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An Honest Thief

There was once a thief. Somehow, one day, he met a Mahatma. The Mahatma said to him, ''Take a vow.'' The thief asked, ''What kind of a vow shall I take.'' The Mahatma said, ''You should never tell a lie.'' The thief promised, ''O.K. I'll never lie again.'' In this way the thief took a vow from the sadhu.

Now, this thief would always go to steal with four other thieves. These four knew that the first thief had taken a vow not to lie. But they were confident that he would never expose them. One night, planning to loot the king's treasure chest, the thieves went to the palace. The king, in disguise, was roaming the city, listening to the conversations his subjects took part in. He wanted to know the private opinions of the people, which would help him rule his kingdom better. The king saw the five thieves in front of his palace. He asked them, ''Who are you?'' The honest thief answered, ''We are thieves.'' The king was amazed. He asked, ''Where are you going?'' ''To loot the king's treasure chests,''
replied the thief.

He didn't lie, as he had a vow not to. The king thought to himself, ''This thief seems to be of a strange kind. A real thief wouldn't say these things.'' So he said, ''I'm a thief as well. Come on, let's loot the treasure chest together.'' They walked up to the palace gates. The guard stopped them and asked, ''Who are you?'' The honest thief said, ''We're thieves.'' The guard thought, ''They can never be thieves. Thieves would never come here in such a way. They wouldn't give themselves away.

These people must be statesmen of the kingdom.'' The honest thief then said, ''Give me the keys to the treasure chest.'' The guard was convinced that the thieves were important statesmen, or how could they talk with such authority. He handed over the keys. The thieves opened the safe and stole six chests of golden ornaments. They locked the safe and left. The king was with them. Deciding to split the booty between the six later, all the thieves went home to sleep. The king returned to his palace and went to sleep. The guard decided to investigate about the ministers
who had come in the night.

He couldn't find them. The guard was convinced he had been tricked. He informed the king, ''The safe has been looted.'' The king commanded the diwan, ''Find out what has been taken.'' The diwan opened the safe. He knew that the safe should contain ten chests of gold. He saw only four and realised that six had been stolen. But the diwan was a crook as well. He went to the king and said, ''Sire, all ten chests of gold have been stolen.'' His plan was to take home the remaining four chests.

The king realised the diwan was deceiving him. Still he ordered, ''Find the thieves.'' The diwan thus tried for a month to find the thieves but couldn't do so. The king then proclaimed all over the kingdom, ''He who has looted the king's treasure should present himself before the king at twelve o'clock.'' The king knew that the thief who had taken a vow always to tell the truth would come.'' And the thief did come to the king at twelve' o'clock. He saluted the king and said, "Six of us thieves came to the palace and stole from the safe.'' The king questioned him, ''How many chests of gold did you take?'' ''Sire, we took six chests.'' The king said to his minister, ''Diwan, where are the other four chests?''

The diwan said, ''Sire, the thief is lying.'' The king had been with the thieves when they had stolen the six chests of gold. He ordered his guards, ''Go to the diwan's house and search it.'' The guards searched the house and found the four chests of gold. The diwan couldn't say a word. "Diwanji, you are the real thief. And this thief is truly honest.'' The king was very angry.
He appointed the honest thief as the diwan and jailed the old one.

All commands of the True Sadhu should be believed to hold total truth and so obeyed. One who does this achieves Akshardham. Those who live a life of honesty and morality receive great rewards. Never be deceitful. If we harbour deceit like the diwan, we will fall from the Lord's devotion and service.

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© 1999, Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, Swaminarayan Aksharpith