The Brahmin and the Cobra

Haridatta was a poor Brahmin farmer but the piece of land he cultivated gave him very little to survive. One day, unable to stand the heat of the summer sun, he went to a big tree in his land to rest for a while. Before he could spread himself on the ground he saw in the nearby anthill a huge cobra swaying with his hood open.  He thought this cobra must really be the Goddess of this land. I have never worshipped her, which is why I am not able to get anything from the land. So he decided to pay his respect and worship her.  At once he went back to his village and returned with a glass full of milk. He poured it in a bowl and turning to the anthill said, “O ruler of the land, I did not know you were living in this anthill. That is why I have not paid my tribute to you. Please excuse me and accept this humble offering.”  He then placed the bowl of milk at the anthill and left the place.

Next day when the Brahmin came to his land, he saw a gold coin in the bowl he had left at the anthill. Henceforth, he came alone every dawn, collected the coin, offered the milk in the bowl and left. Once the Brahmin was leaving for another village on business and asked his son to go to the anthill and offer milk. When the son went the next day, he found a gold coin in the bowl. He collected the coin and thought, “This anthill must be full of gold. If I kill the cobra, I can collect all the gold in one go instead of coming here every day.”  He then struck the cobra with a big stick. But the cobra deftly dodged the blow but stung the son to death. Haridatta heard the story of his son’s death and realised that it must be his greed which got him killed.

The Brahmin went to the anthill the day after his son’s cremation and offered milk to the cobra. Without coming out of his hole, the cobra told Haridatta, “You have come here for gold forgetting that you had lost a son and that you were in mourning. The reason is greed, pure greed. From today, there is no meaning in our relationship. Blinded by his youth, your son has struck me and I bit him back. How can I forget that blow? How can you suffer the grief of your son’s death? Finally, I am giving you this diamond, don’t come back again.”

MORAL: Excess of greed is harmful.

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