Life’s bleeding tears and flying smiles, part 10

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The death of the miser

There was a miser of the worst type. He had no match in his 'profession'. He lived to be an old man, and then one day he passed away. When his neighbours heard of his passing, they shed crocodile tears. He did not have any friends, but people who knew him came and outwardly expressed their sadness. Everybody showed signs of sorrow and grief, although it was not at all sincere. But, to their utter astonishment, the miser's wife was not crying, she was not sobbing, she was not shedding tears.

One neighbour came forward and asked her, "Why are you not crying at all?"

The wife did not answer. She remained quiet and calm. Then some of the neighbours said, "We do not know where the miser has kept his money, and his wife is silent. We shall have to collect money for his funeral. Now it is an act of charity."

When the neighbours started collecting money as an act of charity, all of a sudden, the wife burst into tears. In an absolutely pitiful voice she began lamenting the loss of her husband. One neighbour said, "What has happened all of a sudden to make you cry? You were calm and quiet and unperturbed. You did not suffer from your loss. Now what has happened to bring about such a dramatic change?"

The wife said, "The word 'charity' that you are using used to chase my husband away. Whenever he heard the word 'charity', he literally used to run away. Now I see that you are using the word 'charity', but my husband is not running away. He is lying here and he is not moving, so that means he is really dead. So I am now suffering. Before I did not believe that he was dead, but now I know that he is really dead, otherwise the word 'charity' would have chased him away!"

Deceiving Mother Lakshmi

A villager was quite rich and prosperous. He knew that his good fortune was coming from his worship of Mother Lakshmi. This goddess gives wealth and prosperity, so he was extremely grateful to Mother Lakshmi. Unfortunately, for some reason, Mother Lakshmi became displeased with him. He had done a few undivine things, so in a dream Lakshmi came to him and said, "I am leaving you."

The villager said to himself, "If Mother Lakshmi leaves me, then I will lose my fortune. I will be totally ruined."

He said to Mother Lakshmi, "Mother, Mother, please do not go! But if you are determined to leave me, then please allow me to worship you one last time in this lifetime with all my heart. I shall cover your statue with gold. I shall spend thousands and thousands of rupees and invite all my friends, neighbours and relatives to participate in my worship of you. Please, please stay."

Mother Lakshmi said, "All right, if this is your last wish."

The man said, "Yes, this is absolutely my last wish. But until I worship you in that way, please promise to stay."

Alas, that red letter day never came. Mother Lakshmi was waiting and waiting. Previously this rogue had been quite regular in his worship early in the morning. Now he had given up his worship completely. He was not worshipping the Goddess Lakshmi any more.

Once again the Goddess Lakshmi appeared to him. This time she said, "You are a rogue! You are not even worshipping me, let alone making preparations for that special worship. Before you used to worship me quite regularly, but now you have stopped. What is wrong with you? How can I stay here any longer? I am going away."

The man said, "O Mother, I am just an ordinary human being. I am in the habit of telling lies. But whoever thought that the Supreme Goddess Lakshmi would tell a lie? You promised, Mother, that until I worship you in a grandiose manner, you would stay with me. True, I am taking my time. But since you have promised, you also have to wait for that time."

Mother Lakshmi said, "You rogue! Enough is enough! I am not going to stay with you any more."

So she left and almost immediately this rogue became very, very poor — utterly bankrupt. Then he started praying and praying to the Goddess Lakshmi to come back. At last the Goddess Lakshmi came to him once again in a dream. She said, "Opportunity comes only once in a lifetime. I will not give you another chance. You must stay poor to the end of your life."

Flattery catches the culprit

There were two good friends who lived in the same village. One of the friends owned a beautiful cow. One day this particular friend said to the other friend, "I am now getting old. I do not think I will be able to take care of my cow any more. I feel that the best thing is to sell the cow, so today I am going to the market."

The other one said, "I like your cow. Why do you not sell it to me? I am younger than you, so I will be able to take care of it for many years to come."

The first friend said, "Fine, I am willing to let you buy my cow."

The price was quite reasonable: two hundred rupees. The cow seemed to be very strong and in good health. The younger friend paid two hundred rupees, and the owner gave the cow to his friend. This transaction happened in the morning. Alas, in the evening of the same day the cow died.

The friend who had bought the cow was furious. He said to the previous owner, "Something was wrong with your cow! I am sure it had some disease."

The first friend said, "No! How could I know that my cow had some disease?"

Both of them argued and argued. Their friendship completely disappeared. Finally they went to the village chief with their dispute. The friend who lost his two hundred rupees said to the village chief, "I am sure his cow had some disease that he was hiding from me. He wanted to sell it in the market, but I persuaded him to sell it to me. Then, in a matter of hours, it died. Now that fellow is lucky, and I am so unlucky."

The village chief asked the previous owner, "Do you think the cow had some ailment? I am not asking in order to punish you. I simply want to know the truth from you. You seem to be a very sincere person. In this village I have heard so much about your honesty. I will not believe anybody else, but I will believe you."

When the village chief flattered him in this manner, the previous owner confessed, "Yes, the cow had a disease. How can I tell you a lie?"

The friend who had bought the cow cried out, "See, I was right! When he sold me the cow, he knew perfectly well that the cow had a disease."

The village chief said to the first owner, "Here is the proof that I was right. You are such a sincere person. You have confessed to me that your cow was not all right, so I deeply appreciate your sincerity."

The man said, "I knew that my friend was a fool."

The village chief asked, "Why is he a fool?"

The man went on, "He believed me. He thought that I would not tell him a lie."

Then the village chief said, "How I wish I could also be as sincere as you and as clever as you."

The previous owner was so thrilled to be flattered about his sincerity and his cleverness. Then the village chief became serious and said, "You rogue! Granted, you did not know that the cow was going to die today, but you definitely knew that the cow was sick."

The man told the chief, "Yes, I knew."

