Life’s bleeding tears and flying smiles, part 11
DedicationOn the most auspicious occasion of my brother Mantu’s 73rd birthday on 17 November 2000, I lovingly and gratefully dedicated to him 73 stories, which were published in five volumes. Now, I have decided to continue the series by writing an additional 100 stories dedicated to him. These 100 stories will be published in seven volumes, for a total of twelve volumes.
Author's introductionThese are not my own stories. These are ancient stories. I do not claim even an iota of originality. The original authors are buried in oblivion, but the successors are following in the footsteps of their predecessors with gorgeous embellishment. I, too, have indulged lavishly in my own way of embellishment. Long live my humour-wisdom-flooded predecessors, who loved anonymity.
May these tales liberate us from the heavy dryness of the mind, and may they transform the dryness of the mind into an ever-blossoming fountain-ecstasy.
— Sri Chinmoy
Perfect in telling liesThere was once a very prosperous man who wanted his son to be well educated in every way. He approached a great scholar and said, “In three years’ time I want my son to be a first-class scholar. He may not become as great as you are. You are the greatest scholar, and you have a lifetime of study behind you. But I do want my son to be an excellent scholar. Please teach him for three years whatever subjects you feel are appropriate. I will give you a salary on a monthly basis.” And he promised a very high salary.
The son began going to the scholar every day and spending hours with him learning all kinds of things. For three years he studied with the greatest scholar. Sometimes when he came home, he would use bombastic words that his family had never heard before, and he would talk about philosophy, religion, science, literature, poetry and mathematics. The father was so pleased with his son’s progress and the mother was very proud to have such a learned son.
At the end of three years, the rich man said to the scholar, “Has my son learnt everything that he is supposed to learn?”
The scholar said, “Yes, he has learnt a great deal. He is an excellent student. I am very, very pleased with him and very proud of him.”
The father said, “I am also very proud of my son. He has become everything that I hoped he would become. To me, he is perfect. Do you see anything in his life or in his nature that is imperfect?”
The scholar said, “In all sincerity, I wish to say that I have never seen anybody like him. Thousands of students have passed through my hands, but I have never imagined that such a good, smart, intelligent student would come into my life.”
The father was overjoyed at these words of praise, and he gave the scholar a large sum of money. The scholar was very pleased to receive so much money. Then the father repeated his question. He asked, “Tell me frankly, is my son perfect?”
The scholar replied, “I cannot say he is one hundred per cent perfect. No human being is perfect. Perhaps he has one or two small faults. We are all human beings after all. In each person you will find one or two faults, but in comparison to others, he is infinitely better than all of us.”
The father was very, very pleased. He said, “All right. Let me ask him some questions.” The father said to the son, “My son, have you ever neglected your studies?”
The son said, “No, Father, no.”
“Have you ever smoked?”
“No, I have never smoked.”
“Did you ever mix with any girl?”
“No. I devoted all my time to my studies.”
“Did you ever go out to watch a violent movie, or did you go to a night club?”
“No, no, no!”
Then the rich man said to the scholar, “My son does not have a girlfriend. He does not smoke. He has not neglected his studies. He has not gone to any night club. My son is perfect, perfect. What do you think? Is he not perfect in every way?”
“Yes, your son is perfect,” said the scholar, looking down at the ground.
“Then tell me once and for all if you have anything to say against him,” insisted the rich man.
“I have nothing to say against him,” said the scholar abruptly.
The rich man was eager to hear more praise of his son. He went on, “Can you not pass any opinion? Do you not agree with me that my son is absolutely perfect?”
Suddenly the scholar looked up and said in a different kind of voice, “Yes, your son is absolutely perfect. But I have to add something. He is absolutely perfect in telling lies! Since he has come to me, he has never studied. I begged him and begged him to study. And all the things that you asked — whether he has gone to bars or smoked or watched movies — it is my painful task to inform you that his answers are all lies. I tried in so many ways to persuade him to study, but he never studied. Now you can see for yourself that he is really perfect. Perfect in what? Perfect in telling lies. I am glad that you are taking your son back because these last three years have been a real torture for me. What could I do? I could not say anything. I was afraid that you would scold me and insult me for not teaching him properly. Desperately I tried to teach him, but he was determined not to learn anything.”
The father was bewildered. He asked, “Then how is it that my son used to come home from time to time and speak about religion, spirituality, science and other subjects?”
The scholar said, “Please, please forgive me. You are a rich man, but you are not at all a wise man. You have not studied these subjects. You know about business matters, but when it comes to higher learning, you are an idiot. Whatever your son said was erroneous. There was nothing correct in it. He was just saying things at random. If you had asked people who know philosophy or religion or science to verify what he was saying, they would have laughed and laughed. But you are not learned, so it was easy for him to fool you by using bombastic words and facts that he had invented on the spur of the moment. Since you want to see perfection in your son, then I can only say that he is really perfect in telling lies at every moment.”
The old man shows the scholar God's existenceThere was a very nice man who thought of himself as something of a scholar. He used to give talks here, there and everywhere. Since he was very, very rich, he was able to buy whatever he wanted. Because of this, pride entered into him. He said, “Whatever I want, I can get. Why do I need God then? Everything is at my command.”
Gradually, gradually he stopped believing in God because he felt he could manage without God. One evening he was giving a talk, and he wanted to prove the non-existence of God. He announced from the speaker’s dais, “Previously I used to have absolute faith in God. Now that I am very, very rich and I have acquired so much wisdom, I have come to realise that there is no God.”
People in the audience were simply shocked by this dramatic statement. Then the speaker said, “I can prove it. I am telling you that God does not exist. If God exists, I will give Him five minutes. In five minutes, He has to take my life away. I have openly declared that I am an atheist. I do not believe in God. Now let us see what kind of punishment God has in store for me if, in fact, He exists. I do not believe that He does. I am giving Him five minutes. Whether He comes here personally or not, He has to find a way to kill me. If He cannot kill me within the time limit, definitely it proves that there is no God.”
Five minutes passed. Then it became ten minutes and fifteen minutes, but God did not appear to kill the speaker. He said, “See, here is the proof. I even gave God extra time. God does not exist, so we do not have to pray to Him any longer.”
