The cheat, the Brahmin and the goat…

Read the previous part here

MeghaVarna was lost in thought, after hearing what the wise minister had said. “Oh revered sir, what should we do now?” he asked with folded hands.

Sthirajeevin replied…

“Oh king, in this situation there is one more strategy, other than the six that you have been advised on. That strategy is ‘deceit’. And this strategy will be executed by me.”

MeghaVarna looked surprised. “I don’t understand..”he said.

“MeghaVarna, I will take this responsibility upon myself”, said Sthirajeevin. “I will go myself and defeat the enemy through deceit. It is said…”

बहु-बुद्धि-समायुक्ताः सुविज्ञाना बलोत्कटान् ।
शक्ता वञ्चयितुं धूर्ता ब्राह्मणं छागलद् इव ॥ ११६ ॥

bahu-buddhi-samāyuktāḥ suvijñānā balotkaṭān |
śaktā vañcayituṃ dhūrtā brāhmaṇaṃ chāgalad iva || 116 ||

The wicked, who are very intelligent, and experts in the art of deception, are capable of deceiving anyone, like they cheated the Brahmin of his goat.

MeghaVarna said “how did that happen?”

Sthirajeevin replied…


The story of the cheats, the Brahmin and the goat

In a village not so far away from here, lived a Brahmin named MitraSharma. He was a devout pundit, and performed all puja rituals regularly, and led a pious life.

One winter morning, MitraSharma set out to the neighbouring village to conduct a puja. The occasion was special – it was the landlord’s son’s birthday and so the celebration was grand. The puja was conducted successfully and MitraSharma scheduled the sacrificial ceremony on the next new moon day.

He asked the Yajamāna (the landlord, since he was the person conducting the ritual) to hand over the sacrificial goat so that he could take it with him and bring it back on the day of the sacrifice. The Yajamāna complied and gave him a fat goat, that MitraSharma lifted and placed across his shoulders, and started on his way home.

As he walked on the road between the two villages, three cheats, who were roaming in the area searching for food to eat, saw him approaching from afar, with the fat goat on his shoulders.

“Now this is something that can feed us for many days” one cheat said to the others. “Let us think of a plan to cheat him and take the goat away.”

And so they quickly hatched a plan. One of the cheats continued walking towards the Brahmin, while the other two hid behind the bushes.

The first cheat called out to MitraSharma as soon as he was within earshot. “Oh Brahmin Maharaj! What is this? Why are you making a fool of yourself? How can you carry this unholy dog on your shoulders?”

MitraSharma got angry. “Are you blind? Can’t you see that this is a goat and not a dog?”

The cheat replied “Why do you get angry on me? I was just curious. Anyways, it is your decision. You can do whatever you like.” And he walked away.

As MitraSharma walked a little further, the second cheat came in his path.

“Oh Brahmin, what is this?”, he exclaimed. “I can understand your love for your dead calf, but you should not carry it on your shoulders this way. It is improper.”

MitraSharma replied angrily. “Are you blind? Can’t you see that this is a goat and not a calf?”

The cheat responded meekly. “I am sorry, oh learned one. I may have been mistaken. You can do whatever you like, who am I to question you?” And saying this, he walked away.

MitraSharma had walked a little further when he came across the third cheat. “Are you crazy?” the cheat shouted. “Why are you carrying a donkey on your shoulders? Throw it away! You are a man of scripture. You should know this better than anyone else, that if you touch an unclean donkey, you have to undertake rigorous penance in order to cleanse yourself!”

“And so, get rid of it quickly, before anyone sees you…”

MitraSharma got frightened. One person could be wrong, not three! This animal was surely possessed, he thought, and threw to to the ground, and ran away from there. The three cheats caught the goat, and feasted on it for a week.

“And that is why”, said Sthirajeevin.

The wicked, who are very intelligent, and experts in the art of deception, are capable of deceiving anyone, like they cheated the Brahmin of his goat.

“And it is well said”, he continued.

अभिनव-सेवक-विनयैः प्राघुणकोक्तैर् विलासिनीर् उदितैः ।
धूर्त-जन-वचन-निकरैर् इह कश्चिद् अवञ्चितो नास्ति ॥ १२० ॥

abhinava-sevaka-vinayaiḥ prāghuṇakoktair vilāsinīr uditaiḥ |
dhūrta-jana-vacana-nikarair iha kaścid avañcito nāsti || 120 ||

There is no one who has not been cheated by the politeness of a newly-employed servant, and the sweet words uttered by visitors, and by the crying of pretty girls, and by the deceptive words of the wicked.

“And also, one should be vary of people who are weak, but united. It is said…

बहवो न विरोद्धव्या दुर्जया हि महाजनाः ।
स्फुरन्तम् अपि नागेन्द्रं भक्षयन्ति पिपीलिकाः ॥ १२१ ॥

bahavo na viroddhavyā durjayā hi mahājanāḥ |
sphurantam api nāgendraṃ bhakṣayanti pipīlikāḥ || 121 ||

A single person should not fight a group. People who are united cannot be conquered. Even the fearful and powerful snake was eaten by a group of mere ants.

“How did that happen”, asked MeghaVarna.

Sthirajeevin replied…

to be continued…