Is your mind ready to cry? Is your heart ready to smile? part 8

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The king's treasurer

One day a king’s minister said to him, “O King, you never take me seriously. But, your Highness, I have something to tell you. The man who used to be in charge of your treasury was not sincere. You always thought that he was very sincere, but I tell you, he was not.”

The king said, “How do you know? Can you prove this?”

The minister said, “Two months ago he died. Now I see that his sons have opened very big and expensive shops. When their father was alive, they lived simple lives. Now they are getting married and are spending large amounts of money.”

“What does that prove?” the king asked.

The minister said, “This proves that the treasurer was stealing things from you and saving them for his sons. This shows that he was not an honest man.”

The king asked, “Now what should we do?”

The minister said, “Let us transfer our hidden treasures to some other place.”

The king said, “No, no, don’t worry! It is not necessary to transfer them.”

The minister said, “Perhaps he has told someone the secrets of the treasury.”

The king said, “Don’t waste my time telling me what he might have done. Investigate more!”

The minister said, “I have investigated. Quite recently I asked someone to pretend he was a spy and tell your rival, the neighbouring king, that he would be willing to offer him the secrets of your treasury. But the neighbouring king was not at all interested in hearing the secrets.”

The king said, “What does this prove?”

The minister said, “You two are rivals and you are richer than he is. For him not to want to learn the secrets of your treasury is very strange. It means that he had already been told the secrets by your former treasurer. That is why he was not at all interested in learning them.”

The king understood what the minister was trying to tell him. He said, “Let us put our wealth somewhere else. And let us investigate his sons who are now leading a very, very luxurious life — a life of great pomp.”

The well-intentioned youth

There was a young man who was always getting in trouble because of the good things that he did for others. Usually when someone does bad things he gets in trouble. But in this young man’s case, whenever he did something good he got in trouble.

His parents were very sad that he kept getting in trouble despite his good intentions. Because they were worried about him, they saved up lots of money so he would have some security when they died. But they were still worried that when they were no longer around to help their son, he would do stupid things and lose all his money. Then there would be nobody to take care of him. While they were alive they would always support him and there would be no financial difficulty. But they were concerned about what would happen after their death.

What kinds of stupid things would he do? One day he was walking along the bank of a river on his way to school when he saw an elderly woman fetching water from the river with a jar. The woman put the jar on her back and started carrying it back home. Since it was quite heavy, after a short while she put it on the ground and took rest. The young man was watching her and when she was about to lift it up again, he said to himself, “Since it is so heavy, let me help her. I will tell her that if she wants my service free of charge, I will carry the pot to her house.”

The boy lifted up the jar for the old woman, only to get a slap from her. She said, “You! How dare you touch my jar! You have now polluted it. I am a brahmin. What class do you come from?”

He said, “I am just a kshatriya.”

She gave him a few more slaps and said, “Now I have to throw this jar away and go home to get another one. Then I have to come all the way back to fetch water again. You have ruined my day.”

The next day he saw an old man chasing a little boy and screaming, “Thief! Thief! Thief! If I can catch you, I will kill you.”

The young man thought, “What can such a little boy have stolen? Even if he is a thief, I won’t kill him. But I will at least catch him for the man who is chasing him.”

So he chased and caught the boy. The little boy was very strong and he struck the young man. The young man said, “You are a thief! Why do you have to strike me?” Then he gave the boy a smart slap.

Just then the old man came running up and said, “How dare you touch my grandson! Out of affection I was calling him a thief. His grandmother made sweetmeats and we thought we would eat them together. But he was so greedy that he took them and ran away. So I was playing with my grandson, calling ‘Thief! Thief!’ Who asked you to come and grab him and give him a slap?” Then the grandfather started beating the poor young man black and blue.

Another day the boy saw an old man and old lady swimming. After some time, the old man got tired so he came out and started reading the newspaper, while the old lady continued swimming. After a little while the old lady said to her husband, “Now I am tired. Can you give me a hand?”

