Life’s bleeding tears and flying smiles, part 6

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On 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 introduction

These 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

The miser's just punishment

There was a man who was very rich and, at the same time, extremely miserly. He would not spend money even for the basic necessities of life. Even when he had to go to the market, he would walk. He was ready to cover the distance of three miles in the hot sun to save the few rupees that a carriage would cost. Everybody in the village knew that he was the wealthiest person and the worst possible miser. His reputation had spread far and wide.

One day the miser was on his way to the market. As usual, he was proceeding on foot. There were many carts and carriages passing by. One cart stopped and the driver said, “Come in, come in! You do not have to walk all the way. Just give me a rupee and I will take you there in half the time. Instead of walking, you can afford to give me a rupee.”

“One rupee? No! I can afford only half a rupee,” said the miser.

“Half?” cried the driver. Then he said, “It is beneath my dignity to deal with a poor man like you.”

“You are calling me a poor man? Do I look like a poor man?” said the miser. He was furious with the driver. “I am the richest man in this district,” he said. “I am carrying three thousand rupees with me at this moment!”

When he made this astonishing revelation, the driver of the cart said a few unkind words to him: “Three thousand rupees you are carrying, and you cannot even give me one rupee!”

Then both of them exchanged harsh words. The miser was so proud of his wealth that he said he had three thousand rupees in his pocket. Still he did not want to part with one rupee. He was only prepared to spend half a rupee to go to the market.

A hooligan happened to be nearby and he overheard the whole story. As soon as the cart driver left the scene, this hooligan came and grabbed the miser. The miser was absolutely helpless. In a rough voice, the hooligan said to him, “Now, give me all your money or I will kill you here and now!”

The miser emptied his pockets and the hooligan found that this richest man had only one hundred rupees and not three thousand rupees as he had boasted. This hooligan had been so happy at the prospect of getting three thousand rupees but, instead, he was able to steal only one hundred rupees.

The hooligan said, “Since you do not have three thousand rupees, I have something for you!” Then he slapped the miser extremely hard. Another slap followed and finally a third one.

The first slap was for being the richest man and at the same time being so stingy. Then another slap the miser received for being so proud of his wealth. The third slap was for telling a lie. He was such a rogue! So three slaps he received from the hooligan.

Finally the hooligan said to him, “Had I known that you had only one hundred rupees, I would not have taken the trouble of coming to you.” Then he took the one hundred rupees and left the miser in the street, still smarting from the three slaps.

The dishonest son-in-law

Three friends were on their way to the market. One of them was very, very intelligent, and the other two had tremendous respect for him. On their way they found a bundle. They picked it up and, out of sheer curiosity, they opened it and found a large sum of money inside.

One of them said, “It is not good for us to keep this money. Let us go and give it to the village zamindar.”

The second one said, “Yes, we should be honest. The poor fellow who has lost it is now miserable.”

The intelligent one said, “You fools! Why should we do that? We three need money badly. It is our good fortune that we discovered the bundle, and it is somebody else’s bad fortune to lose it. Why should we be responsible for his bad fortune? We should be grateful to God for our good fortune. Let us divide the money. Let us all take equal shares.”

Now, how long can good qualities last? The good qualities of the first two friends surrendered to the bad qualities of the intelligent man. Sometimes good qualities last only for a few seconds.

The three friends divided the money, and each one received a very large sum. They went to the market and got the things they needed, and still they had lots of money in their pockets.

When the intelligent man returned home, he saw his mother-in-law at the door, crying very bitterly. He and his mother-in-law were on very good terms. So when he saw his mother-in-law crying and crying, it absolutely broke his heart.

He said to her, “You are like my own mother. You are full of affection and love for me. You know that I am so fond of you. I will do anything you want me to do.”

His mother-in-law said, “Then please, please, can you take me to the police station nearby?”

“What has happened?” he asked anxiously.

She explained, “I was coming to your place, and I was bringing with me lots of money for you, because you are like my real son. For my daughter I was bringing a most expensive diamond ring. Now, unfortunately, I dropped my bag and I cannot find it. I do not even know where I dropped it. Let us go at once and inform the police. After that we can search for it ourselves. But I do not think that we will find it.

The son-in-law began to shed bitter tears. He did not have the heart to tell his mother-in-law what he and his friends had done. He simply said, “All right, let us go to the police station first.”

Both of them went to the police station and reported the missing money, but the son-in-law knew in the heart of his heart what he had done. He said, “I feel so sorry about your loss. I have a little money, please accept it.” He did not tell her that he was the culprit. He merely said, “This little money I would like to give you.”

She said, “Why? I do not need money from you. I came here to give you money. I do not need it for myself. It is very kind of you to offer it, but I do not need it. I only feel miserable that I am unable to give you the money I had intended to give. Such a large amount I brought with me to give you.”

Where is comedy in life? It is full of sadness.

A moment of Brahma's time

There was a great devotee of Brahma. He had been praying and praying for years to Brahma. Brahma was very pleased with his devotion, and so Brahma appeared before him.

This devotee said to Brahma, “Lord, why are you so unkind to me? It has taken so many years for you to come to me. How hard I have been trying to please you so that I can have my desires fulfilled!”

Brahma replied, “My son, for you it has been years and years. For me, it has been only a matter of a moment, a second. Our one second is equivalent to your thirty or forty years or even more. So, what can I tell you?”

The devotee said, “O Brahma, in that case, please tell me, one rupee of yours will be equivalent to how many rupees of ours? Since your one second is our thirty or forty years, then for your one rupee, how many rupees will we get on earth?”

“Millions and billions of rupees,” said Brahma, “but, unfortunately, I never thought that you would ask me for money. Because you have been praying to me so sincerely and I am a spiritual being, I thought you would ask me for spiritual things.”

