Vide Jaishankar Ramachandran
There was this man who had no means of earning a living. He went out every morning into the village and sought biksha (alms) from the houses therein.
So it was this morning too as he stepped out with his joli (actually a piece of cloth folded like a pouch to hold small stuff). It held at its bottom some grains of rice put in by his wife. There was a reason for it. The householder offering biksha would be satisfied on seeing the rice he/she was not being fooled, safe in the thought someone else too saw it fit to offer it to him.
As he began his morning round, he saw a cloud of dust kicked up at a distance and also heard the rumble of wheels on the road. It was the Raja’s chariot, royal flag with the insignia fluttering atop. He was at once delighted. Finally today was his chance to seek alms from the Raja himself. So far he was always thrown out whenever he tried to gain admittance to the palace. He thought furiously about what he would ask of the Raja…this, no, that…
In a few moments, the chariot reached the point where the man was standing and, what more, it conveniently stopped by his side. Providentially his job was made easier now.
Just as he was ready to get going on his act, to his utter surprise, the Raja himself sought him out and held out a joli, his, in front of the man!
Raja: ‘Today I decided to ask and receive something from the first man I meet. It’s you. Please give me something you have!’
Well, the man just stood there in a daze for he had nothing on his person to give. Also he had only known about receiving all along. Here was the Raja of the land standing before him asking him for alms!
‘Come on, you must have something…what about the joli you’re carrying? Surely…’
He remembered he had some rice grains left in there by his wife. So he put his hand into the joli and managed to collect a handful.Then he thought it was too much. He dropped half of it back into the joli. Then again he felt he was still giving away a lot more than he should. So some more grains dropped back into the joli.
Becoming impatient, the Raja ordered him to expedite.
The man finally parted with one grain, just one.
The Raja without a demur thanked him for it and drove away.
The man was sad at what had happened. Not only he did not receive any dhaan from the Raja, he had to give away a grain of his own.
He completed his usual round and returned home.
‘Why, what happened, you look distraught?’ the wife asked him as she relieved him of the joli.
‘You know I lost a grain today…’
Wife said: ‘Why, you’re joli feels full…in fact today you seem to have collected far more than usual and you’re sad for losing a grain?’
‘But I lost a grain…’
As she ran her hands through the collected grain, she suddenly whooped in glee:
‘Look, what we got here…a grain of gold!!’
The man cried inconsolably leaving his wife nonplussed.