The old man was absorbed in reading the newspaper and he paid no attention to her. The young man, who was nearby, said, “Oh, since this lady is asking for help and her husband is reading, why bother him? Let me go and give her a hand.”

So he went to the edge of the water and offered the lady his hand. The lady screamed as soon as she saw him extend his hand to help her out. Immediately the old man said, “What are you doing?”

The young man said, “She needed a hand and you were reading the newspaper.”

He said, “You idiot! She is my wife. How dare you touch my wife!”

Then he started beating the young man.

After getting such a bad beating, the young man went and lay down in a nearby field. The village head happened to be passing by and asked, “What are you doing there? Why are you lying down there?”

The young man said, “I am miserable, miserable! Every day I go out and try to help people. But despite my good intentions, people only beat me.”

The village head asked, “What do you mean?”

The boy told the stories of all that had happened to him. The village head felt very sorry for him and said, “You come with me. I will inform your parents that I am hiring you. You don’t have to go to school any more. I will put you in charge of my garden, and you will tell me every day how many mangos, guavas, apples and so forth I have. And you can eat as much as you want to.

“You are an honest person, I know. But sometimes honest people can be stupid. I want to save you from your stupidity. I will save you from your stupidity and you will save me from thievery. Your stupidity I will take care of and you will be able to help me when people come to steal things from my garden.”

The gentleman shoots a burglar

There was a gentleman who had a bad habit of drinking. He never drank at home or at the office; in these places he was a perfect gentleman. But sometimes he would drink on his way home from work.

One night the man came home late from the office, and on that particular night he was heavily drunk. His wife had been waiting up for him, but finally she had fallen asleep. When the man arrived, he didn’t want to disturb his wife, his son or his servant. He just wanted to get into his bed very quietly. So very softly he opened the side door and he didn’t turn on the light.

When he entered into his house, he saw a man standing in one corner of his living room. The gentleman always kept a revolver in his pocket. So he took out the revolver and shot the intruder. The gun made a very loud noise and his son, wife and servant came running. They cried, “What has happened? What has happened?”

He said, “I just shot a burglar.”

O God, when they turned on the lights they saw it was just a coat hanging in the living room. His wife had bought a new suit for him and the jacket and trousers were hanging there. She was going to give it to him the next day as a gift for his birthday.

The wife said, “What have you done? I took so much time shopping for this and I spent so much money on it! Why didn’t you call us and wake us up if you thought there was a burglar in the house?”

The gentleman said, “You are such a fool! Luckily it was not a man. Otherwise, I would be in jail by now!”

Three fools and a rogue

When the head of a particular village passed away, many people came to his house to mourn. All of them were crying and saying how nice he had been. Some were bad and were only shedding crocodile tears, but some were shedding sincere tears.

A businessman wanted to go, but he himself was very sick. He told his eldest son, “Go there and console the members of the family.”

The son said, “I don’t know how to console anybody. I have never done this kind of thing. You are always the one who goes to mourn if someone dies. I don’t know what to say.”

The father said, “Just say what others are saying. Just imitate what others say and what others do.”

Many people were gathered at the deceased man’s house. Some were talking loudly and some were whispering. The son thought, “I am sure that the people speaking quietly are the ones who know the correct thing to say.”

He went closer and heard one man telling his two friends, “It is good that the rogue has died at last.”

So the businessman’s son went to the oldest son of the village head and asked, “Why are you crying?”

The son said, “My father has just died. Why shouldn’t I cry?”

The businessman’s son said, “It is good that the rogue has finally died.”

The son said, “What!” Then he and all the others in the house thrashed the businessman’s son. So the boy went home crying.

His father said, “What has happened?”

The boy said, “You told me to say what others said. I overheard somebody say, ‘It is good that the rogue has died at last’. When I said the same thing to his son, O God, he and many others beat me so badly.”

The father was afraid that something would happen because his son had said this to the village head’s son. He said, “Now they will think ill of me and my family, and then we will be in serious trouble.”