The devotee said, “O Brahma, can you do me a favour? I shall wait for you here, if you go back to your abode and bring me a large amount of money.”

Brahma smiled and said, “Fine, my son, fine! Kindly wait here. I shall come back in a moment!”

The devotee was filled with happiness that in a moment Brahma would return with millions of rupees.

Now, Brahma was gone and it was taking him years and years to return, because Brahma’s moment was equal to so many years of earthly time. Brahma was taking his own time to make the fellow rich. So the poor fellow was waiting and waiting in vain for Brahma’s return.

The village fool

There was a fool in one particular village. He was absolutely the worst possible fool. Everybody made fun of him. So the fool went to the village chief. He was crying and crying, “People are always making fun of me. Please give me some intelligence.”

The village chief said, “Definitely I will inject some intelligence and wisdom into you. This will be your first lesson. Listen carefully. I had three sons plus my wife. Now, my wife died of a heart attack, one son died of cholera, another died of a brain defect and the third one died in a car accident. All of them have passed away. They were very, very close to me. They lived for me and I lived for them. Out of five, only one person remains, and that person will be the next to die. Can you tell me who that person is?”

The fool answered, “How can I know the answer? You are saying that your family members were so dear to each other. Intimate things you used to share with one another. You never involved me in your private family discussions, so I do not know what went on between you and your wife and children, and I do not know who will be the next person to die.”

The village chief said, “You cannot answer such a simple question? Since I am the only one left, am I not the one who will die next?”

“Oh, yes, I am sorry,” stammered the fool. In this way he received wisdom from the village chief and left full of gratitude to him.

Then the fool went to his friends, bragging about his new-found wisdom. He said to them, “I am asking you a question. You have to answer it correctly.” Then he said exactly the same thing as the village chief had said to him: “I had three sons plus my wife” and so on. He described how each one had died. Then he asked them, “Now, who will be the next person to die?”

They all immediately said, “It will be you, you idiot!”

“No, no!” he cried. “You are all fools. The village chief, who is the wisest of all, told me that he would be the next one to die!”

Then the villagers laughed and laughed at the fool’s wisdom.

The stolen bundle

After committing a theft one night, the thief left all the stolen things in a bundle on the road. He had stolen many expensive items, but he did not take them with him. Early the next morning, the people who lived in the house found the bundle near their house. When they looked inside, they discovered that it contained their own stolen property.

Two villagers happened to pass by while they were examining the contents of the bundle and the owners told them what had happened. One villager said, “This bundle is so heavy! Although the thief was able to bring it out of the house, he knew that he would not be able to carry it home because his house is quite far. That is why he abandoned it here.”

The other villager said, “No, it is not that. Perhaps he heard some noise and got frightened. That is why he dropped the bundle and ran away.”

Now a third villager came and joined the discussion. He said, “You fools! It is not that he was weak or he became frightened, not at all. After stealing the items, the thief was going away. All of a sudden, he saw God in front of him. He was so thrilled when he saw the Beauty of God. Then God appealed to his conscience. God said, ‘What are you doing? Do you not know that stealing is very bad? If you behave like this, if you steal any more, I will punish you.’ Then God added, ‘My son, in due course I will make you very, very rich. Do not steal from anyone.’ So the thief listened to God and he left everything behind. He has faith that soon God will make him very, very rich. This is what actually happened.”

The three villagers, plus the people who lived in the house, wanted to resolve their difference of opinion. They said, “Let us go and see the wisest person of all, the village chief. Come!”

They all went to the village chief and told him their stories. Each one had his own version. The village chief happened to be very kind and generous. He reflected for a few moments and said to them, “I believe the one who said that God appeared before the thief.”

The other two villagers said, “In that case, if we leave the bundle here once again at the same place, then we, too, will be able to meet with God. God will appear again.”

The village chief said, “I am not sure whether God will appear or not. I feel the best thing is to take the bundle inside where it is safe and then pray to God that He will appear before you.”

One of the villagers vehemently disagreed. He said, “No! God will appear only at exactly the same place. That place is the luckiest place. God will appear only where we found the bundle.”

The village chief said, “I have no idea if God will come again or not. I only feel that this version has some truth in it, that God came and awakened his conscience and that is why he went away without the stolen goods.”

One of the people who lived in the house took the bundle into his room and began praying to God to appear before him. But, in spite of his fervent prayer, God did not appear. The two villager-friends said, “See, we told you that your room is not the right place. It has to be outside in the street where we found the bundle. Then only God will appear.”

The man was eager to see God, so he placed the bundle containing all his expensive things in its original place. Then he started praying to God to come and stand before him. His prayer was most sincere. Alas, after a few hours he fell asleep. His two villager-friends were watching him. They saw that he was lying down in front of the bundle fast asleep. So these two rogues came and took the bundle away. The poor fellow lost everything.

The man went to the village chief, but the chief said, “I told you that I was not sure whether God would appear at the same place or not. Why did you leave your valuable things outside your house? Everybody wants to see God, but again, God gave us common sense. If you do not use your common sense, you will get this kind of unfortunate experience time and again. God is inside a mad elephant, true, but why should you go and stand in front of a mad elephant? The mad elephant will simply destroy you. Similarly, if you do not use common sense in your aspiration, you will only get this kind of unfortunate result.”

The callous logician

There was once a kind-hearted spiritual Master. He had three disciples. One was an ayurvedic doctor, one was an astrologer and the third one was an expert in logic. One day an elderly man came to this Master and pitifully asked him a question. He said, “Please illumine me. My daughter wants to marry a certain young man. I like him, but I am anxious. What do I know about the future? Please tell me whether or not they should get married.”

