Is your mind ready to cry? Is your heart ready to smile? part 4

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The poet's head

Once a king was very displeased with a particular poet because the poet was no longer writing flattering poems about him.

The king said to his guard, “I want his head.”

So the guard went to the poet’s house and said, “The king wants your head. I have come here to cut off your head and take it back to the king.”

“What!” said the poet.

“I have come to kill you and place your head at the feet of the king,” the guard said.

The poet started trembling. He said, “The king wants my head? To me, my most precious possession is my head. How can I give such a precious thing to you to give to the king? I must give it to him personally. Yes, I think that it would be better if I brought my head personally.”

So he went to the king and said, “Now I have come with my head. Here is my head. You can do anything you want with it.”

The king was pleased at how smart the poet was and he forgave him. “Now write better poems about me than you have written in the past few months!” he said.

The king and the sage

Once there was a king who was always fighting. One day the king was severely wounded in a battle. A sage passed by and touched him, and the king was cured. The king wanted to give the sage a reward for saving him, but the sage didn’t want anything. He was just happy to save the king.

The king said, “I don’t want to remain indebted to you for saving my life.”

The sage said, “In the future I will definitely come to you and ask for something. I do not need anything now, but one day I will come to you.”

Months passed by and the sage was only praying to God for Peace, Light and Bliss. Then a desire entered into the sage’s mind. For the past few months his cow had not been giving milk. “My cow is old,” he said. “Let me ask the king to give me a cow. He will definitely give me a cow.”

He went to see the king and found him inside a temple. The king was praying for more wealth and more name and fame.

The sage said to himself, “I won’t ask him for a cow. He is also a beggar like me.” Then he was about to go away.

The king stopped him and said, “Sage, you saved my life. Please tell me what you want. I will give you anything you want.”

The sage said, “I pray to God and meditate on God. He is the only thing that I need. I don’t want to take anything from anyone in need. You say you took an oath that you would not remain indebted to anyone. I have also taken an oath. My oath is that if anyone is in need, then I will not take anything from that person. That is why I won’t take anything from you. You are praying to God for all kinds of material things. You are begging God to give you wealth and name and fame. So how can I ask anything of you? God has shown me that everyone is a beggar. So if I need something, I will get that thing only from Him. God is the only one I will go to get whatever I need.”

The doctor's satchel

In a particular village in India there was only one doctor, so naturally all those in the village held the doctor in great esteem. One day the doctor was called upon to visit a villager who was quite ill. In addition to fever and other ailments, the man had pains around the navel. He had been suffering for a long time.

When the doctor arrived at the man’s house, all the members of the family were surrounding the patient, very worried. The doctor saw that the illness might be serious and he ordered them all to leave the room. “Out, out!” he said. “You can’t stay in the room while I examine the patient. The case is serious.”

So the members of the family left the room and waited anxiously in the next room for news about the patient. After a few minutes, the doctor was heard unlocking the bedroom door and his head appeared through the doorway looking grave. He said, “Bring me a chisel.”

The son ran and got a chisel and delivered it to the doctor while the rest of the family wept. The doctor once again closed and locked the door.

Five minutes later, the doctor again broke the silence. He put his head through the doorway and this time demanded a hammer. “This case is more serious than I had thought,” he said. After being given the hammer, the doctor again closed and locked the door.

The son turned to the uncle and said, “O God, something is wrong with his ribs. Uncle, it’s so serious!” With that the whole family began weeping again.

Then the door opened and the doctor said, “Crowbar! Bring me a crowbar!” Upon receiving the crowbar, the doctor disappeared behind the locked door.

Quite some time passed and still there was no news from the doctor. The family became very uneasy and restless. The son said to the mother, “Mother, how is it that the doctor is not coming out? How is it that he is not asking for something? What if Father is dead? Why should the doctor be the only one to see Father when he is dying? We should also be with him. Father has not even written a will!”

Suddenly the boy went to the door and said, “We want to be able to see our father.” And with that he broke the door down.

Upon entering the room they all saw the doctor bending over his satchel, trying fervently to open the malfunctioning lock on it. He had not even begun to treat the patient. Looking up quite embarrassed, the doctor ran out of the house, leaving satchel and all.

The family called in another doctor from a neighbouring village to treat the man.