The businessman’s second eldest son said, “Father, I will make up for it. Please allow me to go there and I will say something to compensate.”

The father said, “Just do the right thing. I don’t have to tell you what to say or whom to talk to. Just go there and say something to the eldest son so that he doesn’t hold anything against us. I have such a stupid eldest son. Look what he has done. Now go there and compensate for your older brother.”

So the businessman’s second eldest son went to the village head’s house and said to the eldest son, “I am so sorry. I have such a stupid older brother. He is useless, useless, useless. Please forgive our family. I promise you that when you die, I will be the first person to come to your house and cry for you. And I will cry much more than anyone has ever cried.”

The son got furious. He said, “My father has just died and we are all crying. Why do you now have to think of my death?”

The son of the village head’s eldest son overheard the conversation and he also got mad. He said, “My grandfather has just died and we are all mourning. Is this the time to talk about my father’s death?” Then he started beating the businessman’s son.

This son was also beaten very badly, and he came back home crying and crying. The father said, “You idiot! Did you have to say, ‘When you die?’ His father has just died and you had to speak of the son’s death!”

The third son of the businessman said, “Father, don’t worry. I will be able to compensate for my brothers.”

When the third son went to the village head’s house, he said to the eldest son, “My brothers are such fools. Please forgive our family. I tell you, as soon as I hear that you have fallen sick, I will come and cry for you. Even long before you die, I will start crying for you.”

The son of the village head again became furious. He said, “Even long before I die, you will be thinking of my death!” Then he and all the members of his family beat the third son of the businessman.

When the third son returned home badly beaten, the father said, “I have such idiot sons! What will they think of our family?”

Finally the youngest son said, “Father, please let me go and compensate.”

By this time the father had lost all faith in his sons, but he said, “All right, then go there.”

The youngest son went to the house of the village head and saw that many people were crying and suffering. He went to the son of the deceased man and said, “I had a dream last night that I would like to tell you about. In the dream I felt miserable because I saw that your father had died. And now it is true; I see that your father has died.”

The son said, “I don’t want to hear about your dream.”

The businessman’s son said, “The next thing is very important. Your father said to me that you are immortal. You won’t die.”

The son said, “Everybody else will die, but I will not die?”

The businessman’s son said, “Your father told me in my dream that he himself had a dream. His dream told him that if he died today, then you would be able to live as long as you wanted to.”

The son said, “Do you mean that if he had died on another day, then I would live only for a short time like everybody else?”

The businessman’s son said, “That is between your father and my dream. Whatever I heard I am telling you. One final thing! In my dream your father told me that definitely one day you will become king. Now you are a village head, but because of your big heart, wisdom and love for mankind, soon you will become king. In the village nobody is as good, as kind and as forgiving as you are. Because of all these good qualities, some day you will become king. So you will be immortal and you will be king.”

The village head’s son knew that because the first three brothers had been fools, this one was trying to flatter him. He thought, “At least one brother has some sense. Of course, he has come to flatter me, but at least he is not a fool. The other three were real fools!

So he said to the fourth brother, “Go home peacefully and tell your father that I don’t hold anything against him or his other sons. I know that to take care of foolish sons is such a hard task. I am sure that those three foolish brothers of yours have done many foolish things in their lives. Your father has to put up with them, but I could not. So I thrashed them.

“You, at least, are not a fool. But I see that you are a rogue. You have come here only to flatter me. I don’t need stupid people and, again, a rogue like you I don’t need either. Go back to your father and tell him that I send my regards. Then I will mourn the loss of my father in peace.”

The village meeting

A meeting was held in a village to reform society. Many villagers came, because they all wanted to have a better society. But everybody was talking and nobody was listening to anybody else. It was absolutely like a village market. Everybody was shouting and screaming about how to reform the village, and nobody could hear anything.

Finally one man said, “My dear brothers, I have been trying to tell you something nice, good and inspiring. But since you are not paying any attention to me, from now on I will call you my brothers-in-laws.”

