A villager needed a loan. He went from door to door, but nobody would lend him money. Finally he went to his landlord and asked, “Please, will you lend me three thousand rupees?”
The landlord said, “Why? Is there nobody else who can give you three thousand rupees?”
The villager said, “Certainly, I can borrow money from anyone, even from the worst possible miser.”
“Then why have you come to me?” the landlord asked.
The villager explained, “I have come here because you are very noble, kind-hearted and pious. I want to show off that I can take money even from a great landlord. It is only to boost my ego. Since you are so great, I will be able to tell others that I have taken a loan from a truly great man.”
The landlord said, “All right, since you have come here and since you are flattering me, I could give you three thousand rupees. But, instead, let me see if you can borrow money from the worst possible miser. You have to keep your promise. Go and borrow three thousand rupees from the worst possible miser in the world and then bring the money here and show me.”
“What will you give me if I do this?” asked the villager.
The landlord replied, “If you can bring back the money from the worst possible miser, I will give you this golden bangle, which is worth four thousand rupees. By selling this bracelet, you will be able to return three thousand to the miser and keep one thousand rupees for yourself.”
The villager agreed. Then he said, “I can tell you who I think is the worst possible miser, but do you have anyone particular in mind?”
The landlord replied, “Yes, I know who he is.” The landlord and the zamindar of a far-off village absolutely hated each other. The landlord told him the name of that person.
“Go to that village,” the landlord continued. “The village zamindar is so miserly. If you can bring money from him, I will be very proud of you.”
“But that miserly zamindar’s place is so far away,” complained the villager. “Can you not do me a favour? Will you not give me the bangle first and send one or two of your bodyguards to accompany me? I am sure I will be able to get the loan from that miserly zamindar. If I cannot borrow the money from him, you will get your bracelet back.”
The landlord agreed to the villager’s proposal and gave him both the bangle and the bodyguards to accompany him. Then the villager set off to fulfil his task.
They travelled very far. When they finally reached their destination, the villager immediately went to see the zamindar.
“What do you want?” the miserly zamindar asked.
The villager showed him the bangle and said, “If you give me ten thousand rupees, I will give you this most valuable bracelet.”
The miser examined the bangle and said, “It is so beautiful. Ten thousand rupees I am giving you immediately.” The zamindar was such a greedy fellow that right away he agreed to buy the bangle for a very high price. Although the first landlord had said it was worth four thousand rupees, the miserly zamindar thought it was worth much more. He was sure he would be able to sell it for at least fifteen thousand rupees, so he eagerly gave the villager ten thousand rupees.
Once the transaction had been completed, the villager said to the bodyguards, “Look, I came to your boss for a loan of three thousand rupees, but he sent me here to see if I could borrow from this man instead. Now I am ready to give you three thousand rupees to bring back to your boss, according to our agreement.”
The bodyguards exclaimed, “You rogue! You sold the bangle to get the money. But you were supposed to borrow the money. Only if you could borrow the money and bring it back to our boss would you be entitled to keep the bangle. Those were the terms of your agreement.”
The man said, “What is wrong? I am not supposed to give back the bangle. Your boss did not have any objection if I showed the bracelet to anybody. The main thing was for me to get the money. He told me that if I could borrow money, then I could keep the bangle. That is what I have done.”
The bodyguards were furious. They said, “But the bangle is not with you any more. You have just sold it. You were supposed to borrow the money without giving the zamindar anything.”
While the guards were arguing between themselves, the villager secretly told the miserly zamindar how his landlord had called him “absolutely the worst miser in God’s entire creation.” The zamindar, who hated the other landlord, immediately wanted to prove that he was not a miser and that his enemy was a fool.
He said to the villager in front of the bodyguards, “All right. Take your bracelet back. The money is a loan.” He was so smart. He knew he would be able to get the bracelet back from the villager.
The villager turned to the two bodyguards and exclaimed triumphantly, “You see that I have borrowed the money from this good zamindar. Now the bracelet is mine. But since he has lent me such a large amount of money, out of generosity, I am giving him the bracelet to keep. I only wanted three thousand rupees from your boss, but he ordered me to go and bring the money from the worst possible miser. Your boss chose this zamindar. I did not. So now I have succeeded in getting the money. It is up to me what I do after that.”
The miserly zamindar and the villager were now very nicely in collusion.
The villager said to the bodyguards, “Look, I have the bangle with me. Here is the proof that this good zamindar has lent me the money and not purchased the bangle.”
“Yes,” agreed the miserly zamindar. “I am confirming that I lent him the money. He did not sell me this bangle.”
The bodyguards were still arguing that it was not a loan. Because the zamindar wanted to keep the bracelet, he and his servants began striking the bodyguards mercilessly.
Finally, the villager said to the bodyguards, “Once and for all, I am requesting you to take the three thousand rupees. Either go back to your boss and show him that I have lived up to our agreement, or split the money and keep it yourselves.”
The prospect of keeping the money for themselves was too tempting for the bodyguards. They divided the money equally and did not return to their boss.
They were all such rogues. Instead of borrowing the money, as he had agreed to do, the villager sold the bangle to the miserly zamindar. Rather than giving the three thousand rupees to their boss, the bodyguards kept it for themselves.
The first landlord was the worst possible fool. He wanted to make fun of the villager by asking him to get a loan from his worst enemy. But the landlord did not get any satisfaction. On the contrary, he lost everything. He lost his money because his bodyguards decided to keep it for themselves, he lost the bracelet because the villager sold it for ten thousand rupees, and he lost his bodyguards because they never returned. So he was, indeed, the real loser.