The Hermit and The Mouse
“In the southern city of Mahilaropya,” said Hiranyaka, “lived a hermit named Tamrachud in a Shiva temple on the outskirts of the city. Every day, he would go out into the city, collect alms and cook his food. After the meal, he would store whatever is left in his begging bowl and hang it to a peg and go to sleep. He would give the leftovers to poor people in return for services rendered to the temple. They would every day wash it, clean it and decorate it with patterns of chalk.”
“One day, some of my relatives complained to me, “O lord, the hermit is storing the food in his bowl and hanging it high to a peg. We are not able to nibble at it. You alone can reach any place. Why should we go anywhere else when you are there? Let’s go to the hermit’s place and with your help feed ourselves.”
“Accompanied by my relatives, I went to the hermit’s place and springing at the bowl brought the stored food down. All of us then had a good meal. We repeated this act every day till the hermit found what we were doing. He brought a split bamboo and began striking the food bowl with it. That noise used to frighten us and we would spend the whole night waiting for a respite from this noise. But the hermit never stopped striking the bamboo.”
“Meanwhile, a visitor named Brihat came calling on the hermit. Tamrachud received him with great respect and did whatever he could to make the honoured guest happy. At night, the guest would relate to the hermit tales about his travels. But Tamrachud, busy scaring the mice with his bamboo, would not pay much attention to what his guest was narrating. In the middle of the story, the guest would ask him questions to which he would give indifferent replies.
“Angry with Tamrachud’s absent mindedness, the visitor told him, “Tamrachud, you are not a great friend of mine because you are not attentive to what I am telling you. I will leave your place tonight and seek shelter elsewhere. The elders have always said that you must not accept the hospitality of such a host who does not welcome you gladly, does not offer you a proper seat and does not make inquiries about your well-being.”
“Status has gone to your head. You do not any more care for my friendship. You do not know that this conduct will take you to hell. I am really sorry for what has happened to you. You have become vain and proud. I am leaving this temple at once,” Brihat said.
“Frightened at his visitor’s words, Tamrachud pleaded with him, “O worshipful guest, please don’t be harsh on me. I don’t have any friends other than you. Here is the reason why I was not attentive to your discourse on religion. There is this mouse, which every day steals my food however high I keep it. As a result, I am not able to feed the poor people who do the job of keeping the temple clean. The temple is now in a bad shape. To scare this culprit, I have to keep tapping the food bowl with the bamboo stick I keep with me. This is why I was not able to pay attention to the great and learned tales you have been relating.”
“Realising what really was the problem, the visitor asked the hermit, “Do you know where the mouse lives?”
“Sir, I have no idea,” said Tamrachud.
“The visitor said, “This mouse must have stored a lot of food somewhere. It is this plenty that gives him the energy to jump so high and eat all your food. When a man earns a lot of wealth, that pile of money increases his strength and confidence.”
“Brihat continued, “There is an explanation for everything in this world. There is a reason for Shandili trying to exchange husked sesame seeds in return for degraded sesame seeds.”
“Tamrachud asked Brihat to tell him who this Shandili was and the story of sesame seeds.”