The Burglar’s Signature
Once there were two kings who were good friends. They helped each other in times of need. One day one of the kings needed a large sum of money. He asked his friend for a loan, and his friend immediately agreed to give him the money he needed. The first king said, “I’ll send my minister to you; please give it to him.” The other king agreed. So the first king sent his minister and three bodyguards to the other king’s palace.
There was a notorious burglar in the first king’s realm who stole money every night. He was a real rogue, but no one could catch him. He had stolen lots of money and used it to bribe certain palace officials to give him news of what was happening there. He hoped one day he would be able to enter into the palace with their help and steal everything.
The thief heard from his palace friends that the minister was going to get money from the other king. That evening, as the minister and three guards set out from the palace, the burglar and three of his friends came and surrounded them. The thief said, “Give us your clothes. I’ve brought other clothes for you. I’ll wear the minister’s clothes and my three friends will wear the guards’ uniforms.” Then the thief and his followers forced the minister and the guards to exchange their clothes.
The thief did not know how to read or write but he was very clever. Several days earlier, he had gone to a great scholar and asked him how to write the minister’s name.
The scholar asked him, “Why do you have to know how to write the minister’s name?”
The thief replied, “I have my reasons.”
The scholar said, “No, I won’t do it.”
Finally the burglar threatened, “You will or I’ll kill you.”
This frightened the scholar and he acceded, “Please don’t kill me. I’ll teach you how to sign his name.”
The burglar wanted to be able to sign the minister’s name in case the other king asked for his signature on a receipt. He knew that he was going to get the minister’s clothes, so he also wanted to be able to sign the minister’s name.
After changing clothes the thief and his three followers went to the neighboring king’s palace for the money. The burglar wanted to show off that he knew how to sign the minister’s name, so he said, “Don’t you need my signature?”
The king said, “Oh no, your king and I are good friends. I trust you.”
But the thief was feeling cocky. “Still, it’s good to get the signature.” he said.
The king said, “All right, if you want to sign, you can.”
So the false minister wrote down “Junga the Burglar.”
The king was shocked. He thought to himself, “How can this be?” He asked the minister and three guards to wait for a while. Then he ordered his guards to go to the other king.
When they arrived, the guards said to the King, “We understand that Junga is the most notorious burglar in your kingdom. How is it that your minister has signed Junga’s name? Is your minister making fun of our king?”
just then the real minister entered the palace. He told his king that he had been forced to change clothes.
Immediately the king sent the message to his friend, who arrested Junga. Then he personally delivered the money.
So the thief was caught because of the scholar’s cleverness and Junga’s arrogance. Since Junga was illiterate, the scholar taught him how to write his own name and told him it was the minister’s name. He knew that Junga, being a boastful man, would try to show off his new skill. The scholar hoped that in this way, Junga could be captured.
from Garden of the Soul
by Sri Chinmoy
Published by Health Communications