The spiritual Master replied, “They are both good people. Both of them are very, very nice, and it will be a very happy marriage, but I see that in a few months’ time your daughter will lose her husband. The marriage itself will be good, but then something will happen and your son-in-law will die.”

“Oh no!” cried the elderly man. “Then I do not want this marriage to take place.”

The spiritual Master said, “Wait, let me ask my disciples if they can be of any help.”

The astrologer-disciple concentrated on the problem and said, “Yes, it is true. This young man will soon die.”

The ayurvedic doctor-disciple quickly said, “No, he will not die. I have medicine. When he falls sick, immediately inform me and I will cure him. Your son-in-law will not die.”

The elderly man was so happy that his son-in-law would not die.

The third disciple, the one who dealt with logic, kept quiet. He did not say even one word. The wife of the spiritual Master said, “Why do you have to keep that third disciple? He contributed nothing. He was silent. We do not need him. We need only the astrologer and the ayurvedic doctor.”

The spiritual Master said, “No, we need all three.”

The young couple got married and were leading a happy life. Then, in a few months’ time, the husband fell seriously ill. Fortunately, the ayurvedic doctor was able to cure him.

Still the wife did not care for the third disciple, but the spiritual Master said, “Let me think of a way to show you that we need this fellow also.” In front of the wife, he took a tiny insect and put it into his mouth. Only his wife knew it was a dead insect. Then he pretended that he was dying because he was suffering so much from this insect. The astrologer-disciple cast the spiritual Master’s horoscope and said, “O my God! You are destined to die.”

Then it was time for them to eat. It was the custom of the three disciples to eat together. The astrologer and the ayurvedic doctor said, “We will not eat until we can cure our Master. We have to cure him.” They would not eat even one mouthful. The third disciple, the great logician, started eating heartily. Seeing this, the wife of the spiritual Master began scolding him ruthlessly.

“Clearly you have no concern for your Master,” she said. “You see, the other two are not eating. They want to cure him. And what are you doing? Thinking of your own stomach!” The logician calmly went on eating.

Then the spiritual Master said, “At a time like this, logic is needed. We all saw that this insect is tinier than the tiniest. It is not going to kill me. But the other two are so stupid. They were convinced that I was going to die. I simply pretended that I was dying. Actually I would not have died from this kind of thing. So here logic is needed.”

The wife said, “I do not need that kind of logic. If my husband is suffering, even if he pretends that he is dying, the disciples must show their love and concern.”

Then she said to her husband, “Now you decide. Either your wife will stay with you or you can keep your third disciple.”

The spiritual Master said to his wife, “I cannot afford to lose you.”

So the disciple who was supreme in logic was thrown out of the Master’s ashram.

The king's ambassadors

A king needed ambassadors for two different countries. So the minister found two well-educated men and brought them to the king for his approval. The king was very, very pleased with the minister’s choices, and he confirmed their appointments. The king said to one ambassador, “I am sending you to this particular country. Although the people there are under my rule, I want to strengthen my friendship with them. I want them to be more loyal to me. I wish you to strengthen our relationship.”

The king gave the ambassador a very nice present to give to the head of that particular small country. Then he gave identical instructions to the second ambassador and also entrusted him with a very expensive gift to give to the king of the second country. The king said to both of them, “Once you reach your destination, do not stay there for more than two days. After two days I want both of you to return. Give the gift and come back.”

The two ambassadors left the palace to fulfil their commissions. One of them covered some distance, and then he turned back. When he came before the king, the king asked, “What happened? Why did you not go?”

The ambassador said, “O King, you have to forgive me. As I was travelling to that country, some ideas entered into me. You told me that you are infinitely more powerful than that ruler, and you want to strengthen your friendship. If you are so strong, what kind of friendship do you need with that country? Since they are already devoted to you, why do you have to strengthen your friendship? I am afraid they will misunderstand you when I go and tell the king that you want to strengthen your friendship. He will be shocked. He is already like your slave. So why do you have to strengthen your friendship? He will never expect your friendship. He will only expect commands from you. So I have come back to you in case you want to change your opinion.”

The king said, “Change my opinion? I gave you an order and you did not obey me. What right do you have to question my orders? I do not approve of your disobedience, but before I take any action, let me wait and see how the other one fares.”

Two days passed by and still the second ambassador had not come back. When he gave the expensive gift to the king of the neighbouring country, the king was so happy that he begged the ambassador to stay a few days more. The ambassador was enjoying himself immensely. He was given almost a royal reception. With difficulty, he took his leave after four days and returned to his own kingdom.

When this second ambassador appeared before the king, the king asked, “What happened?”

The ambassador replied, “O King, I have strengthened your friendship with that ruler immeasurably. He was so pleased, so happy. He treated me like another king, and he begged me to stay there because you gave him such an expensive gift. So I stayed there an extra four days.”

The king became furious. He said, “I need an ambassador like the first one. On the one hand, ambassadors are bound to listen to the commands of the king. On the other hand, if they feel that something the king has said on the spur of the moment is unwise, then it is their supreme duty to bring it to the notice of the king. That ambassador did the right thing by returning to the palace. I am so superior to the rulers of those countries. Why do I have to strengthen my friendship with them? I do not need it. Did I not tell you to come back in two days’ time? You stayed there an extra four days! This is how you listen to my command?”

The king dismissed the ambassador who lingered and enjoyed himself in the neighbouring country. Then the king said to the entire court, “We kings give orders to our ambassadors, but they can also give us advice on occasion and we shall consider it. After weighing the pros and cons, we shall either accept the advice or not. In this instance, I fully accept the advice of my first ambassador. That is the kind of ambassador I need.”

Two impossible fools

There were two real friends. Each one had one servant. One day the friends were talking to each other and they said, “Let us have a competition to see which of our servants is the worse or the better of the two.”