Everybody started screaming, “What! Brothers-in-laws?” Then they laughed and laughed.

The man said, “What is wrong? Brothers-in-laws are all rascals, so I am saying that you people are all rascals.”

Another person stood up and said, “Yes, we may be rascals, but you are an idiot.”

“What!” said the man. “I am an idiot?”

The second man continued, “Rascals can thrash idiots but idiots cannot thrash rascals.”

The man said, “What do you mean?”

The second man said, “We are all rascals, so we can thrash you. But you cannot thrash us because you are an idiot. Where did you learn to say ‘laws?’ It is not brothers-in-laws, but brothers-in-law. What kind of English are you speaking? You are a real idiot!”

The king's washerman

Once a king was very dissatisfied with his washerman. The washerman usually did a good job with the king’s clothes, but on one particular occasion he did not do a good job. The king was very dissatisfied and he sent a court officer to summon him.

When the officer went to the washerman’s house, he found the man talking to his donkey with folded hands. He was saying, “Your highness, you are so great, you are so kind, you are so good. The world does not understand you. I myself cannot begin to understand how great you are. But so many of your subjects do not even want to know how great you are. They are such ungrateful people.”

The officer told the washerman to come quickly to the king’s palace. Then the officer returned to the king and reported, “He is such a crazy fellow. He was talking to his donkey!”

An hour passed, but still the washerman did not come to the palace. The king got mad at his officer and said, “Why did you come back without him? This time go and bring him personally.”

The officer went back to the washerman’s house and saw that the man was still speaking to his donkey with folded hands, saying, “Your highness, you are good and great. We have no humility. We don’t show you enough humility.”

This time the court officer grabbed the washerman and said, “Now stop this nonsense!” He brought him to the king and told the king, “He was literally praying to his donkey. What can you expect from this donkey?”

The king asked, “Why were you praying to your donkey? What is wrong with you?”

The washerman said, “ I thought that if someday you were to summon me to the palace because I was doing such a good job on your clothes, then I would have to be humble. I have heard that there are people who are not humble to you and you do not like them. I wanted you to like me, so I was practising humility by praying to my donkey. I was practising the things that I wanted to tell you to express my appreciation and admiration. O King, there are many who come to you but do not show you due respect. So I am very sad.”

The king was very pleased with the washerman. He knew that there were many who did not show him enough respect. Since the washerman had been practising humility, respectfulness and devotion, the king forgave him and gave him lots of money. He told him, “For God’s sake, wash my clothes well. This time you have not done a good job, but otherwise you have been doing quite well. Now you have said very nice things to me. I see that it is not just flattery and I am deeply moved.”

The crazy philosopher

Once there was a philosopher who was very well known in the kingdom. On the one hand, he had such wisdom and everybody admired him. On the other hand, at times he was very, very crazy. But people forgave him because of his inner wisdom. They always saw only his good side. The king cared for men of wisdom, so he also liked the philosopher. He knew that sometimes people who are geniuses can act crazy. The king felt that he needed this philosopher and he greatly admired him.

One day the philosopher left his house for good. At night he would stay inside a cave and during the day he would roam the streets, always trying to hide from people. Everybody asked him, “Why do you always roam around alone? Why do you not allow anyone to accompany you?”

The philosopher would answer, “I roam around alone for only one reason: because all you people are dishonest. I am looking for an honest man. You may be my friends, but you are not honest.”

Everybody was shocked at the philosopher’s rude behaviour, for each one considered himself to be an honest person. But the philosopher said, “I myself am not honest. I am looking for an honest man.”

One day a court officer brought the philosopher before the king and said, “Today a thief stole something and with great difficulty we chased him and arrested him. When we were bringing him to jail we passed this crazy philosopher. He said to us, ‘Two big thieves have caught a little thief’.”

The officer was very mad at the philosopher. He said to the king, “He called us thieves! With great difficulty we caught the real thief, and look what he said!”

