The money-lender

There was once an elderly village moneylender who was very rich. He was a very nice man, and many times he would give money to the needy. His name was Junga.

One day a young man took a loan from Junga. He promised that in six months’ time he would return the money.

After six months had passed, the young man came to the rich man and said that he could not return the money. The rich man got mad. He said, “No, you have to return it!”

The young man said, “I don’t have the money. What can I do?”

The old man started screaming and insulting him. “No, you have to return it!” he said.

The young man said, “When I have the money, I will give it back. But right now I don’t have the money.”

The old man said, “Then why did you take the money from me and why did you promise to return it in six months?”

The young man, who was badly insulted, said, “You donkey, you camel!”

The old man got furious and said, “You take money from me and you call me a donkey and a camel? I will sue you.”

He sent for the village head and gave some money to him. Then he said, “Now you tell me what I should do. This young man took money from me and he is not returning it. What is worse, he is calling me a camel and a donkey.”

The young man said, “I took money, true, and one day I will give it back to him. But how badly he was scolding and insulting me, you have no idea! So what could I do?”

The village head scolded the young man and said, “You should not call him names. He is of your father’s age. You should always have respect for elderly people. Also, you should return his money as soon as possible.”

The young man said, “All right, I will not call him names, and one day I promise I will return his money. But when I return the money, if at that time I have a camel and a donkey, may I not call my animals Junga?”

The village head said, “Do anything you like, but first give the money back. As long as you do not call Junga a camel and a donkey, whatever name you want to give to your camel and donkey is up to you.”

In two weeks’ time the young man borrowed money from somebody else and returned the money to Junga. Then he brought a camel and donkey right in front of the moneylender’s house and started shouting, “Junga, Junga! What do you want? Do you want to have grass? Do you want water? Do you want something?”

The old moneylender got furious. But the young man said, “I have returned your money. Now I can do anything I want to. These are my animals. I have every right to name them Junga. It is none of your business!”

Saturn and Indra

Indra, the king of the gods, and Saturn, another god, were one day quarreling bitterly over their supremacy. Each one felt that he was superior to the other. Indra said, “I am the king of the gods. Naturally I am superior to you. Everybody bows to me, so definitely I am superior.”

Saturn said, “You! Everybody is afraid of me. Nobody wants to come under my influence. So, am I not superior if everybody is afraid of me?”

Indra said, “No, no, no! I am greater; I am the greatest of all because everybody surrenders to me.”

Saturn said, “Everybody is afraid of me. Nobody wants to come near me.”

Like this, Indra was bragging and Saturn was bragging. Finally Saturn said, “Look, tomorrow I am going to capture you and destroy you. Only if I fail to keep my promise will you be able to say that you are superior to me. Otherwise, the whole world will know that I am superior.”

Indra said, “Don’t brag, don’t brag. Tomorrow I will see if you can capture and destroy me!”

The following day, in order to escape from Saturn, Indra went into the forest. The whole day he spent hiding in the forest. Then in the evening he came to Saturn and said, “Look, you could not capture me; you could not destroy me. So am I not superior?”

Saturn said, “You fool, you fool! Did I not tell you that everybody is afraid of me? If you were as strong as I am, then why did you hide in the forest? If you had been superior or even equal to me, you would not have hidden in the forest. So here is the proof that you are afraid of me and acknowledge my supremacy!”

The village zamindar

There was a village zamindar who was nice, kind and honest. He had lots of land and also a very large barn, where he used to keep grain. One day, while walking in front of his house, he saw a few pieces of grain on the ground. He bent down and started picking them up.

Two travellers happened to be passing by. They said, “We heard that you are a very, very rich man, a very kind man and a very generous man. Now what are you doing? Why are you not asking your servants to pick up these bits of grain? Again, it is only very few kernels — six or seven. It is not even worth asking your servants to do it. Why are you picking up this grain at all? On the one hand you are so generous, but now you are acting like a miserly man.”

The zamindar said, “I am not miserly; I am generous. But why do I have to waste anything? I don’t want to waste even a single kernel of grain. When it is necessary, I show my generosity. But when it is a matter of being economical, why should I waste even one piece of grain? Today I will waste ten bits of grain, tomorrow twenty and the day after tomorrow many more.”

