my diamond has stolen the heart of my friend, what can I do? You stole my heart. That is why I married you. I stole your heart, so you married me. Similarly, somebody prized this diamond so much that he had to steal it — and the gold plate as well. Let that person be happy in his own way. I have no intention of embarrassing him.”

The king and queen had a serious disagreement on the subject, but the king was adamant in his point of view and he would not issue the command for his guards to search the guests.

Later that evening, the host king and his guests enjoyed a magnificent banquet. Most of the kings were quite happy and cheerful, but there were three or four who were quite miserable. One was the culprit himself. The others were close friends of the host king who felt miserable that his joy had been blighted by this unthinkable act.

When the evening ended, the host king made a short speech. He said, “My friends, soon you will all be departing for your own kingdoms. Before you go, I would like you to know that I value my friendship with you all infinitely more than I value a diamond ring and a silly golden plate. These things I acquired only the other day. But you have all been my lifelong friends. I want to maintain the harmony, peace and friendship that exists among our kingdoms. So, if you have taken the diamond ring by mistake, do not worry at all. I shall not hold it against you.”

The following day, all the kings returned to their respective kingdoms. Shortly afterwards, the king who had actually stolen both the diamond ring and the gold plate, and hidden them in his tunic, had a vivid dream. He dreamt that he saw the queen of the host king shedding bitter tears. She was inconsolable because the diamond ring had not been recovered and also because the culprit had not been caught and punished.

This dream made such a deep impression on the king who had stolen the ring that he had a change of heart. He decided to return the ring and the plate, but he was ashamed to confess his crime. He summoned his minister and asked him to offer some advice in this embarrassing situation. The minister said, “Your Majesty, you may leave it to me. I will find a way of returning these items secretly.”

The minister then rode to a neighbouring kingdom. He wrapped the ring and plate together securely and sent them by special post to their true owner. When the parcel arrived and the king and his minister saw the postmark, they could not believe their eyes. The ruler of that kingdom had always been truthful. The king said, “How could my friend do this kind of thing? I know his nature. He is such a good, honest man.”

But the minister was convinced that that particular king was guilty. He showed the queen the evidence of the postmark and she became absolutely furious. She wrote a very strong letter to this king accusing him of the crime.

The innocent king sent back an urgent letter saying, “Please believe me when I say that I did not steal your diamond ring and gold plate. I am being blamed because the parcel was sent to you from my kingdom, but I assure you it has not come from me. How I wish the real culprit would confess! I would be so happy and relieved to have my name cleared. But if he does not come forward, what can I do? You will be forced to think the worst of me. At least my dear friend has his ring and plate back.”

Meanwhile, the king who had actually stolen the ring and plate asked his minister how he had managed to return them to their real owner. When the minister described his escapade in the neighbouring kingdom, the king was taken aback.

“You idiot! Why did you do that?” he cried. “You could have gone to a place where there was no king. You could have gone far, far away. Why did you have to go there? You know that that king’s reputation is unblemished. If you had had a brain in your head, you would have posted the package from somewhere else. Now nobody will be his ally! I cannot allow that to happen. I am the one who stole the ring. Now, before anything else happens, let me go and confess what I have done to the innocent king who has been accused.”

So the guilty king paid a visit to the kingdom of the innocent king and told him the whole story. When he had finished, he said, “I have told you the truth because I do not want you to be accused unjustly. Now you can punish me in whichever way you want. My minister played the trick on you, but it is I who have to take the responsibility. And I will allow you to inform our friend that it was I who stole his precious things. I do hope that one day he will be able to forgive me.”

The innocent king said, “No, I cannot do that. Since I have been accused, let me remain guilty. As a matter of fact, I know that I am guilty only in the eyes of the queen and the king’s minister. The king himself has written me a letter of consolation and sympathy saying that he does not believe I was the thief. I am happy to let things stand as they are.”

The minister of the guilty king said, “I believe I can solve this problem.”

His king asked, “What do you propose?”