The chief continued, "When you knew that you had a cow that was sick, how did you dare to fool your dear friend? Why did you sell him the cow? Why did you not tell him the truth first? I appreciate your sincerity. You told me the truth that the cow had some disease. But your roguish nature I cannot appreciate. You are not responsible for the death of the cow, but you are responsible for hiding the fact that the cow was sick."

Immediately the village chief ordered the man to return the money to his friend. What could the previous owner do? In front of the village chief he had to return the money. Then the village chief said, "Flattery can catch everybody."

The judge punishes the cow's owner

This is another story about a cow. This cow was in absolutely perfect health. The owner was in need of money because his daughter was about to get married. In this particular village he had a friend who was quite rich. This friend liked the cow because it was very strong and smart, and it was producing a very large amount of milk. The friend wanted to buy the cow, but he thought he could buy it at a very cheap price because he knew that the owner desperately needed money.

The owner said, "No, I cannot give the cow to you at such a low price. You have to make a better offer." So their friendship ended.

A few months later, the owner took the cow to the market to sell it. Various people were negotiating with him to buy the cow when all of a sudden a young man came forward and said, "My father liked this cow. I must give this cow to my father as a present, no matter what your price."

The owner quoted a high price, but the young man was not at all shocked by the figure. He bought the cow in order to make his father happy. Alas, while he was bringing the cow home, somehow the cow escaped. The cow entered into a paddy field and utterly destroyed it. The owner of the paddy field became furious. He captured the cow and dragged it before the village council. The council was comprised of five or six judges. Every day the head judge changed. On that day the friend who had wanted to buy the cow at a very low price happened to be the head judge. He still felt that he had been insulted by his former friend because the friend had not sold him the cow.

When he heard that this particular cow had destroyed the paddy field, he recognised at once that this was the cow he had wanted to buy. He said to the owner of the paddy field, "I am ordering the owner of this cow to pay two thousand rupees. He is such a bad owner. He knew that his cow was notorious, so I am fining him two thousand rupees. One thousand will go to you to help you restore your paddy field, and one thousand will be an act of charity. We need money for the improvement of our village."

This judge was such a rogue. He knew the cow belonged to his former friend, and that is why he imposed such a heavy fine.

The other judges on the council said, "Is your judgement not too harsh? Can you not lower the fine?"

The head judge said, "No! If it had been my cow that had misbehaved, I would have gladly given two thousand rupees."

Then the head judge requested the owner of the cow to be summoned. All of a sudden, the young man came running into the room and said, "This is my cow! I bought this cow, and I was looking for it. I was bringing it home to make my father happy. I heard that my father was deeply interested in this particular cow, so I bought it at the market to please my father."

The head judge saw his own son standing before him. He said, "What have I done?"

The other judges said, "You cannot change your decision just because it is your son. You have to stick to your decision."

So the father and son had to pay the fine of two thousand rupees. The farmer whose field was destroyed by the cow got one thousand, and the other thousand was distributed by the judges for the betterment of the village.

The perfectionist

There was a landlord who had quite a few servants, a wife and three sons, but nobody could please him. No matter how his dear ones and servants would do something, even if it was absolutely perfect, he would find fault with them. Nobody could satisfy him in anything.

One day it happened that a young man came to his village and said to him, "My father is very sick, and your village has a very good doctor, so I have brought him all the way here. Now he will be staying at the doctor's place. Once he is cured, my father and I will go back to our village. In the meantime, you are a landlord, and it is said that you are very kind, compassionate and hospitable. Would you please allow me to stay at your guest house?"

The landlord was pleased that this stranger was so unreservedly flattering him.

He said, "Yes, you can stay at my guest house, but I do not give anything free of charge. Although it is a guest house, I expect the guests to work on the premises at least for half an hour a day. If you agree to this condition, you can stay as long as your father remains in our village."

The young man said, "Definitely. I will be quite happy to work for half an hour a day."

So the landlord gave him a very minor job. It was very, very easy, and the young man did it. The landlord felt that since this guest was neither his servant nor his relative, he should not be strict with him. So he did not find fault with his work as he usually did with others. Somehow the young man pleased the landlord.

It happened that the landlord had to go to another village to do some business. It would take him at least two weeks to go settle his affairs and come back. So he said to the young man, "I shall be away for two weeks. I would like you to do me a big favour."

The young man said, "Definitely I will do whatever you wish because you have been so kind to me."

The landlord continued, "Here is a small house. It belongs to me. I do not like the colour of the walls at all. I want you to change the colour. I am giving you a box as a sample. The colour of this box and the colour of the walls should be exactly the same."

"Easily I can do it," said the young man confidently. Then he asked, "If I finish the job in one week instead of two, do I have to wait for you to return?"

The landlord thought, "This fellow is very sincere and I am not certain that I shall be able to come back in two weeks' time." He said, "All right, I trust you. You will do the job, and I will give you the money for the job before I go. Somehow I am very pleased with you, so I am giving you the money before you have done the job."

Then the landlord left for the other village. In the meantime, the young man's father had recovered and the time had come for them to leave the village. The young man did not want to waste two weeks painting the house, so he thought of an easy solution. The colour of the small box was red and the colour of the walls was yellow. What the young man did was buy a small quantity of yellow paint and paint the box yellow. The landlord did not say that the walls had to be exactly the same colour as the box. He only said that they should match. So the young man simply painted the box and, with the extra money that he had saved, he took his father home.

After two weeks the landlord returned. He was thrilled that the colour of the box and the walls was the same, so he began bragging to his wife about his excellent worker. He said, "At last I have found a man who could please me. See, the box and the walls are the same colour!"

His wife burst into laughter.

He said, "Why are you mocking me?"

She said, "You fool! Was the box that colour? Your box was red. See, he fooled you! He just changed the colour of the box to match the walls."

The landlord became furious. "How dare that fellow fool me!" he said.