A very old man was in the audience. He stood up and said, “O scholar, your stupidity beggars description. You have declared that there is no God. Now I can prove to you that there is a God.”
The scholar said, “Prove it, prove it! I do not think you will be successful.”
The old man said, “Do you by any chance have a son?”
The scholar said, “Yes, I have three sons.”
The old man continued, “Now suppose one of your sons speaks ill of you and insults you mercilessly in public, and another son is very kind to you, very devoted to you and full of love for you. He is so disappointed and disgusted that his brother is misbehaving so badly. What if that good son brings you a gun and asks you to shoot his brother? Will you do it?”
The scholar said, “Shoot my own son? No matter how bad he may be, he is my son. He has the authority to speak ill of me. After all, he is my son, so who will take him seriously? If he speaks ill of me, even if he denies our connection, I will always be for him, and when I die, I will leave a great deal of money for him just because he is my son.”
The old man said, “Do you not know that we are all God’s children? Now you are speaking ill of God in an attempt to prove that there is no God. Poor God! He has so much compassion for you, for all His children. If He wants to kill you, He can do so in the twinkling of an eye. He does not need a gun. You, as an ordinary human being, have so much affection and compassion for your son. You would not kill him even if he spoke ill of you and insulted you in public. Here also, how can God kill you? God has so much love for you. There are so many people in this hall who will be eager to give God a gun at this moment to kill you, but God will never be able to kill you because of His love for you. God’s Love for us is infinitely greater than a father’s love for his son.”
Immediately the great scholar started shedding tears. He withdrew from his pocket a large amount of money. He said, “I am going from one person to another. I am distributing all my money. How could I say that God does not exist? Forgive me. Take this money.”
He gave all the money that he had with him and then he cried and cried in front of the audience. He said, “I beg all of you, please forgive me. I will never, never speak ill of God again. God does exist. I am a father. I know how much affection I have for my son. God’s affection for me is infinitely greater than my affection for my son, so all of you have to forgive me.”
The doctor rushes to cure the zamindarThere was a village doctor who was very, very well known. He was extremely kind-hearted and compassionate. Again, he was very proud of his medical capacities. One day he was preparing to go to the town. He had to settle something with regard to his son’s marriage, and he was in a terrible rush. As he was about to leave, a servant of the village zamindar came to him and said, “Doctor, doctor, my master is very ill. He is suffering so much. Please come and cure him.”
The doctor thought, “Now what am I going to do? I have to go there.”
The zamindar’s house was quite far. If he went by ferry, it would take a shorter time than if he walked. The doctor hastened to the bank of the tiny river and asked the ferryman to take him. The ferryman saw that the doctor was in a great hurry, so this clever fellow said, “I am not in the mood to ply my boat today.”
The doctor said, “What? The zamindar is sick. It is a matter of life and death.”
The ferryman clasped his stomach and said, “I am not feeling well, I am not feeling well.”
The doctor said, “What if I give you double the usual amount?”
“Oh, no,” said the ferryman, “I am not at all inclined to go.”
Finally the doctor threw down ten times the usual fare and said to the ferryman, “Take this and behave well. Otherwise, if you do not take me, I am going to tell the village zamindar how bad you are. Then he will take care of you in his own way.”
The ferryman took the money and ferried the doctor across the river. Upon reaching the shore, the doctor went running to the zamindar’s house and started giving him all kinds of medicine. People soon came to learn that the doctor had given the ferryman ten times more than usual, and they began speaking very highly of him. They were deeply impressed by how much he loved the zamindar. They said that they would punish the ferryman for being such a bad fellow. This message somehow reached the ears of the doctor’s new daughter-in-law.
The daughter-in-law came to the doctor and said, “I did not know how great you are, how good you are! Everybody is speaking so highly of you. I am so happy that my father-in-law is such a kind-hearted man. You went to cure the village zamindar and paid so much money to the ferryman to take you there.”
The doctor said, “You fool! You do not know the whole story. Already twice this year the zamindar has been very, very sick. He was literally on the point of death. Who cured him on those occasions? Nature. When I went there, nature had already done her job and he was improving. Two times this happened. So this time I rushed to his place because I wanted to get the credit for being a great doctor. I knew that if I could cure him, then I would have thousands of patients because the news would spread far and wide that I cured our village zamindar. That is why I rushed to his bedside.”
The daughter-in-law asked, “But you did not do it because of your compassionate heart?”
The doctor said, “I do have a heart of compassion for the sick. That is why I am a doctor. But at the same time, I am wise. I knew that if I could get the credit for curing him, then I would increase my business. How I hate Nature! Twice before when he was sick, Nature cured him. I could not play my role. But this time I arrived before Nature could step in. It was I who cured him. And the reward will be that from now on I will have so many patients.”
The doctor was right. When the news spread that he had cured the village zamindar, he gained many more patients.
The admirer changes the court poet's natureThere was a great poet who was attached to a particular court. The king admired this poet tremendously, but unfortunately, the poet had a disagreeable nature. He was not at all amicable. He would not talk with others or mix with them. Everyone thought he was very rude and indifferent. They did not realise that he was extremely shy. Whenever the king requested him to read out his poems, he did so, and his poems were simply excellent. That is why the king was very, very pleased with him. But with regard to his nature, nobody was able to appreciate him, and they begged the king to replace him.
This court poet had a great admirer of his poetry who happened to work at the palace. This admirer felt sad and miserable that people were speaking ill of the poet. He felt that he had to do something for him. He said, “I have to change his nature by begging and begging him to be more friendly and sociable.”
The court poet spent his days at the palace, and at night he would return home. One evening, when the poet’s palace duties were over, this particular admirer went to his house. The poet’s wife said, “My husband is not here. He has gone out. I have no idea when he is going to come back.” She was only protecting her husband. He was actually there in the house.
On the second evening, the admirer came again and said, “Just for a few minutes I would like to speak to your husband.”
The poet’s wife said, “My husband is doing something very, very important, and he says he will not be able to see you.”
