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Dharmabuddhi and Paapabuddhi

March 5, 2011 in Panchatantra

In a certain place there lived two friends, Dharmabuddhi, which means “having a just heart” and Pâpabuddhi, which means “having an unjust heart.”

One day Pâpabuddhi thought to himself, “I am a simpleton, plagued with poverty. I am going to travel abroad with Dharmabuddhi, and earn money with his help. Then I will cheat him out of it and thus gain a good situation for myself.”

One day he said to Dharmabuddhi, “Listen, friend! When you are old, which of your deeds will you be able to remember? You have never seen a foreign country, so what will you be able to tell the young people? After all, don’t they say: His birth has borne no fruit, who knows not foreign lands, many languages, customs, and the like. And also: One never properly grasps knowledge, wealth, and art, until joyfully one has wandered from one land to another.”

Pâpabuddhi, as soon as he had heard these words, took leave from his parents with a joyful heart, and one happy day set forth for foreign lands. Through their diligence and skill, Dharmabuddhi and Pâpabuddhi acquired great wealth on their travels. Happy, but also filled with longing, they turned homeward with their great treasure. For it is also said: For those who gain wisdom, art, and wealth in foreign lands, the absence of one hour has the length of hundreds.

As they approached their city, Pâpabuddhi said to Dharmabuddhi, “Friend, it is not prudent for us to return home with our entire treasure, for our families and relatives will want part of it. Therefore let us bury it somewhere here in the thick of the forest and take only a small part home with us. When the need arises, we can come back and get as much as we need from here. For they also say: A smart man does not show off his money, not even in small amounts, for the sight of gold will agitate even a good heart. And also: Like meat is devoured in the water by fish, on land by wild animals, and in the air by birds, he who owns money is everywhere at risk.”

Upon hearing this, Dharmabuddhi said, “Yes, my friend, that is what we will do!”

After having thus buried their treasure, they both returned home and lived happily together.

However, one day at midnight Pâpabuddhi went back into the forest, took the entire treasure, refilled the hole, and returned home.

Then he went to Dharmabuddhi and said to him, “Friend, each of us has a large family, and we are suffering because we have no money. Therefore, let us go to that place and get some money.”

Dharmabuddhi answered, “Yes, my friend, let us do it!”

They went there and dug up the container, but it was empty.

Then Pâpabuddhi struck himself on the head and cried out, “Aha! Dharmabuddhi! You and only you have taken the money, for the hole has been filled in again. Give me my half of what you have hidden, or I will bring action against you at the king’s court.”

Dharmabuddhi said, “Do not speak like that, you evildoer. I am in truth Dharmabuddhi, the one with a just heart! I would not commit such an act of thievery. After all, it is said: The person with a just heart treats another man’s wife like his own mother, another man’s property like a clod of earth, and all beings like himself.”

Quarreling thus, they proceeded to the court where they told their stories and brought action against one another.

The top judges decreed that they submit to an Ordeal of God, but Pâpabuddhi said, “No! Such an ordeal is not just. After all, it is written: In a legal action one should seek documents. If there are no documents, then one should seek witnesses. If there are no witnesses, then wise men should prescribe an Ordeal of God. In this matter the goddess of the tree will serve as my witness. She will declare which one of us is a thief and which one an honest man.”

To this they all replied, “What you say is right, for it is also written: An Ordeal of God is inappropriate where there is a witness, be he even a man of the lowest caste, to say nothing of the case where he is a god. We too are very curious about this case. Tomorrow morning we shall go with you to that place in the forest.”

In the meanwhile, Pâpabuddhi returned home and said to his father, “Father! I have stolen this money from Dharmabuddhi, and one word from you will secure it for us. Without your word, we shall lose it, and I shall lose my life as well.”

The father said, “Child, just tell what I have to say in order to secure it!”

Pâpabuddhi said, “Father, in thus and such a place there is a large mimosa tree. It has a hollow trunk. Go hide yourself in it. When I swear an oath there tomorrow morning, then you must reply that Dharmabuddhi is the thief.”

Having made these arrangements, the next morning Pâpabuddhi bathed himself, put on a clean shirt, and went to the mimosa tree with Dharmabuddhi and the judges.

Once there, he spoke with a piercing voice, “Sun and moon, wind and fire, heaven and earth, heart and mind, day and night, sunrise and sunset, all of these, like dharma, know a man’s deeds. Sublime goddess of the forest, reveal which of us is the thief!”

Then Pâpabuddhi’s father, who was standing in the hollow trunk of the mimosa tree, said, “Listen! Listen! The money was taken away by Dharmabuddhi!”

Having heard this, the king’s servants, their eyes opened wide with amazement, searched in their law books for an appropriate punishment for Dharmabuddhi’s theft of the money.

While they were thus engaged, Dharmabuddhi himself surrounded the tree’s opening with flammable material, and set it on fire. When it was well ablaze, Pâpabuddhi’s father emerged from the hollow tree. His eyes streaming, he cried out bitterly.

“What is this?” they asked him.

He confessed everything, and then died. The king’s servants forthwith hanged Pâpabuddhi from a branch of the mimosa tree, but they had only words of praise for Dharmabuddhi.


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