The Wicked Hermit
Once upon a time, there lived a hermit who posed to be very holy and learned. He lived in a hut near a village. People flocked around him. They thought him to be very wise and came to him to get their problems solved. But in reality, he was a rogue. He posed to be a hermit in order to get free food and donations.
The landlord of the village also had faith in him and visited him frequently. He invited him to his house to have lunch and gave him generous gifts.
The landlord was a rich man and had jewels and ornaments worth lakhs of rupees. He was always worried about the safety of the ornaments. There used to be frequent robberies in the village. Therefore, the landlord wanted to keep the jewels and ornaments at a safe place. As he had great faith in the hermit, he decided to keep them in his hut. “ The hermit is a holy man. He has no inclination towards the riches. Moreover, no thief will go to rob a hermitage .” The landlord thought. He collected all the jewels and ornaments in a bag and went to the hermitage. He said to the hermit, “ O learned man; I am worried about the safety of my riches. I wish to keep them in your hermitage. There have been cases of robberies in the village and I am afraid that my house may be robbed. Please keep my riches under your custody .”
The hermit told him to bury the jewels and ornaments under a tree. The landlord dug the ground and buried the bag containing the ornaments in it.
The hermit was very happy. At night, he took out the bag of jewels and hid them somewhere else.
Next day, he went to the landlord and said, “ I am going on a pilgrimage. I will remain out of the village for some months. I thought I should inform you before leaving the village .” The landlord accompanied him to the outer boundary of the village. Then, bidding him farewell, he came back. When he came home, he found his childhood friend awaiting him. He was glad to see him. The two friends sat down to chat.
In the meantime, the hermit thought that he must do something, so that the landlord didn’t suspect him of stealing his jewels. So, he went back to the landlord’s house and gave him a piece of silk. He said, “ By mistake, I carried this piece of silk with me. When I saw it, I thought that it was yours.Therefore, I have come to return it .”
He then went away. The landlord turned to his childhood friend and said, “ How noble of him ! He came back all the way to return this small piece of silk. He does not want anything. He remains aloof from the worldly things .”
The landlord’s friend was a wise man. He grew suspicious of the hermit. He said, “ I have a doubt about his integrity. May be he is a fraud. Did you give him anything to keep under his custody ?” the landlord told him that he had hid all his jewels and ornaments in his hermitage. The friend told him to go and check if his jewels were there in the hermitage.
The landlord went there and dug the ground. He found nothing there. He rushed to his friend and told him that he was right. All his jewels and ornaments were missing. They ran after the hermit and caught him. He was running away with the landlord’s riches. The two men beat him up and handed him over to the police.