Again, on the third evening, the admirer knocked on the poet’s door. This time the poet himself came out and started insulting him. He said, “Why do you have to come and bother me? You see me at the palace. Why do you have to come here? I come here for peace. It is my home. Leave this place immediately. If you do not go away from my door, tomorrow I will make complaints to the king against you. I will tell him that you are bothering me unnecessarily. This is the third night that you have come here. I do not want to have anything to do with you.” The great poet was extremely rude to this young man, who was his sincere admirer. Then he went inside the house and slammed the door.
The poor admirer felt miserable. He said, “Here I am desperately trying to change his nature so that everybody in the palace will grow to love him, and he is only scolding me and insulting me. What shall I do now? Perhaps people are right when they speak ill of him. He seems to be really a bad man. But I must change his nature. How can I do it?”
One day this young admirer went to another city and made arrangements to read out poems. The people in that particular city did not know what the famous court poet looked like. The young man stayed in a hotel, and when he registered, he wrote down the poet’s name. Everybody was so excited to learn that the greatest poet had come to their city. Word spread like wildfire!
It happened that at the same time, the court poet received an urgent message that his brother had passed away. This brother happened to live in that particular city where the false poet was supposed to give his poetry reading. So the court poet went to that city. On the way, he said to himself, “It is getting dark. Why bother my family members at this hour? Tomorrow morning I shall see them. Now let me take a room in the hotel.”
He went to the same hotel and wanted to register in his own name. The people at the desk started laughing at him. They said, “There is no vacancy. You can stay outside.”
He said, “Do you know who I am? I am the court poet. Every day I go to the king’s palace. Tomorrow I will make complaints against your hotel. The king himself will hear of it!”
They said, “Go and make complaints! You are such a rogue. There is no room for you here. You can sleep outside on the veranda. We can give you a pillow. You say you are the greatest poet. You are such a liar!”
He said, “I am a liar?”
“Yes, you are a liar,” they said.
The court poet was outraged. He said, “How do you dare to call me a liar? I am the greatest poet in the kingdom.”
They said, “Already the greatest poet is here in our city, and you are stealing his name. Tonight he will give a poetry reading. He is staying at this hotel, so you cannot fool us.” They were about to beat up the famous poet.
The poet was curious to know the truth of the matter, so he said, “Please, please forgive me. I want to see the real poet.”
They brought his admirer and the court poet said, “What are you doing here?”
The young man said, “I am going to do something here that will help you.”
The court poet said, “What are you going to do? Why have you used my name?”
The young man said, “Tonight many people will flock to hear your poems. I will read them out to the best of my ability. Most of the people do not know what you look like, so they will think that I am the creator. Then afterwards I will give each member of the audience something nice to eat for taking the trouble of coming here to listen to your poetry. I will mix with everyone. I will be as kind, compassionate and affectionate to them as possible.”
The court poet said, “What are you doing this for?”
The young man said, “Then the news will spread all around that you have changed your nature, that you are no longer the same rude, callous and indifferent person. I love you so much. I admire you, and I want others to do the same. I want the whole country to know that you are not a bad person. You are a very good person, but you keep your good qualities hidden.”
Then the real poet started shedding tears. He embraced his admirer and said, “You have changed my life. From tomorrow on, I shall become as kind as possible to whomever I meet. I will always be kind to my dear ones, my friends and admirers. I will transform my outer nature.”
The king chooses the strongest manOnce a king wanted to have the strongest man in the kingdom work for him. The prime minister said, “There are three very strong men. Which one is the strongest, I cannot say.”
All the three were commanded by the prime minister to present themselves before the king. The prime minister said, “It seems that they are equally strong. Some will say the first one is the strongest, some will say the second one, and some will say the third one. O King, please decide who is the strongest.”
The king said to the three men, “My guards will take each of you to a different place in the desert. The distance from each place to the palace will be the same. You will be taken there by cart, and you have to return on foot. You have to prove that you are strong. To the one who reaches the palace first I will give three hundred rupees. The second one will receive two hundred rupees, and the last one will receive one hundred rupees. Now you go.”
The first strong man said, “If I have to go there, please give me shoes. I will be walking on scorching sand, so I need shoes. Will you not give me a pair of shoes?”
The king was surprised by this man’s audacity. “All right,” he said, “I shall supply you with shoes.”
Then the second one said, “Please, please, allow me to take your son, the prince, with me. If your son goes with me, I am sure you will send me to a place that is a shorter distance from here. You will not want him to endure a gruelling ordeal.”
Everybody started laughing. One wanted to have a pair of shoes so that he could walk on the sand. The other one wanted the prince to accompany him so that he would not have to walk as far.
The king was a little bit amused. He said to the third one, “Now what do you want? Do you need something special? Or are you ready to leave?”
The third strong man said, “I am not ready because I am not going.”
The king asked, “Why?”
The fellow replied, “It is not worth three hundred rupees to risk my life in the desert. Let one of the other two be the winner. I will not mind. O King, I do not need your three hundred rupees. I know you will take me far away. If I have to walk fast in the blazing heat, I will collapse. It is not worth the money. I am not going.”
The king was puzzled. He had never encountered this kind of disobedience. He had so many soldiers. Easily he could order them to kill these men.
Then the king said to the prime minister, “What kind of men have you brought? They are so haughty! I am only trying to decide how to punish them.”
The prime minister said, “Did I know their characters? You asked me to bring you the strongest man in the kingdom, and I was doubtful who was actually the strongest. People said that these three were very, very strong, so I brought all of them. But did I know that they would be so arrogant? Please forgive me, O King. I did not know they would be so bad!”
The king said, “I have been thinking over the matter. I have misjudged them. It is not arrogance that they are demonstrating, but something else. I need this kind of spirited man. I want this kind of independence.”
Then the king awarded the first prize of three hundred rupees to the one who refused to go. The second prize of two hundred rupees he gave to the one who said he needed shoes. And the third prize of one hundred rupees he presented to the one who wanted the prince to accompany him.
The prince chooses the prime ministerOnce a particular king suddenly fell sick. Every day his ailment was getting worse and the doctors were quite alarmed. The prime minister advised the king, “Since you cannot attend to the matters of state, in your absence, let your eldest son rule the country.”
