Divine Qualities (Part 4)


Nasruddin found a diamond by the roadside, but, according to law, finders become keepers only after announcing their find in the center of the marketplace on three separate occasions. Now, Nasruddin was too religious-minded to dis-regard the law and too greedy to run the risk of parting with his find. So on three consecutive nights when he was sure that everyone was fast asleep he stealthily went to the center of the marketplace and announced in a soft voice, "I have found a diamond on the road that leads to the town. Anyone knowing who the owner is should contact me at once." Nasruddin thought no one noticed him, but on the third night a man heard him mumble something. When he wanted to know what it was, Nasruddin replied, "I am in no way obliged to tell you. But this much I shall say: Being a religious man, I went there at night to pronounce certain words in fulfilment of the law."

Crookedness comes with a price: Holding fast to one's selfish interests and, at the same time, observing religious injunctions to the letter is not uncommon among worldly people. That is a crooked trait that proves costly in the long run. Some people may be tempted to let the end justify the means, but they should be aware that though crookedness seems to be profitable at first, it extracts a high price from them. Any action that amounts to a moral compromise leaves a blemish on our character. Every action or thought deposits a subtle impression in our mind, impelling us to repeat the action or thought. This effect may not be apparent in the beginning, but we realize the power of our bad impressions when we try to change ourselves. We then appreciate the predicament of Duryodhana, the cruel and deceitful character of the Mahabharata: 'I know what is right, but am not able to practice it. I know what is wrong, but am not able to give it up."

Yet there are also people of strong moral character, who don't mind paying any price for adhering to noble values. Khudiram Chattopadhyay was one such person. He was a brahmin endowed with devotion, truthfulness, and uprightness. He lost his house and surrounding acreage in his native village to a greedy and powerful landlord for refusing to bear false witness in court. Becoming poor was the price he paid for holding to virtue. But to such a poor, honest man was born Sri Ramakrishna, who is today adored by countless numbers as an Incarnation of God.

Part 5

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