Once upon a time a very evil bandit named Rakusha lived with his gang in a cave hidden away in the hills of northern India. By nature very vicious, this rapacious robber ridiculed every spiritual law. He lived by pillage, murder, and plunder, and was noted for his cruelty.
One day this master-bandit and his band set out on a mission to plunder a poor little village at the outskirts of a forest. When he arrived at the end of the forest, the bandit-leader saw a dirt road leading into the village, shaded by an avenue of tall trees. One of the bandits remarked that the tall trees shaded travelers from the heat of the sultry Oriental sun.
“Well,” the bandit-leader remarked: “all of you get busy and circle those trees. Cut their bark and let them die, so that they may no longer be liberal with their shade.”
Arriving at the entrance to the village, the band of robbers had to walk over loose bricks laid in a muddy puddle of water. After crossing this puddle, the bandit-king thought: “Let me remove the bricks lest anyone else enjoy the comfort of walking over them.” Suddenly, however, he remembered that he had to re-cross the bricks on his way back to his den, so he refrained from removing them.
Shortly after this bandit and his followers entered the village, a few saints happened to be leaving the village. These saints were delighted to walk on the bricks, thus saving their sandals from getting soiled by the mud.
Now, fix in your minds this incident of the holy men crossing the mud puddle, using the bricks left there by the bandit-king for his own selfish purposes.
The bandits went on to plunder the village and slaughter many people before starting on their return trip home. Once again they had to walk over the bricks in the mud puddle. After crossing the mud puddle, the bandit leader, using his long spear, pushed the bricks into the deepest holes of the mud puddle, lest anyone else try to use them.
Now the scene changes. Shortly afterwards, one of the robbers in the band, who wanted to be the leader, treacherously killed the bandit-leader.
The Hindu scriptures say that every man has two angels invisibly residing at his left and right shoulders. The angel on the left records all the man’s misdeeds, and the angel on the right records all his virtuous actions. So, when the soul of this most atrocious robber was being escorted to the darkest, most hideous part of Hades, the angel-leader in charge of Heaven and Hades asked the two angels to look into their records.
The angel on the left side said: “Honored Sir, the book of sin is so full of this man’s wicked deeds that I had to write in the margins of all the pages.”
The angel on the right said: “All the pages of my book are blank. I cannot find a single record of good action performed by this cruel bandit.”
After being asked to re-examine his book more carefully, the angel on the right exclaimed: “Ah, I find on the last page a single, indirect virtuous action. This bandit once left a few bricks in a puddle of mud so that he might later re-cross them. He has a reward coming because a few holy men happened to use those bricks to cross the puddle.”
The angel-leader in charge of Heaven and Hades then said to the bandit soul: “You have two hours of complete freedom in Heaven or Hades. Pray let me know your last wish.” The bandit soul, still gorged with wickedness, thought it over and harshly growled: “Get me a flying bull from Hades with long, sharp horns.”
The ferocious flying bull arrived. The bandit got on the bull’s back and issued a command: “Mr. Bull, charge all the keepers of Hades.” Wild havoc ensued.
Hearing of this confusion, the angel in charge of Heaven and Hades, with his assistants, arrived on the scene to save the keepers of Hades. In great glee, the bandit soul now ordered the bull to drive his long horns into the angel-leader.
Seeing the approaching doom, the angel-leader and his assistants began to race for shelter behind Heaven’s safe gates. The bull entered the Pearly Gates hot on the heels of the fleeing angels, and all of Heaven was in an uproar. But just as the fleeing angels and the bandit on the flying bull reached the Golden Throne of His Majesty, the bandit’s two hours had passed. The bull suddenly stopped his outrageous activity, and the angels folded their wings and rested.
The angel-leader of Heaven and Hades approached the now powerless bandit and shouted: “So, even in this other world you followed your wicked ways. We will give you and your flying bull overtime work in the worst part of Hades. Heaven is too good for you.”
All the angels were suddenly frozen into stillness as the Heavenly Father exclaimed: “No, you will not throw the wicked bandit and his bull back into Hades. They are already free, for they have reached Heaven. It doesn’t matter how anyone gets here. Even if it is by only a very little goodness, he shall never go to Hades again.”
And so, dear friend, by its AUDACITY, this strange story is designed to help you remember that no matter what you have done in the past, if you sin no more and cultivate even a little goodness, that may be the portal to the Heaven of eternal joy and freedom.
Never brood over the distance between you and Truth. Keep walking toward it by doing some good every day, and you will finally reach your goal.