The king agreed to the prime minister’s proposal. He realised that his condition was deteriorating. Then, to everybody’s wide surprise, after about four months, the king suddenly started getting better. In the meantime, the king had been asking for reports about how his son was coping with his responsibilities, and he had heard that his son was doing very, very well. Everyone said the prince was very kind to people and very just. All the citizens were highly appreciating the prince, so the king was very happy and proud of his son.
Then a calamity struck. The prime minister suddenly fell sick, and in two or three days’ time he passed away. The king was very, very sad to lose his trusted adviser. Because he had been told that his son was so good, so wise and so kind-hearted, he asked his son to choose a new prime minister. The son brought three men to the court and begged his father to choose between them.
The king said, “No, I asked you to make the selection. You examine them in your own way and tell me which one I should take as the prime minister. I will abide by your decision.”
The prince asked the first man, “What is five multiplied by two?”
The first man said, “That is easy. Five multiplied by two is ten.”
The prince asked the second one, “What is five multiplied by two?”
The second one also answered, “Ten.”
To the third one he said, “Now tell me your answer. Everybody is saying ten. Do you agree?”
The third one said, “Five multiplied by two is seven.”
Everybody started laughing, but the prince was delighted with this new answer.
He said, “We all know that five multiplied by two is ten. But here we are getting something new, a new discovery. We must go forward with new discoveries. Why should we follow the old pattern and always say that five multiplied by two is ten. This is a new discovery. Five multiplied by two has now become seven.”
“O my son,” lamented the king. “What are you doing? How will I show my face?”
The prince said, “No, father, I like this man. And I tell you something else. Our previous prime minister was very weak in mathematics.”
The king asked, “How do you know?”
The prince replied, “I examined him while I was ruling the country in your absence, and I found that he was extremely weak in mathematics, although he was good in other things, such as politics and literature.”
The king said, “You liar! I dealt with him so many times over the years, and I know that he was excellent in mathematics. You are telling lies. You are ruining his good name.”
The son said, “No, no, no! I tell you, Father, he was not at all good in mathematics.” Then the son added, “I feel that his soul will be very happy if you appoint someone like him who is inferior in mathematics.”
The king said, “I know he was good in mathematics. I dealt with him on financial matters so many times.”
The king and the prince were having a serious altercation. People were so shocked that the king could not make the decision himself. He was still depending on his son. Finally the king became angry with his son. He said, “Now I know the truth. Everybody told me that you ruled the kingdom in my absence, but now I see that it was actually the prime minister who did it. He was so wise and kind-hearted. He advised you on each and every matter, and you merely listened to him. That is why our kingdom was ruled so well. It was the prime minister who did it.”
The prince said, “No! The prime minister was an idiot!”
The king said, “I asked you to rule in my place when I fell sick. Before that, how many hundreds of times I dealt with the prime minister.”
The son said, “You do not know, Father, but I am telling the truth.”
Finally the king said, “All right, let us put an end to the matter. Although I know I am dealing with an incorrigible fool, I have to please you because you are my son. By pleasing you, at least I will get some joy, although your choice of prime minister is absurd. To make you happy, I am appointing this half-wit as prime minister.”
Everybody cried out, “O King, what kind of justice is this? You are making someone prime minister who believes that five multiplied by two is seven? What will be the fate of our kingdom if you appoint a fool like this as your prime minister?”
The king said, “No, I want to make my son happy. Afterwards I will appoint someone to teach the prime minister arithmetic.”
Then the king said to the new prime minister, “Tell me the truth. Do you truly believe that five multiplied by two is seven, or did you in fact know that five multiplied by two is ten?”
The new prime minister said, “I knew that five multiplied by two is ten, but I wanted to say something new. The other two candidates both said ten, so I said to myself, ‘Why do I need to say the same thing?’ Of course I knew my answer was wrong. But I want to be independent of others’ ways.”
The king asked, “Did you go to school or college? Can you bring me the certificates?”
The new prime minister went home and returned with certificates showing that he had a very high education. He was extremely well qualified for the post.
Then the king said, “To make my son happy, I had to become stupid and surrender to his absurd choice. Now I see that my son unconsciously chose the right person. To justify his choice, he told some lies about my previous prime minister, but I see now that he was so wise. This new prime minister will be such an asset to our kingdom. I wholeheartedly approve of my son’s choice.”
The hermit's occult powerThere was a hermit who was spiritual to the extreme. He was spirituality incarnate in his own way. Eventually even the prince came to hear about this hermit. One day the prince came to the hermit’s cottage and said, “Would you kindly teach me about spiritual matters?”
The hermit said, “You are a prince. You will only argue with me. Because your father is the king, I am sure you are not accustomed to obeying others. I am a humble man. You will only create problems for me.”
The prince said, “No, I will not create any problems for you. I have come here with utmost sincerity to learn from you.”
The hermit said, “All right. I shall teach you.” Then the hermit said, “Do you know that I have tremendous occult power?”
The prince said, “I have not yet started my spiritual journey and you want me to have occult power? Today for the first time I have come to you to learn. I do not even know the alphabet and you want to give me the M.A. course? How am I going to understand it?”
The hermit said, “Oh no, it is quite possible. I can give you all kinds of occult power — I have that capacity. Do you want to hear what kind of occult power I have?”
The prince said, “If you want me to hear about these things, I will listen. But I feel it is only delaying my journey. I have to learn the first steps. You have to teach me how to pray and then how to meditate. I have to repeat God’s Name. I have heard that these are the first things one must learn if one wants to enter into the spiritual life.”
“Have you come to learn from me, or do I have to learn from you?” asked the hermit.
Then the prince felt sorry. He was afraid he had offended the hermit. He said, “All right, if you can give me the advanced lesson in one day, I have no objection. I will try to learn from you. Forgive me, forgive me. I do not want to argue with you any more. I have come to you with utmost humility, admiration and love.”
The hermit said, “I am very, very pleased with your humility. Now let me tell you what kind of occult power I have.”
The prince remained absolutely silent. He wanted to behave well. He did not want to argue with his master any more.
The hermit continued, “I can remain under the ground for five hours! Then I can emerge, and you will see that I am in perfect condition.”
The prince showed tremendous astonishment.
