For many a day guru Paramartha and his disciples discussed their adventure. Very elaborately they described how they eventually managed to cross the treacherous river and still lose a person. They marveled at how a God sent messenger had brought back their missing man for a mere 45 gold coins.
Meanwhile, the old lady hired to do all the cleaning in the ashrama, listened attentively. Though she was blind, her hearing was as keen as her wit. “My dear boys,” she said, “you have been badly cheated. You have lost 45 gold coins unnecessarily. Your difficulty was not a serious one – certainly not worth 45 gold coins. Let me tell you, if at any time you cross a river and want to count your men, there is a much simpler and cheaper solution. Whenever you travel always carry some wet cow dung with you. Then when you cross the river, add some water, knead the cow dung, and make a big pancake out of it. Then you should put the cow dung pancake on the ground and all sit around it. Very carefully, one after another, put your nose in it and make a bold, clear impression. The rest is quite simple. Just stand up and count the imprints in the cow dung. In this way you can easily check how many people are present – and save yourself 45 gold coins.”
“Wonderful!” exclaimed guru Paramartha. “What a clever idea! This lady is very intelligent. Mudhead, please don’t forget, next time we go traveling we must definitely take some wet cow dung. What a fabulous idea.”
In the meantime Weakling had been meditating on his own plans:
“Dear Guru Maharaj, why don’t we buy our own horse? Do you remember how easily that man crossed the river? Life would be a lot simpler if we had our own horse.”
“Hmmm,” said the guru deliberating on the matter. “How much do you think a good horse would cost?”
“No less than 100 gold coins,” replied Rascal. “Well, we certainly don’t have that much money.
“We’ll have to forget the idea for now,” the guru concluded.
And so the proposition was postponed and life went on as usual. Then one day the ashrama cow, which had been put out to pasture, went missing. Guru Paramartha sent his disciples all over the village looking for it.
Eager to serve their guru maharaj, they searched high and low, leaving nothing unturned. However, to their dismay, the search was fruitless.
“What shall we do now?” they wailed looking at each other pitifully. “How could we go back to our master?” He will be very displeased with our failure to find his cow.”
Then Mudhead said, “Well my brothers, I’m not going back to the ashrama until I find it. I’m going to search the next town and the next one if necessary. Good day!”
And so he left. A little bewildered the other disciples just stood staring at him as he walked away.
Then Rascal said, “Come let’s go back to the ashrama. Our guru maharaj will be concerned about us.”
For three days Mudhead was absent. Then on the fourth day he returned tired and cowless but still happy.
“Why are you smiling, you fool.” guru Paramartha chastised. “You’ve been gone from the ashrama for nearly four days, and you dare to return with nothing but a smile on your face. Where’s the cow?”
“Dear guru maharaj, wait until you hear the good news,” replied Mudhead. “True I was unable to find the cow. However, I found something much better. I managed to get a very cheap price on a horse.” The angry look on the guru’s face softened. “Really,” he said, “that sounds wonderful. Please tell me the details.”
“Well, I was trying to find our ashrama cow. I searched so many nearby towns. People’s gardens, public parks, sadhus’ ashramas – I left no place untouched. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the cow. Feeling a little depressed I was walking along the bank of a lake. Then by your causeless mercy and the mercy of God I saw a most amazing sight. There were four female horses grazing contentedly and next to one of them were two huge horse eggs. They were so big. Two hands weren’t large enough to hold one let alone two. Then I noticed a local villager passing by.”
“Kind sir,” I said, “who owns these wonderful horses?”
“Nearby, there lives a very rich business man,” he answered. “He owns these fabulous horses. They’re so amazing. They’ll learn anything you care to teach them – and so quickly.”
“Do you think he will allow me to buy one of their eggs?” I interrupted.
“Yes,” he said, “I’m sure he would be happy to help you. I don’t think he will charge you more than five gold coins. That’s a very reasonable price for an excellent horse, don’t you agree?”
