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The robber and his flag

A certain robber was walking along a road. He suddenly heard the sound of drums. It was a funeral procession. He stood still and wondered who the dead person could be.

“Oh that rich man! He had such a lot of gold, silver and gems. He is no more, good!”

Then he recalled how he entered the house of that rich man and robbed quite a lot of gold and silver. The robber too joined the funeral procession in an unassuming manner. He wanted to verify more about the wealth accumulated by the dead person.

Many evil thoughts flooded his mind. He felt that he should slowly leave the procession and go to the rich man’s house.

“There can’t be anyone staying there right now,” thought the robber, “So I will have ample time to rob the riches hidden in the empty house.”

Thinking so, he left the funeral procession towards the house of the rich dead man. When he arrived at the house of the dead man, at first instance heard some chanting at the house. He then saw three or four people listening to an elderly ascetic explaining the meaning of the chanting.

The robber for a moment forgot his robbing mission and went on listening to the elderly ascetic.

“All evil minded people will one day repent on account of these evildoings,” said the ascetic while the onlookers nodded their heads. “Robbing, cheating and all other evildoings will end up in suffering. If a person wants to be happy on this earth, he or she should get rid of all evil doings. He or she should succumb to a better standard of living discarding the evil habits.”

The robber who listened to the ascetic gradually felt a certain sense of guilt. “I am a robber and one fine day I will have to repent an account of my evil doings,” he felt.

“I must listen and get some advice to overcome my sense of repentance,” he thought. Then he approached the ascetic and listened more carefully. The robber was enticed for a moment over the spiritual side of matters.

“Oh noble sir, isn’t there a way to free my mind from pollution which leads me to evildoings?” Asked the robber.

“Yes there is a way,” responded the ascetic.

The robber sat beside the ascetic in a pious mood. The ascetic got a black flag which he gave the robber.

“Take this black flag. You can make use of your own skills for the better actions, until one fine day you will see that the black flag turns to white. Go forth in search of good deeds. Take the flag with you. Cross the ferries you come across. Meet people in disaster. Help them. When this black flag turns white come to me.”

The robber accepted the black flag and bid farewell to the ascetic. When he came to the first ferry he saw an old woman trying with difficulty to get on to the boat.

The robber helped her saying: “Dear mother, don’t bother. I am here to help you.” So he helped her.

Then he came to another ferry where he saw a mother about to give birth to a child. Her husband had several bags to carry. The husband looked worried and frustrated. Then the robber approached them and said: “Don’t get scared of me. I’m going to help you. Let me carry all these bags to your place. No one will harm you, don’t worry.”

At the third ferry the robber saw a gang of robbers trying to assault a young couple to plunder their wealth. The robber suddenly appeared before the gang and said: “You are not going to harm them. They are an innocent couple. If you harm them a disaster will befall all of you. I was a robber myself. But I gave up. I want to lead a better life.”

The gang of robbers was stunned. They ran away. The robber who carried the black flag came to the rescue of the couple. A few others were with them.

“Are you a demigod?” One elderly person asked.

“No I was a robber myself. I am no longer in for evil.”

“May your mind be free from all evils, we bless you on behalf of the couple. Take these gold coins as a present.” “No please keep that with you,” said the robber and all of a sudden he saw his black flag turned into a white flag.

“Oh the black flog has turned white. It is time for me to return to meet the ascetic.

Thus after helping the wedding group, the robber, who was no longer a robber, held the white flag and went to the see the ascetic.

The ascetic, who was in a meditative mood looked at the man with the white flag, said: “Now my son, you have entered the right path of bliss.”

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