Sunday, 26 May 2013

The rent collector

Once upon a time there lived a poor Brahmin who lived by taking alms from people. Though he was unable to find a profitable occupation for himself, he lived a life of self-discipline and integrity. He woke up before the sun did each day and had the food that he got only after a bath and after giving the first handful to the crows.

He would wait patiently for the crows to come and have the first peck at the grains before he ate the food. His simple nature and humble ways made him likeable and the villagers were eager to offer him whatever he asked for.

The Brahmin was neither too happy when he got tasty food, nor was he too sad when he did not get any. He took whatever was given to him with prayers on his lips and contentment in his heart. Before food he would visit the nearby temple to offer his prayers to God and gave away whatever was excess with him to people who were poorer than him.

One day a few tourists visited the village and decided to chat up with a few people.They came to know about the poor Brahmin and the life that he led.

Upon hearing about his life, the tourists were very critical and felt that he should try and get himself a work that would give him more money. They decided to meet the Brahmin and talk him into doing something better. Feeding crows every day from food got through alms is no charity, they argued.

They tried telling him that what he distributed by earning for himself is real philanthropy. All that the Brahmin did was to listen to them patiently. After a while the Brahmin started speaking. He decided to ask a few questions and the visitors began answering his questions.

The Brahmin wanted to know if they made rice flakes at home and what they do when they dry the flakes. The crowd laughed and said that they would spread it on the terrace of the house and allow it to dry. The Brahmin asked how many of them would keep watch over the drying food with a stick in their hands and all of them replied that they all would do it to shoo away the crows. 

The Brahmin smiled and told them that the terrace and the open space belonged to the crows. While using the space we shoo them away. So all that he was doing was collecting rent on behalf of the crows and other birds in the form of alms. 

"Therefore", he continued, "I fed the crows with what rightfully belonged to them!"