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Four naive Brahmins, who were great friends, lived in a certain town. One day, they decided to study hard and acquire knowledge. They would then be able to make money. So, they traveled to a new city and joined a hermitage to further their study. For twelve years they studied very hard and mastered many fields of knowledge. One day, they decided, “Now that we have finally acquired sufficient knowledge in many branches of science, let us ask our Guru’s permission to depart from this hermitage. We are finally prepared to earn money by applying our knowledge.” They asked their Guru’s permission, who blessed them for success. They then started to travel, carrying with them their shastras (holy books of knowledge). After traveling for a while, they came across an intersection, where the path divided in two different directions. As they stood pondering which path they should take, a huge funeral procession headed their way. The procession included several prominent people, and they were going to the cremation ground. Consulting the scriptures of the shastras, one of the Brahmins declared, “The right path to follow is the path taken by great men!” Thus they decided to follow the funeral procession. On reaching the cremation ground, the people in the funeral procession stopped and initiated the funeral proceedings. Now the Brahmins started pondering what course of action they should take next. While pondering such, they saw a donkey nearby. Consulting the scriptures of the shastras, a Brahmin declared, “A true friend is one who stands by you on all occasions, be the occasion joyous or sad!” Thus, they accepted the donkey as their true friend. They put their arms around the donkey’s neck and adored and kissed him, after washing his hoofs with water. At this time, they observed a camel running towards them The Four Learned Fools Adapted from Panchatantra, a book of Indian folktales 46 | Loaves & Fishes • Issue 32


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