- February 10, 2022
Once upon a time Brahmadatta was ruling Benares in Kasi. He used to value horses, elephants, and the like; and jewels, gold, and the like; and he used to pay over to the owners of the goods the proper price, as he fixed it.
But the king was greedy and his greed suggested to him this thought: “This valuer with his style of valuing will soon exhaust all the riches in my house; I must get another valuer.”
Opening his window and looking out into his courtyard, he saw greedy hind in whom he saw a likely candidate for the post. So the king called him, and asked him whether he could do the work. “Oh yes,” said the man; and so, to safeguard the royal treasure, this stupid fellow was appointed valuer. After this the fool, in valuing elephants and horses and the like, used to fix a price dictated by his own fancy, neglecting their true worth; but, as he was valuer, the price was what he said and no other.
At that time there arrived from the north country a horse-dealer with 500 horses. The king sent for his new valuer and bade him value the horses. And the price he set on the whole 500 horses was just one measure of rice, which he ordered to be paid over to the dealer, directing the horses to be led off to the stable. Away went the horse-dealer to the old valuer, to whom he told what had happened, and asked what was to be done. “Give him a bribe,” said the ex-valuer, “and put this point to him: ‘Knowing as we do that our horses are worth just a single measure of rice, we are curious to learn from you what the precise value of a measure of rice is; could you state its value in the presence?’ If he says he can, than take him before the king; and I too will be there.”
Readily following the Bodhisatta’s advice, the horse-dealer bribed the man and put the question to him. The other, having expressed his ability to value a measure of rice, was promptly taken to the palace along with the Bodhisatta and many other ministers. With due obeisance the horse-dealer said, “Sire, I do not dispute it that the price of 500 horses is a single measure of rice; but I would ask your majesty to question your valuer as to the value of that measure of rice.”
Ignorant of what had passed, the king said to the fellow, “Valuer, what are 500 horses worth?” “A measure of rice, sir,” was the reply. “Very good, my friend; if 500 horses then are worth one measure of rice, what is that measure of rice worth?”
The fool’s reply was,“It is worth all Benares and its suburbs.”