Four Brahmins lived in a certain town, who shared a good friendship among themselves. However, they were utterly poor.
They discussed their condition and concluded, “Let us leave this place, where we are languishing in poverty. Let us go somewhere else and prosper”
After meeting their friends and relatives, they started on their travels. After some time, they reached a town, where they decided to stay for some time.
There was a Shiva’s (the God of death) temple nearby on the bank of a river. They worshiped in this temple after bathing in the river. It was there, that they met a Yogi, and accompanied him to his hermitage.
The Yogi enquired, “Who are you? And where do you come from? What did you come in this town for?”
They explained their condition to the Yogi, “We took this journey to earn money. We are in a state of poverty, that we would have died in our town. Since, you are an accomplished Yogi, we believe you must be gifted with wonderful powers. Please guide us to the path of earning money.”
They continued, “We dedicate ourselves to you, and ready to undertake whatever path you guide us to. Please help us.”
On observing their pitiable condition, the Yogi agreed. He took out four cotton wicks, and gave each of them a wick. He said, “With the wick in your hand, take the path that takes you to the Himalayas. Keep walking till one of you accidentally drops his wick. The location where the wick drops accidentally would be the location you would find hidden treasure. Dig it out, and return home with the collected treasure.”
The four Brahmins took his blessings, and started their journey towards the Himalayas.
They travelled for days, when one of them dropped his wick accidentally. He dug the place where the cotton wick had fallen, and uncovered a treasure filled with copper. He asked his friends, “Come on! There is too much treasure for even four of us to carry. Let us collect, and go home. We are now rich! You need not go any further!”
The other three discussed and said, “You were destined to this copper treasure. We may be destined to richer treasure. You may collect all the copper you can and return home. We will continue with our journey.”
Thus, the Brahmin collected his treasure and started travelling homewards, while the rest of the three Brahmins continued their journey with their wicks in their hands.
They travelled for few more days, when one of them dropped his wick accidentally. He dug the place where the cotton wick had fallen, and uncovered a treasure filled with silver. He asked his friends, “Come on! There is too much treasure for even four of us to carry. Let us collect, and go home. We are now rich! You need not go any further!”
The other two discussed and said, “You were destined to this silver treasure. We may be destined to richer treasure. You may collect all the silver you can and return home. We will continue with our journey.”
Thus, the Brahmin collected his treasure and started travelling homewards, while the rest of the two Brahmins continued their journey with their wicks in their hands.
After a few more days of travelling, one of them dropped his wick accidentally. He dug the place where the cotton wick had fallen, and uncovered a treasure filled with gold. He asked his friend, “Come on! There is too much treasure for even four of us to carry. Let us collect, and go home. We are now rich! You need not go any further!”
The fourth Brahmin replied, “Stupid! You don’t understand what is happening. First copper, then silver, now it is gold! You all were destined to these treasures. Next time, I am sure I’ll find a richer treasure of diamonds and pearls. You may go home, but I will continue my journey. I am sure I am destined to a richer haul of treasure.”
His companion said, “You may continue with your journey, but I will not return homewards. I will stay here and guard this treasure of gold, and we will return home together after you return.”
Thus, the fourth Brahmin continued his journey with his wick in his hand. After travelling alone for a few more days, he felt tired. He was suffering from the tremendous heat and got very thirsty. Soon, he lost his way, and started travelling in circles.
Trying to figure out the right direction, he came across a man with a whirling wheel around his head. His body was smeared with blood.
The fourth Brahmin was so thirsty, that instead of helping the man, he asked, “Please tell me where I can get some water. Whoever you are, with a wheel around your head, Please tell me quickly”
No sooner had he uttered these words, the wheel shifted from the other man to this fourth Brahmin. It began whirling around the fourth Brahmin’s head; and it pained beyond endurance.
He cried, “What is the meaning of this? Why has the wheel attached itself to my head? Please tell me how I can get rid of this.”
The man relieved from the wheel, replied, “When someone carrying a magical cotton wick is to come here, and speak to you. Only then, will you be freed from this wheel, and attach itself to him.”
He explained, “I do not remember how long I have been here. It was during the reign of king Rama, that I procured a magical wick from a Yogi to rid myself of poverty. Out of greed, I continued my journey even after I got treasure. I met a man here under the same circumstances, and that is how I got this wheel on my head from his. You shall be free from hunger, thirst, aging or death. But you will have to endure the pain.”
He continued, “It was Kuber (God of wealth) who prepared this device so that no one date approach this place and steal his treasure. Only a man with a magical wick can enter this place.”
Thus, the other man who was relieved from the wheel, took his leave. The fourth Brahmin was left alone. But his companion was worried, as it was taking so long for his fellow Brahmin to return. He decided to follow and reached the place where his friend was suffering in pain, with blood smeared all over his body and wheel whirling around his head.
The third Brahmin enquired, “What has happened to you? How can I help you?”
With tears in his eyes, the fourth Brahmin replied, “I was destined for this. This is the result of my fate”. And, he told the entire story of the wheel to his friend.
As there was nothing his companion could do, he prepared to leave, “Even being a scholar, you lacked the sense to control your greed. You wanted diamonds and pearls, when you already had gold. There is no point in giving you company, for no human being can do anything to help you. I should depart from this place.”
Thus, his friend started his journey to return home, and the fourth Brahmin was left all alone.
The wise indeed say: Greed only brings misery.