“Wonderful! Wonderful!” beamed the guru clapping his hands. “A very fine achievement.” Then turning to his other disciples he asked, “Well, what do you think?”
“We certainly don’t have much to lose if the price is only five gold coins,” Rascal answered. “That’s true”, the others chimed, “It sounds a very profitable venture.”
“Rascal and Mudhead,” the guru said solemnly, “I want you to go and purchase the best horse egg immediately. Here, take the necessary five gold coins and some funds for travel expenses. We look forward to your return.” Then he placed his hand on their heads as a blessing. And they paid their obeisances and left.
After some time Fool, looking more than a little bewildered, meekly inquired of his guru.
“My dear guru maharaj. It is very amazing that we have found such a first class horse egg for such a cheap price. Please forgive me, but I have one question. “How will we get the horse out of the egg? In the village I’ve seen chickens. They have five or six eggs at a time and they sit on them until the baby chicks are ready to hatch. But even if we put 50 chickens on this horse egg it obviously won’t be enough. How are we going to get the horse out of the egg?”
“Hmmm!” pondered the guru, “the devil is certainly in the details. It will take me some time to answer your question.” And with that he folded his skinny legs into the padmasana and began to meditate. After three days the guru finally broke his meditation and called for his disciples. “My dear disciples, I have contemplated Fool’s question. The answer is quite simple. One of us is going to have to sit on this egg. There is no other solution. If we want an intelligent horse then an intelligent person is going to have to sit on it. All of you are of keen wit. Who will please me by sitting on the egg?”
Slowly he looked around the room and set his eyes on Fool.
“Please guru maharaj,” Fool stammered timidly, “how can I possibly sit on the horse egg all day. I must fetch water from the river, cut the fire wood and bring it to the kitchen. I have so much to do. Please forgive me, but it is impossible for me to meet your request.”
“I also can’t do this service,” said Idiot. “Day and night I am busy cooking in the kitchen. There are six of us plus the servants. I have to cut so many vegetables and cook so many tasty dishes. And you do like your rotis, guru maharaj. I spend the whole day very busily working in the kitchen, I can’t possibly sit on the egg.”
“Nor can I!” exclaimed Weakling, “I have to wake up before everyone else and go to the river and clean my teeth. It certainly hadn’t been my practice to do this before joining the ashrama. It’s a very great austerity for me. I also have to wash my own cloth and pick all the flowers for the garlands. I also have to keep all the lamps clean. I have so much work that it makes me tired just talking about it. I can’t sit on the egg. It’s impossible.”
“Yes,” agreed the guru, “it certainly is a difficult situation. Rascal and Mudhead are also very busy. The only one who is doing nothing is myself. A very intelligent person must sit on the egg for good results and so I’ll do it. I’ll embrace it with my head and cover it with my chuddar. I’ll treat it with great care and affection then we will definitely get an excellent result. It will be very difficult but worthwhile work. Yes, I’ll do it.”
In the meantime, after a two and a half hour walk, Mudhead and Rascal returned to the lake. The four horses were still grazing contentedly and next to them were many big, white pumpkins. As soon as Mudhead saw them he shouted excitedly:
“Look! There are so many horse eggs and they’re so big. Guru maharaj will be greatly pleased. Quickly, let’s go and see the business man who owns these horses.” And so they went.
The business man was lounging in his garden. The two sadhus pushed their way through the gate and ran to him.
“Dear kind sir,” Rascal blurted, “We are from Kutralam. We are sadhus. We want to buy a horse egg. You have such wonderful horses. We’re poor. Please give us a horse egg for five gold coins.”
The business man’s eyes gleamed. “What fools!” he gloated, “they want to buy a pumpkin for five gold coins. Let’s see what my fabulous horse eggs will fetch.” Turning to the disciples he said cunningly, “You must be joking, I can’t give these horse eggs for five gold coins. They are very rare and very special. I can’t possibly sell them to you so cheaply…..”