He went to the doctor's house in search of the young man. The doctor said, "You are too late. The patient is cured. They have returned home." Then the landlord asked the doctor if he knew the whereabouts of their village. The doctor gave him the information. In the meantime, the landlord's wife was laughing and laughing.

The landlord sent his servants to that village and they brought back the young man. By this time the landlord's anger could not be contained. He said, "You rogue! Give me my money back! You have tricked me!"

The young man said, "I have spent it."

"How could you spend it?" asked the landlord.

"Do you remember what you asked me?" said the young man.

"I do remember," replied the landlord.

The young man said, "Then repeat what you told me."

The landlord said, "I told you that both the walls and the box have to be exactly the same colour."

"So, you are saying they have to be the same?" echoed the young man. "You did not tell me that the walls have to be the colour of the box. You just told me that they have to be the same colour. So I found the method that was easiest for me and I did it. I changed the colour of the box."

The landlord was still furious because he had been fooled. Then his wife said, "He did not fool you. It is you who are the fool. You did not tell him correctly what he was supposed to do."

The landlord's son also joined his mother's side. He said, "Father, it is true. You made the mistake."

When they came to hear of the young man's trick, the villagers all laughed and laughed. They said, "At last, this perfectionist has learnt his lesson. He always demands perfection from others. He was never satisfied with anybody, so God punished him. If you constantly find fault with everybody, then rest assured, one day somebody will fool you and it will be unbearable."

The loaf of bread

There was a king who used to invite other kings to come to his kingdom on his birthday. He also used to invite his special friends and practically anybody who would like to come. He made it known that he would be happy if his guests could bring him gifts. Then whoever gave him the most valuable present was allowed to sit beside him on the throne for one day, his birthday. This practice went on every year. Now this particular year, the king's Guru came to the palace to celebrate the king's birthday. The king was overjoyed that his Guru was present. He said, "Nobody can give me any gift that is more valuable than my Guru himself. His presence is the greatest gift. He will sit beside me on the throne. Plus, he will tell me what I should do. First I will keep him beside me. Then I shall ask him to guide me. Whomever he chooses to sit next to him or whatever gifts he chooses for me to receive first, I will gladly obey his will."

Then the king very prayerfully invited his Guru to sit beside him, but his Guru said, "No, I cannot sit there because I am not the most valuable gift."

The king said, "Are you not the most valuable? Your very presence is the most precious thing in my life. You have come here out of your infinite compassion and affection."

"No, no, no," said his Guru. Then he went on, "Now I am telling you which gift is more valuable. I would like you to declare what the gift is and show the gift to everybody. Then I would like you to thank the person wholeheartedly."

The king immediately agreed. He said, "I will wholeheartedly thank the person, whoever he is, and also I will appreciate him most sincerely. I will give him a scroll with my gratitude inscribed on it."

Then the king's Guru gave the king a large loaf of bread and asked him to write some words of appreciation for the gift. Everybody started laughing. How could a loaf of bread be the most valuable thing? The Guru said, "O King, let me tell you the story and then you can decide. This morning a very, very poor man came here with this loaf of bread. He was afraid of giving it to you, so he gave it to me because I am a simple man. I told him that I am your Guru and that I would give it to you. He was very pleased because he believed me.

"Then he started to go away. I asked him to stay for the celebration, but he said, 'No, no, no! I do not fit in with the king's important guests, but I have such love, admiration and adoration for my king. That is why I wanted to bring him my humble gift. In order to get this loaf of bread, I have not eaten for two days.'

"I begged him, 'Stay, stay here! I will give you food.'

"The poor man said, 'No, no, no. I want to go. These are all very, very important people and I do not fit in. I cannot stay. I am going back to my village today. When I reach my home, I will be able to eat.'"

The king was so moved by his Guru's story. He showed the loaf to his friends and, at his Guru's request, he read out a special message of appreciation for the old man.

Then his Guru said, "Poor fellow! He has set out on his way. I am sure he is feeling very weak. Perhaps he will not be able to cover a very long distance. O King, kindly send your guards to find him and bring him here so that we can feed him properly."

The king immediately sent his guards in search of the poor man. They went out on horseback in the direction of the poor man's village. After covering two miles, they saw the man lying by the side of the road. They got the shock of their life to discover that he had died from exhaustion. With heavy hearts, they brought back the dead body and placed it carefully at the feet of the king.

The Guru said to the king, "You have to give this man a special honour. His body you have to bury in a very special way, in a grandiose manner. He deserves the highest honour."

The king answered, "Yes, I will do anything you ask. You are my Guru."

The Guru looked around the court and said, "These are all your friends. They give you gifts from their surplus. They do not make any sacrifice. Most of them are very, very rich, and they give in accordance with their wealth and prosperity. In terms of their true capacity, they give you next to nothing. But this old man has given you everything — his last loaf of bread. If he had eaten that loaf of bread himself, today he would have had strength; he would not have died."

The king said, "My heart is breaking for this poor man. I will keep this loaf on my throne until it becomes very, very hard and only then, when it has become completely useless, will I throw it away."

His Guru said, "No! You have to keep that loaf of bread by your side as long as you live. This bread will reveal to you the meaning of sacrifice. You see, this poor man sacrificed his own life. He wanted to bring you a gift and he gave his life to fulfil that wish. You want appreciation, admiration and adoration from your friends and neighbouring kings. In addition, I want you to add something good to your life and that is an understanding of the meaning of sacrifice. So it is my wish that you keep this loaf of bread in a box here on your throne permanently. This bread embodies the message of sacrifice. This old man gave his life because he loved you so much. You can also make a most significant sacrifice from now on to show the citizens of your kingdom how much you love them. This is my wish."

The king listened with utmost devotion to his Guru's words. Then he bowed to his Guru and said, "O Guru of my heart and soul, I will do as you wish. I will abide by your soulful request."

The art of being a miser

There was a gentleman who wanted to be 'initiated' into the fine art of being a miser by someone who was himself a great miser. Although this gentleman had miserly qualities, the great miser was infinitely better than he was in that 'profession'. One day the gentleman went to the supremely great miser and begged him to teach him how to become a very great miser. The supremely great miser asked, "What will you give me if I make you as great as I am?"

