Be Aware of Greed

Dear Friends, We have seen how the rat Hiranyaka lost all his hard earned treasure as he narrated the story to his friends the turtle king Mandhara and the crow, Laghupatanakam. Today let’s see what the turtle king got to share with his new friend.

“Friends, money is temporary. Youth doesn’t stay long. Life is all but a bubble. So, it is wise to follow dharma. Dharma is about doing one’s ordained duty. We need to earn what is required for our life. If we try to amass too much for our own, we will meet the fate of our friend, Hiranyaka. We will lose everything”, thus the turtle king Mandhara started his narrative.


There once lived a poor Brahmin, Bhagyakama in a village. He used to tell villagers about auspicious timings based on almanac and guide them in their activities. They used to make nominal contributions for his guidance. He used to lead a simple life from those meagre earnings. But he had lot of aspirations, dreams and goals. He wanted to enjoy lot of pleasures and experience various things in this world. Seeing his condition, Goddess Lakshmi naturally felt compassionate and wanted to help him.

Lord Srimannarayana observed this and warned her. “Lakshmi! He is too ambitious. He is not destined to have all the wealth. Even if you bestow him with all the wealth he cannot retain and enjoy that”. But mothers are mothers. When it comes to taking care of their children, they have an upper hand over the fathers. She decided to help and appeared before the Brahmin, “Oh! Brahmin, I want to give you some gold coins. Please stretch your hands, so I can shower them into your hands”. He asked “How many would you gi++ve”? Mother Lakshmi was taken by surprise with this response. She responded, “I will give you whatever you are destined to. I will give till you say, enough!”

Greedy he was, he said “wait a while so I arrange a bag to fill the coins”. Mother laughed and said, “OK. But make it fast. I can’t wait long”. He went into the house and asked his wife for a handbag to fill the gold coins Goddess Lakshmi promised to him. His wife was no less greedy. She said, “When Goddess Lakshmi herself appears before you to give gold coins why restrict to a handbag. Take a gunny sack, so you
can fill more”

He appreciated his wife’s timely advice and takes a big gunny sack lying in a corner of the house and rushed to the place, where Goddess appeared. Goddess thought he has come with a small bag and said, “Now open your bag, so I can fill it with the coins.” Immediately, he opened up a big gunny sack in front of her.

The mother laughed and said, “Oh! Brahmin, listen to my instructions carefully. Open the bag and hold firmly, as I fill it with gold coins. Whenever you feel it is enough, remember to stop me immediately, saying it’s enough.

I will stop showering the coins immediately. Don’t tell me later I haven’t warned you earlier. Be alert. Even if one coin falls out of the bag, all these coins will turn into waste metallic pieces and be of no value. Now are you ready with your bag.” Thus completing her instructions, she got ready to shower the coins.

The Brahmin expressed his readiness and the mother started filling the sack with the coins. As the sack started filling, she was waiting for the Brahmin to say, ‘enough’ or ‘stop, thank you’. But his attention was completely on the coins. Being mother, she was compassionate. When the sack was 75% filled, she paused and asked, “The bag is now 75% filled. I guess I need to stop now, so you have some space to tie the opening and carry it back home.”

To this the Brahmin responded, “Why do you worry about that mother? I am very talented. I can stitch the mouth very carefully with a thread and needle even if it is filled completely. You may please continue to fill it as promised.”

The mother continued to fill the sack. It now seemed even difficult to tie the mouth with a thread and needle. She expressed the same to the Brahmin and asked, “Can I stop now”? The Brahmin was however unrelenting. “Oh! my innocent mother, don’t you know how we tie the mouth of cashew sacks? We place a piece of gunny cloth over the mouth and stitch the ends carefully, so not even a piece of cashew spills over. You needn’t worry about that. Leave that job to me and you do your job of filling the sack.”

The bag got filled even to that extent. The mother asked again, “Can I stop now”? The Brahmin was still unrelenting and very confident of his abilities. “Don’t you know when we fill paddy, we fill it to the brim and a little more, so it makes a heap at the top. This sack can take in more. Please go ahead.” The mother thought “The Lord was right. This guy is too greedy. He can’t get satiated at all. He is unworthy of
compassion”, and continued to shower the coins into the bag as promised.

As the sack was already filled to the brim, the new coins started to spill over. Once the first coin fell on the ground all the coins turned into scrap metallic pieces. The mother disappeared. The Brahmin cried at his misfortune and blamed fate for the sudden turn of events. Even when goddess Lakshmi appeared in person and was ready to bless, he could not benefit because of his greed.

Wise people earn wealth in the right way and fulfil their desires also, the right way. Only such people will get out of this rat race called life. This is what everyone should aspire for and our elders rightly classified them as dharma, artha, kama and moksha – wealth, pleasure, harmony and bliss the four goals one need to attain. You (Hiranyaka) tried to amass more than you needed to sustain, so you ended up losing
everything. We can fill a pond only to the extent it can be filled. If we try to pump in more water, the bunds will breach and the entire water will flood the surroundings.

Wealth has three path ways – enjoy, donate or lose. We need to earn that much we need to enjoy. Apart from enjoying ourselves, we need to share with others and spread the joy. If we miss either, it will choose the third path and slip from our hands. It will either be stolen or we will lose it in some other way. Earning is important, but not more than what is required. Once, a fox tried to amass more than what is needed for her and lost its life as a result. You have at least saved your life and are lucky than the fox.

Thus the turtle king gave a detailed explanation for Hiranyaka’s fate. Immediately, Hiranyaka and Laghupatanakam asked the turtle king to narrate them the story of the greedy fox.

Let’s wait for the next edition to know about the story of the greedy fox.

– Translated by Balaji Gorantla from Telugu
article by Molagu Krishna Priya, Veerullapadu