The roaring tiger

Once a young man was returning after visiting his maternal uncle’s home. It was getting dark and he still had to cover five more miles, so he was getting a little worried. Then he saw a carriage and a driver about a hundred metres in front of him. The driver was sleeping inside the coach and his boss was resting in a field nearby.

The young man said to the driver, “Will you give me a ride in the carriage? Still my home is quite far and it is getting dark.”

The driver said, “How dare you even ask such a thing! I have to stay with my boss. What kind of audacity you have!”

The young man said, “Will you take me if I pay you?”

The driver asked, “How much can you pay me?”

“One rupee,” said the young man.

The driver laughed and laughed and laughed. Then the young man said, “Can you not ask your boss? Your boss may be generous.”

The driver saw that his boss was still sleeping and he didn’t dare to disturb him. So he told the young man, “I am sorry, but how can I wake up my boss? I can’t ask him.”

Then the young man started coughing uncontrollably. The boss heard the coughing and woke up. With folded hands the young man went to him and said, “Please forgive me for waking you, but I have no control over my cough. I understand that you are going past my village. You live a little farther away than I do. Will you be able to take me? I will give you money.”

The boss laughed at the young man. He was such a rich man that he certainly didn’t need this poor man’s money. But he didn’t want this fellow to go with him, so he asked him, “How much can you give me?”

The young man said, “One rupee.”

Again the rich man laughed and laughed. Then he said, “Unless you give me a hundred rupees, I will not take you.”

“How can you ask for a hundred rupees?” said the young man. “At most I can pay only three or four rupees. I have very little money. That’s why I am offering you only one rupee.” Then the young man said, “I tell you, I have a very special capacity. If you take me, I will be able to show you this capacity.”

The rich man asked, “What special capacity do you have? Why don’t you show me now?”

The young man said, “No! Only if you take me in your carriage will I show you.”

The rich man said, “Either you have to show me the capacity now or pay one hundred rupees if you want me to take you home.”

The young man said, “I don’t have one hundred rupees and I will show you the capacity only after we are in the coach.”

By this time it was quite dark. The rich man said, “Then I am going away.” Then he said to his driver, “Let me take a little more rest. Don’t bother me again with this kind of rascal! For half an hour I will lie down in the field and get some proper rest. In half an hour wake me up and then we shall go home.”

After five minutes, all of a sudden the rich man and his coachman heard a tiger roaring nearby and they started trembling. They looked around to see where the noise was coming from. The tiger roared more and more powerfully. The carriage was about a hundred and fifty metres away from them, so they didn’t dare run to it.

At one point the roaring stopped. The rich man said, “This is the time for us to enter into the coach. Then please drive as fast as possible before the tiger comes back and attacks us.”

They ran to the coach and drove away as fast as possible. When they came to the village where the young man lived, all of a sudden they saw the young man jump off the rear of the carriage. He had been secretly standing there while they were driving.

As the young man jumped off, he started roaring like a tiger. The young man said, “Now you have found the tiger. I told you that I had a special capacity. My special capacity is that I can roar like a tiger.” Then he threw one rupee into the carriage.

The businessman's punishment

Once there was a businessman who was a real rogue. He used to sell clarified butter or ghee. But he would sell adulterated butter and the people who ate it would get sick. Many people actually died from the butter. So some people sued him and the case went to the village head.

The village head said, “Get a jar of his butter and I will make him drink it in front of us. Since his ghee has caused so many people to suffer, he must drink some of it himself.”

They brought the clarified butter for him to drink, but the businessman said, “I am going to the magistrate, the higher court. Let him decide what I should do.”

When the magistrate heard the story he said, “Either drink this ghee, or you will be whipped five hundred times. Choose one of the two.”

The businessman said, “Oh no, I am not going to drink this and I do not want to be whipped. I am now going to bring my case to the governor. The governor has to decide my punishment.”

When the governor heard the case he said, “If you pay a fine of two thousand rupees, then you don’t have to drink the ghee or be whipped. You make the choice.”

The businessman said, “I don’t want to pay anything and I don’t want to be whipped. So I shall drink the butter.” He started drinking the ghee, but after drinking only half of it, he was feeling so miserable that he could not finish it.

The governor said, “Look, this is what you used to give others to eat!