The hermit went on, “Come closer! I shall tell you a secret.”
The prince moved closer. The hermit whispered, “I can remain underwater for ten hours or even more!”
Once again the prince showed that he was absolutely astonished.
Then the hermit breathed, “Come still closer! This time I shall tell you something very confidential.”
The prince moved closer than the closest to the hermit and the hermit softly said, “I can fly in the sky!”
At this, the prince could tolerate no more. He cried, “What am I doing here? I thought that you were a most spiritual person, a jewel of renunciation. But you are a mere miracle-monger!”
The hermit became absolutely furious. He said, “I knew that I could expect this kind of behaviour from you. That is why I was unwilling to accept you as a disciple. I refuse to teach you!”
The prince said, “All right. You will not teach me. Please forgive me for taking your precious time. Before I leave, I would like to give you a few lessons.”
Now the hermit became really annoyed. He said, “I have to learn from you?”
“From me,” said the prince.
“How arrogant you are!” said the hermit. “Tell me what kind of lessons I have to learn from a prince.”
The prince saw a worm on the ground nearby. He dug a hole and placed the worm in the ground. Then he covered the hole with earth and said to the hermit, “You can stay underground only for five hours, but this worm can live for years under the ground!”
Then he said, “You can stay underwater for ten hours, but fish remain in the water all their lives.”
Then the prince looked up at a bird in the sky and said, “See how the bird is flying! You say that you have mastered the art of flying, but for birds, flying is quite natural. Why should we pray to God to do what a worm, a fish and a bird can easily do? That is going backwards in terms of evolution. Our goal should always be ahead of us.”
The hermit screamed, “I knew it, I knew it! You did not come here to learn. You are such a rogue! Go back to your palace. Only people who are very, very sincere will be allowed to come and learn from me.”
The prince bowed and said, “How I am praying to God to send you a few really sincere students!”
The Kashmiri shawlA merchant made a trip to Kashmir. This merchant dealt in Kashmiri shawls. Among other purchases, he bought a very costly embroidered shawl and he took it home to Calcutta. When he told his wife the cost of the shawl, she said, “It is so expensive! Who will buy it? You have to make some profit.”
The wife’s brother also happened to be present. He said, “What have you done? You have wasted so much money! Now who is going to buy this shawl from you? I thought you were a smart merchant, but this extravagance proves otherwise.”
Then the merchant interrupted him. “Enough, enough!” he said. “You are an idiot, and your sister is another idiot. I am in between two idiots.”
His wife said, “Soon it will be proved who is the real idiot.”
Her brother chimed in, “It is not difficult to see who is the real fool in the family!”
Then the merchant said to his brother-in-law, “Look here, you just have to do what I tell you to do. Then you will see that I have made a sound investment.”
The brother-in-law said, “Anything that you want me to do, I will do, but I am absolutely sure that you are not going to get the price that you have paid for that shawl.”
The merchant said, “All right, listen to me.” Then he whispered something to the brother-in-law.
A few moments later the village jeweller was passing by the house. The jeweller was quite rich but, as usual, he was very stingy. The merchant called out to him, “Please, please come here.”
The jeweller said, “I have no time now to come in. You know that I am not interested in your wares.”
The merchant begged, “Please step inside just for a moment. I want to show you a very beautiful shawl.”
The jeweller said, “I have no time for this kind of nonsense. I have to open my shop and start my business for the day. Do not bother me.”
The merchant said, “I promise I will not bother you any more if you just come in for a moment.”
The jeweller reluctantly agreed. “All right, all right,” he said. “What bad luck I am having today just because I have seen you!”
Very carefully the merchant unwrapped the shawl and showed it to the jeweller. The jeweller said, “What is this? Why do I need a shawl? You know that I am very strict with my money. I do not waste it on luxury items.”
The merchant said, “I know that, but this is such a beautiful thing.”
“No, I do not want it,” repeated the jeweller.
Then the clever merchant placed the shawl around the jeweller’s shoulders and said, “Oh, you look so beautiful! Please, please do me a favour. You do not have to pay a single rupee. Wherever you want to go today, please go wearing this shawl, and then at the end of the day kindly bring it back. Or tomorrow I can even go to your shop and collect it from you. I will not charge you anything. I promise. You do not have to give me anything. It is unconditional.”
The jeweller had been looking at himself in the mirror, and he could see that he looked quite smart. “All right,” he said, pretending to be indifferent. “I will wear it.”
“On your way home tonight you can give it to me,” said the merchant. “Or the best thing will be for me to come to your shop and collect it. Why do you have to bother to come to my place again?”
So the jeweller continued on his way to his own shop wearing the shawl. He had covered only fifty metres when the brother-in-law suddenly came from another direction and knelt down before the jeweller. The jeweller said, “What are you doing?”
The brother-in-law said, “What am I doing? How fortunate I am today to meet you, Prime Minister! Are you coming from the palace?”
The jeweller said, “You do not know me?”
The brother-in-law said, “I do know you, Prime Minister, and I have heard so much about you.”
“What makes you think I am the prime minister?” asked the jeweller.
The brother-in-law said, “Only the prime minister could have such an expensive shawl. Nobody else would dare to buy something so gorgeous, and I must say, it looks so beautiful on you!”
“I am not the prime minister,” said the jeweller. “I am only a jeweller!”
“No, no, only a prime minister could buy this kind of shawl,” cried the brother-in-law. “It would not look beautiful on any other human being. For some reason of your own, you are not revealing your true identity.” Then the brother-in-law bowed to the jeweller most humbly and went on his way.
The jeweller immediately retraced his steps to the merchant’s shop and said, “Tell me, how much are you asking for this shawl?”
The merchant named a price which was much higher than the price he had paid for it.
“Oh, that is nothing!” exclaimed the jeweller. Immediately he brought out the full amount from his pocket and gave it to the merchant. The merchant’s flattery had worked so well that the jeweller was ready to give the merchant whatever price he wanted. Then the jeweller continued on his way, proudly wearing the shawl. Meanwhile, the merchant went to his wife and brother-in-law and said, “See! Now who are the real fools in the family?”