As it happened, both the friends were blessed with impossible fools for servants. Fortunately, the fools did not mind that their bosses used to make fun of them.

The first friend said to his servant, “I am giving you a rupee. Please go and buy the most beautiful, most expensive diamond from the jewellery store.”

The fool immediately said, “Easily.” He agreed to go at once.

Now the other friend said to his servant, “Please go and see if I am walking in my garden.”

The garden was at least a mile away from the house and the boss was inside the house with the servant when he gave the order. But this fool rushed away to see whether his master was walking in the garden.

So one servant went to buy a diamond with one rupee and the other one went to see if his master was in the garden. On the way, they met each other.

The first fool said, “My master is so proud of me. Today I am going to the market, and there I will buy a very nice diamond for him.”

The second fool said, “My master is so proud of me. I am sure I will be able to find him in his garden.”

Both of them were so proud of themselves.

After some time they came back to their respective masters. The first one said, “Master, you always make fun of me. Today I am making fun of you!”

At first the master pretended that he was very angry. He said, “You? Then try.”

The first servant went on, “Master, I went to the market to buy you a diamond, and all the people were laughing at me because today is Sunday. Why did you send me on Sunday? You knew that the shops would be closed. Otherwise, I could easily have bought the diamond for you. But they were all laughing at me because you had sent me on Sunday.” That was the wisdom of the first fool.

The second servant went to the garden to search for his master. There he saw somebody else walking, but it was not his master. This man said to him, “What kind of master do you have? He is such a fool. You tell your master on my behalf that he is a fool! He is now at home. How can you find him in his garden?”

This fool came back and said, “Master, every time you make fun of me. Today I am making fun of you. Somebody has told me that you are here. Since you are here, how can you be in the garden?”

Both the masters were so pleased with their servants. They said, “All right, we agree that both of you have now become extremely wise.” Then the servants started laughing and laughing.

The two masters said, “Since you have both passed your examinations, we shall look for brides for you. We shall find a suitable girl for each of you. We will be responsible. We need some relaxation and enjoyment. We will find two girls who will be of your type to keep us happy.”

A Brahmin priest teaches two thieves

A Brahmin priest went to the house of a family to perform spiritual rites. He completed the rites and was going back home. His clients had given him a considerable amount of money as well as other expensive things because they were so pleased with him. He was carrying these things in a bag on his shoulder.

On the way, two bandits appeared out of nowhere and attacked him. When they demanded his bag, the clever priest said to them, “Take it, take it. You deserve it. In fact, if you take it, I will be so grateful to you. You have come to make me a good person. I do not need this money because I have stolen it.”

The two thieves were surprised. They asked, “You have stolen it from where?”

The Brahmin priest pointed in a certain direction and said, “A short distance from here I saw a cart full of money, jewellery and expensive things. I did not see the owner anywhere. So I surrendered to temptation and stole these things. I was carrying them home before anybody discovered the loss. They are not my things, so you can take them. You will be saving me from a terrible sin.”

As soon as the two bandits heard that there was a whole cart full of valuable items where the Brahmin priest had filled his bag, they left him with his bag and ran in the direction he had indicated. In the meantime, the Brahmin went back home with the money and gifts that were rightfully his.

A thief in the well

A young girl was fetching water from the village well. As she was bringing up the water in the bucket, she was not careful enough, and her earring fell into the well. The young girl began to panic. How would she retrieve it?

In that particular village there was one man who was an expert diver. The young girl immediately thought of him and she went and asked him if he could dive into the well and find her earring. The diver told her that it was quite possible, but when he quoted his fee, it was exorbitant.

The young girl told him, “I cannot afford to hire you.”

All the neighbours were extremely sympathetic to the young girl’s plight, but they did not come to her rescue. She did not know where to turn.

Evening fell. A thief happened to pass by the well in the midst of the commotion. Everybody knew that this fellow was a thief, but nobody had been able to catch him in the act. He paid no attention to the girl’s crying and weeping and continued on his way.

Finally, the girl returned home and the neighbours also went home. Late that night the thief came back to the well and very quietly entered into the water. He took a breath and dove to the bottom, but came up empty-handed. He tried again and again, but it was taking time for him to find the earring in the dark. After repeated unsuccessful attempts, he used a very bad word, a curse word. The neighbours woke up and came to the place saying, “Who is shouting there?”

They discovered the thief inside the well searching for the earring. The neighbours pulled the poor thief out of the well and thrashed him soundly. Then the neighbours became very sympathetic to the young girl and gave money to her to pay the expert diver to bring up the earring. She hired him and eventually he brought out her earring.

The king and his two ministers

There was a king who had two ministers. One was named Bhola and the other one was Kala. According to the king’s subjects, Bhola was extremely bad and Kala was extremely good. Bhola had the reputation of being extremely tricky, cruel and undivine. He used to torture all and sundry. If someone applied for a job in the palace, he used to harass them and compel them to give him a large bribe. Kala was very, very honest, but Kala also used to receive very bad treatment from Bhola.

Because of Bhola’s misdeeds, one of Kala’s friends decided to punish Bhola. This friend was named Raghu. He spread a rumour that soon he was going to marry the king’s daughter. The king came to hear the rumour and he became furious. How could Raghu dare to make such a pronouncement? Raghu did not hold any important position in the court. As far as the king was concerned, Raghu was just a silly fellow.

The king asked Bhola what he should do. Bhola said, “What kind of audacity this Raghu has! He should be hanged!”

Then the king asked Kala for his advice. Kala said, “Raghu is a silly fellow, but he is harmless. Why pay any attention to this kind of thing?”

The king’s anger could not be appeased so easily. He felt it was beneath his dignity to have his daughter mentioned in connection with Raghu. So the king took Bhola’s advice and ordered Raghu to be hanged. Raghu was brought to the king’s court and sentenced. As he was about to be taken from the court, Raghu said, “Please, please, your Majesty, do allow me to tell you why I said that I would marry your daughter.”