The minister continued, “You will write a letter to the king saying that you can clearly see that he has an enemy. That enemy went to the kingdom of this innocent king to post the parcel. Tell him that the king who has been accused has played no part in this heinous crime.”

The guilty king said, “But then people will ask me how the ring came into the possession of an ordinary man, since it was definitely one of the kings who stole it. No, your plan is not at all satisfactory. I do not see that it offers any solution.”

While they were debating which course of action to follow, the guilty king reached an inner decision. Suddenly he announced, “My friend, I do not want you to suffer anymore. I stole the ring and the plate and I shall now go to the king’s palace and make a full confession. That is the only way to put an end to all these accusations.”

He departed before his minister could say another word and rode swiftly to the host king’s palace. There he related everything exactly as it had happened and begged his friend’s forgiveness. He said, “I am the thief and you may punish me as you see fit. I not only stole the ring and the plate, but I asked my minister to help me avoid embarrassment. Then he had the reprehensible idea of placing the blame on your dear friend. I wanted to return the ring and the plate because in my dream I saw your queen shedding bitter tears, but I did not have the courage to do so personally. My weakness has caused so much suffering for you and your friend.”

When the queen heard the confession of the guilty king, she started crying. She said, “We have the diamond ring. We have the gold plate. Now we have the thief. I am so proud of you, for at last sincerity has dawned in your life.”

The ending of the story was so sweet. The king and queen were most grateful to the guilty king. Not only did the queen forgive him, but she deeply appreciated his sincerity — his belated sincerity.

From this story we learn what greed can do. You may be a king, but if greed enters into you, then you may behave no better than a common thief.

Friendship on earth

Friendship is such a strange and wonderful thing! When friendship is formed in Heaven, it never dies. On earth, friendship dies before it even takes birth. This is the difference between friendship in Heaven and friendship on earth.

This story is about two village friends. One of them borrowed twenty rupees from the other to buy a dog. He went to the bazaar and chose a dog that he liked. Unfortunately, after a month had passed, the dog fell ill and died. Now it happened that this fellow was supposed to return the twenty rupees to his friend at the end of the month, but he kept postponing and postponing his obligation.

Finally, the friend to whom he owed the money came to his house to collect it. He was saved because his wife answered the door and said that he was not at home. The friend came back the next day and the next, but the answer was always the same: “He is out.”

Now a third friend entered the picture. He knew that the rogue-friend was deliberately avoiding the one who had given him the loan. So he said to the rogue-friend’s wife, “This time when our friend comes to collect what you owe him, I am going to inform him that your husband is at home. Then you will be in serious trouble. So the best thing is to return the money.”

The wife cried, “Please, please, do not tell him! Here — I am giving you one rupee as a bribe.”

So the third friend accepted the bribe and went away. The next day he appeared again and made the same threat. Once more, the wife gave him one rupee as a bribe. Like this, twenty more times he came and twenty more times he received money from the wife to remain silent. Each time the loan-giver came to collect his money, the wife said the same thing: “He is out.”

One day, fortunately or unfortunately, the friend who had given the loan and the one who had received it met face to face on the road. Their meeting was unavoidable. The fellow who had borrowed the money became extremely frightened. In a pitiful voice, he began pleading, “Please, please, give me another chance! This time when you come to my house, I will definitely be there and I will give you the full amount.”

“I have already received the money,” said his friend, smiling.

“How is it possible?” asked the rogue.

“Our mutual friend has given it to me,” said the friend.

“Surely you are pulling my leg!” said the rogue.

“Not at all,” answered the friend. “Every day he threatened your wife that he would inform me that you were actually at home when she said you were out. So she started giving him one rupee after another as a bribe. Eventually, he was able to pay me the complete sum: twenty rupees. And he also earned a commission!”

Retribution for the village scoundrel

In a particular village there lived a young man who was wicked to the backbone. Everybody brought complaints against him, but his nature remained unchanged.

