THE BRAHMIN AND THE SNAKE OR THE INJURED CAN NEVER BE REAL FRIENDS AGAIN.
There was a Brahmin called Haridatta. He had a worthless field which yielded scanty crops hardly sufficient for the maintenance of himself, his wife and son. One day, while watching this field with its scanty crop, he dozed under a tree. When he opened his eyes, he was astonished to see a terrible snake coming out of an ant-hill in the field, spreading its hood. “Ah,” said he, “this must be the guardian serpent of my field to which I have not paid honour and, therefore, I am suffering the pangs of poverty. I shall worship it, and it will give me wealth in return(The Hindus believe that serpents have got treasures and will make gifts to those who worship them)”. He went home hurriedly, brought some milk in a small mud pot, and placed it in the mouth of the hole, crying out, “O divine serpent, be gracious unto me suffering from dire poverty”. The serpent drank the milk with relish and was highly pleased, The next morning when Haridatta went to the spot, he found a gold coin left in the mud pot and took it to be a gift from the serpent in return for the milk.
Everyday thereafter, Haridatta gave the serpent a pail of milk and worshiped it, and used invariably to find a gold coin in the cup next morning. One day, he had to go on a journey to a nearby town, and so asked his son to take the milk to the ant-hill and worship the snake. The son did so and was surprised to find a gold coin in the cup. He said to himself : “Surely, this ant-hill is full of gold coins which this serpent guards. This miserable serpent is giving me only one gold coin.” So, when offering milk to the serpent the next day, the boy suddenly struck the snake on the head with a stout cudgel in order to kill it and dig up the ant-hill and take away all the gold coins. The blow missed the serpent, which, in terrible anger, stung the boy, who died almost immediately.
The father, on his return, learnt the news, and with sorrow cremated the boy. Feeling his poverty again, especially after incurring the funeral expenses, he took a cup of milk once more to the ant-hill, put it there, and worshiped the snake with a desire to get the gold coin in return, as usual. He cried out, “It was not your fault, O serpent, that you stung my son. He brought it on himself by trying to kill you, and you acted only in self-defense.” The snake replied: “O Brahmin, the bond of love between us is snapped by my killing your son, whatever the justification. You can never really love me hereafter. Your son’s corpse will be an impassable barrier between us. We can never be friends again. So, go away in peace, and I am also leaving this ant-hill with its bitter memories.”