Long, long ago, in a small town, there lived a rich merchant. In the neighboring house, there lived a poor farmer. In spite of being rich, the merchant was a miser. But the poor farmer had a large heart and was a generous man.
One fine evening, a traveler came to the house of the merchant. He was very tired and hungry. When the merchant saw him, he said angrily, “get out of my house. Do not hope to get anything to eat from me.”
“Sir, I am very tired and hungry. It is very cold outside. Please give me shelter tonight. I will leave your house early in the morning. I beg of you to help me. God will bless you for your kindness,” pleaded the traveler.
The merchant shouted rudely, “do you think this is an inn? I warn you. Leave right away or else I will order my servants to throw you out.”
The traveler walked away from the merchant’s house and went to the poor farmer’s house. The farmer gave him shelter. He called him inside the house. The farmer gave him shelter. He called him inside the house and fed him lovingly. The farmer also chatted with the traveler for a long time. He then laid a bad in the adjacent room and asked the traveler to rest there. The traveler went to sleep peacefully.
Early next morning, when the traveler woke up, he assumed the form of God. As he was leaving, he said to the farmer, “I had disguised myself as a traveler because I wanted to test you. I am pleased with your generosity, kindness and selfless service. You may ask for a boon and it will be granted to you.”
There were tears of joy in the farmer’s eyes. He fell at the feet of God and said, “O Lord! I do not wish for anything special. But I wish that I should always have faith in selfless service.”
“Granted” said God and he disappeared. But at that time, there was a miracle. There was a big and beautiful mansion in place of the poor farmer’s hut. Instead of a small yard, there was a lovely garden in front of the mansion.
The rich merchant was now jealous of the farmer’s prosperity. When he came to know the secret of the farmer’s prosperity, he repented of his rude behavior towards the traveler. The merchant immediately set out in search of the traveler. After some time, he saw the traveler sitting under a tree. A merchant ran to him, fell at his feet and pleaded, “O Lord! Almighty! I did not recognize you. I am sorry. I committed a grave mistake. Please forgive me. I humbly request you to come to my house and bless me.”
God could, of course, sense greed in the merchant’s fervent pleas. He smiled and said, “I thank you for your kind invitation. I am sorry to say that I will not be able to accept your invitation. But I will certainly fulfill your wish. I grant you three boons.”
The merchant got exactly what he had wanted. God had granted him not one, but three boons! The merchant was surprised and happy.
The merchant went home. Which boons should he ask for? He could not sleep that night and spent the whole night thinking about what he should ask for. Yet, the merchant could not make up his mind. Soon it was early morning and the cock crowed, “Cock ….. a ……. Doodle … doo.”
The merchant said loudly, “O Lord! Please get rid of this cock. I am disturbed because of his crowing.”
As soon as the merchant uttered these words, the cock fell down dead. The merchant realized that one of his boons was granted. He was angry with himself for having wasted a boon. But, he decided to be careful with the remaining two boons.
In the morning, the merchant took his bath and was ready for the day’s work. He had his breakfast and went into his garden. He set down on a bench and started thinking about the remaining two boons.
Meanwhile, some guest arrived at his house. A servant came to call the merchant. The merchant was angry and said, “go away. Can’t you see I am busy thinking right now? I wish to be glued to this bench. Nobody should disturb me.
After some time, the merchant’s wife came to the garden. She looked at her husband and said, “what are you thinking about so deeply? The guests are in a hurry and they have some important matter to discuss with you. Please come inside and meet them.”
The merchant didn’t respond. He was engrossed in his thoughts. His wife held his hand and pulled him vigorously. But what a shock! The merchant was glued to the bench. The merchant was also surprised, but he immediately realized what had happened. Disappointed, He said, “O Lord! I have wasted the second boon, too.”
“Boon? What boon? What are you talking about?” asked his wife.
The merchant narrated the whole story to his wife. After hearing the merchant’s story, his wife said angrily, “Dear husband! Do you see that this is the result of your greed? But now there is no point in grieving over the situation. There is only one solution. Ask god for the third boon and free yourself from this bench.”
The merchant agreed with his wife’s suggestion. He knew that he could not spend the rest of his life glued to the bench.
The merchant said loudly, “O Lord! You are very kind. Please release me from this bench.” The boon was granted and the merchant could get up from the bench. He went inside the house with his wife.
The merchant now realized his mistakes and he repented his greediness. Since then, he became generous and used his wealth wisely for good causes.