One of the travellers said, “Yes, but we thought that you were collecting the pieces of grain as if they were the most precious jewellery, most precious gold coins. So inwardly we were laughing at you. But we see that you are right. It is good to be economical. Now we shall go.”

The zamindar said, “Since you are passing by my house and you have said that I am kind and so forth, let me be hospitable to you. Why not stay and eat with me, and then go?”

The travellers went to eat in the zamindar’s house. He said to his guests, “Usually I don’t serve anyone because I have so many servants. But I like you two; you seem to be very nice people. So let me serve you.” Then the zamindar brought them a plate containing ten gold coins instead of food.

The travellers said to him, “What are you doing? How can we eat gold coins? Have you brought this by mistake or for some other special reason? Is it out of your generosity that you are doing this? You are really kindhearted and compassionate. We are so grateful. But the thing is that now we are very hungry. This is not the time to get gold coins. We can’t eat them.”

The zamindar said, “Oh no, I am showing you fools something. When I was collecting the pieces of grain, you laughed at me. You acted as though they were not valuable whereas gold coins were valuable. I have brought you these gold coins to show you that everything has its own value at the proper time. Gold coins are valuable, true. But you can’t eat them. When you are hungry, you don’t think of gold coins — you want to eat food. At that time, grain is even more precious than gold coins.”

The transformation of iron into gold

There was once a spiritual Master who was the leader of a spiritual community. Everybody in the community was leading an honest life except for one person. This person was a businessman who cared only about making money and becoming rich. He did not pay any attention to his spiritual life. Everybody else wanted to become spiritually rich. Of course, some unfortunate disciples wanted to become spiritually rich without praying or meditating. But this man did not even want spiritual wealth. He wanted only to become materially rich. That was his goal. Everybody laughed at the businessman because he was not spiritual, but out of compassion the Master continued to keep him in the community. “As long as he wants to stay in my boat, I will keep him,” the Master said.

The Master occasionally would tell him, “Don’t pay so much attention to money-power. Pay attention to your heart-power, your soul-power.” But he never listened to his Master. This went on and on for years.

One day the Master said, “My days are numbered. I will be leaving the body soon.”

Everybody was so sad and shocked. They all loved the Master very much and appreciated his compassion and forgiveness. How could the Master say all of a sudden that he was going to leave the body?

The Master said, “Since I am going to leave the body soon, I want you people to come to me one by one privately. I will bless you, and if you have any special desire, then I will fulfil it.”

One by one they all came up to him for a last blessing and said, “To hear that you have forgiven us — that is our only desire. During this lifetime so many things we have done wrong. If you have not yet forgiven us, please do so. From the soul’s world think of us and bless us all the time.” Each one had the same prayer, and the Master was very, very pleased.

When the businessman came, he looked around and said, “I have a very special prayer. You have fulfilled others’ prayers. Will you not fulfil my prayer?”

The Master said, “Yes, today I will fulfil everybody’s prayer. Now what is your prayer?”

The man said, “Everybody says that you have occult power. Can you not give me some occult power?”

The Master said, “What will you do with occult power?”

The businessman said, “With my occult power I will be able to make more money and become richer. When I become very rich, then I will talk to many people and tell them all about you.”

The Guru said, “Oh no, I don’t need people to hear about me from you. If you want to have occult power to make more money, then I will give it to you. But don’t pretend that you are asking for it to help my mission. All right, now tell me what kind of occult power you want.”

The man said, “In my business I get the most profit from my steel factory. I buy iron at one price and sell it at a higher price as steel. Now, with my occult power if I can transform the iron into gold, then I will have even more money. I will become rich overnight. Please give me the capacity to transform iron into gold.”

The Guru said, “Yes, I want to keep my promise. I will give you this power. But who knows, some day you will feel miserable that you have asked for occult power.”

The disciple said, “No, no, I will never be miserable.”

The Guru gave him the power. Then, in a few days, the Guru died. Everybody felt so sad. The businessman shed crocodile tears, but secretly he was very pleased with his new occult power.

Soon the businessman became very, very rich, and people came to know that it was all because of the occult power that he had got. But the sincere ones still did not care for occult power. They said, “No, we want peace, peace, peace. Let us see what will happen at the end of his life. We want only peace and joy.”