The gentleman said, "I will give you anything you wish."

The great miser said, "If you will give me anything, then I will make you even greater than I am in miserliness."

The master-miser took his disciple-miser to a grocery store. The master-miser wanted to buy a pound of flour. He asked the owner, "Is this flour in very good condition?"

The shopkeeper said, "Yes, yes. You can see for yourself. It looks like pure butter. And when you taste it, you will find it tastes like pure butter."

The master-miser said, "We will be back."

Then he and his disciple went to another shop where butter was sold. The master-miser said to the owner, "So, I have heard that your butter is by far the best."

The owner said, "Yes, it is absolutely the best. Can you not see that it is so soft, just like olive oil?"

The master-miser said, "Ah, yes, it does look like olive oil. All right, we will be coming back soon."

Then the master-miser took his disciple to a store where they sold all kinds of oil. The master-miser asked the shopkeeper, "Do you have olive oil?"

The owner said, "Yes, yes."

The master-miser said, "Let me see the best olive oil you have."

The owner brought out a jar of olive oil and said, "This oil is by far the best. Can you not see that it looks like pure water? It is so clear and so pure, just like water."

The master-miser said to him, "I can see that what you are saying is true. We shall come back."

Then the master-miser took his disciple home to his house. The disciple-miser sat before the master-miser, eager to hear his words of wisdom. The master-miser said to him, "Do you know now what is the most valuable thing? It is water. We started with flour, which looked like butter. Then we found the butter was like olive oil. Finally, we discovered the olive oil was like water. So you see, water is most important. Water symbolises life itself. Do we pay anything for water? No, it is free. Other things we have to buy, and they are quite expensive, whereas water we do not have to buy. See how much money we have saved in the course of one morning! Now I have given you my lesson. The most valuable thing, according to all the shopkeepers, is water, and we have plenty of water in the house. So let us drink water."

The master-miser and his disciple both filled their glasses with water and drank it together. Then the master-miser said, "I am very pleased with your devotedness. You have followed me all morning and you have grasped the essence of my teachings. I am sure you will now become a super-excellent miser."

The disciple-miser said, "Please ask me for anything in return. I will give it to you."

The master-miser said, "I told you that you will be able to defeat me in our 'profession'."

The disciple-miser said, "How can I ever defeat you? You have given me such good advice today."

The master-miser said, "How will you defeat me? I have a beautiful daughter, and you have a very smart, well-educated son. I want your son to marry my daughter. You will not have to give me even one anna, but I shall have to give you thousands of rupees for my daughter's dowry. Now, have I not proved to you that you are greater than me in miserliness?"

The bronze statue

There was a villager who used to dive well. If anything dropped inside the well by accident, he would dive and bring it to the surface. The king was very pleased with him for his efforts and gave him a trophy. It was a bronze statue of a Greek soldier. The diver was very, very pleased with the statue and he brought it home.

His village head heard that the diver had received something special from the king, so he became jealous. He said to the diver, "Please, can you sell this statue to me? It is so beautiful. It is such a precious thing."

The diver said, "No, I cannot sell it. The king himself has given this to me, and it means so much to me. I really treasure it."

The village head said, "Next week I am inviting my friends to my house for a party. I want to place this statue on the table to decorate it. That is why I am asking to have it."

The young man said, "I cannot sell it to you, but I can loan it to you for a short time. For a week or so I can loan it to you, but then you have to return it. When your guests go away, you can return it."

The village head said, "Definitely, definitely I will give it back to you. It is just a temporary loan."

The young man gave the statue to the village head, and the village head secretly asked some of his workers to cast an earthen statue in exactly the same mould.

A week passed and the young man came to the village head to retrieve his statue. He trusted the village head so much that he did not suspect anything. The statue had been in a special box, and the village head gave the same box back to the young man. Then he thanked the young man profusely.

The young man said, "I am so happy that I was able to help you."

Then the great diver went home, only to discover there was no bronze statue inside the box. It had become an earthen statue. The diver cried out, "That rogue! He has cheated me!"

He rushed to the house of the village head and accused him of substituting an earthen statue for his bronze one.

The village head said, "No, no! Whatever you gave me, I have returned in its original condition."

The diver said, "How can it be? How can what was bronze now be earthen?"

The village head said, "It is so simple. I washed your statue a few times. Perhaps that is why it changed its colour. The bronze coating washed away. Now it is no longer bronze; it is earthen."

In silence the young man cursed the village head but, alas, what could he do? He returned home feeling very sad.

A few months later, the wife of the village head was fetching water from the well. She was using a most valuable bronze vessel. Alas, it fell into the water and immediately sank to the bottom of the well. The village head went from person to person begging them to dive into the water. A few of the villagers tried, but nobody was successful because the well was so deep. Only that particular diver was capable of doing it. Finally, the village head was compelled to resort to the young man who had received the trophy from the king.

When the village head approached him, the young man said, "Not today. It is too late. Tomorrow morning I shall come here to the well and help you."

The village head said, "Do you still remember that unhappy experience with the statue?"

The diver said, "No, no, I do not believe in cherishing that kind of unfortunate experience. I have forgiven you. I have forgotten everything. Now I am quite happy. As long as I was harbouring that memory, I suffered, but now I have forgiven you completely. That is why I am very, very happy to help you."

The village head was very relieved. He said, "I wish we could have more people like you in our village."

The following morning the young man was supposed to come and dive for the bronze vessel. But in the middle of the night he secretly visited the well. Nobody was there to see him. He dove into the water, found the bronze vessel and took it home.

The following day he went to the well as agreed. He approached the village head and said, "Now I have come to do your work. I shall do the needful."

The village head and his wife and children were extremely happy. They were confident that the young man would be successful. In front of them, he dove to the bottom of the well. Alas, all he brought up was an earthen pot. The village head cried, "No, no! It was not earthen. It was bronze!"