One day this scoundrel found himself with nothing to do. None of his friends were available and he could not think of any way to kill time. As he was lounging by the roadside, he saw the village pandit passing by. The scoundrel took a sharp rock from the ground and aimed it at the pandit. It struck his forehead and the wound began bleeding profusely. The scoundrel did not bother to run away since he was far stronger than the elderly pandit. Instead, he just stood nearby and laughed and laughed.

Then, to the scoundrel’s wide surprise, the pandit began calling his name most affectionately and compassionately. He approached the old man cautiously. In spite of his pain, the pandit managed to give him a smile. “I am so proud of you, so proud of you!” he said. “You have such perfect aim. I am a poor man and I have only one rupee with me, but I wish you to take it. I want you to know that I appreciate you. Who cares if I am bleeding! This bleeding will soon stop. The most important thing is that you have shown your remarkable skill. In two hours’ time, the village chief will pass by. If you can repeat your performance, I assure you that he will give you a far greater reward. I can give you only one rupee, but he is a very rich man.”

The village scoundrel was now listening very intently to the wise words of the pandit. The pandit continued, “I am sure the chief will also reward you with a job in his palace. He has countless enemies. There will be a great advantage for him in keeping you by his side. You will be able to protect him by aiming at anyone who attacks him. So you should wait here and show the village chief your capacity. I am sure he will be most impressed.”

The scoundrel was extremely pleased with the pandit’s advice. He resumed his place by the roadside and selected a stone that was to his liking. After some time, he saw the village chief approaching with some of his attendants. The scoundrel took careful aim and threw his stone straight at the chief himself. It struck the chief in the head and he fell to the ground. Luckily he was not seriously hurt. The chief’s attendants immediately grabbed the scoundrel and thrashed him to death. In this way, the pandit with his infinite wisdom was able to rid the village of this abominable scoundrel!

Nothing can surpass wisdom. Wisdom can solve any problem in our life. In our Indian villages, there is a kind of wisdom that we call village wisdom. This wisdom says that when you see a tiger, you should not try to fight it. Just climb up a tree. The tiger will roam around at the foot of the tree for some time, but how long can its patience last? Eventually it will go away, because it is beneath the tiger’s dignity to wait indefinitely.

In my own case, I used village wisdom with my pet monkey, Madhu. He used to bite me mercilessly, but he would never bite my mother and he would never bite an infant who was crawling. It seems that anyone over the age of ten became his perfect victim. Then somebody told me that monkeys will never bite someone who is dead. So that is how I used to escape. When I saw Madhu coming towards me, I would fall down, stop breathing and pretend to be dead. Then he would come and examine my body, but he would not bite me. So many times I escaped by using that method! Unfortunately, it worked only if I fell down when he was forty or fifty metres away. If he was released just ten metres away from me, then no matter what I did, he would bite me very nicely!

That is how I was able to use our village wisdom.

The father-in-law loses his worker

A grocery shop owner hired his son-in-law to work for him. This relative used to work hard, but he was quite greedy. All day long he would take food from the shelves and eat it. His father-in-law used to say, “I am giving you a proper salary and I am prepared to give you some food, but do not steal food from me! Because of your appetite, I am not able to make any profit.”

“I am not stealing,” the son-in-law objected. “I am your family member, your son-in-law, and I am hungry, so I am eating just to satisfy my appetite. Why should you deny me food?”

The poor father-in-law did not know what to do, so he went to see the village sage. This sage was said to possess tremendous occult power. After he had heard the whole story, the sage said, “I will give you a special kind of medicine. If you give the medicine to your son-in-law secretly, he will not feel hunger at all.”

The shop owner asked, “How much money are you asking for your fee?”

“You have to give me 200 rupees,” answered the sage.

The shop owner said, “This treatment is very expensive, but I know that if my son-in-law continues like this, he will ruin me. So the best thing is for me to pay you.”

