The Converted Robbers Tomb

Chapter 7 from "Karma" by Paul Carus.

As soon as Panthaka, the young samana, had reached Kaushambi, he went to the vihara and inquired for Pandu the jeweller. Being directed to his residence he gave him a full account of his recent adventure in the forest. And Pandu set out with an escort of strong men and secured the treasures which the robber chief had concealed in the cave. Near by they found the remains of the robber chief and his slain companions, and they gathered the bodies in a heap and burned them with all honors.

The ashes were collected in an urn and buried in a tumulus on which a stone was placed with an inscription written by Panthaka, which contained a brief report of Mahaduta's conversion.

Before Pandu's party returned home, Panthaka held a memorial service at the tumulus in which he explained the significance of Karma, discoursing on the words of Buddha:

"By ourselves is evil done,
By ourselves we pain endure.
By ourselves we cease from wrong,
By ourselves become we pure.
No one saves us, but ourselves,
No one can and no one may:
We ourselves must walk the path,
Buddhas merely teach the way."

"Our Karma," the samana said, "is not the work of Ishvara, or Brahma, or Indra, or of any one of the gods. Our Karma is the product of our own actions. My action is the womb that bears me; it is the inheritance which devolves upon me; it is the curse of my misdeeds and the blessing of my righteousness. My action is the resource by which alone I can work out my salvation."

Then the samana paused and added:

"While every one is the maker of his own Karma, and we reap what we have sown, we are at the same time co-responsible for the evil if evil doers. Such is the interrelation of Karma that the errors of one person are mostly mere echoes of the errors of others. Neither the curse of failings nor the bliss of our goodness is purely our own. Therefore when we judge the bad, the vicious, the criminal, let us not withhold from them our sympathy, for we are partners of their guilt."

Among the people of the surrounding villages the tumulus became known as "The Converted Robbers Tomb," and in later years a little shrine was built on the spot where wanderers used to rest and invoke the Buddha for the conversion of robbers and thieves.

Chapter Eight

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