The young man said, "What can I do? That is the only vessel I could find. If you prefer, you can ask somebody else to dive, or if you want me to dive again, I can."

The village head's wife was crying and crying. Meanwhile, the village head was puzzled. He said, "How could this happen?"

The young man said, "It is most extraordinary, but if you want me to dive again, I can."

The village head said, "All right, all right, again try. This time you will get the other pot, I am sure."

The young man dove into the well, but this time he came up empty-handed. He said, "I have been trying and trying, but I could not find anything else at the bottom of the well. The earthen pot that I found the first time is all there is to be found."

The village head and his wife were so miserable that they had lost their bronze vessel.

That night the village head secretly came to the great diver's home and whispered, "Please take your bronze statue back."

He gave back the young man's real trophy. Then the diver very smilingly said, "Please take your bronze vessel."

You can say that this is a story of tit for tat, but in the end both of them finally became happy.

Friendship proved, friendship lost

A husband and wife were very kind and devoted to one another. Nevertheless, something used to puzzle the wife. Why did her husband come home late at night? He was a very nice man. Some days he would say he had office work, which was true. On other days he would say he was visiting his friends. That used to create a little bit of unhappy suspicion in the wife's mind, although he was such a good husband. The wife was constantly arguing with herself as to why he would come home late.

One day the wife said, "Please tell me frankly, why do you have to come home so late? How many friends do you have?"

Her husband said, "Friends? In this lifetime, if one gets even one friend, it is enough."

She asked, "Then where do you go? Some days you say you work late at your office. On other days you come late without giving any reason. Why, why?"

He said, "I go and visit my acquaintances and others."

She said, "No, that is not right. You should come back home."

Eventually the husband said, "All right. In the future I will come back home after finishing my office work."

Still the wife was not satisfied. She said, "Can you not tell me how many friends you really have?"

He said, "I have only two friends."

"Only two friends?" she said.

"Yes," he said.

"What kind of friends are they?" she asked.

The husband replied, "One friend will never allow me to be poverty stricken. He is very rich, and he is very kind to me. If anything happens to me, he will come to my financial rescue. And the other one is a military officer. He will do anything for me. He will even give his life for me."

The wife said, "Oh, one will give his life and the other will give you money. Let me see those two friends."

Now real suspicion was entering into the mind and heart of the wife. Insecurity and suspicion were reigning supreme inside her. The husband took her first to the house of the very rich friend. It was true that this friend was very rich and at the same time kind-hearted. The rich friend introduced his wife, and the two wives had a very lovely talk.

The friend's wife said, "Now that we know each other, you have to come to our home so that we can become very close friends."

By now it was getting late. The rich friend said to the husband, "Where are you planning to go from here?"

The husband said, "I am going to take my wife to visit my other friend."

The rich friend said, "Here, take my car. You can return it tomorrow morning."

So the husband and wife went to visit the military friend. Unfortunately, that friend was involved in playing table tennis with some other friends. He was losing, so he could not pay any attention to his new guests. They stood watching him, but the military friend did not even say hello to the husband.

The wife said to her husband, "This kind of friend you have! He did not even say hello to you when he saw that you were waiting there. I can see how much he cares for you."

The husband said, "He was losing, so he was not showing his friendship. He was concentrating on his game. Otherwise, he is my real friend."

The wife said, "Your real friend! He cannot say hello to you, and you believe he is going to give his life for you! I like your rich friend. He was nice to me, and his wife was extremely nice. But this military friend is no good. You said that the first one would give you money if you were in need. I saw that he is kind-hearted. He has given his car for you to use. But I can never believe that this other one would give his life for you."

The husband said, "Just wait. Let us see who is right and who is wrong. Tomorrow I will go to see my friends. You will accompany me. I will tell a downright lie to my friends, and you have to be very, very serious. If you laugh, it will not work, so you have to be extremely serious."

The following day, when they went to see the rich friend, the husband said to him, "Can you imagine? Somebody is jealous of me in our office. That worker has said such nasty things about me, and the boss is furious with me. The boss will not even look at me. Previously he was so fond of me. Now my boss has fired me. How am I going to support my wife and myself? I have become destitute overnight."

The rich friend said, "Do not insult me! Am I not your friend? Do you have to worry? I do not want you to worry. Take this money. You do not have to work for that fellow. I am infinitely richer than your boss. I am giving you money, and you do not have to do any work. Only do not tell your boss that I have given you so much money. Otherwise, like a beggar, he will come to ask me for a loan. So I do not want him to know. But you do not have to go back to work for him. Take your time and look for a better job."

The wife could not believe her eyes and her ears. The rich man had proven himself to be a real friend.

Then the husband and wife went to the home of the second friend. This time also his friend was playing table tennis. The husband came in very hurriedly, almost panicky, so the friend stopped playing table tennis and said, "What has happened? What is the matter with you?"

The husband told the same story. He said, "Some fellow in my office has said such nasty, bad things about me. My boss is furious, and he has fired me. Now I have no job."

The military friend said, "No job? Who has spoken ill of you?"

He immediately put down his table tennis paddle and ran into his room where he kept his gun. He said, "I am going to kill him! For somebody to speak ill of my dearest friend is intolerable!"

He took his gun and started running towards the front door.

The husband cried out, "Stop, stop, stop!"

The military friend said, "No, I cannot allow anyone to speak ill of you without punishment. I will punish that rogue. I will absolutely kill him."

The husband said to his wife, "Look, look at this! Is he not taking a risk? If he kills the fellow, then others will kill him. Did I not say that one friend would give me money if anything happened to me and the other friend is ready to give his life for me? Here is the proof."

The husband and wife begged the military officer not to take action and then they came back home. Both the husband and wife started laughing and laughing. Then the husband and wife invited the military officer and the rich man to come to their house for dinner. Both friends came to their house, and they had a very charming evening.

