There was a man who was born into a wealthy family. He had a young brother. After their father died, they did some business that took them to a village, where they were paid a thousand pieces of money.
On their way back, as they waited on a river-bank for the boat, they ate lunch. The older brother threw his lunch remains into the Ganges for the fishes, dedicating the merit to the river-spirit. The spirit was with gratitude for the kindness. The older brother then took a nap on the river bank.
The young brother was greedy by nature. He wanted to steal the money and keep it for himself. So he packed a parcel of gravel to look like the parcel of money, and put them both away.
When they both boarded the boat and arrived to mid-river, the younger stumbled against the side of the boat, and dropt overboard the parcel of gravel.
“Brother, the money’s overboard!” he cried. “What’s to be done?”
“What can we do? What’s gone is gone. Never mind about it,” replied the other.
But the river-spirit intervened. She made a big-mouthed fish swallow the parcel.
When the thief got home, he quickly went his room and undid the remaining parcel. There was nothing but gravel to be seen! So he did drop the real coins into the river.
Meanwhile some fishermen just then cast their nets. By power of the river-spirit, this fish fell into the net. The fishermen took it to the market. People asked for the price.
“A thousand pieces and seven coins” said the fishermen.
Everybody made fun of them. “We have seen a fish offered for a thousand pieces!” they laughed.
The fishermen brought their fish to the big brother’s door, and asked him to buy it.
“What’s the price?” he asked.
“You may have it for seven coins,” they said.
“What did you ask other people for it?”
“From other people we asked a thousand pieces and seven coins; but you may have it for seven coins,” they said.
He paid for it, and sent it to his wife. She cut it open, and there was the parcel of money! He wondered how it was that he had recovered his money. At the moment the river-spirit invisibly appeared in the air, and declared: “I am the Spirit of the Ganges. You gave the remains of your meal to the fishes, and let me have the merit. Therefore I have taken care of your property.”
Then the spirit told about the mean trick which the younger brother had played. Then she added, “There is no prosperity for the cheat. But I have brought you your own, and I warn you not to lose it. Don’t give it to your young thief of a brother, but keep it all yourself.”
But the big brother said, “That is impossible,” and all the same sent the brother his share of five hundred coins.
Would you do the same?
Let’s think about it. If this young man would scheme to steal from his older brother such a small sum, one can’t help but wonder what else he’s up to with the rest of the family fortune.
Furthermore, for most people the discovery of your own sibling’s treachery and betrayal would be devastating and would leave a very bitter taste in your mouth.
And yet, the big brother still honored his younger brother.
Once in blue moon, this kind of generosity might make the evil feel guilty and change their ways. Regardless, if you can find it your heart to forgive and forget, you’ll be happier and more at ease.