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After many false starts, the sannyasi finally discovered the path to an underground tunnel. He entered it with a flaming torch in his hand. It was damp inside; water had seeped into the tunnel at many places making the path slippery. The sannyasi went ahead but encountered a rocky wall. The path was blocked! The hermit tapped the wall with an iron rod to detect any hollowness. But the wall was rock solid, and it was certain that progress beyond this point was impossible.
The hermit drew out the paper and pored over it in deep thought. He could make no further progress that night.
The next day, the sannyasi made fresh calculations and entered the tunnel. He struck at a particular spot on the wall and removed a rock to reveal a branching path, but this path too was blocked at the end. On the fifth night, upon entering the tunnel, the sannyasi exclaimed, "I have discovered the right path; today I am sure to succeed." Progress along the path was very difficult and the sannyasi had to crawl on all fours at a few places. But, holding his torch, he finally reached a circular room-like structure. In the centre of the room was a well. The hermit could not see the bottom of the well in the light of his torch. A heavy chain hung from the roof of the room, dropping into the well. The hermit held the chain and with all his efforts tried to pull it. When he did so, a sound emerged from the deep recesses of the well and resonated in the room. "I have found it!" the hermit exclaimed loudly.
At the instant he uttered these words, there was the sound of a rock rolling down from the crumbling wall of the room and at the same time someone dropped on the floor with a cry. The sannyasi was taken aback by this sudden intrusion; the torch fell from his hands and was extinguished.
"Who is it?" the sannyasi demanded to know but he received no reply. While groping in the darkness his hand brushed against a human body. He shook the person and once again asked, "Who are you?" He did not receive a reply this time too. The person had lost consciousness.
The hermit lighted the torch with much difficulty using flint stones. Meanwhile, the man regained his consciousness and groaned in pain as he tried to rise.
The sannyasi recognized him in the light of the torch. "Oh! It is you, Mrityunjoy!"
"Forgive me Baba. God has punished me. I tried to hurl a stone at you but slipped and fell. I think I have certainly broken my leg," Mrityunjoy said.
"What would have gained by killing me?" the sannyasi asked him.
Mrityunjoy replied, "How can you talk of gains? Why did you steal the paper from my temple? You are a thief .... You are a pretender. The hermit who gave this paper to my grandfather had said someone from our own family would decipher the secret message; the hidden treasure rightfully belongs to us. For this reason I have followed you like a shadow over the past few days without food and sleep. When you exclaimed you had discovered the treasure, I could not contain myself any longer. I was hiding in that hole; I removed a stone and hurled it at you. But because of weakness, and besides the place is very slippery, I fell down. Now, you may kill me - that would be fine. My spirit will guard the treasure and you will not be able to take it. I shall end my life by jumping into this well - you will never be able to enjoy the treasure. My father and grandfather died while searching for the treasure; it is in the quest of this treasure that we have become poor. I have left my wife and child and am wandering around like a mad man in search of the treasure. You will never be able to take it away from me."
The sannyasi said, "Mrityunjoy, I will tell you everything. You know your grandfather had a younger brother by name Shankar."
"Yes, I know. He left home and disappeared," Mrityunjoy replied.
"I am Shankar!" the sannyasi told him.
Mrityunjoy heaved a sigh in deep regret. Till now he had laid sole claim to the hidden treasure but a relation of his had turned up and destroyed that claim.
Shankar continued, "My elder brother tried to keep the paper hidden from me after receiving it from the hermit. But the more he tried to hide it, the more curious I became. He put the paper in a wooden box and kept it beneath the seat of the Goddess in the temple. I found it. I prepared a duplicate key of the box and, little by little, copied the entire message and the symbols. After making the copy, I left home in search of the treasure. I too, like you, left behind my wife and child; both of them are now no longer alive."
"I do not wish to dwell on my wanderings. Since a sannyasi had presented this paper to my brother, I thought that it is only a sannyasi who could assist me in deciphering the meaning of the message. With this thought, I served a number of hermits. But many of them were pretenders and, after coming to know of the paper, tried to steal it from me. Many years passed by in this way. There was no happiness in my life, and I knew no peace of mind. I finally met Swaroopanand Swamy in the Kumaon mountains. He told me, "Son, get rid of your desires and only then will all the riches of the world be at your disposal." He extinguished the fire of desire in my mind; I came to cherish the light from the sky and the verdant earth as far more valuable than the king's wealth. One day, we lighted a fire to provide warmth from the cold, and I tossed the paper into the fire. When Baba saw this, he smiled but I could not then understand the meaning of his smile. I have understood it today, he had certainly thought to himself that it is easy to burn a scrap of paper but the desire within cannot be easily turned to ashes."
"When the paper burnt completely and there was no trace of it, I felt as if I had been freed from bondage. I felt a tremendous sense of freedom and my whole mind was overwhelmed with happiness. I felt that henceforth I had nothing to fear; I need nothing."
"Later I became separated from Baba. I searched for him but could not find him. I, meanwhile, adopted the life of a sannyasi and forgot all about the paper."
"But one day, I entered this forest at Dharagol and found this ancient temple. I took shelter in the temple. I noticed that signs and symbols were inscribed on the walls of the temple at several places. These signs and symbols were familiar."
"I was convinced that the treasure, for which I had left home and wandered for years together, was now within my reach. Not wishing to fall prey to any temptation I said to myself that I should leave this place at once. I cannot remain in this forest anymore."
Some useful links for
- Union Public Service Commission - www.upsc.gov.in
- IIT-Kharagpur - www.iitkgp.ac.in
- Indian Statistical Institute - www.isical.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Technology Madras - www.iitm.ac.in
- Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad - www.iimahd.ernet.in
- Indian Institute of Mass Commission - www.iimc.nic.in
- IIT Bombay - www.iitb.ac.in
- Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad - www.ismdhanbad.ac.in
- Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi - www.bitmesra.ac.in
- Central Institute of Fisheries Nautical and Engineering Training - www.cifnet.nic.in
- Indian Institute of Information Technology, Allahabad (Deemed University) - www.iiita.ac.in
- Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute, Kochi - www.cmfri.com
- Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai - www.tiss.edu