The king said, “You may tell your story.”

Raghu said, “This all happened in a dream. In my dream I married your daughter.”

The king said, “It was only a dream?”

The king looked at Bhola to help him decide what to do. Bhola said, “Even in a dream we do not dare to do this kind of thing. How could he have a dream that he is marrying your daughter? He should be hanged.”

Kala was so miserable. He said to the king, “How can you take a dream like this seriously? We have so many dreams, but nothing comes of them. And now you are ready to hang him!”

At this point Raghu interrupted. He said, “Please, please, allow me to complete my story.”

The king said, “What more do you have to say?”

Raghu went on, “I saw in my dream that another king who is your rival came and attacked you. In the dream that particular king forced me to marry your daughter. You were killed in the dream and then that king told me that I would marry your daughter. I saw all this quite clearly.”

The king was shocked. He said, “How could it be? How could I be killed?”

Raghu said, “No, in the dream I saw that this king killed you. Still the story does not end there.”

The king asked, “There is still more you have to say?”

Raghu said, “Yes. When you were killed, immediately Kala killed himself because he has such love for you. But what did Bhola do? He started criticising you ruthlessly. In this way he became very dear to the king who killed you. This Bhola is such a rogue! He always flatters you. But when the neighbouring king killed you, Bhola immediately started flattering the other king in order to secure a very high post.”

The king became absolutely furious. He said to Bhola, “You rogue! So this is what you will do after my death! Kala will kill himself because of his love for me, but you will only criticise me.” Then the king decided to give Kala a very high post. At the same time, he decided to have Bhola put to death. Bhola pleaded, “Please, please, do not kill me! Do not kill me!”

The king said, “Then you have to leave the country. I will no longer keep you in my country. Go and join that other king.”

So Bhola was dismissed and Kala was given a high post. Then the king said, “Now, what am I going to do with my daughter?”

Kala said, “Your Majesty, it is up to you to decide who is worthy of your daughter. Since you have asked me for my opinion, I wish to say there is somebody who really brought to your notice what kind of nature Bhola had. Bhola was fooling you all the time and he made so many people angry. So if you want to honour an honest man, then I would like to suggest Raghu. I am not advising you. This is only my humble suggestion. If you want to honour an honest man, then he is the one. Raghu is so nice. In his dream he saw everything, and that is how you found out the real nature, the true nature of Bhola.”

The king said, “You have such love for me. I should listen to you. When you saw that I was killed, you said, ‘There is nothing left for me here’ and you immediately killed yourself. What a difference from that rogue Bhola! I shall never forget what you did. I accept your suggestion. Let my daughter marry Raghu.”

The court jester wins the bet

This story is about two kings. One king had a court jester who used to make fun of everything. This court jester had many, many, many good qualities and the king was very fond of him. Again, he had one bad quality: he loved gambling. The king tried so hard to correct his nature, but the court jester was incorrigible in that respect. He was always gambling.

The king said, “Since I am unable to be strict with you, I am sending you to the neighbouring king, who is my friend. He is very, very strict. He will teach you to give up this passion for gambling. Then I will take you back, because I am so fond of you. You will not be able to make fun of my friend. He is a very serious type.”

The court jester said, “No matter how serious your friend is, I will turn him topsy-turvy in ten minutes.”

The king said, “All right, I accept your challenge. If you are successful, I promise I shall give you one thousand rupees.”

The court jester immediately said, “Can you not give the money to me now? I am absolutely certain I will be successful.”

“I am absolutely sure that you will not succeed,” said the king, “because my friend is so serious. He is not like me. You will not be able to fool him with your wits.”

The court jester departed for the kingdom of the neighbouring king. Unbeknownst to him, his king sent an advance message to this other king. The message was: “I am sending you my court jester. This fellow has many, many good qualities and I am very fond of him. Only one bad quality he has, and that is his love of gambling. Please be strict with him and transform his nature. Then you can send him back. I shall be very grateful to you if you can do me this favour.”

In due course, the court jester arrived at the palace. As soon as he was presented to the king, he said to him out of the blue, “I would like to challenge you.”

The king said, “What! What kind of challenge? Do you know that I am a king?”

“All right then, let us call it a bet,” said the court jester.

“What do you want?” asked the king.

The court jester had promised his own king that he would turn this king topsy-turvy within ten minutes. So he said to the king, “I want you to do a head balance.”

All the people who were around the king became furious. They said, “What kind of audacity is this! Our king has to do a head balance at your request? It is simply absurd!”

Fortunately this particular king used to practise hatha yoga from his childhood. He was intrigued by the request and said to the court jester, “What will you give me if I can do it?”

The court jester said, “First do it. Then I will tell you.”

The king said, “No, no, I am a king. You have to behave well! I will not allow you to trick me.”

So the court jester said, “I will give you one hundred rupees. That is my promise.”

The king said, “I do not trust you. Give one hundred rupees to one of my ministers now.”

The court jester took out one hundred rupees and handed them to one of the ministers with the understanding that the minister would return the money if the king could not do a head balance.

The king came down from his throne and did a head balance very, very nicely. Then the king said to the court jester, “I do not need your hundred rupees, but I am keeping this money to teach you a lesson, because you have this bad habit of gambling. Always you are wasting your time and energy. My friend has told me that you have many good qualities, but your love of gambling is a serious defect. So now your hundred rupees I will not give you back. I hope this has taught you a lesson!”

Then this king wrote a letter to the first king and related the whole story. He concluded, “Your court jester lost to me and I kept the money deliberately. He did not think I could do a head balance, but I was able to do it very well. Now he has learnt a lesson. I am sure he will no longer enjoy his gambling.”