The king looked at the officer and then at the philosopher. He thought for a few seconds and then he said, “He is right, he is right. We are all dishonest.”

Then the king said, “Had I not been king, I would definitely have given up everything and lived the same kind of life that this philosopher is living. I too would have lived a simple life and I too would have looked for an honest person on earth. I am king, but even for me honesty is a far cry. No matter how hard one tries to be honest, it is extremely difficult. The philosopher is looking for honesty in others. This is also what I would have liked to do, but I cannot because of my position. I would have tried much more sincerely to be honest had I not been king.”

The thief becomes a sage

Once a thief entered into a tiny shop, stole a wristwatch and then started running away. The owner saw him stealing and began chasing him. He ran and ran and ran. While chasing the thief, the owner saw two young men who were just fooling around. He shouted to them, “Please help me, help me!”

The two men grabbed the thief and they all brought him to the police station. The police officer asked the thief, “Is it true that you have stolen something?”

The thief said, “Yes, I stole a wristwatch.”

Then the police officer gave the thief three hard kicks. Each time the officer kicked harder. The thief was rolling on the ground in pain. After the third kick, he started running away. The two young men who had caught him were laughing and laughing. They were not in the mood to run after him again. They said, “We don’t feel like chasing him again. We caught him once and that is enough. Besides, the police officer has already punished him.”

The shopkeeper was pleased that he had got the wristwatch back and the thief had been punished. So everyone left the police station.

The thief felt sorry for himself. He said, “Did I come into the world to be kicked by a police officer? My life has no meaning.”

He entered into the forest and began walking. After some time he saw a small hut. By then it was evening. He looked inside and saw two candles burning, but nobody was there. He said, “I am getting such a peaceful feeling from looking into this cottage. When I steal things, I don’t get peace. I am always worrying that I will be caught. This small hut is so peaceful. Let me go inside.”

When he entered the hut he saw a table with a few pieces of fruit and a small bowl of milk. He drank the milk and ate the fruit. Afterwards, he fell asleep. After an hour the owner of the cottage, a hermit, came back from his evening walk. The hermit had conquered anger, so when he saw the thief he said, “O my friend, I am very happy that you have come. I think that you needed the food more than I did.”

The thief fell at the feet of the hermit and said, “There is such a difference between your life and my life. Will you accept me as your disciple?” Then he told the hermit all about his life as a thief.

The hermit said, “I will accept you on the condition that you never steal again.”

The young man promised, “No, I will never steal again. If I become your disciple, how can I steal?”

The hermit accepted him and taught him how to pray and meditate. From time to time people used to come to the hermit for blessings. They could not recognise the thief because he had changed so much.

In a few years’ time the hermit died. Some of the hermit’s followers had such admiration for his disciple that they begged the young man to come to the neighbouring village and officiate at a puja.

The young man refused. “I am illiterate,” he said. “I can’t conduct the ceremonies.”

The followers insisted. They said, “You have such faith in God and love for God! There are many scholars, but we don’t need them. We need you.”

Finally the man agreed. He felt that nobody would recognise him as the former thief. By that time he had grown long hair and a beard and he was quite saintly looking. So he went to the village and in a very simple way conducted the village puja.

The police officer who had kicked him several years before happened to be in the crowd attending the puja. The officer was very well-respected in the village, but by this time he was retired. During the ceremony he said to one of his friends, “This young man is very sincere. Whether he has occult power or not I do not know. But he is drawing my affection and love and even my admiration. I have seen many so-called saints, but they are all frauds. However, I can tell that this man is very sincere, although I do not know whether he has the capacity to perform miracles or not.” The young man overheard the officer but remained silent.

After the young man finished performing the puja, everyone came and bowed down and touched his feet. They all felt that he was a great sage. The police officer also touched his feet very devotedly. When the officer touched his feet, the man said, “A little while ago you were talking about occult power. Occult power creates miracles, but you yourself have also performed a miracle.”

The officer was surprised. “When?” he asked. “It can’t be possible!”