Talking too much, talking too littleA husband and wife were like North Pole and South Pole. The husband talked too much and the wife talked too little. The husband was a kindhearted man, but he would always talk and talk. Friends would say, “Enough, enough! Do not talk any more. We cannot hear ourselves think!” But the husband could not curb his garrulous tongue.
One day his wife received an invitation. Her class friend was getting married and wanted her to attend the wedding.
The wife said to her husband, “My friend has invited me to her wedding.”
Her husband said, “It is such an important thing in life to have a friend! How many people are fortunate enough to say that they have good friends? She is a good friend of yours, and we all need friends to exist on earth. God is our real Friend, but He cannot come all the time, so He sends a friend to us here on earth to help us live very happily.” Then he went on giving a long-winded lecture on friendship.
The wife became more and more impatient. Eventually she said, “Now, stop, stop! Enough of your sermon!”
The husband really loved his wife, and he did not like to upset her. He said, “You should go. Here is a most expensive necklace. I bought it for you a day or two ago, but I forgot to give it to you. And here is an envelope with quite a large sum of spending money. You go and enjoy yourself at your friend’s wedding.”
The day of the wedding arrived and the wife went to the church. All her former classmates were so excited to see her, but she had taken a vow that she would be a woman of few words. Friends with whom she studied in school were shocked. Why would she say only very few words? She seemed almost indifferent to her friends. Everybody else was chatting, reminiscing about their previous school life, this and that, but she said next to nothing. They were all in the seventh Heaven of delight, but she was not.
Her friends suspected that something had gone wrong between the husband and wife. So they started criticising her husband. They told her how bad he was in so many ways, whereas she was so nice. Even then she was not happy.
In the evening, when the wedding was over, the wife wanted to return home. She saw that two of her friends who had studied with her at school were going home and they had their horse and carriage. But she did not want to ask them to give her a lift, and they did not want to take her. Since she had misbehaved, they did not want to do her a favour. They felt she had too much pride, so they drove away.
Then the wife saw that other wedding guests were going by in their vehicles. Alas, nobody wanted to help her. She was expecting someone to stop and take her home, but they all abandoned her to her fate. Finally the wife saw a taxi. She asked the driver, “Can you take me?” and she told him the address. The driver said, “I do not feel like going there. I am going in another direction.”
“I will give you four times the regular fare,” said the wife with tears in her eyes.
“All right,” said the driver. She entered into the car and they went on their way. Before they had travelled even half the distance, the driver stopped the car and said, “Get out! Get out! I do not trust you. You are not talking.”
The poor wife climbed out of the car. Then the driver said, “That is not enough. Give me all your money!”
She said, “My money?” Fearfully she produced her envelope and the driver took away all the money. Then he tried to grab her necklace and she began to struggle a little. At this moment, quite unexpectedly, another car approached from behind, so the taxi driver jumped in the taxi and drove away at top speed. The wife’s necklace had fallen on the ground and it was broken. Her money she had lost. She was completely helpless. “Please, please help me!” she screamed to the second car, but the driver did not pay any attention. He went away. The poor wife was now stranded. She was compelled to walk all the way home. She arrived home in such a miserable condition. Her husband was also very miserable to hear what had happened to his wife. He was full of remorse. He said, “It is all my fault, my fault!”
“How can it be your fault?” asked his wife.
“It is my fault because I gave you so much money,” he said. “And I gave you that gold necklace and encouraged you to go to your friend’s wedding. It is all my fault, absolutely my fault. Please forgive me. In the future I will not advise you to do this kind of thing.”
The wife said, “It is not your fault.”
This unhappy couple had an old maidservant. She knew all about their marital problems. At this point in the conversation she coughed a little and said, “Please forgive me. You two are very well educated, whereas I am illiterate; I did not go to school. But may I give you some advice?”
The husband said, “Yes, you are like one of the family. What advice can you give us?”
She said, “Both of you have to change your nature. The one that does not speak at all has to speak more, and the one that speaks too much has to speak less. There should be moderation in every aspect of life. Speak whatever is necessary, but do not go beyond the limit.” She turned to the wife and went on, “Your husband talks too much. That is why you took this oath to be a woman of few words. To compensate for his big mouth, you speak next to nothing. That is not the right thing to do.”
Then to the husband she said, “You will continue to speak, but there should be a limit to your talking. Do not go to the extreme. Because you went to one extreme, she went to another extreme, and this is what happened.”
So the husband and wife received excellent advice from the old maidservant, and they started adjusting the amount of their talking.
Writing to God for moneyThere was a poor villager who was absolutely in dire straits. He needed money desperately, but nobody would give him any money. They would not even loan him money, so he was miserable. One day he wrote a letter to God about his sad plight. He took the letter to the post office and mailed it. There was no address on the envelope. It had only one word: God.
The postmaster said, “What am I going to do with this letter?” So he took it to the prime minister. The prime minister said, “I am not God. I am not authorised to open up the letter. But something has to be done, since I am the prime minister.”
Then he asked the king whether the letter should be opened up or not. The king said, “Yes, you must open it and see what is written there.”
The prime minister was quite happy that with the king’s permission he could open up the letter. The letter read, “I am a very poor man. Nobody is here to help me. Dear God, will You not give me twenty rupees?”
The king was highly amused and the prime minister was also amused by this innocent request. The king said to the prime minister, “Only twenty rupees? Just add one more zero and send it.”
The poor villager had put his return address on the letter. So the prime minister put two hundred rupees inside an envelope and sent it to him.
The poor man was very, very happy to receive this blessing-gift from God, but he noticed the prime minister’s return address was on the envelope. So he wrote another letter to God. This time he said, “Dear God, I am so grateful to You for the money. Whenever I need money, I will write to You, but please do not involve the government because I am sure they will take some commission.”
The miser meets with defeatThere was a very, very rich man. As you might have guessed, he was the worst possible miser. He had many, many workers, but he would pay them next to nothing. Sometimes he would not give them any wages, but what could they do? It was so difficult to get jobs. Everyone hated this miserly boss. They all had complaints against him.
One morning a new worker arrived to apply for a job. The miser said, “Yes, I will give you a job, but I want to warn you in advance that I only pay my workers’ salary on a monthly basis. If you are expecting to receive money on a daily or weekly basis, this is not the place for you.”