The businessman said, “Since I can’t finish the butter and I don’t want to pay any money, let me be whipped. But since I have drunk half the ghee, let me take only half the whipping. Let me be whipped two hundred and fifty times instead of five hundred.”

After being whipped a hundred times, the man was crying and screaming. He said, “Now I am ready to pay. But let it be only a thousand rupees, since I have already got part of the punishment.”

So the businessman drank the butter, suffered a whipping and had to pay money. In the end he got the punishment of the village head, the magistrate and the governor.

The three braggarts

Once three friends were bragging about their younger days in the army. Two of them were saying that when they were soldiers they had killed many, many people. All three of them were at a friend’s house and all the members of the friend’s family — the parents, children and grandchildren — were all listening to them with deep admiration.

One of the men said that he had cut off the legs of a giant who was extremely powerful. The other one said, “True, I saw it. But just before he cut off his legs I cut off his arms.”

The first one said, “It was much more important to cut off his legs. Because I cut off his legs, the giant could no longer move around and appreciate the beauty of nature. Without hands and arms, one can still see the beautiful and vast world. But because of me, this extremely powerful giant could no longer walk!”

The second one said, “That is true. But even without legs one can still grasp things. Because I cut off his arms, the giant could no longer eat food or in any way lead a useful life. What I did was infinitely more significant than cutting off his legs.”

The third one had all along remained silent. Finally he said, “It is true that one of them cut off the arms and the other cut off the legs. But do you know how they were able to do this? They were able to do this because I cut off the giant’s head first. Once I cut off his head, naturally they could easily cut off his arms and legs.”

The two dreamers

Once there were two wonderful dreamers. One was the head of the village and the other was a tax collector. They used to dream every night about the king. The king used to come to the village chief in his dreams and tell him what to do every day with regard to the village. The king also would come to the tax collector in his dreams and say how much money he should collect every day from the villagers. Very peacefully this went on for some time. The villagers had great faith in these two.

One day the village chief was crying and crying because he hadn’t dreamt about the king that night and he didn’t know how to guide the villagers. He said, “Last night I didn’t have any dream, so today I will do everything wrong. Please don’t listen to me.”

The villagers said, “Since you have been listening to the king so regularly, if for one day he doesn’t come, no harm. We are sure that you will do what the king would have wanted you to do.”

The chief replied, “The king has always come before. That is how I am able to guide you. But now what am I going to do?”

Everyone was very sad because they were not getting any guidance from the village chief, and nobody was working. When the tax collector came to know what had happened, he became worried. Since the taxes were collected on a daily basis, if nobody worked that day there would be no tax collections.

The tax collector was very clever. He went to the chief and said, “Do you know why the king did not come to you last night? It is because he spent the whole night with me. He was giving me so much advice about taxes that he was not able to come to your house.”

Everybody was so happy that the king had spent the whole night with the tax collector. Still, the people were asking the chief, “What should we do today? The day is passing and you haven’t given any of us jobs. If we don’t make money, how can we pay the taxes?”

The chief said again, “No, I can’t give you jobs today because I have not seen the king. I will not be able to give you any work.”

The tax collector said, “The king has told me how much money to collect today. Even if you don’t work and get paid, the king said you still have to pay taxes.”

The people had such faith in the tax collector because they had so much faith in the king. They said, “Whatever the king has said, we shall do. Let us pay the taxes.” So they had to pay taxes even though they were not working that day.

The rich mendicant

There was once a businessman who had become a millionaire by adopting both fair means and foul means. He did not always do the right thing, but he did become very rich. When he reached the age of sixty he decided he wanted to change his life. In India, sixty is considered very old. When he told his wife, his children and his relatives that he wanted to become a religious mendicant, the members of his family all started crying.

His wife said, “If you are leaving, then you have to take me. Without my husband, how can I exist?”

His son said, “How will we be able to reach you when we need you? How can one get in touch with a mendicant roaming from one place to another? If you get a special place to stay, then several times a week we will be able to visit you. I will build you a cottage where you will be able to lead a spiritual life peacefully. Even if it is only a cottage, let me build it for you.”

So the son made a very comfortable home for his father. Since his son had made it, what could the mendicant do? He had to use it.