When the first king received this message, he started laughing and laughing at how easily the court jester had outsmarted his friend. Then he wrote back to his friend, “Yes, he has lost his bet with you, but he has won his bet with me. He told me that in ten minutes he would turn you upside down. Now you have written that you did a head balance at his request for a mere one hundred rupees. He lost only a hundred rupees to you, but he gained one thousand rupees from me. That clever fellow has won nine hundred rupees, plus he has not been cured of his love of gambling!”

The hermit's only possession

A spiritual man was leading a very simple life in the forest. He had a small hut and he used to pray day in and day out. One evening he was meditating near his hut when two thieves saw him. According to their own standard, they thought he was not a good person. They wanted to teach him a lesson. So they entered into his little hut. There they did not find any material object except a plate. They said to one another, “How can someone live with only a plate? There is no food, no furniture, nothing — only a plate. That means he is doing something undivine. He goes somewhere else to eat at night and during the day he pretends that he can live without food. Here is the proof that he is not a sincere seeker.”

One of the thieves grabbed the plate and put it inside his bag. The other one felt a little sorry for the spiritual man. He said, “Who knows, perhaps this man is sincere after all. Here in this forest there are some fruits. Perhaps he lives on fruits or during the day perhaps he goes to the neighbouring village and begs for food. I do not want to be involved in stealing this plate.”

The other thief was adamant. He said, “No, I strongly suspect that this so-called seeker is up to no good.” So he stole the small plate and the two thieves left the vicinity. Meanwhile the seeker did not have the slightest idea of what was going on.

After covering a long distance, the culprit saw that his friend (the one who was not in favour of stealing) was very, very happy. He asked his friend, “Why are you so happy?”

The friend replied, “I am happy because I know that seeker is a sincere person. We are not. We are both bad people. We make our living by stealing from others. But today is an exception. Today I feel that I have not done a bad thing. But you have done something wrong. You took his plate. If somebody is very prosperous, we can steal from that person. But that hermit is so poor. He is leading such a simple life. His only possession was that plate. So I am happy that today I am not the culprit.”

Then the other thief said, “I also want to be happy like you. Let me return the plate.” So the second thief went back to the hermit’s hut to return the plate. When he arrived, he saw that the hermit was once again meditating right in front of his doorway.

The thief approached him and said, “I have come to return this to you.”

The hermit looked at the plate and said, “Whose is this? Give it to the owner.”

The thief was puzzled. He said to himself, “This is the same hut. It was from here that I took the plate. Now why is the hermit saying, ‘Give it to the owner’? What does he mean?”

The thief tried to make the situation very clear. He said, “I stole this plate from your hut. Are you not the owner?”

The hermit said, “No, I am not the owner.”

“Who is the owner then?” asked the thief.

“The actual owner is either you or God. It is between you and God,” said the hermit.

Still the thief did not understand. He asked, “What do you mean by ‘between me and God’?”

The hermit replied, “Today I am the happiest person. Why? Previously I had only one possession — a plate. I used to feel miserable because of that plate. I wanted to renounce everything, but I could not give up that plate. I used to take it with me when I went to nearby villages to beg for food. Today at long last I can say that I am a true renunciate. I have given up everything. I do not have anything. So kindly take the plate. It is yours, since you have taken the trouble of stealing it. And if you do not want it, give it to God.”

The thief asked, “Where can I find God?”

The hermit replied, “God is everywhere. If you throw it away, God will make sure that somebody will find it, and that person will be the right person. He will be the rightful owner of the plate. I am no longer the owner of this plate.”

This story shows us that if you deal with a good person, you immediately learn something good.

The seven-year-old defeats the scholar

There was once a great scholar. He was very proud and haughty. In argument, he used to defeat the rest of the scholars. Those who were defeated by him had to pay a penalty. On a monthly basis they had to send the scholar either money or material objects. This went on for a long time. Nobody could defeat him.

One day a little boy saw his teacher sad and miserable. He was only a seven-year-old child. He asked his teacher, “What has happened to make you so sad?”

His teacher said, “I have to pay my next instalment to the greatest scholar and today I do not have any money. My payment is due and he will be so angry with me if I do not pay him on time.”

The little boy felt miserable. Something within him prompted him to say, “I will be able to solve the problem of this bad scholar who is torturing everybody.”

Something within prompted this little boy to challenge the greatest scholar. He asked his teacher to take him where the greatest scholar was currently residing. The teacher became frightened. He said, “I cannot take you. You are a little boy. How are you going to challenge such an expert on the scriptures?”

All of a sudden the teacher and the little boy heard an enthusiastic noise. The greatest scholar was passing by on a palanquin, and his admirers and adorers were singing his praises. It was his practice to go from village to village in this way and challenge the local scholars.

When the little boy heard the commotion, he went running into the street and stood directly in front of the greatest scholar. People could not account for it. “What is he doing?” they asked.

The little boy ignored them. In a loud voice he said to the greatest scholar, “You have to stop! Stop! I have to ask you a question and you have to answer me.”

All the villagers were highly amused.

Then the little boy collected some sand from the street and closed his fist. He said to the greatest scholar, “Please tell me how many grains of sand there are inside my palm.”

The greatest scholar could not reply. He did not know the answer to the child’s question. Some of the villagers became frightened, some were amused and some started clapping because the greatest scholar could not accurately say how many grains of sand were inside the little boy’s palm.

Then the boy said, “Since you have lost to me, all the other scholars, including my teacher, do not have to pay you their penalties. They are freed from their debt.”

All the scholars agreed. They said, “Why should we pay you? This little boy is greater than you are. You could not answer his question.”

Soon news of what had happened reached the ears of the king. The king had tremendous admiration for the greatest scholar. He was astonished to hear that the greatest scholar had been defeated.

