Greed and Need

Hare Krishna dear Prabhujis and Matajis,
Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada and Srila Gurudev.

In one of the forests of the Himalayas, there once lived a while elephant. He was selfless, kind, gentle and helpful.

One day, a forester from Varanasi lost his way in the forest, where the white elephant lived. The white elephant had been passing that way, and noticed the forester and began following the forester. The forester also noticed the white elephant. He thought that the elephant would kill him, and began shouting for help and started running. Then the forester realized that the white elephant was harmless and that the elephant was only following him. The forester turned around, and the elephant began to speak to him, asking him if he needed any help. The forester told the elephant that, he had lost his way in the forest and that he wanted to go back to his house in Varanasi. 

The kind white elephant guided the forester to the road to Varanasi.

A few days later, the forester happened to visit an ivory shop in Varanasi. When he asked the shopkeeper, about the ivory items, the shopkeeper replied, saying that good elephant tusks were hard to come by, and that the tusk of a living one was the best, rarest and most expensive. 

Greed got the better of the forester. He went back to the forest where the white elephant lived. He went to the elephant and telling him a lie that he was  up to his neck in debt, he begged the elephant to give a piece of his tusk. The elephant agreed and the forester sawed off a portion of the elephant's tusk. 

Back in Varanasi, the forester got a big sum of money for the tusks. When the money was about to be exhausted, the forester repented, thinking that he should have cut closer to the flesh. That night, the forester could not sleep. He thought, "If I cut any more, the elephant will suffer. But I must not be sentimental. I must get hold of those precious stumps of tusks." 

So he went back to the white elephant. Greed had hardened his heart. Telling the elephant that he needed little money to live, he told the elephant to give a portion of his tusks. The elephant told the forester to take only a little portion of the tusks left. 

As the elephant crouched down to give a part of his tusks, the moment had come for the forester to carry out his cruel plan. He pinned the elephant's trunk down with his foot, pulled at the tusks and completely sawed them off. As the forester walked away, leaving the elephant torn and trembling, not a word of reproach escaped the elephant's lips.

Suddenly, the forester felt the ground heave under his feet. The Earth split open and a fire raged. The forester realized that he was being punished for his greed, but it was too late. As the flames consumed him, a voice was heard,"A greedy man is never satisfied. Not even if he is given the whole world."

As for the white elephant, he lived the rest of his life in the peace and quiet of the Himalayas.

Srila Narada Muni in his instructions for civilized human beings says the following verse in Srimad Bhagavatam 7.15.20:

kāmasyāntaṁ hi kṣut-tṛḍbhyāṁ krodhasyaitat phalodayāt
jano yāti na lobhasya jitvā bhuktvā diśo bhuvaḥ

The strong bodily desires and needs of a person disturbed by hunger and thirst are certainly satisfied when he eats. Similarly if one becomes very angry, that anger is satisfied by chastisement and its reaction. But as for greed, even if a greedy person has conquered all the directions of the world or has enjoyed everything in the world, still he will not be satisfied.

We see in the story how greed drags one to be ungrateful also. Even though the elephant had helped the forester in his difficulty, because of his excessive greed he tortured the innocent elephant. Srila Prabhupada in his purport to SB 3.19.36 says, "Ungrateful persons are those who do not understand how much benefit they are deriving by the arrangement of the Lord. They enjoy the sunshine and moonshine, and they get water free of charge, yet they do not feel grateful, but simply go on enjoying these gifts of the Lord. Therefore, they must be called thieves and rogues."

I pray at the lotus feet of Srila Prabhupada and Gurudev that I may not be overcome by greed and may I be blessed with a simple heart of gratefulness for all the benedictions showered by Lord Krishna.

"There is enough in this world for every man's need not for even one man's greed!"

Your humble servant,
Abu Dhabi.