Alas, the wife could not keep the secret. It is a woman's dharma not to be able to keep any secrets. The wife told her husband's friends what actually happened. She started bursting into laughter while recounting all the events of that evening. The two friends were shocked. Each one was wondering what kind of friend would do such a thing.

At the end of the story, the husband said, "I wanted to show my wife that one of you was ready to give his life for me if I was in danger and the other one would definitely give me money if I found myself in financial difficulty."

Unfortunately, the two friends did not find the story amusing at all. They became very sad and serious. The rich friend said, "If you can think of fooling us in this way, how can we trust you in the future? Now when you actually need money, I will be unwilling to give it to you."

The military friend said, "And perhaps when you find yourself in real danger, I will not be able to help you. I do not want you to make a fool of me a second time."

So the husband's friendship with the rich friend and the military officer ended because both these friends were very sincere people. They never thought that the husband would fool them.

True, the husband was able to prove to his wife that he had two real friends. But the story has a twist: if you tell lies to your real friends, you can lose them.

The greatest wrestler

There were two men in a particular village who were deadly enemies. They constantly used to speak ill of each other. In every way they would try to defame one another. One day, the greatest wrestler in the land came to the village. Of the two enemies, the one that was richer invited the wrestler to stay at his house as his honoured guest. The wrestler accepted the invitation and his host treated him with such concern, love, joy and pride.

One day the host said to his guest, "Will you kindly do me a favour?"

The wrestler said, "Certainly! You have been so kind to me. I will certainly do you a favour."

The host said, "I am giving you two hundred rupees. I will tell you the name of my worst enemy. One day you have to thrash him soundly! Only do not kill him. If you kill him, some problems may arise. Keep him alive, but beat him black and blue!"

The wrestler said, "That is a very easy task. I will gladly do it." He fully agreed to the proposal and took the two hundred rupees.

A day or two later, the host had gone to the market to do his shopping and he was returning home in the evening. He was hoping that soon he would hear the news from the wrestler that he had beaten his enemy black and blue. These were the thoughts that were occupying his mind. All of a sudden, the wrestler appeared from nowhere and started thrashing him mercilessly.

The man cried out, "What are you doing? You are mistaken! I am the one who gave you the money. You are not supposed to beat me up! Can you not see who I am? I am your host and you are my guest."

The wrestler said, "I know you are my host. I am fully aware of that fact."

The host said, "Then what happened to our agreement? Why are you beating me instead of beating my enemy?"

The wrestler said, "For two reasons. I went to your enemy and told him that you had given me two hundred rupees to thrash him. Your enemy immediately gave me four hundred rupees to thrash you! Since he gave me double the amount, I am beating you and not him."

As the wrestler continued beating the poor fellow, he said, "Now I will tell you the second reason. Before coming here, I was an honest man. I was the strongest wrestler, but I never thought of beating an innocent person. In wrestling, it is justified to fight. If wrestlers challenge me, naturally I defeat them, because I am a better wrestler, I am the strongest. But you tempted me with money. You taught me dishonesty. You took me into the temptation-world. That is the second reason why I am beating you. You asked me not to beat your enemy to death, so I am not going to beat you to death. But I am making sure that you will remember this day!"

The rich and miserly farmer

There was a farmer who was both rich and miserly. Everybody knew him as a rich man and everybody knew him as a miser to the extreme. This story took place at harvest time. The miser and his neighbouring farmers were in their respective fields. They were collecting the paddy. In the evening some village boys came and wanted to help the farmers. All the other farmers, out of compassion, love and concern, used to give some paddy to the little village boys, but the rich farmer never gave them anything. The village boys knew his reputation, so they would not come near him.

On this particular occasion, jealousy entered into the farmer. He said, "The other farmers are my neighbours. They are appreciated, admired and loved by the little village boys. I also deserve the affection, love and gratitude of those young boys." So he decided to be very generous. He invited a few of the boys to come to his fields. He told them, "Today I have changed my mind. You work for me, and I will give you more paddy than the other farmers give."

The boys started working very happily. In the meantime, in a very tricky way the rich farmer put some very good paddy in a basket for them, and underneath the good paddy he put lots of husk. After they finished working, the farmer gave the basket to the boys. The little boys were so happy. The quantity was larger than the quantity they had received from the other farmers. They went home and they were so eager to tell their dear ones that today they had changed the nature of the farmer. Because of them, the farmer had become so kind.

One of the boys' family members said, "Let us see what kind of paddy the rich man has given you." When he examined it, he found that underneath was all husk. The good paddy was only on the top. The little boys and their families were furious. They all wanted to go strike the farmer.

The oldest and smartest villager said, "No, do not do that. I have a plan. Listen to me. Put the paddy back in the basket in exactly the same way. Put the husk underneath and on top put all the paddy. Then you will go to this farmer's wife and tell her, 'Look, we have a large quantity of paddy and we are going to sell it at a very cheap price.'"

So the little boys went to the miser's house. The wife asked, "How can you sell such a large quantity at such a cheap price?"

They replied, "Because somebody gave it to us for free!"

She said, "Somebody gave it to you for free?"

"Yes," they said, "we were working for so many farmers and somebody gave it as payment. We do not know who."

The wife enquired, "You do not know the names of those farmers?"

The boys said, "There are so many farmers. One of them was so kind today. He gave us this for free because we worked for him. Do you want to buy it? We shall sell it to you at a very cheap price. Please tell us whether or not you want to buy it. We have a very short time because it is getting late. If you do not want to buy it, we shall go somewhere else to sell it."

The wife said, "Oh, such beautiful grain! Do not go, do not go! I will give you money." So the miser's wife gave the little boys money. At a cheap price she bought all the paddy.

After some time, her husband came home and she said, "Look, look! I have some happy news."

He said, "What?"

She said, "Look here! Such beautiful paddy! It is in excellent condition. Some little boys came and they were so sincere. They told me that they were given it for free, so they wanted to sell it to me at a very cheap price. So I bought this for you. I am sure that tomorrow you will be able to sell this at a very high price."