The queen said to the king, “I would like to see this little boy who defeated the scholar.”

The king replied, “I still cannot believe that it is true.”

The queen said, “I believe it. Let us invite both of them — the so-called greatest scholar and this seven-year-old boy who has now surpassed him. Let us hear them debate and we will decide for ourselves.”

So the pair were summoned and all the scholars in the kingdom, plus thousands of their friends and relatives, gathered at the palace to witness the debate.

When the queen saw the little boy, in silence she poured all her affection, love, sweetness and fondness into him. She said to herself, “This little boy has to win.”

Meanwhile, when the king saw this upstart, he began laughing and laughing. He said, “I cannot imagine how this little boy is going to defeat the scholar!”

The queen said emphatically, “He is going to defeat him. In my heart I know it.”

“Let us wait and see,” replied the king.

The debate began. First of all, the greatest scholar said to the little boy, “It is beneath my dignity to ask you questions. You can ask me any question and if I can answer successfully, which I shall easily do, I shall apply this hammer to your head to teach you a lesson.” Then he brought out a hammer from his garment.

Everybody was shocked. They were afraid that he would kill this little boy. But the little boy was not frightened. He said to the scholar, “I am going to make three statements, and you have to prove that in each case I am wrong. My first statement is: I am my mother’s only child. The second statement is: our king has committed no sin. The third statement is: the queen married only the king. Think it over and see if you can refute these statements.”

Now, the greatest scholar had listened to the statements with increasing dismay. The little boy was known to be the only child of his mother. It was the simple truth. How could he deny the truth? The second statement was much trickier. In order to win the point, the scholar had to prove that the king was full of sin. If he did so in front of so many people, he would lose his job — and perhaps his head! But the third statement was by far the trickiest of all. He had to prove that the queen had married someone else other than the king. He ran a tremendous risk by even discussing such a subject. So the greatest scholar was forced to admit that he could not disprove any of the statements. He hung his head in shame.

Then the queen said to the little boy, “My child, in order to win the debate, you yourself must disprove the statements.”

“That I shall gladly do,” said the little boy. “In one of our scriptures it is written that if a mother gives birth only to one child, then she is as good as childless. If she is blessed with only one child, then she is considered unmarried, a virgin. So according to the scriptures, my mother has no child.”

What he said was absolutely true, but the scholar had not remembered this scripture passage.

The little boy went on, “My second statement was that the king is free from sin. That is also false. The king has accrued no sin personally. Everybody knows this truth. But if he is a real king, he has to identify himself with the sins of all his subjects. A real king is full of oneness, oneness, oneness. We are all his subjects and we have committed so many sins. If he is a real king, which he is, then he has to establish his oneness with all of us. Since he has to share our sins, we can say that the king is also full of sin.”

The king was not pleased with this answer at all, but the queen said, “What the child has said is absolutely true. What kind of oneness can you claim to have? You always brag that you have such sympathy for your subjects. Such being the case, you are also full of sin.”

The queen fully supported the little boy, so she was determined to justify him. Then came the third statement, which was the most difficult, that the queen married only the king. The queen was so eager to hear what the little boy would say. Everybody felt that here he would certainly fail.

Again the little boy drew from the scriptures: “It is an ancient tradition,” he said, “that when a wedding takes place, the bride is first married to the five cosmic gods. Then only does she marry an earthly human being. So our queen was already married five times to the five principal cosmic gods. Therefore, how can she say she is only married to the king?”

The queen knew that what the child said was absolutely true. In the marriage ceremony, first the priest invokes the five main cosmic gods to marry the bride. Then she takes a human husband. So the queen immediately embraced the child and she said, “I am not going to allow you to go home. Your parents and everybody in your family have to come and live in the palace.”

Then the queen said to the king, “I want you to say the greatest scholar has been defeated in front of the whole world. Now we shall keep him as our slave, our lifelong slave.”

So the greatest scholar had to stay there in the palace and perform the duties of a slave and the little boy was given the greatest honour. The king said that when the time came, this little boy would marry the princess. His whole family became members of the royal family.

His questions were so difficult to answer, but his third question in particular absolutely puzzled the queen! So we see that bad people will eventually be punished.

Children ride free

A father, mother and two children went to the market to do some shopping. When their shopping was over, the whole family was coming back home. It was a distance of four miles. Because the children had walked to the market with their parents, now they had become a little bit tired. The father saw that a horse-drawn carriage was returning from the market. It had brought some people there and they were now engaged in shopping, so it was coming back empty.

The father hailed the carriage and asked, “How much will you charge to take us home?”

The carriage driver said, “For you one rupee, for your wife one rupee, but children can ride free of charge.”

Immediately the father said to his children, “Jump into the carriage. You can ride for free. Your mother and I can walk.”

The carriage driver said, “What? It was understood that all of you would ride home with me!”

The father said, “No, you did not say that if all of us went, the children would ride free. You simply said that children are free, whereas my wife and I are supposed to pay. So we do not have to pay.”

Now confusion arose. The carriage driver did not want to take the children free of charge and the father did not want to pay. What is more, the children did not want to descend from the carriage. The father said, “If you agree, we can strike a compromise. Instead of paying one rupee each, I will pay you a quarter and my wife will pay you a quarter. Between us, my wife and I will give you half a rupee, and our children will ride for free. If you agree to this compromise, then we shall use your services.”

The carriage driver said to himself, “I am dealing with rogues, but I want to prove that I am superior to them. It is better to have something than nothing. If I do not take them, if I go home without any passengers, then I will get nothing. The best thing is to take these two rogues. At least now I am getting half a rupee.” So he took the husband and wife plus their two children home from the market.

