Plants Don’t Walk

A Brahmin, a well-known poet, journeyed to Benares, and wherever he stop- ped on his pilgrimage, he would recite his poems to the enjoyment of his audiences, who gave him money.

On his way home, he reached a town called Ratanpur, and by then, he had collected a thousand gold coins. At Ratanpur, the people were so enamoured with his verses that they begged him to stay there for as long as he wished. He decided a rest would be welcome, but he was worried about his big bag of money and a safe place to keep it.

So he went into a nearby forest and found a solitary datura plant. He dug a hole underneath the plant, where he put the money bag. Then carefully covering the hole with earth and fallen leaves, the Brahmin felt sure no one would discover his wealth.

After a week, the Brahmin decided to go and see that his money was safe. But he soon discovered that his money and the datura plant had disappeared. All he found was a hole in the ground! The poor Brahmin was so overcome and saddened at his loss that he decided life was no longer worth living. Close by was a river, and the Brahmin was about to jump in when some good people passing by caught hold of him and, after listening to his tale of woe, took him to their king.

The Brahmin, in a miserable voice, told the king how he lost his thousand gold pieces, and the king, moved by the story, promised that within a matter of days, the money would be returned to the Brahmin.

Word went around that the king was seriously ill and that all the doctors in the city were commanded to his presence. The king asked each doctor what drugs he had used during the past week. One of the doctors said he had used many medicines, one of which was datura; the king then asked this doctor where he had obtained the datura plant. After being told that a servant had found the plant, the servant was arrested and brought before the king.

When the king demanded of the servant what he had done with the thousand gold pieces he had found under the datura plant, the trembling knave ad- mitted he had taken the money and had hidden it in his house. So a thousand pieces of gold were returned to the Brahmin, who went on his way happily, praising the king’s justice.

After all the others had left, the ministers asked the king how he had been able to find it. The thief so quickly. The king explained that it was all straightforward because the Brahmin had said that he hid the money under a datura plant, and if the thief had only wanted the money, he would have left the plant. But, explained to the king, the thief enjoyed the money and the plant. Now the only person wanting a poisonous datura plant would be a doctor. Therefore he questioned all the doctors, and the truth soon came to light.

The ministers marvelled at the wisdom of their king.

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