Tales Of Wisdom - The Mahatma

One day a great sage was walking along the road, dressed in his simple clothes, serving all the people who are good, and trying to lead the bad ones to the nobler ways of living through love and service. As he was thus walking, in the gathering dusk he saw a big bungalow and, thinking that it must be a rich man's house, and hoping to get some food and a night's rest there, he knocked at the door: "Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om."

"Who is that?" barked someone from an upstairs window. "Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om..." repeated the Sadhu. "Could you not come in the day-time? Where were you all this time? In the night we don't entertain anyone." and the window was closed with a bang. The Sadhu smiled in pity and cheerfully walked away.

Not far away from this rich man's arrogant bungalow was a poor man's humble hut. The Mahatma reached his door and knocked. "Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om." The man and his wife came together to open the door and seeing that it was a simple, poor devotee of the Lord, they invited him in. The lady immediately went and brought all the balance food that was there. "We are very sorry. We just finished our dinner. This is all we have now. But it should be sufficient, as we have also some milk for you." The Mahatma smiled and joyfully accepted the food.

The woman said, "Let us this night lie on the mat in the front room, on the floor, and give the Sadhu our bed." The old man, Premchand, was only too happy to be able to serve his honoured guest. They all sat together and talked of the glories of the Lord for more than an hour. The lady then brought milk for the guest and showed him to the room. The Yogi was very happy to see the family so devoted and kind.

Early next morning the Sadhu finished his daily meditation and prayers, and when he came out of his room he saw the lady was already in the kitchen cooking a frugal breakfast for the guest to take before he left. The Sadhu could not any longer keep his happiness to himself. He called Premchand near him and said, "I am extremely happy with you both. Now you ask me three boons."

The old man said, "The Lord has given us everything. What more can we ask? Let us both be healthy and serving others till our last days, and let there be sufficient for us both to live on, and a little to share with other needy ones, who might come to us. And I don't know anything else that L can ask of you with the third boon."

The Sadhu smiled, and said, "Perhaps you would like to have a bigger and more comfortable house?" Both Premchand and his wife together said, "Yes, may we have one, please?"

"Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om," the Sadhu took leave of them and went his way roaming the world in love and happiness.

Next day, in the morning, the rich man, Kanakapal, opened his window and looked out. What? From where? How? Who? He could not believe his eyes. Overnight, there stood, not far away from his house, a beautiful palatial building which had not been there last evening! He called his wife to the window. She looked out and was also dumbstruck with surprise. At last she cried out, "It is our Premchand's hut. How did it become such a palace? What magic is this?"

Before she could finish the sentence, Kanakapal was already at the front door. His wife followed him. Both of them, arrived together at Preitichand's house, where the old man was sitting and singing:

"Hari Narayana Govinda Java Narayana Govinda Hari Narayana Jayanarayana Jai Govinda Govinda. . ."

As he heard the sound of the approaching steps crunching on the gravel newly laid under his porch, he got up and looked out and, seeing Kanakapal and his wife visiting him, hurried down his steps to receive his noble guests and conduct them in. Kanakapal went round the house, saw everything and heard of the mysterious blessings of the Sadhu-visitor of last night.

When they were returning home, Kanakapal was very unhappy. 'That Sadhu first came to us, and you were foolish enough to drive him away," accused his wife, and added, "Now, do one thing. Take the car and drive along; overtake the Mahatma who must be going on foot. Fall at his feet, and request him to allow you also three boons."

He immediately dressed up and in his car drove away. Not very far away from the village, under a tree, the Sadhu was resting: "Hari-Om... Hari-Om... Hari-Om." He stopped the car, ran to him and fell prostrate at the Yogi's divine feet.

"Yesterday, Maharaj, you came first to my house, and though I used very harsh words, I was searching for the key, and before I could come down and open the front door, you had left," explained Kanakapal.

The Sadhu smiled and said, "Never mind. What do you want now?" "Maharaj, give me also three boons as you gave to Premchand," replied Kanakpal, shameless in his extreme, filthy covetousness. "You have everything. You don't need them. Yet, if you desire them, you can also have three wishes, and they will all be fulfilled," declared the Mahatma. "Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om... Hari-Om."

In extreme joy the greedy Kanakapal ran to his car, forgetting even to wish good-bye to the Sadhu. The Yogi smiled at the ludicrous lunacy of one who is stung with unsatiable desires. "Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om. . . Hari-Om."

Kanakapal had not driven far on his way back, when the car developed some troubles. He had not brought the tool-box with him. It was an old, old car and the battery had run down. By now the June sun was high up. He had pushed the car up a slope and was perspiring. The heat was quite unbearable. He was very hungry as he had taken nothing so far on that day. His house was yet some three miles away. In utter disgust and wear iness he cried out, "I wish this useless car were burnt up completely." All of a sudden, for no apparent reason, the car made an omnious sound and caught fire. On that lonely road, with no one to help him, Kanakapal screamed, and the car blazed on, and in a very short time burnt down to a skeleton! It lay crumbled on the road. The covetous rich man knew that it was one of his wishes fulfilled!

"But then," he tried to console himself, "after all, I have two more wishes, and with them I can get the whole world if I want."

Dejectedly he started walking home. On the way he remembered that his wife was happily sitting at home, while he was hungry and walking in the hot sun. It suddenly came out of his mouth, "I wish my house were on fire so that she will realise how unhappy and hot I am."

Soon after mid-day Kanakapal turned and stepped on to the road which led to his house. But. . . .. "What?. .. .. where is my house? What. . . . .?" He started running. As he reached the heavy gates he could smell smoke! He rushed in and dashed towards the porch!! Strange! His house was burnt to the ground. He started crying and rolling on the drive-way in agony and despair.

Neighbours had removed his dying wife from the burning house. Half burnt, and her face all scorched into an ugly ulcer. They all felt pity at the tragic condition of the rich man. Seeing his wife, he, in his sorrow exclaimed, "I wish I were blind so that I need not see all this tragedy." Before he had finished the sentence, he realised that all of a sudden all light had vanished from his eyes. His third wish had been fulfilled.

None of his neighbours came, to his help, because Kanakapal had no friends in the whole village. He had always quarreled with all his neighbours.

Late in the evening, when the old man Premchand returned home, he heard the news. He immediately dashed to the burnt house, brought both Kanakapal and his wife into his own, new house. Kanakapa’s wife died of the burns in a week's time, inspite of the best medical attention and treatment.

Kanakapal became slightly unhinged mentally.

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