The man insisted, “You have performed a miracle.”

The police officer was so eager to hear what he had done.

The man said, “Only two or three years ago, do you remember when you kicked someone who had stolen a wristwatch?”

“So many thieves I have kicked so mercilessly,” the officer said.

The man related the particular incident to the officer. He said, “On that day you kicked me so hard that I still remember it! Just because you kicked me so hard, I went to the hermit and became a seeker. By God’s Grace I stopped stealing and became a spiritual person. It was your kick that began my inner life. And now you are touching my feet!”

The guest house

There was a rich man who had a very big heart. He wanted to have a guest house named after him where everything would be free. So he built a guest house on the outskirts of his village and he hired three persons to look after it: a clerk, a cook and a maid. He paid them well and told them that everything was to be free of charge.

Everything went well for a couple of months. Everything was given for free by the clerk, the cook and the maid. O God, one day a brilliant scheme entered into their minds. They said to each other, “Let us very cleverly start charging something when the next guests come. Although it is free of charge, let us charge something just for ‘wear and tear’. We will say that we would be grateful if they make a donation to pay for wear and tear. But we will tell them that they are under no obligation to pay anything. People will be willing to pay because we are taking such good care of the guest house.”

As time passed, the clerk, the cook and the maid began demanding fees from their guests for overnight accommodations and for food, just like many other guest houses. If someone didn’t give the money, then he was not allowed to stay there.

The rich man was totally ignorant of what was happening and he continued sending money to keep the guest house running. The guests didn’t take the trouble to inform the rich man. They said, “We will stay here only overnight. If we stayed somewhere else, we would have to pay. So we may as well pay here.”

One night a shrewd man came to the guest house. When he was given a bill for food and lodging, he became furious. “How can you do this?” he said.

The clerk answered, “We do it!”

He asked him, “What if someone makes complaints against you?”

The clerk answered, “Let them make complaints. We were advised by the owner just the other day to ask for money.”

The traveller didn’t believe it. So he went to the village where the rich man lived and casually said to a friend he had there, “Once upon a time that rich man was very generous. Now I understand that he has become mercenary. He used to allow travellers to stay for free at his guest house, but now the workers are saying that he wants them to charge money.”

His friend couldn’t believe his ears. “The rich man is still very kind-hearted,” he said. “Who told you this?”

The man said, “I was there last night and they made me pay.”

His friend said, “Please tell some of the villagers that you saw the king’s brother-in-law in the guest house last night. Say that he was appreciating the guest house like anything and that he is planning to stay there for a week.”

When the news reached the rich man, he said, “My guest house is such a humble place, and the king’s brother-in-law is staying there! I must go and honour him.”

In the meantime the traveller went back to the guest house. As usual the clerk asked him, “Did you make a reservation?”

The man said, “No, I do not have a reservation.”

The clerk said, “You have to pay twenty rupees if you want to stay here overnight.”

The man said, “I don’t need any money in this guest house. Here one doesn’t have to pay.”

The clerk said, “If you won’t pay, then go away from here.”

The man ignored him and went into the restaurant. He sat at a table and ordered a meal. At the restaurant there was a sign saying that one didn’t have to pay. But after the cook served him, he asked him for money. The man said, “The sign says that you don’t have to pay for anything.” By that time he had finished eating, so what could they do? They were so mad at him. They were cursing him and they wanted to throw him out.

The man ran upstairs and found a room that was unoccupied. He entered inside and pretended to fall asleep on the bed. When the man who was actually supposed to be in that room came in, he was shocked to find somebody else in his bed. He went downstairs and told the maid, “Look, somebody is in my room!”

The maid came and started insulting the man. She said, “You have not paid. What are you doing here?”

The man said, “Everything is supposed to be free of charge here from the beginning to the end.”

The clerk, the cook and the maid were all about to thrash the man when the rich man arrived at the guest house. He was very surprised to find all the workers arguing with the guest who wouldn’t pay.

