Panchtantra Story: The Holy Man and the Thief

Photo by THÁI NHÀN on

Dewa Sharma was a holy man who lived in the temple. He spent his days reading the Holy Books and praying to the Gods. He even performed special prayers for the people who came to the temple. In return for his special prayers, people would give him expensive gifts such as clothes, shoes, and jewelry. So, he began to sell these gifts and collected the money he got from each sale. 

Soon he was a rich man, but nobody knew of his money. He continued to live a simple life in the temple, wore old clothes, and spent his days praying and reading the Holy Books. He had a dream to build a large monastery with the money he could collect, so he spent his money carefully, and was happy to live in a simple life. 

Dewa Sharma was careful about his money; not only did he not spend any of it, but he carried it with him all the time. He kept his money in a bag, wrapped up the bag in a blanket, and took this large bundle with him wherever he went. Now there was a smart thief who hung around near the temple. He kept his eyes on Dewa Sharma and often noticed him carrying this big bundle around. He thought to himself, “the holy man lives a simple life, but what does he carry in that large bundle, I’m sure it’s something valuable, maybe money, maybe gold and silver”. 

Finally, he couldn’t control his greed and decided that he would get his hands on the bundle one way or the other. He knew that it wouldn’t be easy to steal the bundle because the holy man carried it with him wherever he went, so the thief decided to follow him around everywhere, till he had a chance to grab the bundle and run. Once he had made up this plan, he went running to the temple, straight to Dewa Sharma, fell at his feet and said, “wise master; please accept me as your student. I am tired of being foolish; I need to learn the wisdom of the Holy Books from you. I do not want riches or fame; I need knowledge”. 

Dewa Sharma was pleased with this new student and decided to teach him the wisdom of the Holy Books right away. He replied, “let it be so, from today you will be my student, you will be with me day and night, and I shall teach you everything I know about life and the Holy Books”. The thief was happy; his plan seemed to be working, and from then on, he stuck by the teacher’s side. Day and night, he was with him. He followed him around everywhere and served him like any student would serve his master. 

Dewa Sharma went about his everyday duties at the temple, and the thief was aways at his side. He was pleased with his new student, who seemed to be a fast learner and was always eager to serve his master. Many days went by like this, until one day he received a letter from a rich man in a nearby village. This rich man was willing to give Dewa Sharma some land to build his monastery and had invited him to come and see the place for himself. He was happy, and the next day he and his student set off on their journey. 

They walked for two long days, but during this time, Dewa Sharma never let go of his precious bundle. During the day he carried the bundle everywhere, at night, he slept with it under his head as a pillow. The thief was waiting patiently for his chance to steal the bundle and run. But so far there didn’t seem to be any way to do that. On the third day after walking for many hours, both stopped to rest near a lake. They sat down under the shade of a tree, and after taking a long nap, Dewa Sharma decided that it would be a great idea to swim in the lake to cool himself down and wash off the dirt and dust from his body. 

He couldn’t take the bundle into the water with him, as it was heavy and there was a chance he would drown with it. So he asked his student to hold on to the bundle while he went for a swim. Once inside the water, he was enjoying the coolness, when he saw two storks fighting. They were fighting long and hard, and both had started to bleed. He was paying complete attention to the birds, and just then a snake leapt into the water, making its way towards the birds. He wanted to see what happened next. The snake thought it could attack while they were fighting and it could enjoy a great meal, but it was caught between the fighting birds, and soon the snake was dead. 

He had seen enough, and he decided that it was time to get back on his journey. But as soon he turned around to swim back to shore, he saw that his student and his bundle were missing. He was sad and upset and angry at himself for trusting a stranger. He waited near the lake, but no one came. He made his way to the village but didn’t find the thief there either. After meeting the rich man, and accepting the land as a gift, he made his way back to the temple alone. 

He had to collect money for many years before he could build his monastery. As for the thief, he found that his guess was right. Inside the bundle was a bag, and in that bag was a lot of money. He used the money to buy a home and open a business in a town far away, and he was never caught for stealing. 

Moral: Do not allow people to cheat you with sweet words.

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