The farmer immediately recognised that this was the paddy he had given the little boys. He said, "What have I done?" He was so miserable! It was the farmer's bad karma to lose money because of the husks he had used to trick the little boys. He did not gain anything. In fact, he became the real loser.

When friends become rivals

This story is about two friends who were also great rivals. One moment they were friends, the next moment they were rivals and the following moment they became worse than the worst enemies. When they were friends, they would invite each other to go shopping and do various things together. At such times, they were in the seventh Heaven of oneness-delight. But at other times, they would display their rivalry. One would invite ten of his friends to his house, including his worst rival, and then he would give them an excellent feast. Everybody would appreciate and admire the host. Then his rival would burn with jealousy. A few days later this rival would invite thirty of his friends and show off by offering them a superlative banquet.

So in this way their rivalry went on. Then when rivalry descended into enmity, they could not even walk along the same street. Plus each one would hire people to speak ill of the other.

Once one of them went even further. He said, "I have to punish this fellow. He is unbearable. I am absolutely sick of him."

He went to the market and saw a man who was selling monkeys. Then a brilliant idea flashed across his forehead. He said to the monkey seller, "I want to buy the most dynamic, mischievous and powerful monkey that you have. No matter what price you ask, I will immediately give it to you."

So he bought the most powerful and destructive monkey that was available and took it away with him. By then it was evening. Both the rivals had huge gardens with all kinds of flowers and fruits. He entered into his friend's garden and let the monkey loose. The rival's servant saw him, screamed and started chasing him. Then he saw that it was his master's friend, so he did not pursue the chase and afterwards he did not create any commotion or sensation.

In a day or two this monkey had destroyed all the flowers, plants and tender fruits in the garden. The owner was miserable. He knew who was responsible for this destruction. Meanwhile, the neighbours were afraid that this monkey would enter into their gardens and do the same. So the owner of the garden said, "Why should we all suffer? I will show him. Tit for tat!"

He went to the market and approached the same monkey dealer. He said, "Give me the strongest, most powerful, most dynamic and most aggressive monkey that you have. I will pay you a very high price for it." So he bought a very large and frightening monkey at a high price. Then he took the monkey and let it loose in the garden of his rival. In a very short time, this monkey destroyed everything inside the garden.

Now both the rivals were happy and miserable at the same time. They were happy because the other one's garden was completely ruined and sad that their own garden had also been ruined. In the meantime, the neighbours of both parties were afraid that their own beautiful gardens would be ruined by these wild monkeys. So the neighbours went to the village chief and lodged a serious complaint against both parties.

The village chief summoned the two rivals and accused them of using the monkeys to destroy each other's gardens. In the beginning both of them denied the charge. They claimed that they knew nothing about the monkeys.

Then the village chief became furious. He said, "Tell the truth! Otherwise I will put you into jail!" Then both of them confessed that they were the culprits.

The village chief said, "Now you will hear my judgement. First of all, I am sending for the monkey dealer." The monkey dealer arrived and stood before the village chief. Then the village chief said, "This is my final judgement. They will return the monkeys to you. You can keep them under control. But they have to pay you a very high price to take them back."

Everybody was shocked. The two culprits had already bought the monkeys. They had paid once. Now they were being asked to pay a second time. What is more, the chief said to the monkey dealer, "You may set the price as high as possible."

The monkey dealer said, "Four hundred rupees for each one."

The chief was very happy and said to the two rivals, "Return your monkeys to him. Then four hundred rupees each one will pay because you have been so bad. These monkeys are animals, but I wish to say that you two are man-monkeys."

So the punishment was that the two rivals had to return their monkeys plus pay a penalty. Usually when you buy something and you return it, you get your money back, but here they had to return the monkeys plus pay a high price as punishment. When people are bad, this kind of karma they incur and then they suffer. So be careful! If you are dealing with your inner monkeys, you will reap serious consequences!

The mother-in-law's inheritance

There was a mother who lived with her son and daughter-in-law. This mother was illiterate. She could not read, and she could not even write her own name. But she desired to have a daughter-in-law who was well educated, since her son was well educated. So she was very happy that she had found a well-educated wife for her son.

Now this daughter-in-law was very proud and haughty. She felt superior because she was well educated, while her mother-in-law was illiterate. Usually the story is that mothers-in-law torture their daughters-in-law. In this case, the story was totally different. The daughter-in-law was always showing off, insulting the mother-in-law and ridiculing her because she was not learned. She even went to the length of scolding her mother-in-law. The poor mother-in-law was suffering so much. What a mistake she had made! She had wanted a well-educated daughter-in-law. Now she was at the mercy of the daughter-in-law.

The son was very sad and miserable. He was so devoted to his mother, and he used to scold his wife for treating her so badly. Then the husband and wife would have a serious fight. He did not know how to end his mother's suffering. This situation went on for years.

One day a letter came, addressed to the mother. The mother was very happy. Unfortunately, she could not read the letter. So she asked her daughter-in-law to read it out. The daughter-in-law immediately started insulting her mother-in-law. She said, "You are such an idiot that you cannot even read your own letter! For everything you need me."

When the daughter-in-law opened the letter and began reading it, she got the shock of her life. The letter said that a very, very distant relative of the mother-in-law had left her a very large amount of money in his will. The condition was that she would receive this money only when she learned to read and write. The letter also mentioned that in three months or so, the mother-in-law would succeed in learning to read and write. The feeling in the letter was one of genuine encouragement. The distant relative had said in his will, "I really want you to have my money."

When the daughter-in-law saw what a large amount of money was involved, an immediate transformation came over her. "So much money is at stake," she said. "You have to fulfil the condition. Will you give me some of the money if I teach you?"

The mother-in-law was so happy that at last her daughter-in-law was talking to her nicely. She said, "Definitely I will give you some of the money. As a matter of fact, I will give half to you and half to my son. Kindly teach me."