So for two or three years the man went on transforming iron into gold with his occult power. But even though he had become very, very rich, still he always tried to get the people selling him iron to lower the price. Sometimes they said that they would lower the price after three or four months, and he would wait until that time before buying. He would say to himself, “Now that I have got from my Master the mantra that turns iron into gold, there is no rush to use it. So why not wait until I can buy iron at a much cheaper price? Then my profit will be even higher.”

Then, all of a sudden the price of iron went down considerably. The businessman kept buying more and more. The more the price of iron went down, the greater was his joy. For he knew he could turn it into most valuable gold. “In every way I am the happiest person,” he said.

In this way he kept accumulating iron, and for two years he did not use the mantra at all. When he had finally filled up a large warehouse, he said to himself, “All right, before I buy another supply of iron, let me transform what I now have into gold. I have accumulated a very large quantity.”

He was so excited at the thought of transforming all his iron into gold, and he tried to chant the mantra that his Guru had given him. O God, since he had not used the mantra for two years, he had totally forgotten it. He tried desperately to remember it, but to no avail. Naturally the iron was not transformed into gold, and he was feeling miserable, miserable, miserable.

The next day in the market he heard that iron had become absolutely worthless. So now what could he do? All his iron he would have to practically give away because he didn’t want to keep it. So he went to the market and had to sell his iron below cost because the price had gone down so much. The businessman cursed his fate and said, “So this is what occult power can do!”

The king’s new astrologer

A certain king had three astrologers. He relied on astrology for everything. But for a few months the predictions of the astrologers were not coming true. The king became extremely displeased with them and eventually he dispensed with their services.

Then he asked his prime minister to get a new astrologer. He said, “I don’t need three. One will be enough. But I want an astrologer who will always be able to tell me about my future and about the world’s future so that I can always take advantage of what I know is going to happen. If I know beforehand what is going to happen, then definitely I will be able to be successful in everything that I undertake.”

The minister made an announcement that he would interview any astrologers who would like to get the post at the palace. The minister found seven astrologers who wanted the post, and the king decided that he would personally see all of them and make the choice.

After interviewing them, the king casually said, “It seems that all of you are great astrologers. Do you know of any astrologers in the kingdom who have not come here because they know that you are greater and feel that they do not have a chance?”

One astrologer said to the king, “Your Highness, I have a friend who is an astrologer. But I know infinitely more than he does. Therefore, he did not dare to come to the palace.”

The king said, “Tell me his name and address and I will summon him.”

When the other astrologer was brought before the king, the king asked him, “Why didn’t you come here to apply for this post?”

The man was very clever. First he remained silent. Then he said, “Your Majesty, these astrologers are all fools. How could any of them be your astrologer? Did any of them know who was going to be appointed? I knew all along that I would be appointed. Therefore, I did not bother coming. It is I who was destined to be your astrologer.”

The king said to him, “You are right. I am making you my new astrologer.” Then the king asked all the other astrologers to leave the palace.

The swordmaker’s son

There was a craftsman who used to make swords for all the soldiers in the kingdom. One day he made some extraordinary swords and he took them to the king, hoping to get a reward. As soon as the king saw the swords, he took one and started hammering a stone with it. Immediately the sword broke into pieces. So the king said, “I don’t need that kind of sword. It is useless!” The craftsman was very sad.

A few days later he came to the palace again with a new sword. This time he said to the king, “This sword is far better than the previous one.”

The king took it and again started striking it against a solid stone. In no time it broke in two. The king said, “Don’t come to me any more. I will give you money, since that is what you want. But don’t bother me with any more swords. Don’t come again!”

A few days later the craftsman’s son came to the king with another sword. The son was very clever. He didn’t tell the king that he was the craftsman’s son. He simply said, “I have heard that somebody brought you swords twice and you didn’t like them. Now I am sure that you will like this sword that I have made. It will take anybody’s life in a twinkling of an eye.”

Immediately the king took the sword and was about to strike it against a stone. The boy, who had been warned about this, said, “Please, please, wait! Swords are not meant for stones. They are meant for men. What use is it to strike a stone if you want to test a sword? You use a sword to kill someone or to defend yourself. You can apply it on me and see if it is really powerful.”

The king said, “All right, I am ready. I am going to use it.”

The king picked up the sword and was about to strike the boy when the boy said, “O King, you are a noble ruler. Will you not allow me to use a shield to protect myself? If you fight someone, will you not allow that person to at least have armour?”

