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Vaitaal Stories-2

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7-Foolishness of the Four Wise

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Vikram and Vaitaal Stories-2 - Story 7 (Keral Version)
"Captain Sir Richard R Burton's Vikram and the Vampire: classic Hindu tales of adventure, magic and romance" / edited by his wife Isabel Burton. [etext Conversion Project, Nalanda Digital Library, NIT Calicut, Kerala State, India]

7-Foolishness of the Four Wise

Vaitaal started a new true story - "There was a Braahman in Gaur (Bangaal) university, named Vishnu Swaamee. He could write prose in very old languages, not very good, but still better than many people, that is what it made him distinguished. He had all Ved, Puraan etc on his finger tips. He had written bulky commentaries also. With regard to speaking truth, he was second Yudhishthir. He knew all the events chronologically even 5-6 million years before of his birth. But this was also true that sometimes he even lost his memory to tell you where the Yavan country (Greece) was located. Still even the Pandit of his alma mater Kaashee, looked forward to learn from him.

He had four sons. He taught all good qualities to his children - humility, obedience, respect, attachment etc. He admired them at their back but scolded them on their face. He dressed them coarsely to save them from vanity. Whenever they anticipated a "treat" he strongly disappointed them to teach them self-denial. If he promised them to give reward, he gave them to teach them discipline. At the age of six, they were sent to "Chatushpadee" (school) where they labored till noon, then they had two hours time for their usual work (bathing, eating, sleeping, worship); and at 3.00 pm they resumed their labor. This lasted till twilight, then they worshipped, ate, drank for an hour. Then they returned to their study till 10.00 pm.

All Four Go to Kaashee
In those days, teachers did not intend to dull their students with lots of study, but they taught them god behavior - not to engage in night frolics, not to use light expressions, not to draw pictures on the walls, not to eat honey, flesh etc, on no account to wear sandals, or use umbrella and by no means to steal neighbor's mangoes. But Shani must have been in 9th mansion when those boys came to light. At the age of 12 they went to the University of Kaashee, and without losing any time, the first one became a gambler, the second one a confirmed libertine, the third one a thief, and the fourth one a high Buddhist (in other words an atheist)."

At this point Vikram frowned at his son to behave like a king's son. He asked Vaitaal the meaning of "Atheist". Vaitaal said - "It is difficult to explain. The sages assign it to three or four meanings. First, who denies that God exists; secondly, one who believes that the gods exist but denies that they are busy with human affairs; thirdly, one who believes in the gods and in their providence and also believes that they are easily to be set aside. But according to Buddha, none exists but the five elements (earth, water, fire, air and space). 

He did not believe in spirit because it could not be detected in the body. Reason was a developed instinct for him, and life an element of the atmosphere affecting certain organisms. He believed in Sat, Raj and Tam (Notes 127) but only as a properties of matter. He acknowledged Sthool Shareer (gross matter) and Sookshm Shareer (atomic matter), but not the Ling Shareer (archetype matter). He did not credit the miracles of Krishn, because, according to him, nature could never suspend her laws. He ridiculed the idea of Mahaapralaya (Great Deluge); because as the world had no beginning, it had no end.

Thus in the end, the University Guru called the four and said to them - "There are four types of characters in the world, (1) he who perfectly obeys the command, (2) he who practices the commands, but follows the evil, (3) he who does neither good nor evil, and (4) he who does nothing but evil. The third character may be considered as an offender, because he neglects which he ought to observe, but you all belong to the fourth category." 

Then they turned to the eldest one and said - "Books on Government say that cut off the nose and ears of the gamblers, hold up his name to the public contempt, and drive him out of the country. For, who play must often lose than they win; and while losing either they should pay or not pay, in latter case they should lose their cast. And although a gambler has a family but it should not be considered as it is there, because nobody knows when it is lost. So you should go to a country life."

Then they said to the second one - "The wise shun a woman who can fascinate a man in a twinkling of an eye, but the foolish forfeit all for her. Even elders cannot advice such people because they make others also bad, because it is said that, "Who has lost all senses of shame, fears  not to disgrace others." and "A wild cat who devours its own young, is not likely a rat to escape." That is why you also leave this seat of learning."

Then the third one proceeded to justify himself by quoting from Leelaa Shaastra - "Fortune favors foolish and force, but the elderly professors drive him out of execrations." Although professors did not approve the thief and an atheist but could not disregard the words of wisdom, so they punished him with some fine and mutilation of hands for theft; and when detected in the act with loss of life; and chopping off his fingers for snatching things. They drove him out of the door, as he shamelessly began to quote texts about the four approved texts for house breaking - picking out the burnt bricks, cutting through unbaked bricks, throwing water on a mud wall, and boring the wood."

They spent six hours to convict the atheist, the fourth one - by inference, by comparisons, by sounds, by Shruti and Smriti - revelational and traditional, rational and evidential, physical and metaphysical, analytical and synthetically, but they found all their endeavors vain, because it is said - "For a man who has lost all shame, who can talk without sense and who tries to cheat his opponent, will never get tired and will never put down." He fell foul of the gods, accused Yam for kicking out his mother, Indra tempting the wife of Maharshi Gautam, and Shiv associated with low women - thus no one can respect them. Thus he made the professors so angry that they drove him out of the assembly.

All Four Are Expelled from Kaashee
Thus all the four came back to their home. Their father considered them as a disgrace to his family. He also asked them to go out until they showed some signs of improvement. He said - "For, those who have read science in their boyhood; and who, in youth, are agitated by evil passions; have remained in ignorance, feel regret in the old age, and are burned in the fire of avarice." He stopped their monthly allowance, but to aid to their task he told them if they went to the neighboring university of Jayasthal and did some better, he might ask their maternal uncle to supply them food and other necessities.