The guest said to the rich man, “Sir, you are extremely kind and rich, but your affluence cannot bring you happiness.”

“What do you mean?” asked the rich man.

“You also need wisdom,” said the man.

“In what way?” he asked.

“You are kind and rich,” the man explained, “but you are not wise. These workers of yours are rogues. They have been exploiting your kindness and charging all the guests who come here. I am the eyewitness. I can tell you firsthand how they tried to exploit me. There are other guests here also. You can ask them if I am telling the truth!”

The rich man spoke to the other guests. Some of them said, “We have visited this place quite a few times. Each time we have had to pay for everything.”

The rich man got so disgusted that he fired the three workers and handed over the guest house to the government. He said, “Let the government take care of it!”

Shyama's husband

There was once a man named Kiran who was very idle, while his wife, Shyama, was very active. Kiran wouldn’t do anything. Shyama had to work and support him. Every day the wife would milk the cow and then take the milk to the market to sell. All kinds of things the wife had to make and sell to support her husband. In Indian villages the husband always works and the wife looks after the house. But in this case it was just the opposite. After some time, nobody would call the husband Kiran. They would always refer to him as ‘Shyama’s husband’.

One day, an old friend of his came to the village and asked one of his neighbours, “Do you know where Kiran lives?”

The man said, “I have never heard of him. He must not live around here.”

It happened that Kiran was enjoying his afternoon siesta nearby. He woke up and overheard his neighbour saying that there was no one by the name of Kiran in the village. Kiran said, “What? Am I not Kiran?”

He and his friend were so happy to see each other. The friend said to the neighbour, “Why did you say that Kiran did not live here?

The man said, “I know him only as Shyama’s husband.”

When the man left, Kiran’s friend said to him, “What an insult! Nowhere have I ever heard anyone called by his wife’s name. It is always just the opposite.”

Kiran felt miserable. He thought to himself, “This can’t go on.”

The following day he said, “How can I bring back my name and reputation?” He knew that his wife sold milk at the market every day. So this time he himself went to sell the milk.

One villager said to him, “Oh, it is so good to see you. You look wonderful, Shyama’s husband. You look wonderful.”

Kiran said, “Here I am selling the milk, and still the man has to call me ‘Shyama’s husband’.”

Then Kiran went to another place to sell the milk. A little girl saw him and cried, “Mother, Mother, today Shyama’s husband has come to sell milk, not Shyama.”

Kiran said, “Even this little girl calls me ‘Shyama’s husband’.” He became so furious. He said, “The only thing I can do now is become a merchant. I will borrow money from someone and open up a business. Then people will come to know me as Kiran and my deplorable fate will come to an end.”

He went to a moneylender, but the moneylender said, “I don’t know you well. Do you have property?”

The clerk said, “Sir, you don’t have to worry because he is Shyama’s husband. If he doesn’t give you the money back, Shyama will.”

Kiran was so angry that he left the moneylender’s shop and said, “I am renouncing the world.” He went into a forest to take up a life of prayer and meditation. He grew a beard and moustache and ate only the fruits that grew in the forest. At times he would go begging door to door as a mendicant.

Shyama felt miserable that she had lost her husband. One day there was a fair in the village and hundreds of people came. Kiran was begging for food from person to person, but nobody recognised him. Kiran went up to his wife, for he was absolutely sure that she would not be able to recognise him. As soon as Shyama looked at him, she immediately burst into tears. Everybody thought that this fellow had said something undivine to her.

Then in front of everyone, she said to the beggar, “How can you fool me? Are you not my husband? I promise you, if you come back home, from now on people will call you by your own name. I have saved up some money. With this money you can open up a business. Everybody will come to you, and I will only work at home as your servant. Nobody will call you by a servant’s name. Everybody will call you Kiran.”

The husband believed her and came back home. From then on, everybody called him Kiran and not ‘Shyama’s husband’.

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 all of us. The stories have been performed as plays by Sri Chinmoy’s students.

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