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from a distance. Quickly consulting their scriptures of the shastras, one of the Brahmins declared, “Righteousness marches rapidly!” Thus they agreed that the camel marching quickly towards them must be righteousness incarnate, and nothing else. Another Brahmin, on consulting his scriptures, declared, “A good man should always lead his friend to righteousness!” Thus they stopped the approaching camel and introduced it to the donkey. Then they tied the donkey to the camel in order to lead their friend to righteousness. The camel dragged the donkey, while continuing his journey. The donkey’s master was a washerman, who saw the four Brahmins tie his donkey to the camel. He was angered by this and ran after the Brahmins with a stick. On being chased, the four learned fools ran for their lives and reached a river. They observed that a leaf of a holy tree was floating on the water of the river. One of the Brahmins declared, “Holiness carries one across the river of life!” He jumped at once on the holy leaf to cross the river. Unable to swim, he immediately began to drown. When another Brahmin saw him being dragged away by the river, he got into the river at once and caught him by the neck. But the currents of the river were very strong, and he was not able to drag his friend to the bank of the river. He remembered from the scriptures: “When a wise man knows that total destruction is imminent, he will sacrifice half and work with the rest!” He immediately took out his sword and cut his friend in half. He was then able to drag him to the bank of the river; but by that time he had already died. After mourning the loss of their friend, the three remaining Brahmins continued their journey. After they had wandered for some time, they reached a vil- They agreed that the camel marching quickly towards them must be righteousness incarnate. Loaves & Fishes • Issue 32 | 47


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