The boy put on armour and then said, “Now you strike me and see if the sword breaks or not.”

As the king lifted the sword, suddenly the boy pulled out another sword to defend himself. “What are you doing?” cried the king.

“O King,” replied the boy, “you are attacking me. Should I not defend myself? This sword is my protection. You are a noble King and I am a noble soldier.”

The king, who was very pleased with the boy’s intelligence, said to the boy, “Then you are ready to be one of my knights.” So he made the boy a knight.

Two horses

One day a businessman was riding his horse to the marketplace. After covering quite a distance he became tired. So he got down from his horse and tied it to a mango tree. At the foot of the mango tree he lay down and took rest.

In a few minutes’ time, a high-ranking officer came passing by. He was also riding his horse to the marketplace to perform some duty. When he saw that the businessman was lying under the tree, he also felt tired. If one sees someone else lying down, one also becomes tired. So the officer decided to tie his horse to the same mango tree and also take rest.

The businessman said to the officer, “What are you doing? Why are you tying your horse to the same tree that I have tied my horse to?”

The officer replied, “Shut up!”

The businessman said, “My horse is much more powerful, much stronger than yours. If it fights with your horse, it may injure or even kill your horse. You have to take your horse somewhere else. Otherwise, if anything happens to your horse, I will not be responsible. I came here before you. I am tired and want some rest. Is this the kind of justice one finds in this kingdom?”

“Yes!” said the officer. “Might is right.”

“You may be stronger than I am,” said the businessman, “but my horse is stronger than your horse. I am going to lie down here again, but if my horse attacks yours, I won’t be responsible.”

In a few minutes’ time the businessman’s horse attacked the other horse and badly injured it. The poor horse was miserable and badly hurt.

The following day the officer went to the king and made a complaint against the businessman, and the businessman was summoned before the king. The king was very fond of the officer’s horse, so he was very, very mad. He started scolding and insulting the businessman. “Why did you not take your horse to another place?” he asked.

The man did not answer him. He remained absolutely silent. The king again and again asked him the question, but the man would not answer him. Finally, the king said to the officer, “You are a fool. You brought me a dumb man. He can’t even speak. I don’t know what happened yesterday, but you should have told me that he could not speak. Why should I have to deal with a dumb person?”

The officer said, “No, no! Today he is dumb, but yesterday he was arguing with me and threatening me. He told me to move my horse, since he had been there first.”

The king said, “If he was there first, and he asked you to keep your horse somewhere else, then it is your fault.” Then the king immediately dismissed the case.

The gold coins

Once a poor man came to a rich man and begged him to give him an acre of land that was not being used. He said that he would cultivate the land and then sell the grain at a cheap price to the poor people. Although the rich man was not using the land, he did not trust the poor man. He told him, “No, you have to pay me for the land.”

A few months later the poor man’s son came to the rich man and said, “Sir, I had a dream, a most powerful dream. In the dream a beautiful goddess appeared before me and showed me a particular plot of land. She said that if I dug deep enough at that particular place, I would find an earthen pot with one hundred gold coins.” The son didn’t disclose that the man who had asked for the land was his father. He only said that he had had a dream, and the rich man was very pleased to hear about it.

The rich man asked, “Then what shall we do?”

The son said, “I don’t have any money, so I won’t be able to buy the land. But if you want me to, I will be able to dig up the pot and give you the money. Then, if you are kind to me, you will give me the land.”

“You can certainly have the land if you get a hundred gold coins!” exclaimed the rich man. “If you find the earthen pot and give the coins to me, I shall give you the land.”

“Yes, I shall do that,” said the young man. “Or you can give me a few gold coins instead of the land,” he added. “You have got thousands of golden coins. You can give me a few.”

The rich man said, “No, only take the land.”

“All right,” agreed the young man. “Now I have to dig up the earthen pot. But it is not safe to dig during the day. People will see me. So I will start at night. You can stay with me — but nobody else.”

The rich man agreed because he didn’t want to share the gold coins even with his wife and children. He said, “I don’t want to share this with anybody.”

That night the rich man watched the young man dig for some time. After a while he got tired and asked the young man, “Are you sure that you will find this earthen pot?”

“Absolutely sure,” replied the man. “There is definitely something here!”