Giving only monthly payments was the miser’s way of defrauding his workers of their salary. He would always find fault with them, and then he would not give them the full amount at the end of the month. If they were entitled to one hundred rupees a month, he would say, “You made such and such a mistake and for that I am deducting fifty rupees. I will give you only fifty rupees this month.” What could these poor workers do? They had to accept this injustice. But they used to curse the boss and they did not want to work for him.
The miser said to the new worker, “If you work well, I will give you the full amount plus a bonus. But if you do not do a good job, then your fate will be like these people. Your salary will be reduced.”
The new worker said, “No, I will do a very good job.”
He worked very, very hard for the whole month, better than anybody else. But the rich man was such a bad fellow. He deliberately tried to find something that this poor worker would not be able to do so that he would not have to pay him his full salary for that month.
Then the rich man had a brilliant idea. He said, “I have one last job for you this month. So far you have proved to be an excellent worker. If you can do this job, then I will give you a bonus of one hundred rupees or even more. Here are two bottles: one is small, the other is much larger. I want you to put the larger one inside the smaller one.”
The worker said, “Inside the smaller one? Oh, I can do that. It is very easy.”
The rich man said, “Very easy? Then do it in front of so many witnesses.”
The worker dashed the larger bottle against the ground and broke it into pieces. Then he collected the pieces and put them inside the smaller bottle.
The rich man was infuriated. “What are you doing?” he screamed.
The worker calmly said, “Did you not tell me to put the larger bottle inside the smaller one?”
The rich man said, “Yes, I did.”
“You did not tell me that I was not allowed to break it,” said the worker. “You asked me to put the larger one inside the smaller one, so I did it. I collected all the pieces and I put them inside.”
The rich man said, “At long last, I have met with my defeat.”
Then, in front of everyone, he gave the worker one hundred rupees plus another hundred rupees as a bonus.
Then the miser’s true nature came forward. He said, “You may take this money, but in the future I will not be able to keep you as my worker. You are fired. If I employ you, then every month I will have to give you the full amount or even more. These other workers are idiots. If I give them some difficult job, they will not be able to do it. Then I will not have to give them the full salary.”
The prime minister's secret letter to the kingThere was a king who had a very old and trusted prime minister. The time came when this prime minister said to the king, “O King, I have served you for many years. Now I am too old to perform my duties. I need a replacement.”
The king said, “I am so sorry to hear that. I do not know what I shall do without you. Will you still remain near me?”
The prime minister said, “Yes, if you need my advice, I shall be here. But I am unable to carry out my other responsibilities. Please appoint somebody else.”
The king said, “With greatest reluctance, I am agreeing to your request. But you will have to come on a regular basis to advise me.”
The prime minister bowed to the king. Then the king said, “I am asking you to choose someone to replace you.”
The prime minister said, “All right. I will devise some kind of test to narrow down the field. Then you will easily be able to choose the most suitable candidate.”
The prime minister was searching for someone to replace him. He found two young men who were extremely qualified. He said to those young men, “Look here, I have chosen you two out of so many candidates who want to replace me. But I cannot tell you which one will get the post. Between you two, the king himself will choose. Both of you appear before him. I am giving you a piece of paper. It is a letter to the king that I wish you to deliver to him. Each one will carry it half the distance. When you arrive at the court, kindly present it to him. But do not open the letter because it is something very private and personal.”
The first one to carry the letter walked for some distance. He was quite alone, since the other candidate had gone on ahead to their meeting place. Before he had completed half the distance, he was curious to know what the letter contained. He opened it and read, “Your Majesty, whoever hands this letter to you must be killed.”
Then the fellow said, “Since I have the first half of the journey, I will not be the one to give the letter to the king, but the other fellow will be caught. After I cover half the distance, I will give him the letter. Let him give it to the king. At least I am not the one to be killed. The old prime minister is such a rogue. I do not need his job. I do not want to have anything to do with him. God alone knows what will happen to me if I become involved in this kind of thing.” So he resealed the letter, and when he reached the halfway point, he handed it to the second candidate without saying a word.
The other candidate was very sincere, faithful and devoted. He did not open the letter because the prime minister had said not to open it. When he arrived at the court, the court jester was waiting for him. The young man asked, “Are you waiting for me by any chance?”
The court jester said, “Yes, the prime minister has sent a message to the king that a young man is coming to give him a letter. If you wish, I can give the letter to the king or, if you prefer, you can give it to him yourself.”
The young man said, “The prime minister asked us to give the letter to the king personally. I do not know where the other candidate is, but I feel I should hand it to the king. I have to obey the prime minister.”
The court jester said, “All right. Come and give it to the king yourself, since you are so obedient. Otherwise, I could easily give it to the king personally.”
The court jester brought the young man to the king and the young man handed him the letter. The king opened up the letter and said, “The prime minister has written that you must be hanged!”
The young man said, “The prime minister told us to bring the letter and not to open it on the way. I am so stupid. Now I will be hanged!”
Then the king started laughing and laughing and laughing. He said, “My prime minister is so wise. You are the right person to replace him. You are so obedient. The other fellow has disappeared. I am sure he secretly read the letter. Now I am appointing you to be my new prime minister.”
The court jester also started laughing. He said, “I am saved. Otherwise, if you had given me the letter, then I would have taken it to the king and the king would have killed me. I am so lucky!”
The king smiled at the court jester. Then he said to the young man, “I am so pleased with you. You deserve to be the prime minister. I am sure you will be as great and wise as my former prime minister.”
The king's statueThere was a king who was very good, but he had one fault. He always expected appreciation, admiration and gratitude from his citizens. He was very kind and generous, but appreciation was needed in return. The citizens genuinely liked their king, and so appreciation was forthcoming. They built a huge statue of the king, and the king was so pleased. Every day they garlanded the statue and placed offerings before it.
One season, there was a scarcity of water in the kingdom. The king was very charitable, and he sent a large quantity of water to the villagers. Even then, it was not enough to meet their needs, so they looked for water using a diviner. They found that there was only one place were water could be found, and that place was under the statue of the king. When they informed the king, he said, “Oh no, you are worshipping my statue. That is what I want. You should be so grateful to me. Every day I am sending you such a large quantity of water. There is no need to disturb the statue.”