They tried in vain to soften the heat of their father by threatening him to commit suicide, so they deferred their father's proposal as a last resort. They decided to enjoy life before going there. They tried to live without monthly allowance but it was like squeezing the oil from sand. The gambler lost all the games and had to sell himself for slavery. He found it difficult so he told his brothers that they would see him at Jayasthal where he would learn wisdom. After a month the second one could not afford new good clothes, so women did not like him, so he also went to Jayasthal.

The third one, the thief, thought about himself - "Am I not a cat in climbing, a deer in running, a snake in twisting, a hawk in pouncing, a dog in scenting, keen as hare, tenacious as a wolf, strong as a lion, a lamp in the night, a horse on a plain, a mule on a stony path, a boat in the water, a rock on a land?" The answers of all his questions were affirmative; but in spite of all these qualities one day he was caught and was handed over to the justice. As he was a Braahman he was fined heavily, but he could not pay it so he was put in the jail for some time. He escaped from there, made a parting bow to Kaarttikeya (Notes 138), stole a blanket and finally went to Jayasthal.

First the atheist, the fourth one, engaged himself in discussions, but could not continue because people did not want to discuss anything with him because they could not oppose him as they knew his father; so he went to another city where nobody knew him and nobody invited him to his house. Once he attempted his usual trick on a group of sages but he was pushed back from there and thus he also ended up at Jayasthal.

All Four Come Back to Gaur
Now all the four discussed what they should study so that they should be respected at Gaur. They came to conclusion that they should study "white magic". They chose a Guru. In those days one made an unusual discovery, but only some enthusiastic people could approve it, while others did not. Wise of Gaur and the wise of Jayasthal discussed the matters of each other what they least understood about each other. The four men mastered the difficulties of that life giving process, and in due time their industry gave them reward.

They returned home. On the way they saw a Kanjar (one of the lowest caste people in India) carrying a bundle of skin and bones of a tiger which he had found dead. The thief said to the gambler - "If we take these remains, we may prove our science to Gaur." Being now possessed of knowledge they now thought to apply that knowledge for a good cause - power over the property of others. So the libertine, the gambler and the atheist engaged the Kanjar in conversation, while the thief took a bone, kept it upright on another and did something that the man ran away in fright.

Vishnu Swaamee lately wrote a learned commentary on the mystical words of Lokaakshee - "The scriptures are at variance, the tradition is at variance. Who give a meaning of his own, quoting the Ved, is no philosopher. True philosophy, through ignorance, is concealed as fissures of a rock. But the way of the Great One, that is to be followed...."

As the four boys came home, Vishnu Swaamee welcomed them with an open heart. He had already heard from his brother-in-law that the boys could support themselves; and when he was informed that they wanted to show their knowledge to public, although not believing them, he agreed to do show it. All Pandit, Guru, pious learned teachers and professors, spiritual fathers, poets, philosophers, mathematicians, school masters, coaches, mentors, monitors, met together in a big garden.

The four brothers came there slowly lowering their eyes. After making an introductory speech, composed by their father for them, they announced that they were about to prove a truth of a science, the rivals of Jayasthal did not believe. Their huge words, their intellectual convocation deserved all praise. None objected of what was being proposed except one of the heads of houses. His appeal was dismissed because his Sanskrit style was vulgarly intelligible. He had the bad name for being a practical man.

The metaphysician Rasik Laal looked at the poet Vaishwat, who in turn looked at a theo-philosopher Vardhmaan. Haridatt, the antiquarian, whispered something in the ears of the metaphysician Vaasudev who burst into laugh, while other learned in Ved stared at him with astonishment. He felt offended and went home. They opened the bundle of a tiger's skin and bones before the large crowd.

One of them spread the bones just in correct fashion. The second one connected its skeleton with the heart, muscles of an elephant which he had already procured for this purpose. The third drew from his pouch a brain and eyes of a tom-cat which he carefully fitted in its skull, and then covered its body with a young rhinoceros. And the fourth one, the atheist who was the director of this whole operation, produced a globule having another globule in it. And as the crowd pressed on them, he placed the Principle of Organic Life in the tiger's body with such effect that the monster immediately heaved its chest, breathed, agitated its limbs, opened its eyes, jumped to its feet, shook itself, glared around, and began to grind its teeth.

The sages sprang back, and the animal sprang forward. All of them rushed to the garden gate, but the beast having muscles of the elephant, bones of a tiger, made a few bounds 80-90 feet each and devoured 121 people, including Vishnu Swaamee and his all sons."

After telling this story, Vaitaal hung for a few minutes then said to Vikram - "Listen to me O King now, Which of those learned people was the greatest fool? Although the answer is easy, yet it is distasteful to you. Remember "science without understanding is of little use; understanding is superior to the science; and those who do not have understanding perish like the people perished in above story."

The King mistook the mortification imposed upon him and replied - "The greatest fool of all was the father himself. Is it not said that "There is no fool like an old fool."

Vaitaal again burst into laugh and said - "Now I return to my tree. By this head I have never heard a father condemning another father." and he slipped out of the bundle. Vikram scolded his son for his disobedience, for which he promised to remember next time. They went back to the tree, took him and set off for their journey again. Vaitaal had to speak, so he started telling them another story.



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Created by Sushma Gupta on January 15, 2002
Modified on 06/05/13