Wisdom for Sale

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Wisdom for Sale

This is the story of a poor Brahman boy, whose parents died in the flood. He has nothing to sell but his brains. He starts out with a tiny store in the market. His clever ideas lead him to a job as the king’s most trusted adviser.

Wisdom for Sale 

A poor Brahman boy lost his parents in a terrible flood. He was left alone, an orphan with no home and no job. He didn’t know what he would do or how he would live. But he was a very smart boy and had learned many things from his father, so it didn’t take him long to think of a great idea. One day he walked into town, hired the smallest, cheapest place he could find in the marketplace, and opened a store. He spent the little money he had on paper, ink, and a pen. Over his store he put a sign saying “Wisdom for sale.” 

All around him in the busy marketplace merchants owned large, attractive stores selling things that people needed, like cloth, meat, fruit, and vegetables. The Brahman boy stood outside his little store all day, calling out, “Wisdom for sale! Good prices! Wisdom of all kinds! Wisdom!” 

People passing his store, who had come to buy supplies for their homes and families, thought he was odd but amusing too. Instead of buying his wisdom they crowded around, laughing at him and shouting. 

“If you’re so wise, boy, why do you have such a tiny store and why do you wear such old, dirty clothes?” 

“Oh wise one, can you make my wife stop telling me what to do?” 

But the boy was patient. 

One day a merchant’s son was walking through the marketplace and heard the boy shouting, “Wisdom! Get it here! Good prices!” He followed the boy’s voice through the colorful, noisy crowds until he came to his tiny store. This merchant’s son was very rich, but also very stupid. He didn’t understand what the boy was selling. He thought it was something he could eat or hold. He asked the Brahman boy the price per kilo. 

The Brahman boy answered, “I don’t sell wisdom by weight. I sell it by quality.” 

So the merchant’s son put down a rupee and said, “All right. I’d like a rupee’s worth of wisdom, please.” 

The boy’s face suddenly became very serious. He put the rupee in his pocket and told the merchant’s son to sit down. Then he also sat down. He looked carefully at the merchant’s son’s face for a moment, then up at the sky. Then he took out a piece of paper, closed his eyes, took a deep breath, opened his eyes, and wrote. When he had finished, he folded the paper, waved his hand over it three times, stood up, and gave it to the merchant’s son. On the paper were the words, “It is not wise to stand and watch two people fighting.” 

The boy told him in a serious voice, “Keep this with you always.” 

The merchant’s son was very excited. He quickly went home and ran into the house, shouting, “Father, you won’t believe what happened to me today. Come quick and see what I’ve bought!” 

When his father read the paper, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He screamed at his son, “You stupid boy! I can’t believe my son paid a rupee for this nonsense! Everyone knows you shouldn’t stand and watch two people fighting! Who sold you this garbage?” 

His son then told him about the boy and his little store. 

The father immediately went to the store. 

“Aha! There you are!” he shouted, when he entered the tiny store and saw the Brahman boy. 

“Yes, here I am,” replied the boy. “And who are you?” 

“I’m the father of the fool who bought this piece of nonsense from you!” He threw the piece of paper at the boy. “You’re a thief and you’ve cheated my son! Yes, he’s a fool, but you’re a thief! Return the rupee he paid you or I’ll call the police!” 

The Brahman boy read the paper and said, “If you don’t like my goods, you can return them. Give me back my goods and I’ll return your money” 

“I’ve just returned your goods. Now give me my son’s rupee or I’ll call the police!” 

“Sir, you have not returned my goods. You’ve only returned the piece of paper. If you want your money, you must return my wisdom. You must sign a document saying that your son will never use my advice, that he will always stand and watch two people fighting.” 

“What? You must be joking!” shouted the angry merchant. 

But by now a crowd had gathered around to watch the argument and they agreed with the boy 

“He’s right, you know. The man’s only returned the paper.” 

“Yes, who do you think you are? Trying to frighten a poor storekeeper!” 

So the father agreed to sign the document and the Brahman boy then returned his money. The merchant was secretly thankful that it had been so easy to get his silly son out of this mess. 

The king of this region had two queens. These two queens were extremely jealous of each other and they argued about everything. Their maids supported them, of course, and argued as bitterly as their queens. One day each queen sent her servant to the marketplace. By chance both maids 

went to the same store at the same time and, unfortunately, wanted to buy the same melon. An argument developed. 

“Excuse me, but I was just going to buy that melon.” 

“Oh, what a pity. I got it first.” 

“Yes, but you got it first because you pushed in front of me.” 

“Excuse me, I didn’t push in front of you.” 

“You did! My hand was just reaching out to pick it up and you pushed in front.” 

“I didn’t!” 

“You did!” 

“I didn’t!” 

“You did!” 

“Did not!” 


“Did not!” 

They began to argue so loudly that the store owner ran away in fear. The two girls fell out of the store onto the ground, pulling each other’s hair and hitting each other. 

The merchant’s son was passing, heard the maids fighting, and stopped to watch them, as his father had instructed him to. One of the maids noticed the merchant’s son and ordered him to be her witness. 

