Four friends lived in a city. Three of them were very learned in all sciences but had no common sense. The fourth boy named Subuddhi was not well-versed in scriptures or sciences but had a fund of common sense. One day all of them thought that there was no use of their learning unless it brought them money to live happily. Therefore, they decided to go out and seek the patronage of kings. They set out to meet patrons of learning.
On the way, the eldest of them pointing out to the fourth man told the others, “Friends, this fellow is an unlettered fool. He has common sense and nothing else. I am not going to share my earnings with this fellow. Let him go home.”
The second man also supported the eldest boy’s suggestion.
But the third boy said, “Friends, it is not proper to send him back. We played together and he is one of us. Let us share our gains with him because elders have said:
In the end, the other two agreed with the third boy’s suggestion and let the common sense man accompany them. As they continued to travel they reached a forest where they saw a heap of bones. One of them told the rest, “Look, here is an opportunity to test our learning. Some animal is dead. Let us bring it to life using the knowledge we have acquired.”
The first man said, “Okay, I will use my learning to assemble the bones into a skeleton.” With the power of learning he ordered all the bones to come together and become a skeleton.
When the skeleton was ready, the second man commanded flesh and blood to fill the skeleton and skin to cover it.
When the third man was about to bring life to the body, Subuddhi, who had only common sense, warned him, “Look, this looks like the body of a lion. If it comes to life, he will kill all of us.”
The man who was to put life into the body of the animal told Subuddhi, “You are a fool. Do you think I will lose this opportunity to test my learning.”
Subuddhi then told him to wait so that he could climb up a tree for safety and went up a tree. When the first man gave him life, the lion came alive and killed all the three learned men.
Suvarnabuddhi continued, That’s why I have always said:
“What is that story? Please tell me,” asked Chakradhara. Suvarnasiddhi began to tell the story.
There lived four young Brahmin boys in a city. They were good friends eager to go out and acquire knowledge. They went to a place called Kanyakubj. They joined a monastery and began studying sciences and scriptures. After twelve years of learning they thought it was time to go home and asked their guru for permission to leave the monastery. After taking his permission, they started their homeward journey.
After a few days of travel, they reached a point where the road forked. They were not sure which road would take them home. Then they saw a funeral procession. One of the boys opened his book of learning and read out “Follow the path taken by great men.”
The boy told his other friends, “Let us join and follow these great men leading the funeral procession.”
They thus followed the procession to the cremation ground where they met a donkey.
The second Brahmin boy opened his book of shastras and found this verse in it:
Then he told his friends that the donkey was, therefore, their best friend. At once one of them held on to the neck of the donkey. Another washed his feet. After this ceremony, they looked around and found a camel. The four of them began figuring out what the animal is. The third man opened his book of knowledge and read out, “What moves fast is righteousness” and decided that the camel must be the embodiment of righteousness.
The fourth man referred to his book and found that righteousness and friendship should always be together. They then tied the donkey and the camel together. Informed of this, the donkey’s owner rushed to beat the four Brahmins. But they escaped before he came. They continued to travel till they reached a river and found a big leaf floating over the water.
One of them saw it and, remembering a line from a verse describing how a leaf helped a man cross the river, jumped on it and was being carried down by the current. A second Brahmin saw his friend in distress and remembered a verse:
So, with a view to save half of his friend, the second Brahmin cut off the head of the drowning man.
The remaining three resumed their travel only to stop when three villagers invited them for a feast. When the host served a dish resembling noodles to the first Brahmin, he thought “what is long should be discarded” and left the place without food.
The second man was served pancakes. He thought, “What spreads is not good for health” and refused to eat.
Doughnuts were served to the third Brahmin. He remembered that “There is peril where there is a hole” and left. The three Brahmins later went home.
Suvarnasiddhi ended the story and turned to Chakradhara and told him:
Chakradhara protested, “That is not true,” and quoted this verse:
As the frog said, “the one with thousand tricks sat on the head of the fisherman, the one with hundred tricks is hanging by the fisherman’s arm and I with only one trick am happily swimming in the water.”
“How is that?” asked Suvarnasiddhi. Chakradhara begins the story.