Mohanji narrates a rustic tale highlighting the ill effects of irresponsible slander, resulting in karmic debt
In a beautiful, serene village was a temple, maintained by a young, handsome priest who shared a good rapport with the villagers. In a house close to the temple, lived a young, beautiful, widowed woman. She kept herself aloof from most of the villagers. Everyone considered her unfriendly and did not bother with her. One morning, the villagers saw the young priest exiting the house of the young woman. The same scene got repeated every day and the matter escalated to the point where the villagers started doubting the priest’s moral integrity. Soon, they branded the priest as immoral and distanced themselves from him, to which the priest responded with silence.
One evening, the villagers saw the priest bring a doctor to the house. They speculated that the woman could be pregnant. Subsequently, one morning, the villagers saw a horse-drawn cart accompanied by some helpers outside the house. The doctor and the priest appeared at the door, followed by the helpers carrying the lifeless body of the woman, covered in a white cloth. The villagers were shocked. On inquiring, they learnt that the woman was suffering from leukaemia and was in her last stages. The doctor had informed the priest about it and, out of sheer compassion, the priest had volunteered to help her, having been sworn to secrecy about her illness. He tried his best to give her some solace during her last days by providing her with essentials.
Knowing this, the villagers became ridden with guilt. They realised that they had committed the worst possible sin by scandalising the priest. They came to the priest with their heads hung in shame and said, “Forgive us, oh noble priest. We misjudged your intentions.” The priest replied, “I do not harbour any negative feelings and believe in purity and peace of mind. So, there is nothing to forgive from my side. It is you who need to forgive yourselves. But I would like to help you remove your ignorance because everything you think, talk, or do in life has a price—a karmic price.”
The villagers were willing to do anything to gain the priest’s pardon. So the priest gave each one a pillow filled with cotton and told them, “Take this to the top of that hill, tear it open, and spill all the cotton out.” The villagers did exactly as told. When they brought back the torn pillow covers, he gave them fresh ones and said, “Now, take these and fill them with all the cotton that you had earlier spilt.”
The villagers responded, “But this is impossible. The cotton has already been carried by the wind in all directions.” The priest replied, “Exactly. So are the words that you spoke about me and that sick woman. Can you take back the words that you spoke against us? You can never repay the karmic debt for your expensive ignorance. When you slander anybody, understand that you are adding karmic debt to yourselves and your families. You must compensate for all that you said and did, not only to me but even to someone who is not in the body to forgive you.
His words woke up the villagers, and the village became a haven of kindness where no one ever uttered anything against anybody ever after. If at all someone attempted to do so, the villagers stopped them by narrating the story about this painful incident.
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