“You saw that! She hit me!” 

The other maid interrupted. “No, she hit me! You saw her, didn’t you! You’re my witness.” 

They continued fighting until suddenly one of them said, “Oh dear! Look at the time. My queen’s expecting me.” 

They both immediately picked themselves up, shook the dirt from their dresses, gathered their shopping, and hurried back to the palace. 

When the two maids returned to the palace, they told their queens all about the argument. The queens were naturally very angry and complained to the king. The maids had also told their queens about the witness who had seen everything. Each queen ordered the merchant’s son to be her maid’s witness or have his head cut off. The king sent a messenger to the merchant’s house with his queens’ commands. 

The merchant and his son were very worried when they received these commands. 

“We need to see the Brahman boy immediately and ask him what to do,” said the father. 

They rushed to the little store and told the Brahman boy the whole story. He thought for a moment and said, “This is a difficult situation. I can help you, but it will cost 500 rupees.” 

The merchant happily paid this. The boy’s face became very serious. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes for a moment, opened his eyes, and said, “When they call you to the palace, pretend to be crazy. Pretend that you don’t understand anything.” 

The next day the king called the merchant’s son to the palace as a witness. The boy behaved as the Brahman boy had instructed him to. Eventually the king lost patience with this madman and ordered him out of the palace. The merchant’s son was delighted with this success and told everyone about the Brahman boy’s great wisdom. The Brahman boy was soon well-respected in the marketplace. 

But the merchant wasn’t happy. His son would now have to pretend to be crazy for the rest of his life or the king would find out and cut off his head. So the merchant and his son went back to the Brahman boy for more wisdom. For another 500 rupees the Brahman boy advised them to go back to the king at a carefully chosen time and tell him the whole story. 

He told them, “If you approach him at the right time, when he’s relaxed and in a good mood, he’ll think it’s funny and forgive you. But choose your time well. Make sure he’s in a good mood.” 

The merchant’s son followed his advice. He went to the palace on a beautiful warm evening as the sun was setting. He felt that no one could be in a bad mood on a beautiful evening like this. It was after dinner and he knew the king had eaten well because kings always eat well. The guards presented him to the king. He was right. The king was in a very good mood. 

The merchant’s son told him the whole story and begged for the king’s forgiveness for doing such a silly thing. The king thought the story was very funny and forgave him. He told him not to worry as everyone makes mistakes sometimes. 

When the merchant’s son had left the palace, the king sat alone, thinking about the story. He was very curious about this Brahman boy and his special talent. So he sent for the boy and asked him if he had any more wisdom to sell. 

The Brahman boy said, “Of course. I have plenty to sell, especially to a king. But my wisdom isn’t cheap. It will cost you 100,000 rupees. 

The king didn’t hesitate. He paid him 100,000 rupees and the Brahman boy followed his usual routine. He sat, he thought, he looked carefully at the king’s face, and then at the sky above. Then he took a deep breath, closed his eyes, opened them again, and wrote on a piece of the king’s special paper. When he had finished writing, he folded the piece of paper, waved his hand over it three times, and gave it to the king. On the piece of paper the king read the words, “Think deeply before you do anything.” The king thought this advice was very wise and he had it written in gold letters on all his royal plates and cups and sewn on his fine pillows and sheets so he would never forget it. 

Some months later the king became very sick. He didn’t realize that one of his queens and his minister were planning his murder. As part of their plan, they had paid the king’s doctor to put poison into his medicine. One night, when the king was taking his medicine, he lifted his golden cup up to his lips and, just before he started to drink, he noticed the words he had had written on the cup: “Think deeply before you do anything.” Without suspecting anything, the king thought about the words, lowered his cup, and looked at the medicine in it. 

The doctor, who was standing there watching this, became very nervous. He was full of guilt and fear, certain that the king had guessed that his medicine was poisoned. 

While the king was lying there thinking, the doctor suddenly threw himself at his feet and cried, “Forgive me, my king!” 

Before the king could say anything, the doctor told him what the queen and the minister were planning and how they had involved him. He then began to cry and begged again to be forgiven. 

The king was completely shocked at first, but as soon as he had recovered, he called his guards and had the doctor locked up. He then sent for his minister and his wife. When the guards brought them into his room, the king told them what had just happened and that he had put the doctor in prison. 

His wife immediately said, “Oh, I’m so pleased! I always knew that man was crazy but this wild story he’s invented is proof!” 

“Crazy, you say? Wild story, you say?” answered the king. “Let’s see who’s telling the truth. Drink my medicine.” 

The queen immediately fell at the king’s feet, admitted her guilt, and begged for his forgiveness. The minister just stood there silently, looking very depressed. The king ordered his guards to take them both away and cut off their heads. 

The Brahman boy was then sent for by the king. When the guards brought the boy into his room, the king thanked him for saving his life. He made the boy his new minister and arranged for him to live in the palace. A fine apartment and beautiful clothes were prepared for him. The boy lived happily in the palace as a wealthy man of honor and remained the king’s most trusted adviser for the rest of his life. 

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