The Jeweller's Purse

Chapter 2 from "Karma" by Paul Carus.

The samana saluted Devala, the farmer, and began to help him repair his cart and load up the rice, part of which had been thrown out. The work proceeded quickly and Devala thought: "This samana must be a holy man; invisible devas seem to assist him. I will ask him how I deserved ill treatment at the hands of the proud Brahman." And he said; "Venerable sir, can you tell me why I suffer an injustice from a man to whom I have never done any harm?"

And the samana said: "My dear friend, you do not suffer an injustice, but only receive in your present state of existence the same treatment which you visited upon the jeweller in a former life. You reap what you have sown, and your fate is the product of your deeds. Your very existence, such as it is now, is but the Karma of your past lives."

"What is my Karma?" asked the farmer.

"A man's Karma," replied the samana, "consists of all the deeds both good and evil that he has done in his present and in any prior existence. Your life is a system of many activities which have originated in the natural process of evolution, and have been transferred from generation to generation. The entire being of every one of us is an accumulation of inherited functions which are modified by new experiences and deeds. Thus we are what we have done. Our 'Karma' constitutes our nature. We are our own creators."

"That may be as you say," rejoined Devala, "but what have I to do with that overbearing Brahman?"

The samana replied: "You are in character quite similar to the Brahman, and the Karma that shapes your destiny differs but little from his. If I am not mistaken in reading your thoughts, I should say that you would, even to-day, have done the same unto the jeweller if he had been in your place, and you had such a strong slave at your command as he has, able to deal with you at his pleasure."

The farmer confessed, that if he had had the power, he would have felt little compunction in treating another man, who had happened to impede his way, as he had been treated by the Brahman, but thinking of the retribution attendant upon unkind deeds, he resolved to be in the future more considerate with his fellow-beings.

The rice was loaded and together they pursued their journey to Baranasi, when suddenly the horse jumped aside. "A snake, a snake!" shouted the farmer; but the samana looked closely at the object at which the horse shuddered, jumped out of the cart, and saw that it was a purse full of gold, and the idea struck him: "This money can belong to no one but the wealthy jeweller."

Narada took the purse and found that it contained a goodly sum of gold pieces. Then he said to the farmer: "Now is the time for you to teach the proud jeweller a lesson, and it will redound to your well-being both in this and in future lives. No revenge is sweeter than the requital of hatred with deeds of good will. I will give you this purse and when you come to Baranasi drive up to the inn which I shall point out to you; ask for Pandu, the Brahman, and deliver to him his gold. He will excuse himself for the rudeness with which he treated you, but tell him you have forgiven him and wish him success in all his undertakings. For, let me tell you, the more successful he is, the better you will prosper; your fate depends in many respects upon his fate. Should the jeweller demand an explanation, send him to the vihara where he will find me ready to assist him with advice in case he may feel need of it."

Chapter Three

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