The shop owner returned home with the medicine, which he was supposed to add to his son-in-law’s meal. The next day, he sent a regular meal from his house for his son-in-law. Before sending it, he added a dash of the medicine. The son-in-law ate the meal and did not experience any more hunger for the rest of the day. The father-in-law was very happy. The next day, he did the same thing. Still the son-in-law did not suspect anything. His father-in-law even asked him, “Why are you not eating? You will fall sick!”

But the son-in-law just continued working. At the end of the week, the shop owner gave his son-in-law his salary. The son-in-law counted it and said, “What shall I do with this meagre salary?”

“What do you mean?” asked the shop owner. “You have never objected to it before.”

“That was because I was able to eat as much as I wanted to,” replied the son-in-law. “Now that I do not have the same appetite, I will be able to work elsewhere and earn much more than the amount you are giving me. Why should I stay here in your tiny grocery shop when I can work in a big shop or business? Do you take me for a fool? From today on I shall look for another job!”

The father-in-law tried to save money by preventing his son-in-law from eating, but ultimately he was the loser because his son- in-law found another job and then there was nobody to help him run the grocery shop.

The rogue-businessman is exposed

There was a very wealthy businessman who happened to be an unbearable and unthinkable rogue. He used to employ workers and tell them, “I will give you a very, very high salary, but you will receive it only at the end of each month. You must work very hard. If you please me, I will give you a very high salary, plus some baksheesh.

One by one, each worker failed to meet with the businessman’s satisfaction. They never received the money that was due to them. Why did this occur? Two days before the end of the month, he would tell each worker to do something absolutely absurd and impossible. To one he would say, “You have to run twenty miles to the next village and pick up a parcel and then run the twenty miles back again.” Some poor workers could not walk even half a mile, let alone run twenty miles! To others he would say, “You have to swim in the river for three hours without stopping.” On one occasion, he even gave a worker a tabla and told him, “You have to play this tabla to my satisfaction. If I do not like your performance, then you will not receive any salary from me.”

So these kinds of demands he used to make just before the end of each month. In that way, he did not have to pay anybody’s salary. But his fate was about to change. It happened that a very smart young man came to work for him. This young man worked very, very hard. One day before the end of the month, the rogue-businessman said to him, “Look, I am giving you two glass tumblers. One is very small and one is quite large. Now you have to put the large one inside the small one.”

The young man took the larger tumbler and dashed it on the ground. Then he collected all the little pieces of glass and put them inside the small tumbler. The businessman was furious and gave the young man a punch. He demanded that the young man pay for the broken tumbler. He even threatened to kill the young man for his insolence.

The poor worker had not even received his salary and here he was expected to pay for the broken tumbler. He said, “I have not received the salary that you promised me when I began working here.”

The businessman said, “Why should I give you a salary when, on the last day of the month, you could not perform your job satisfactorily?”

The young man was compelled to leave the place empty-handed. He went to the village judge and placed the case before him. The judge summoned the wealthy businessman and said to him, “Why are you not giving this young man his salary? He has worked for 29 days prior to this.”

The businessman replied, “Why should I give him a salary? I told him that I would pay him only if he worked for the whole month to my satisfaction. On the last day he deliberately broke an expensive glass tumbler belonging to me. It is he who should pay me!”

The village judge asked the young man, “Why did you break it?”

The young man replied, “He asked me to put the big tumbler inside the smaller one. I could not do it without breaking the big one. He tells all the workers to fulfil this kind of impossible demand just before the end of each month so that he does not have to pay them. I realised long ago that he is insane, but if I started spreading the news in the village, who would believe me? That is why I decided to do something striking. I wanted his case to come to the attention of the authorities. So many workers before me have suffered because he has not paid them one rupee. It is time he was brought to justice.”

The village judge said to the wealthy businessman, “Right in front of me, you have to give this young man his salary plus a substantial bonus, or I will throw you into jail!”

So the businessman had to give a very large sum of money to the young man. From that day on, nobody would work for him because they all knew in advance that he was an unpardonable rogue!

From:Sri Chinmoy,Amusement I enjoy, enlightenment I study, part 5, Agni Press, 1998
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