Once in the city of Pataliputra, there lived a pious businessman (chettiar) named Manibhadra. He was doing well in his business and in life but suddenly some misfortune befell him and he was reduced to abject poverty and want. Indeed for a person who was affluent to face a state of poverty was worse than death.. and he spent days and nights in the company of nagging thoughts about his misfortune. One day he was so depressed that he decided he would put an end to everything by opting to die the next day. Somehow he slid into a sleep with these painful thoughts. It would appear that the goddess of fate was not entirely cruel. In his sleep he dreamt that the huge wealth padmanidhi (one of the treasures of Lakshmi), itself had come to him and had informed that she was going to visit him disguised as a Buddhistic Monk, and that if Manibhadra hit the monk on his tonsured head with a heavy stick , the monk would solidify into gold and with that the businessman’s sufferings would be over.
Manibhadra was skeptic about the dream, but anyway he decided to postpone his fatal attempts on himself by a day.
Meanwhile Manibhadra’s wife had asked the local barber to pay them a visit in the morning to help her with manicuring her nails, cutting and polishing them. The barber was present in the house right in the morning, armed with his knife and scissors. Simultaneously a Buddhist monk with shiny tonsured head also appeared at the gate, making Manibhadra’s dream come true. As directed in the dreams, Manibhadra received the Monk with a crackin hit with a heavy stick on his tonsured head. And true to the dream , the monk metamorphosed into a golden statue.
The wily barber, while engaged in his duty with the fingernails of the lady of the house did not fail to notice the fact that the treatment given to the shiny pate of the Buddhist monk yielded very positive results of the chettiar, Manibhadra. A very ambitious plan was hatched in the barber’s brain. He was sure that if one monk could do this much of favour in response to a hit on the head, how much he could gain by using the services of a couple of dozens of monks for this purpose.
So the barber went home, had a bath and wearing simple clothes to announce his piousness he made a beeline to the local Buddhist monastery, and invited all the monks available there for a feast in his house. The preference was definitely to the completely and very recently tonsured heads. The monks were reluctant initially. He announced that he was going to serve many sweets and ghee in plenty. In addition he tempted them by stating that his house was stocked with silken clothes to cover the books, and writing material and palm leave were available in plenty to be distributed to the holy guests.
The gift of the gab of the barber (usually barbers are noted for that) ultimately proved irresistible and the innocent monks went in a procession to the barber’s house.
By that time the barber was ready for them. He had cut heavy branches of some tough trees and had got them all polished to great shine, and kept them ready for effective use. The monks had to enter the house one by one and just behind the door, the barber was standing ready to deliver the hit like a thunderbolt on the shining pate of the monks one by one. His hit was heaviest on the head of the first monk and the swami left for his heavenly abode, leaving behind and cracked skull oozing out a rivulet of blood. However no gold was forthcoming. The Barber was very enterprising and let in all the monks one by one with a welcome hit on their hapless pates. Some fell unconscious and some began to moan and cry. Sensing the danger, the barber closed his door and was waiting for a long time to see the monks turning into gold.
Nothing happened but the pathetic cry of the holy men brought the attention of the public and the denizens of law forced themselves into the barber’s house to see the misery of the monks. The barber was immediately arrested and taken to the lock judge. There he told the court that he had seen a monk getting transformed to gold by a welcome his on the head delivered by the Chettiar Manibhadra and he had only followed the clue.
The chettiar was summoned and he reported truthfully all that happened. The barber had only seen a part of the process and in his foolishness killed or maimed so many holy men.
In the place of gold, gallows waited on the barber.
The bottom line is.. “do not imitate others without properly understanding what they were doing.’