Daily the wife used to send food for the husband. One day he said, “This is too much luxury. I don’t want to eat the food that my wife sends. If this continues, I will end up having a comfortable life again. Whatever I get from begging on the street, I will eat.” But his wife played a trick on him. She gave money to all the families living near his cottage and told them, “Every day he will go from door to door begging for food and I wish you to be very generous to him.” So every day the villagers gave him lots of food, sweets and nice things.

The mendicant said, “I thought that I would be leading a very simple life. But whenever I go begging, everyone gives me most expensive things. O God, still I am leading such a comfortable life. Did I leave my house only to lead this same kind of life?”

Then one night he dreamt that Lord Indra sent a chariot to come for him. His time had come. But his wife said, “I must go also.” The son also wanted to come and said, “But how can I go without my wife?” He had been recently married and he could not bear to be away from his new bride. The mendicant’s mother also wanted to come. But she said, “O God, I also have another son. If I go away with this one, what will he think of me? Let him also come with us and his wife and children too.” So everyone piled into the chariot. As soon as they all sat down, the chariot gave way; it broke into pieces. In the dream he jumped up and his own life-cord broke. What actually happened is that he jumped up from the bed and his own bed collapsed.

He said, “From this dream I see that God wants me to go alone to Heaven. That means God wants me to become a real mendicant.” This time he left the village without telling his family where he was going and he lived the life of a true mendicant.

The saintly scholar

There was a great scholar who was very saintly. His wife was nice, but she was earthly whereas the scholar was all the time talking about philosophy, spirituality and all kinds of religious things. Although he was such a great scholar, he was very poor because he wouldn’t take money from anyone. Whenever he taught he wouldn’t accept money from his students. In wisdom he was like the Pacific Ocean, but he was absolutely poverty-stricken.

One day some of his students went to the king and said, “Your kingdom has such a great scholar. Other kings would die to have such a great scholar in their kingdom. Can you not give this man lots of money so that he will not have to live such a poor life? Then he will be able to concentrate more on his studies and become more learned. There is not a single scholar anywhere who is as great as he is.”

The king was very happy to have this kind of scholar in his kingdom. So he sent a very large amount of money to the scholar through one of the scholar’s admirers. The king also sent a message appreciating the scholar very highly.

When the scholar received the gift from the king, he said to his admirer, “I can never accept the king’s money.”

His wife immediately said, “You fool! If you take the king’s money, you won’t have to work any more. We are so poor. You must take his gift!”

The scholar said, “If my admirer doesn’t take it back, I will take it back personally.”

The wife said, “You are such a fool. You spend so many hours helping others and you take next to nothing for it. Now the king has given you money so that you can lead a comfortable life and not worry about ordinary necessities. Why won’t you accept his gift and appreciation?”

The scholar said, “Look what kind of king we have. The king has given me money because some people have spoken highly of me. Before my admirers went to him, he had never heard of me. He didn’t even know that there was a great scholar in his kingdom. Today he heard from someone that I am very great, so he gave me a reward. But he just sent the money; he did not even want to make any direct contact. He could have invited me to come to his palace so that he could see me, but he believed my admirers. Tomorrow some people may speak ill of me and he will hear that I am really very bad. Then he may punish me. Therefore, I will not accept his money.”

The pirate and the king

There was once a pirate who used to rob, torture and kill people who were voyaging on the sea. Everybody was very afraid of him. Many complaints went to the king about him, but nobody could catch him. Finally the king said, “I am going to go and capture him myself.” So he went to sea with many bodyguards and sailors and finally caught the pirate.

The king told the pirate, “You are such a useless fellow. You have tortured so many people for so many years. Now you should be hanged.”

The pirate said, “I am going to be hanged? Before I am hanged, you should be hanged.”

Everybody was shocked. The pirate continued, “I have killed a few people here and there. But you are a far greater rogue than I am. You are not satisfied with ruling your own country. You go and conquer other countries and kill thousands of people. You do infinitely worse things than I do.”

The king said nothing. Then he gave the pirate a large sum of money and said, “For God’s sake, give up this pilferage. If money is what you need, here is money. But if what you want is to torture and kill people, then I can’t be of any help. If I hear any more complaints, I will arrest you and definitely have you killed.”

The pirate said, “Remember, you are doing the same thing.”

Again the king remained silent. Then he said, “Come with me. I want you to work at the palace. Since you are physically so strong, you can be my bodyguard.”

Editor's preface to the first edition

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

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