August 19, 2022

#08-233: A Young Man's Greed

Four Brahmins

Note: Here's another moral tale cautioning against greed.

Get Ready: How much money is "enough"?

This story about greed comes from the Indian story collection, The Panchatantra.

Four very poor young men of the Brahmin class set out to find a way to overcome their poverty. Soon they came to a city, where they met a great Swami [holy man] who asked, "What brought you here?"

When they told him their mission--to escape poverty and perhaps even gain great wealth--he seemed moved by their plight, and decided to offer them a plan.

"Here," he said, "are four sacred tablets. Each of you should take one in his hands and walk toward the Himalayas. As you walk, one of you will drop his tablet. Dig there, right on the spot where it falls, and you will find great treasure. Bring it home and you can live a happy life."

And so the four young men did as he instructed. After many days, as the Swami had predicted, one of them dropped his tablet. There they dug, and found a great deal of copper. "Let us dig it up and take it home," said the one who had dropped the tablet. But the others felt copper was of little value, so the young man took all the copper he could carry and started for home alone.

As the other three continued, another dropped his tablet. They dug up silver and, as before, only the one who dropped the tablet was satisfied, and returned home with the silver. The same happened when the third young man dropped his tablet, discovered gold, and returned home with it. But the fourth insisted on pushing higher and higher into the mountains, seeking something more.

Tired, thirsty, and frankly lost, he at last encountered a strange man covered in blood, with a wheel spinning over his head like a halo. "What is the purpose of that wheel?" he asked the man--and immediately the wheel flew over his head, causing him excruciating pain!

The stranger explained, "This is the realm where Kubera, God of Wealth, keeps his treasures. The wheel-bearer serves as a warning to others to stay out. You, unfortunate young man, will have to remain here until another person approaches and asks you the same question." And then the stranger left.

The fourth young man's greed had overcome his wisdom, and there he remained for many a year.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. copper
  2. excruciating
  3. frankly
  4. greed
  5. halo
  6. overcome
  7. plight
  8. realm
  9. sacred
  10. unfortunate

  1. a difficult situation
  2. unlucky
  3. a low-value reddish metal
  4. an excessive desire for wealth
  5. prevail over; get past
  6. honestly
  7. kingdom; region ruled by someone
  8. holy
  9. extreme
  10. in art, a circle above the head, like on an angel

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for August 19, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. i; 3. f; 4. d; 5. j; 6. e; 7. a; 8. g; 9. h; 10. b