After some days guru Paramartha decided that he and his disciples should go on a long pilgrimage. When he told his disciples they were immediately concerned. Rascal said, “Guru maharaj, you are old and weak. It would be most irresponsible and cruel of us to take you walking over such a long distance. The least we can do is hire a bull.”
“As you wish,” said the guru. “My life is in your hands.”
As soon as they heard this they went out to hire a bull. Luckily, there was a farmer in a nearby village who had a bull which wasn’t fit enough for agriculture but was certainly fit enough to carry an old man on pilgrimage. They agreed to pay three gold coins a day for the hire of the bull and proudly led it back to the ashrama.
Though it was a hot and heavy summer, somehow or other they managed to pack all their goods and chattels. Mudhead remembered the emergency supply of wet cow dung and having packed that, they set out on their way.
Though the tour began quite early morning, after a few hours of walking the heat became unbearable. They came across a place that was so arid that not even a blade of grass grew. The hot parched earth and lack of water made the situation unbearably intense. The poor old guru who was hungry and couldn’t get any water to drink fainted and fell from the bull.
Understandably upset, the disciples lifted and supported their guru and thought frantically about a possible place for him to lie down and take rest. An easy answer was not forthcoming.
Finally Mudhead said, “We have no choice. He will have to lie down here in the shadow of the bull. That is the coolest arrangement we can make in this place.”
Weakling took his chuddar and spread it beneath the bull for his guru maharaj to lie on. Then they all helped him on to the chuddar and Fool and Mleccha used their gumpshas to fan him. Slowly, slowly the guru recovered. As the day was spent it began to cool and a slight breeze blew. The disciples helped their guru once again onto the bull and went to a nearby village to take rest. It was in this little village that the owner of the bull lived.
Early next morning they went to the farmer to return the bull and pay the three gold coin hire charge.
“How dare you offer me this paltry sum?” challenged the farmer. “This is definitely not enough payment!”
“Excuse me sir,” answered Rascal, “but you previously agreed that we would pay three gold coins for a day’s hire of your bull. It is not proper for you to change your mind now!”
“Three gold coins gave you the right to sit on the bull and use him for traveling purposes. However, on the road, when the day became too hot, your guru rested in the shade of my bull. That was not in the agreement. Hence you have to give more gold coins.”
“This is ridiculous!” interrupted Fool. “We hired your bull for a day. Why should we pay extra for his shadow?”
Suddenly the man started swearing and the disciples were soon engaged in a brawl beyond their control. Immediately a large crowd, attracted by the harsh words and flying fists, gathered around them.
After sometime an elderly man came foreword, “What is the matter? Why are you fighting? Please calmly tell me your story and I will try to solve your problem.”
Mudhead, relieved by the sober interjection, began to explain the case. Patiently and attentively the old man listened to his tale. Then, very sagaciously he began a story of his own:
“Long, long ago I was traveling the country just like you two youngsters. I had my own foodstuffs with me and was simply looking for a place to eat and take a little rest. I spied a little hotel on the side of the road and approached the man in charge.
“Dear sir,” I said, “I have my own food, however I would like to relax in your little hotel and partake of it. Would you mind?”
“No. That doesn’t pose any problems. Please feel free to take a seat. Please understand, however that if you do take anything from our shop you will have to pay for it.”
I nodded my head, washed myself and sat down to eat. While I was eating my simple fare, a gentle breeze blew the scent of freshly cooked pakoras my way. One of the hotel cooks was busy preparing these fresh snacks. They smelt extremely tasty. However, being a poor mendicant, I couldn’t afford to buy any and so I just sat there, overpowered by the smell of delicious pakoras, eating my bag of rice. When I had finished I went to the hotel-in-charge to thank him for his hospitality. When he saw me coming towards him, he said “Don’t forget to pay for the pakoras.”
“Pakoras?” I said, “I didn’t eat any of your pakoras, I….”
“Come, come,” he interrupted, “I was watching you. You could only eat that bag of old rice because of the smell of our pakoras.”
Well I didn’t know what to do. Then another man in the hotel came forward to support his in-charge.”
“It is only by the smell of our pakoras that you could eat your rice. You will have to pay some fee. Usually people eat our pakoras and they pay in coinage. However, because you smelt them, you will have to pay by smelling.”
Finding the whole situation incredulous, I asked, “And how do I do that?”
“It’s simple,” he said matter-of-factly. “Please give me your little money pouch.”
When I handed it to him he immediately started rubbing it against his nose. He did this for some time and then he stopped.
“There,” he said, “that is enough payment for the smell of the pakoras. I don’t want to lose my nose.”
Then the two went back into the hotel satisfied that the debt had been paid.
So… just as I paid for my smelling of the pakoras, you can pay for using the shadow of the bull. You can pay in sound. Just shake your money bag in the ear of the bull for some time and your debt will be cleared.”
Amazed at the old man’s philosophical and practical understanding of the situation, Mudhead immediately took the money pouch and began to shake it in the ear of the bull.
“That’s enough,” the old man declared. “The bull has heard the sound of your coins. That’s enough. You have now paid for the use of the shadow of the bull. Please go now.”
Grateful for the help of the old man had given, Mudhead and Rascal paid their respects and hurried back to their guru. What remained of the afternoon was spent philosophically discussing the venture.