Lalu and Kalu

A grocer had two sons named Lalu and Kalu. He wanted them to be trained in the use of weights and measurements so that they’d be of help to him in his business. And so he hired a tutor to educate them. But these boys were incorrigibly naughty, and the tutor quit in disgust. So the grocer hired another–with the same result. And another, who fared no better that his predecessors. Finally the grocer announced that the tutor who could just accomplish two things with his boys–that they learn to count to one hundred and they quit the bad habit of smoking that they’d developed at an early age–would be given one half of his business assets.

An elderly and experienced brahmin volunteered to the challenge. The father arranged that the boys would remain always in the teacher’s sight. The brahmin then took the boys for a walk. He pointed out a cow to them and asked Lalu, “Can you tell me how many legs that cow has?”

Lalu replied, “Surely” and began to count: “One, two, three..”

Just then Kalu put his hand over Lalu’s mouth. “Brother!” Kalu cried. “Now stop! That crafty brahmin is just trying to teach you how to count! So Lalu became silent.

After more such futile efforts at teaching them numbers, the old brahmin finally decided it was time for recess. So he led them to a room where they all might rest. The two boys im- mediately laid themselves down and feigned sleep, snoring loudly. The brahmin thought, “Now that these two young rascals are asleep, I may also safely sleep.” He happily took a nap, being tired from minding the grocer’s sons all day.

When Lalu and Kalu were sure their teacher was asleep, they rose and started smoking. After a while they saw the brahmin stirring, so they again pretended to sleep. When the brahmin sat up he immediately smelled cigarette smoke in the room. He shook the boys; they pretended to be groggy and yawned. “You bad boys!” he chastised them. “You’ve been smoking in here. The rooms stinks of cigarettes.”

“What? Oh, no sir, we know nothing about this.” The teacher took their hands and smelled them. “See here, boys, your fingers reek of tobacco smoke. What’s your explana- tion?”

In unison Lalu and Kalu exclaimed, “Oh, sir, we were sound asleep and don’t know how this smell came to our hands. Probably some stranger entered this room as we all napped and smoked using our fingers to hold the cigarettes!”

—–

Similarly, those who are determined not to accept training in spiritual life go to the most illogical extremes in defending a life of sense gratification. Even if they get the association of a saintly teacher, they expertly avoid being changed by him. And when he points out their faults, they say that they’ve done nothing wrong, it was someone else.


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