In ancient days there lived in India a woman of a very quarrelsome disposition. Her name was Kalaha, which in the Bengali language means “quarrel.” Kalaha not only engaged in word-battles at the slightest pretext, she could also not bear to see the performance of any good action.

As time went by Kalaha grew in evil disposition and wicked deeds. At last, when the burden of sin became very heavy, her legs of life gave way and the Angel of Death cast her out from her bodily firmament.

Her astral body then began to descend the spiral stairway of gloom, down into the deepest region of darkness, and landed with a thud on the vapor-spitting floor of Hades. When she saw the Angel of Death proceed to leave her behind in that dismal place where sinful shadows live in torture and despair, she shouted for mercy.

Attracted by the intense and plaintive noise, Yama (the Angel of Death) returned and asked: “Prithee, can’t you remember any good action you might have performed during your earthly sojourn so that I might have at least one excuse to parole you from this awful place where you have landed due to your self-created errors?”

The wicked woman scratched her head for a while and after a long inner search, she cried out: “O yes, your Majesty, the Angel of Death, I do remember one kind act of mine.

Once I had a bunch of carrots, and I was about to eat them all when I saw that one of them contained a worm. So I gave that defective carrot to another person on condition that he eat only the good part and throw away the rest without killing the worm.”

“That will do,” replied Yama. He waved his hand and that same carrot came floating through the air toward the sin-filled woman. Yama said: “Wicked woman, grasp this carrot and hang onto it. Don’t let loose your hold and you will reach Heaven.”

Greedily the woman seized the carrot and started ascending Heavenward. Seeing this, another sinner took hold of her leg, and a second sinner grasped the leg of the first, and a third hung onto the legs of the second, and so on until a chain of one hundred sinners was suspended from the wicked woman’s feet.

At the behest of the Angel of Death, the magic carrot, with the wicked woman and the chain of one hundred sinners, began to race upward through the sky toward Heaven like a zooming rocket.

The wicked woman was beside herself with joy to find herself so easily freed from the hands of after-death justice. But when she felt a tug at her feet, she looked down and realized that the chain of sinners was going Heavenward with her.

This aroused her anger, as she could not bear the thought of anyone else receiving favors from the Angel of Death. Enraged, she shouted: “Let go of my feet you undeserving sinners! How dare you soar toward Heaven with my charmed carrot?”

The other sinners no sooner released their hold on her feet than Kahala zoomed down through unplumbed space and dropped with a thud upon the same floor of Hades. However, these other sinners (because of their faith even in an exalted sinner) found the carrot—it came into the hands of the first man—and again the chain of sinners raced up and up, this time reaching the immortal gates of Heaven.

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The moral is that even a small act of goodness may be a raft of salvation across the treacherous gulf of sin, but one who drinks the wine of selfishness and dances on the little boat of meanness sinks in the ocean of ignorance. Selfish happiness, which ignores and cannot bear to witness the well being of others, is bound to come to grief.

From the Praecepta Lessons, 1938

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