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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Even the proximity to great wealth makes one absolutely powerful

Even the proximity to great wealth makes one absolutely powerful

Another episode from Vishnu Sharma's Panchatantram.

There was a shrine of Lord Shiva in the city of Mahliaropya. A mendicant by name Tamrachuda was residing near the temple performing the daily worship of the Lord. Every day, he would go round the town begging alms, as it was his duty as a sannyasin, and in the evening he would eat whatever was necessary for him from his alms-bowl and would place the balance of food in the bowl tying it on a peg just out of reach of rodents and pests. This food was meant for his servants. 

The rats who were residing in the temple were watching this. They thought that the balance of the food available after the mendicant's meal was rightfully theirs especially when they were languishing for food and starving almost to death. They approached their leader, Hiranyaka the wise rat, and said.. " Sir, you know we are all roaming around aimlessly in constant fear in search of some food. But the mendicant at the temple is getting a lot of food daily and after eating to his heart's content, he is tying his bowl with a lot of food left, on a tall peg out of our reach. You are our leader and a very wise person. If you can help us, we can get hold of that food and we all can eat well. " 

Hearing this, Hiranyaka with his followers rushed to the temple. Being bigger and more acrobatic, he jumped up and reached the contents of the alms-bowl, snatched all the food and divided it amongst his followers. He also ate good food that day.. Then onwards, this became the daily routine and the rats were all happy. The mendicant tried his level best to prevent the rats from stealing his food but all such attempts proved futile. 

Then he found a novel method. He procured a sturdy stick and periodically he would hit the bowl, even during his sleep, and the terrible noise would keep the rats at bay. 

The repeated beating of the bowl this became almost the second nature of the mendicant, and he never failed to do it whatever else his occupation was. The routine became something like this. The rat comes stealthily for food, approaches the bowl, and then the stick hits the bowl with a thud, and the rodent flees in fright.. 

But Hiranayaka was persistent. He would come back again and again. The enterprising Hirnyaka was managing to thwart the designs of Tamrachuda and steal his food.

One day another mendicant with a longer beard and clad in more colourful robes came as a guest to our poor stick-rattling Tamrachuda. Brihalspik was the name of the guest. The guest was received with due respects was and provided food and bed of grass. The host and the guest were in animated conversation about temporal and spiritual matters. Even though the guest was telling many great stories, the host was distracted and at short intervals he was going and hitting his begging bowl with a stick. 

Brihalspik, the guest, got annoyed. " You Tamrachuda, I understand everything now. You think that I am not your friend any longer. You are not talking with interest to me. I would like to leave this place immediately. One should go to the houses of hosts who are ready to receive you with pleasure. If the host is looking sideways and fidgeting and keeps down his face at the sight of a guest, it is evident that the guest is unwelcome. You are beating your alms bowl in addition. To visit such a host is even more shameful that a vagrant bull entering an unguarded field. You are rich and you have a temple in your occupation and so you are arrogant and you are treating me thus. You are not realizing the fact that by holding on to this abode you have already ensured a permanent place in hell. If one wants to get a permanent Visa to hell one can select between two professions.. Be a priest for one year or be the head of a matam or monastery for three days. Both are sure paths to hell. You miserable fool, I am leaving just now."

The host Tamrachuda was filled with remorse. He replied. " My Lord and friend, I never meant any disrespect for you. There is no better friend for me than you. But a wily rat here had made me half mad. He is stealing my food even if I keep my alms bowl pegged to any tall hooks. This wily rat could jump heights which would be a dream for a cat or even a monkey. It is in mortal fear of this rodent that I am hanging my bowl on a tall peg and beating it with a long stick all the time to scare him away . I do that even when I am asleep. It has become an obsession with me."

The guest Brihalspik was very wise. He asked. " Can you show me the hole where the rat resides?"

They found out the hole. Brihaspik said. "There must be some huge treasure lying underneath this hole. The inhabitants of the hole gets radiations from that wealth and becomes bold, and performs heroic acts" . 

The two mendicants, with the help of the servants dug up and razed the hole. The wily rat Hiranyaka fled the fortress and true to the prediction of Brihalspik, they could discover a huge treasure of gold and precious stones hidden underneath.

From that day the begging bowl and the contents were very safe for the mendicant.

The moral of the story is, “Even the proximity to great wealth makes one absolutely powerful”.

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