Knowledge and Common Sense
There lived four young Brahmin boys in a
city. They were good friends eager to go out and acquire knowledge. They
went to a place called Kanyakubj. They joined a monastery and began studying
sciences and scriptures. After twelve years of learning they thought it was
time to go home and asked their guru for permission to leave the monastery.
After taking his permission, they started their homeward journey.
After a few days of travel, they reached
a point where the road forked. They were not sure which road would take them
home. Then they saw a funeral procession. One of the boys opened his book of
learning and read out “Follow the path taken by great men.”
The boy told his other friends, “Let us
join and follow these great men leading the funeral procession.”
They thus followed the procession to the
cremation ground where they met a donkey.
The second Brahmin boy opened his book of
Shastras and found this verse in it:
“He who comes to your aid
In times of danger, famine,
Cremation and invasion
Is truly a friend in deed.”
Then he told his friends that the donkey
was, therefore, their best friend. At once one of them held on to the neck
of the donkey. Another washed his feet. After this ceremony, they looked
around and found a camel. The four of them began figuring out what the
animal is. The third man opened his book of knowledge and read out, “What
moves fast is righteousness” and decided that the camel must be the
embodiment of righteousness.
The fourth man referred to his book and
found that righteousness and friendship should always be together. They then
tied the donkey and the camel together. Informed of this, the donkey’s owner
rushed to beat the four Brahmins. But they escaped before he came. They
continued to travel till they reached a river and found a big leaf floating
over the water.
One of them saw it and, remembering a
line from a verse describing how a leaf helped a man cross the river, jumped
on it and was being carried down by the current. A second Brahmin saw his
friend in distress and remembered a verse:
“When total loss stares in the
A wise man sacrifices half and
Manages with what remains.”
So, with a view to save half of his
friend, the second Brahmin cut off the head of the drowning man.
The remaining three resumed their travel
only to stop when three villagers invited them for a feast. When the host
served a dish resembling noodles to the first Brahmin, he thought “what is
long should be discarded” and left the place without food.
The second man was served pancakes. He
thought, “What spreads is not good for health” and refused to eat.
Doughnuts were served to the third
Brahmin. He remembered that “There is peril where there is a hole” and left.
The three Brahmins later went home.
“What God chooses to save
Survives sans human effort and
No human effort can save
What God ordains to perish.”