Finally the rich man went back home. “When you find it, call me,” he said. “But be sure you don’t call anybody else — not my children or wife or anybody.”

“Certainly! I will call only you,” agreed the young man.

As soon as the rich man left, the young man went home and brought back a small earthen pot. In it he put a hundred ordinary copper coins, and then he sealed the vessel. On the top he put a note that said, “Do not open this until three years have passed. After three years if you open it, then you will have gold coins. But if you open it before that, you may not get gold coins.”

He put the pot in the hole that he had been digging and then pretended that he had just found it. He started screaming, “I have found it! I have found it!”

The rich man and his whole family came running. “What has happened? What has happened?” they cried.

The young man told them that he had discovered the earthen pot with the gold coins. The rich man became very forceful and said, “Nobody except me can touch this pot.” When he read the message on the top, he was not disappointed at all. “Three years? That will pass by very quickly,” he said. Then he asked the young man, “What would you like as your reward?”

“Just this acre of land,” answered the young man.

“All right,” said the rich man, “but you won’t get anything from this earthen pot.”

The rich man brought the pot home and put it near his bed so nobody would be able to touch it. O God, his eldest son was so clever and greedy. He said, “If there are golden coins in this pot, then why do we have to wait for three years?” Then he shook the pot and heard the coins rattling inside. “Definitely there is something inside. Why do I have to wait for three years?” he said. He was so anxious and eager to open it. He stole the pot from his father’s room and opened it. As soon as he opened it, he saw the simple copper coins.

He ran to his father, crying, “That fellow is a liar. Let us kill him!”

“How can I kill him?” asked the father. “The note said that the pot should not be opened for three years.”

The son was so angry that he went and got the young man and dragged him to see his father. The young man said, “Sir, it was written that one had to wait for three years. Why did you open it now?”

Then the father got mad at his son and started thrashing him.

The young man said, “What am I going to do? You didn’t want to give me any gold. Instead you gave me the land because you were so pleased with me. Now you are going to take away the land.”

“No,” said the rich man. “This is my fate. I promised you that I would give you the land. It is yours.”

So the young man started cultivating the land. He raised vegetables and grains. In six months’ time he asked the rich man, “How much do you want me to pay for the land?”

“Why do you have to pay?” asked the rich man.

“Suppose you wanted to sell it to someone else,” said the poor man. “How much would you sell it for?”

“I would ask for only two hundred rupees,” said the rich man.

“Then take these two hundred rupees that I have made from selling vegetables and grains,” said the young man.

This is how the young man was able to get money to buy the rich man’s land.

The drunkard’s promises

There was a woodcutter who was a real drunkard. Since he never brought any money home, his poor wife lived a destitute life. The wife begged the husband to give up drinking, but he wouldn’t listen.

One day the goddess Lakshmi appeared before the drunkard and said, “Look, everybody ridicules you. Nobody appreciates you, whereas your own brother is appreciated by everyone because he is simple, pure and honest. But everybody dislikes you — almost hates you. Why don’t you give up drinking?”

“No, I can’t give it up!” said the man.

“Do you like people to say nasty things about you?” the goddess asked.

“That I don’t like, but how can I give up drinking?” the woodcutter said.

The goddess told him, “You can give it up if you want to.”

“All right,” said the drunkard. “I am ready to give it up if you will bring me free of charge a very large amount of wine.”

“I can do that easily,” said the goddess. “Then will you give up drinking?”

“Certainly!” said the drunkard. “I will take the wine home and it will last for a long time — perhaps a week. Then after that I will give up drinking altogether.”

“Are you sure?” asked the goddess.

“I am sure,” said the man. “For one week only I will drink. After one week I will give it up.”

“Then I will bring the wine,” said the goddess. “But you must drink only for one week and then give up drinking.”

So the goddess brought him a large supply of wine. After one week of drinking at home, the woodcutter went into the woods and continued drinking. The goddess came to him again and scolded him. She said, “You didn’t keep your promise. Still you are drinking.”

The drunkard said, “I am so sorry that I could not keep my promise.”

“Will you make another promise?” asked the goddess.

“Certainly I will make another promise,” the man said. “Now, since you are the presiding deity of this forest, can you make a small pond that has not water but wine? I will stay by the pond and drink and drink. After three nights I will be fed up with drinking. Then I will go home and give it up.”