Now everything changed overnight. The daughter-in-law began showing such affection, love and respect to her mother-in-law. Sometimes she would teach her twice a day. The husband could not believe his eyes and ears! How kind and affectionate his wife had become. It gave him tremendous joy to see that the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law had now become the best of friends. The daughter-in-law needed money to buy things for the house and the mother-in-law was determined to keep her promise.

In three months' time the mother-in-law could read books and she could write her name easily. They were expecting that any day the lawyer of the deceased party would write another letter to the mother-in-law. Finally a letter did arrive. This time it mentioned the name of the person who actually left the money, and it was the son. He had played a trick.

His wife became furious. She felt she had been cheated. Then her mother-in-law said, "True, my son has fooled us, but I still have to keep my promise."

That night when the son came home from work, his mother said, "Now you have to borrow money from the bank. I want to keep my promise and give it to your wife."

The poor son said, "All right. Now that you and my wife are on excellent terms, I feel that it is well worth it." So he borrowed money and gave it to his mother. She then gave the money to her daughter-in-law and everybody was satisfied.

Then the mother made another request to her son. She said, "I want to open a school for illiterate people of my age. For elderly people I wish to have a night class. I am begging you to give me the money to do it. I know how I suffered in the hands of my daughter-in-law when I was illiterate. I am sure there are other mothers-in-law like me who are suffering and who will continue to suffer. So the best thing is to make the elderly women literate so that they are no longer at the mercy of their daughters-in-law." Her son agreed and this kind-hearted old lady opened up a school.

The daughter-in-law was happy because she had received so much money. The son was happy because his mother and his wife were now on very good terms. Everything ended happily because of the son's ingenious trick!

The gold necklaces

There was a husband who was very, very good and a wife who was very, very bad. Day in and day out the wife would nag the husband to give her this or give her that.

The husband would say, "You cannot see that I am poor? I am having so much trouble making ends meet!"

The wife would answer, "You are not poor! You are stingy, that is all."

This went on until the husband was sick of it. It seemed his wife only knew how to beg for expensive things.

Finally the wife said, "If you give me only one thing, I will not bother you again. I want a real gold necklace."

The husband went to a jeweller and said, "To be perfectly honest, I have very little money, but my wife is begging me to buy her a gold necklace. What am I going to do? Please give me some advice."

The jeweller said, "That is easy. Take an imitation gold necklace."

The husband said, "But my wife will find out."

The jeweller said, "No, no, no! Only a jeweller can say whether or not it is imitation. Otherwise, for anybody else to recognise that it is artificial is next to impossible. Just tell your wife a white lie. You are quite safe."

The husband paid for the necklace and brought it home. There was a struggle going on between his sincerity and his insincerity. He said to himself, "My wife loves me so much, and although she nags me and nags me, I have to admit that I love her deeply. Such being the case, how can I tell her a lie? He presented the necklace to his wife and, with tears in his eyes, he said, "Please forgive me. This is only an imitation gold necklace that I am giving you. From now on I shall save money, and very soon I shall be able to afford a real one for you."

The wife was very deeply moved by her husband's sincerity and love. A few moments later she asked her husband, "Can I tell people it is real?"

He replied, "Say whatever you want to say, but I am telling you frankly, it is not a real one; it is imitation. I am sincere."

In a day or two the wife went to her parents' house wearing the necklace. As soon as her sister-in-law set eyes on the gold necklace, she became very, very jealous. She said to her husband, "Look, they were only recently married. Their marriage is only a few months' old, and already she has received a gold necklace. I have been married to you for five years and what have I received? Nothing! You are so bad."

Her husband said, "What can I do? I am only a very poor man. I have no money to buy you a gold necklace."

She went on, "I know it is because you are stingy. That is why you want to escape by inventing excuses." Then she started barking at her husband and berating him.

Finally the poor husband said, "All right, all right. I will get you one. Do not feel miserable."

He went to the jeweller and said to him, "My wife wants a real gold necklace, but I do not have enough money to buy one. Please tell me what to do."

This jeweller happened to be the same one that the other husband had visited. Once again, he gave the same advice. "You fool!" he said. "You can easily deceive your wife. Take this imitation necklace. She will not be able to tell the difference."

This husband was not as honest as the previous one. When he brought the necklace home to his wife, he told her, "This is a real gold necklace."

She was filled with joy. Like her sister-in-law, she could now brag that she had a real gold necklace. She wore it every day and proudly showed all her friends and neighbours. One day the husband's sincerity came forward and he told his wife, "I have to confess that it is imitation."

His wife became furious. Why had her husband fooled her? The first wife sympathised when her husband told her that the necklace was imitation. She knew he was poor, and he said he would save up money and buy her a real one. This husband also told his wife that he would save up money and one day he would definitely buy her a real one.

Now both the wives knew that their necklaces were imitation, but still they went on bragging, telling each other that theirs was made of real gold. And neither one of the husbands had the heart to disclose the truth.

Every day both wives went to bathe in a particular village pond. One morning, one wife entered the water to bathe, and the other wife happened to pass by the pond. As she was walking by, she saw that the wife who was bathing had left her necklace on a stone slab. The sister-in-law quickly exchanged the necklaces. She said to herself, "Since my husband has secretly told me that mine is imitation, let me exchange it. They look exactly alike. My sister-in-law will never notice the difference."

Later that same morning, the second one also wanted to bathe. Then the same idea entered into the first one. She said, "I know mine is not real. It is only imitation." Then she substituted her necklace for the other one. Now both of them were so happy because they both believed that their necklace was real.

But this happiness was destined to be shattered. The first husband — who was very sincere or very stupid — wanted his wife to come up to his standard. Since he was sincere, he expected his wife to be sincere. So he had to say at a family gathering, "The necklace I bought my wife is imitation."

Then the other husband came forward and said, "My wife's necklace is also imitation." So this is how the two husbands ruined all the joy of the two wives.