“Don’t try to cheat us!” scolded Rascal pointing his index finger at the man. “We are Sadhus. We have intelligence. We have checked the price with the town farmers. They told us five gold coins was a very fair price.”
“Very well,” complied the businessman. “You look like good natured sadhus and you are very intelligent. I’ll give you a horse egg for five gold coins. However, there is one condition. You are not to tell anyone that you got the egg so cheaply. Give me the five gold coins and go and choose the best of the horse eggs for your ashrama.”
Mudhead dumped the five gold coins in the businessman’s lap and then raced off with Rascal to the bank of the river. They looked discerningly at all the pumpkins and took the biggest one. Overcome by excitement and the taste of success they immediately began their long journey back to the ashrama. Along the way Rascal began to glorify their guru:
“Our guru maharaj is so advanced. He has such great mystic potency. I have often heard that for the spiritually enlightened the impossible is possible. Now I am seeing this practically demonstrated. I have never heard of a horse being born of an egg, but now, by the mystic potency of our guru maharaj, it is becoming reality. Not only is the impossible becoming possible, but it’s becoming possible so cheaply! Only five gold coins! This is truly miraculous!”
“Yes,” continued Mudhead, “You can always judge an activity by its results. Because of the greatness of our guru, God has sent a horse egg. It’s such a practical example. Our guru is great and by his mercy if we have faith in him we will also become great.”
In this way the two discussed their realizations.
Before long they came to a narrow path. Mudhead, who was carrying the pumpkin on his head, stopped talking in order to increase his concentration. Though treading carefully, he stumbled over a branch across his path and toppled, pumpkin and all. Rascal tried to catch the flying ‘egg’, but his frantic effort was unsuccessful and it fell with a “thud” into a nearby bush. There was a rabbit nibbling on some tender grass beneath that bush and when the pumpkin fell he became frightened, as most rabbits would. He ran from the bush.
“Quickly!” screamed Mudhead when he saw it. “Catch it! Catch it! There’s our horse. Catch him. He’s running away!”
Both of them chased the rabbit. Up hill and down dale they chased it, hour after hour they chased it. However, the rabbit was a fast one and they couldn’t catch him. Then, overcome with fatigue, Rascal fell over a rock and onto a thorny bush. The adventure resulted in a few scratches on his arms and chest and a bump on his head. He sat glumly looking up at Mudhead.
“Mudhead,” he said matter-of-factly, “I’m tired, I’m sore and I’m hungry. We’ve lost our guru’s horse and we’ve lost his money. What to do? I think its time for us to go back to the ashrama. It is not such a good idea to over endeavor.”
And so, hungry and with no money in hand, they made their way. As they came closer to the abode of their guru they became concerned that he would severely chastise them. Overcome with anxiety they began to beat their chests and even their stomachs. They howled and cried like wolves on a full moon night. Wailing the name of their guru they tentatively stepped into the ashrama. When their guru maharaj came before them they simultaneously turned a shade of ghostly white and fainted at his feet.
Mleccha immediately ran into the kitchen and fetched a large bowl of water. He ran back and threw it over his godbrothers. Rascal, who was first to come to his senses blurted:
“Such a fast horse! I have never seen a horse run so fast. It was two hands long and looked like a rabbit. It had four legs and two very big ears. It was so small but it ran so quickly. I don’t think it was an ordinary horse. Neither of us could catch him. Look what happened when I tried! We decided to return to the ashrama.”
The guru heard their story, pondered the matter and then looked at them affectionately. “You lost the five gold coins and that is not such a good thing. And the horse is also gone. Quite frankly I think that is a blessing. If it is able to run so fast at such a young age, what would it be like when it grew older. I am an old man. I can’t travel on a horse like that. I take it as a benediction that we didn’t get the animal. It would have caused us a great deal of difficulty. Let’s forget the incident. After all, it was only five gold coins. Don’t worry about it.”
The matter settled, guru Paramartha and his disciples went to take rest.