The goddess said, “Yes, I will do it with my occult power.”

Then the goddess made a pond filled with wine. She told the man, “In three days you have to give up drinking.”

He promised again, “Certainly I will give it up.”

Three days passed, but the man did not leave the pond. His poor wife did not see him for days. The goddess came to him again and said, “What are you doing here? You promised that you would go home after three days and stop drinking. You are not keeping your promise.”

The man said, “Mother, when did you ever hear of a drunkard telling the truth? How can you expect any truth from a drunkard? Only he who has lost his brains can drink like this. Am I not insane? If I were sane, I would not have drunk so much. Since I am insane, how can you expect me to tell the truth? I am extremely grateful to you for the pond. For the rest of my life I will drink this wine.”

The goddess said, “I will take care of you and your drunkard life. If you have to drink, then at least let me take care of you.”

So the man stayed in the forest by the pond and never returned home. Although the woodcutter had been a useless drunkard, his poor wife still missed him because, after all, he was her husband.

The loafer who gave advice

There was a bad fellow who was a real loafer. His poor wife was suffering like anything because her husband wouldn’t work. But what could she do? He kept saying that soon he would get a nice job and then they would lead a luxurious life. But he never got a job. Finally she got mad at him and started insulting him. “I have heard that story too many times,” she said.

The husband said, “I am not going to put up with your insults. I am going to leave you.”

The wife could not believe her ears.

He said to her, “Previously you could say that at least you had a husband. Now you can consider yourself a widow.”

She became furious and said, “It is better to be a widow than to have a husband like you!”

So the husband left the house and walked and walked. He said to himself, “It is beneath my dignity to be insulted by a woman. I am not going back there!”

As he was walking he saw a moneylender with his clients. So he said to himself, “My wife used to tell me that I am a good adviser. Let me start giving advice right now.”

The loafer went up to the moneylender and said, “There is something called sin and there is a place called hell. To ask for interest is a sin. Because you are asking for interest, you will go to hell, whereas I will go to Heaven.”

The moneylender said, “I am taking only my due. I am not asking for high interest. I am asking for only what I deserve. My interest is not exorbitant.”

“No!” the man insisted. “What you are doing is very bad.”

The moneylender looked at him and then said, “Perhaps you are a beggar. My wife is very kind-hearted. She always thinks of vagabonds. She has a special fondness for them. You can come to my house and my wife will definitely feed you.”

The moneylender was right. The loafer went to his house and the moneylender’s wife prepared a very delicious meal for him. This made the loafer very happy.

As he was leaving he said, “Don’t forget my advice. There will come a time when you will feel the necessity of giving up this business entirely. Then you will pray to God for peace and love. But if you always deal in money and ask for interest, then you won’t be happy.”

The wife said, “He is right, he is right.”

The husband said, “Yes, he is right, but he should keep his advice to himself.”

The loafer felt sorry that he had been insulted, so he left the moneylender’s house and again started walking. Then he saw a lawyer and a group of people. He said to the lawyer, “You are a lawyer. Do you ever tell the truth?”

The lawyer got mad. He said, “What are you saying? Who are you?”

The loafer said, “You are a lawyer and these people are your clients. You are teaching them falsehood and asking them to tell lies. For a lawyer there is no Heaven — only hell.”

The lawyer got even more furious and he started beating the loafer. He shouted, “Granted, we tell lies, but it is only to save honest people.”

“Yes,” said the loafer, “honest people hire you. But for what? Only to see you tell lies so that you can win the case.”

The lawyer said, “Go home peacefully. If you argue with me, I will thrash you even more.”

The man went away and said, “First I gave advice to the moneylender and told him that he shouldn’t ask for interest. He didn’t appreciate my advice. Then I asked the lawyer to give up his profession and he became mad. That means the world does not need my advice. They will all definitely go to hell, and I shall go to Heaven. But where is my Heaven?”

Then he thought of his wife. Inwardly he saw that his wife was crying for him. So he said, “Let me go back to my wife, my Heaven, and let these people go to hell!”

Editor’s preface to the first edition

The tales in this book, part of a collection that Sri Chinmoy has adapted from traditional Indian stories, have an innocent and childlike quality that appeals to the child in us. The stories have been performed as plays by Sri Chinmoy’s students.