The Merchant and The Foolish Barber
In a small town there lived a merchant named Manibhadra. He and his wife were very generous and kind. Everyone in the town knew them and visited their house and enjoyed their hospitality.
One day. Manibhadra lost all his ships in a storm at sea. They were loaded with valuable cargo. All the people who had lent him money for trading demanded immediate repayment. Manibhadra had to sell all his possessions and pay them. In the end he was left with nothing.
Along with his wealth, all his friends also left him. Manibhadra was very discouraged. “Even my friends have deserted me. They just liked my wealth,” he thought bitterly.
“I have nothing to give my wife and children except pain and suffering. Maybe it is better to end my life. I can’t bear to see them suffer.” With such disturbed thoughts, Manibhadra went to sleep.
That night he had a strange dream. A monk appeared in his dream and said, “If you touch me on my head with a stick I will change into enough gold to last many lifetimes.” In the dream Manibhadra saw himself touching the monk with a stick and the monk turning into a huge pile of gold coins.
The next morning Manibhadra woke to the sound of someone knocking at the door. “Can my dream be true? Will I ever become rich again?” thought Manibhadra to himself.
“The barber is here for you,” called out his wife from the door.
“How foolish of me to believe in a dream. It will never come true,” said Manibhadra to himself as he sat down for his shave. Just then, there was a knock at the door.
Manibhadra got up and opened the door. To his surprise, there stood a monk looking at him silently and meaningfully.
Manibhadra picked up a stick and in a daze, touched the monk on his head with it. And there in front of him was a huge pile of gold coins. Manibhadra was overjoyed. He sent the barber away with a generous measure of gold coins, advising him to keep things to himself.
The barber was a greedy man. He was also very foolish. “So when you hit these monks on the head, they change into gold. Now I know how to become rich. I am tired of shaving and cutting people s hair and earning a rupee or two, he thought.”
He went to a monastery and invited a few monks to his house for a feast As soon as the monks entered his house, the barber took a stick and started to beat them on their heads. The poor monks were terrified. One of them managed to escape from the barber’s house and called the soldiers for help. The soldiers arrested the barber and took him to the Judge.
“Why did you beat the monks with a stick?” asked the judge. “When Manibhadra hit a monk on his head, he turned into a heap of gold,” answered the barber.
The judge called Manibhadra and asked him if that was true. Manibhadra explained the whole story to the judge in detail. On hearing the story, the judge realised that the barber had acted due to greed and dishonesty and punished the foolish barber.