When they reached, they started digging. When they took out the vessel in which the money was kept – they found it to be empty. Paapa-Buddhi started to wail loudly, slapping his forehead, and with tears in his eyes, shouted at Dharma-Buddhi “You cheat! No one else could have stolen this money – only you knew where it was! And you also closed the hole after digging the money out, which shows that you planned to feign innocence in front of me. Give me half of the money you took from here, else I will have to complain to the king!
Dharma-Buddhi said “Paapa-Buddhi! You are the wicked one. My name is Dharma-Buddhi, and I am a righteous person. It don’t steal, and I don’t lie. It is said…
मातृवत्परदाराणि परद्रव्याणि लोष्टवत्आत्मवत्सर्वभूतानि वीक्ष्यन्ते धर्मबुद्धयः || ४३५ ||
Mātravatparadārāni paradravyāni lośtavat ātmavatsarvabhutāni vēksyante dharmabuddayah ||435||
Virtuous men consider other’s wives as their mother, other’s wealth as a lump of mud, and all beings as as part of their Self.
Arguing this way, they finally decided to go to court.
When they reached the courthouse, the judges ordered them to take a sacred oath, and then prove their point. Afraid at lying in the name of God, Paapa-Buddhi said “My Lord! This judgement is not fair. It is said that when arguments arise, first documents are looked into; if there are no documents, then witnesses are questioned, and if there are no witnesses, only then is a sacred oath taken.”
“In my case, I have a witness – the tree god. He will reveal the truth as to who is the thief between us”, concluded Paapa-Buddhi.
All those present agreed to this suggestion. After all, it is said that even if a lowly person becomes a witness in cases where there is no divine proof, it is accepted by all, so why would anyone doubt the words of a tree-god?
The judges said “We are eager to solve this case. Tomorrow morning, we will all go to the tree where the money was stolen.”
Paapa-Buddhi reached home, called his father, and said “Father! I have stolen money that belongs to Dharma-Buddhi. You will have to help me out, else all the money will be gone, and I will be convicted as well. ” The father, who was as greedy as Paapa-Buddhi, replied “My son! Tell me what I need to do in order to save the money…and you.”
Paapa-Buddhi said “There is a huge tree in the forest – I will show it to you. It is hollow inside. You would have to hide inside it. I will come there in the morning, with the judge, and ask the ‘tree-god’ to speak the truth. You would have to shout loudly that “Dharma-Buddhi is the thief.”
The father agreed, and went to hide in the tree, waiting for the next day.
In the morning, Paapa-Buddhi, Dharma-Buddhi and the judges came and stood in front of the tree. Paapa-Buddhi shouted out “The sun, the moon, the wind, the fire, the sky, the earth, the water, the heart, Yama, day, night, the two twilights, and Dharma know the actions of a man. Oh God of the forest! Who is the thief amongst us?”
The father replied “Everyone present, listen carefully, and listen well! The money was stolen by Dharma-Buddhi.”
The judges were amazed – they had just witnessed a miracle! They started to discuss amongst themselves, on a suitable punishment for Dharma-Buddhi. In the meanwhile, Dharma-Buddhi, aghast at this turn of events, collected some dry sticks, filled in the entrance of the hollow of the tree with them, and set the twigs on fire.
As the tree started burning, Paapa-Buddhi’s father jumped out of the hollow screaming in pain. His eyes were swollen from the smoke, and he had suffered major burns as well. The authorities were astonished. “Who are you?” they asked him.
Paapa-Buddhi’s father, with tears in his eyes, narrated the whole incident, and asking forgiveness, died on the spot.
The judges arrested Paapa-Buddhi, and sentenced him to life in prison. They praised Dharma-Buddhi for his thoughtfulness, and said…”
उपायं चिन्तयेत् प्राज्ञस् तथापायम् अपि चिन्तयेत् ।
पश्यतो बक-मूर्खस्य नकुलैर् भक्षिताः सुताः ॥ ४३९ ॥
upāyaṃ cintayet prājñas tathāpāyam api cintayet |
paśyato baka-mūrkhasya nakulair bhakṣitāḥ sutāḥ || 439 ||
A wise man should think of a good plan to get out of danger; but he must be also be aware of the danger that can arise due to his plans. All the cranes were killed by the mongoose, because of the foolishness of one crane.
Dharma-Buddhi said “How did that happen?”
to be continued…