One day the king went to visit his statue. He was shocked to find that it had been utterly neglected. There were no flowers at all. Around it, only bushes were growing. Everything was dirty and filthy. The king said, “How ungrateful these people are! I have been sending them a regular water supply. Even if it is not enough to meet with their needs, should they not be grateful to me? Why should they neglect my statue so shamelessly?”
The prime minister said, “O King, you have to know that water is life. They value their life more than your statue. It is quite natural. You are kind to them, and they are grateful, genuinely grateful, but when it comes to life, is not their own life infinitely more valuable to them than your statue?”
The king said, “Your words are all true. Let them remove my statue from here, and take it to another location. Let there be a well here in its place.”
The villagers were so happy. They moved the statue to another place where there was no water. Then they built a well and it yielded enough water to supply all the needs of the village.
When the king went to see his statue in its new location, he saw that it was garlanded and the villagers had made such a beautiful garden all around it! They were burning incense and they were worshipping the king. He was so pleased and proud.
When the king fulfilled the villagers’ need for water, they became so grateful to him. They literally adored him, whereas when he would not allow them to draw the water beneath his statue, they allowed his statue to fall into disrepair.
The lucky watermelon seedThere was a moneylender who was very, very rich, and at the same time, very, very bad. He was an old man, but he was unbearably bad. One day a poor man came to him to ask for a loan. He said to the moneylender, “I do not know whether I shall ever be able to return the money to you. I shall have to wait for a windfall. I will be grateful if you can give me a loan. I do hope that my circumstances will change and one day I will have money.”
The moneylender said, “Do not worry, do not worry. God is with you. One day God will give you money, and then you will be able to repay me.” Then the moneylender gave him the money that he had requested. The poor man was so grateful that the moneylender had agreed to the loan even though he was not expecting any money in the near future. He took the money and used it for his family needs.
After two months the moneylender came to the poor man’s house and said, “Now, do you need more money?”
The poor man said, “I am so embarrassed. I do not know when I will be able to give you the money that I have already taken. How can I accept more from you?”
The moneylender said, “No, no, you need money, so take it. Pay me back whenever you can. Forget about interest, we will come to some other arrangement. The point is that you need money badly. You have a son, you have a daughter, you have a wife, so I feel sorry for you. I have been very undivine in money matters all my life. Now, in the evening of my life, I want to be kind and generous to people, so please take the money.”
The poor man took more money, and he and his family were so grateful to the moneylender.
One night the moneylender came and started banging on the door of the poor man’s house. He was screaming, “You rogue! I have loaned you so much money and you have not repaid even one rupee. Now all the money you have to give me back. Otherwise, I shall sue you.”
The poor man said, “The first time I went to your place of business to take money from you, but the second time you came here on your own to give the money to me. You said you wanted to be so kind. All your life you have been so unkind to people, charging them very high interest. Now you have loaned us the money interest-free, and we are so grateful to you.”
The moneylender said, “No, I do not want to be exploited by you. You have to return all the money immediately. Here is a bill stating on which day I gave you how much money.”
The poor man looked at the huge bill and said, “What am I going to do? I am totally lost.”
The moneylender said, “There is one way you can avoid paying me if you do not have the money. I want to marry your daughter.”
The poor man was horrified. He said, “You are an old man!”
The rich man said, “What is wrong with that? I will treat your daughter like a princess, like a queen.”
The poor man’s wife started crying. The son became furious. He shouted, “This is why you loaned us the money! All along you were planning to have my sister as your wife!”
The moneylender said, “I do not want to enter into a discussion. Either give me the money or give me your daughter.”
The daughter started weeping bitterly. Then the old moneylender said, “All right. I have a solution. Let us cut open a watermelon and take out two seeds: one white seed and one black seed. We will place those two seeds inside a bag. Then your daughter will place her hand in the bag and take out one seed. If she draws the black one, she has to marry me, and you do not have to pay me anything. If she draws the white one, then she does not have to marry me, and you do not have to pay anything. I want to be generous. Do you agree?”
The mother was crying. If her daughter selected the black seed, then what would happen? She would have to marry this old man who was such a shrewd rogue. The daughter said, “I am ready to accept these conditions. Now my father is suffering so much. I know that no matter which seed I choose, my father will not have to repay the money. So the best thing is for me to sacrifice myself.”
The old man said, “You know, I will die soon. Then you will get all my money and property.”
The young girl was ready to pick out a seed from the bag. Quite a few people had gathered to watch. In front of everyone, the poor man put one black seed and one white seed into the bag. Then, all of a sudden, the moneylender said, “No, we need fresh air.” He picked up the bag and went towards the door. On the way he cleverly removed the white seed and replaced it with another black seed. Now there were two black seeds inside the bag. When everyone had assembled outside in the street, the moneylender said, “Let us pray that whatever God wants to happen will happen.”
The young girl said, “Yes, let us pray. I am ready to marry you if I get the black seed, because I do not want my father to suffer any more. You will only torture him and sue him.”
The old moneylender said, “Yes, you choose. Let others stand aside.”
The old moneylender was looking this side and that side because he was so confident that the young girl would draw out a black seed. He was so proud that he would soon have this beautiful girl as his wife.
Now, while they were cutting the watermelon, the young girl had secretly picked up a white seed and hidden it inside the palm of her hand. When she saw that she had drawn a black seed, she quickly threw it away and produced the white one. She held up the white seed and showed it to everybody. “Look, it is white,” she declared with greatest joy. Everybody was so thrilled at her good luck. Now she did not have to marry the old moneylender, and her father did not have to repay the money.
The old moneylender became furious. He said, “How could it be? How could it be?”
He went home cursing himself: “This proves I am an old man. What have I done? I thought that I put two black seeds inside the bag. Instead of that, I put one white and one black. This is my insanity. I should have checked more carefully that I was putting in two black seeds. Now I have lost not only the young girl, but so much money as well!”
Meanwhile, the poor man and his wife were overjoyed that their daughter was so lucky. When she told them what she had done, they were so proud of her intelligence-cleverness.