The superior friend

This is a story about three friends. One friend was always bragging that he had so much knowledge, so much wisdom and so much wealth. He asserted his superiority in every way. His kind-hearted friends said, “It is true. You are wealthy and we are poor. But do not brag, do not brag. Boasting is not good.” In spite of this, the friendship of these three was in very good shape.

One afternoon all three friends were on the bank of a river under a tree. The two kind-hearted friends advised the boastful one, “It is true, you are wiser than we are, you have more wealth than we have, but it is not good to brag. You will invite some calamity.” Unfortunately, their friend did not heed their advice. He continued his endless boasting. But they forgave him because they wanted to maintain their friendship.

As they were chatting about various topics — “cabbages and kings” and so forth — a young man happened to pass by. He looked very strong and smart. Out of curiosity, they asked him who he was and he answered, “I am the wisest man in this district, and I am also the strongest. Everybody appreciates me, admires me and adores me. It is very strange that you have not heard about me.”

They were puzzled because they had no idea who he was. They did not know anything about him. Then the friend who was very proud of his knowledge, wisdom and wealth said to this young man, “Would you like to answer one question?”

The young man answered, “Certainly! I will answer any question you have, since I am the wisest man.”

The boastful friend continued, “Now you are seeing me and my two friends. Please tell us which one is giving you more joy. You are looking at us, but all of us cannot give you the same kind of joy. Somebody has to give you more. Which one of us is it?” He was sure that he would be the one chosen because he was clearly superior in every way.

The young man said, “Now, this is a most difficult question. I cannot answer it immediately. I have to examine you one by one. I shall ask you a question with regard to money. This will determine the outcome. Please tell me how you deal with money.”

One friend said, “It is good to have money. Money enables us to buy material things, so in that sense, money is keeping us alive.”

The second one said, “True, money is necessary, but money quite often creates problems for us. When we misuse money, we suffer.”

The third friend, the richest one, said, “I have lots of money, but I am not attached to money at all.”

He wanted to prove that he was rich, and at the same time that he was spiritually great.

He went on, “I have plenty of money, but I am not attached to it in the least. If anybody wants to take away my money-power, I will not mind.”

Again he was showing off to this man that he had tremendous wealth, but he was above it.

The young man said, “Unfortunately, I am now on my way to the town, so I cannot give you an immediate decision. Tomorrow, if you happen to be here, I will tell you which one I have selected. Or, if you wish, I could come and see you. Where do you live?”

The friends answered, “We also have houses in town.”

“You have houses in town?” said the young man.

“Do you want to be our guest?” asked the three friends. “We each have our own house.”

The young man said, “All right, if you will allow me, I will gladly be your guest. With each one I shall spend a night, so I will be spending three nights altogether, and then I will be able to give you my answer.”

The young man started reciting slokas from the Vedas, the Upanishads and other sacred books. He was showing off how he was the greatest pandit. The three friends were deeply moved that they would receive knowledge and wisdom from him.

Then the two kind-hearted friends said, “Here is our dearest friend. He is the one who has so much material wealth and who is so learned. We feel in all sincerity that he deserves to have you as his guest first. Then you can come to our places to stay.”

The young man agreed to this proposal. He said, “Let me be at his place today, and tomorrow and the day after I shall come to your homes.”

The young man accompanied the boastful friend to his home. This particular friend was very, very kind to him and showed him tremendous hospitality. Together they talked and talked far into the night. Alas, the boastful friend was tempted to show off. He showed the young man where he kept his safe and his expensive things, such as diamonds and gold.

The young man said, “I am not interested in these kinds of things. I am only interested in the Vedas, the Upanishads and physical strength. For me, the body and the spirit must go together. It is good that you have so much wealth. God is indeed kind to you. But, unfortunately, I am not interested in material wealth. I am only interested in my own physical strength and in reading the scriptures.

The boastful friend was a little bit sad that this young man was not interested in material wealth and could not appreciate his expensive things. But he enjoyed talking with the young man immensely. After some time, the young man declared that the following day he did not have to stay at the other two places, for he was planning to announce that of the three friends he had chosen this one.

“You are giving me tremendous joy,” he said. “I do not think that I will get the same kind of joy from the other two. I am ready to declare you the winner.”

The boastful man was so happy and so proud that he was chosen before the other two had even been examined. Then both the host and his guest retired for the night.

Now, the young man merely pretended that he was fast asleep. He even started snoring. The richest man was sleeping soundly. This young man was actually a rogue of the first water. When he was certain that the rich man was fast asleep, he emptied the safe and took all the jewels. As he was leaving the house, he saw that the rich man was still fast asleep. He said, “How can he sleep like this?” Then he kicked the rich man a few times. In case his victim woke up, he was ready to run away. He said, “I am infinitely stronger that this stupid fellow. He will not be able to do anything.” He gave the rich man a few extra hard kicks, but still he did not wake up. Then he left with the stolen things.

Early the next morning, the rich man woke up. He immediately noticed that the young man was missing and the door of the safe was wide open. The rich man said, “What has happened! He has taken away everything!”

He rushed to his friends and cried, “I have nothing. I have nothing! Everything has been stolen by that rogue. I am now bankrupt!”

The two friends tried to console him. They said, “We begged you not to brag. We knew that you would invite some calamity and now this is what has happened.”

The rich man stopped crying and said, “God has really blessed me today. Although you two were my friends, inwardly I used to look down upon you because I was infinitely richer and more learned than you. In every way I felt superior. I told that young man that, despite having great wealth, I was not attached to it. You two said that money is necessary and then again money can create problems. In my case, I was showing off, but in the heart of my heart, was I not attached to my money? I was so proud of my money-power. God has really saved me from my pride. Now I can truly claim you two as my friends. My friendship with you has proven to be infinitely more important than my attachment to wealth.”