Of Brahmins, thieves and demons…

Read the previous part here

AriMardana now looked at VakraNāsa and said “Tell me, oh wise one, what should we do in this situation?”

VakraNāsa replied…

“My king, I think that he should not be killed. Because, in some instances, an enemy can also bring about some good or be beneficial to us. It has been said…”

शत्रवो ऽपि हितार्थैव विवदन्तः परस्परम् ।
चौरेण जीवितं दत्तं राक्षसेन तु गो-युगम् ॥ १९० ॥

śatravo ‘pi hitārthaiva vivadantaḥ parasparam |
caureṇa jīvitaṃ dattaṃ rākṣasena tu go-yugam || 190 ||

Even those who came to cause harm, argued with each other ended up doing some good – the thief gave life and the demon gave a pair of calves.

AriMardana said “How did that happen?”

VakraNāsa replied…


The story of the Brahmin, the thief and the demon

In a city not so far away from here, lived a poor Brahmin named Drona ( a cup made of leaves). He had no means of earning, and so lived off the little charity that people used to give him. Forget about using them, he had never even dreamt of good clothes, ornaments, good food and a luxurious house. His body was shriveled from enduring years of harsh cold, heat and rain. His hair and beard had grown long since he didn’t have any money to go to a barber, he had long nails and was generally unkempt in appearance.

One day, a rich landlord who was passing by his small house, saw him sitting outside and took pity on his appearance. He sent back a servant with two calves, as charity. Drona thanked the servant and resolved to work hard to maintain these calves, hoping that they would benefit him once they grew bigger.

And so he begged and borrowed, and somehow managed to feed them good fodder and ghee on a regular basis. These calves soon grew big and strong.

The calves attracted the attention of a thief, who saw them and thought to himself “These calves look so nice and strong! I will steal them tonight.”

When night fell, the thief grabbed a rope and started towards the Brahmin’s house. He had reached a street away from the house when he saw a horrible sight. A being, with sharp teeth, a bloody nose, red eyes, protruding nerves and hair all over his body, stood in his path.

The thief was terrified! But he somehow managed to gather his wits and mumble a few words to the being “Who are you?”, he asked him.

“I am a Brahma Rākshasa and my name is Satyavachan (the one who speaks the truth)”, replied the being. And who are you?”

“I am a thief and my name is KruKarma (the one whose actions are cruel). I have set out to steal two calves of the Brahmin who lives in the next street.”

“That is good! I haven’t eaten anything since six days, and I eat once in six days, So today is my day of having some food. It is good that we met today – we both have the same thing in mind (stealing), and we are both going to the same place. You steal the calves and I will eat that Brahmin.” And so they both set out to the Brahmin’s house.

They reached their destination quickly, and saw that the Brahmin was not yet asleep. Standing in the corner, both waited to make their move. In a short while, the Brahmin went to sleep and so they entered the house.

Satyavachan the demon got ready to pounce on the Brahmin, but KruKarma stopped him. “Wait, first let me steal the calves. You can then have your fill”, he said.

The demon replied “But if the Brahmin wakes up by any chance, due to the noise made by the calves, then I will not be able to eat him.”

“But if something happens when you attack the Brahmin, if he shouts and screams, I will not be able to steal the calves. So let me take the calves first, you can then eat him.”

And so the fight started. KruKarma refused to yield, and Satyavachan didn’t give up either. But one thing happened. Hearing them, the Brahmin woke up.

“This demon wants to eat you!”, said the thief, pointing at Satyavachan.

“This thief wants to steal your calves!”, said the demon, pointing at KruKarma.

Hearing them speak, the Brahmin quietly got down from his bed, closed his eyes and prayed to his favorite deity. This prayer and his invocation of the sacred mantras scared off the demon, who vanished. Drona then lifted his stick and beat up the thief, who ran away, and thus the calves were saved as well.

“And that is why I say that even those who came to cause harm, argued with each other ended up doing some good – the thief gave life and the demon gave a pair of calves“, concluded VakraNāsa.

AriMardana now looked at PrākāraKarna and said “Tell me, oh wise one, what should we do in this situation?”

PrākāraKarna replied…

to be continued…