There was once a rich merchant named Naduk who had lost all his wealth. He thought to himself that he should not live here as a poor man since people who respected him once, would now look down upon him. He decided to go abroad to seek his fortunes. To finance his travels, he pawned a 1000-pound iron balance that his ancestors had left behind, with a local merchant, Lakshman.
After several years he returned and asked merchant Lakshman, “Friend Lakshman, here take your money with interest and return my ancestral iron balance.” The merchant said, “Friend Naduk, your balance-beam has been eaten by mice.”
To this Naduk replied without emotion: “Lakshman, you are in no way to blame, if it has been eaten by mice. Such is life. Nothing in the universe has any permanence. However, I am going to the river for a bath. Please send your boy Dhanadeva with me, to look after my needs.”
Since Lakshman was conscience-stricken at his own theft, he called his son and told him, “Son, let me introduce Uncle Naduk, who is going to the river to bathe. You must accompany him taking with you all the things he needs to take his bath. Men offer help not only out of kindness but also out of fear, greed or a selfish need. If one offers help for reasons other than this, you have to be wary of such a person.”
So Lakshman’s son took the bathing things and delightedly accompanied Naduk to the river. After Naduk had taken his bath, he led the boy into a nearby cave and, pushing the boy inside, closed it with a huge boulder. Thereafter Naduk returned to Lakshman’s house. And when Lakshman said: “Friend Naduk, didn’t you bring back my son? Where is he? Please tell me,” Naduk answered: “My good Lakshman, a hawk carried him off from the river-bank. There was nothing I could do.”
“Oh, Naduk!” cried Lakshman. “You liar! How could a hawk possibly carry off a big boy like Dhanadeva?” “But, Lakshman,” retorted Naduk, “the mice could eat a balance-beam made of iron. Give me my balance-beam, if you want your son.”
Both of them took the dispute to the king’s court. Lakshman complained to the judges that Naduk had kidnapped his child. The judges ordered him to return the boy to Lakshman. But Naduk pleaded: “What am I to do? Before my eyes a hawk carried him from the river-bank.”
“Come, Naduk!” said they, “you are not telling the truth. How can a hawk carry off a fifteen-year-old boy?” Then Naduk laughed and said: “Gentlemen, when mice can eat an iron balance weighing 1000 pounds, then hawks can even lift elephants whereas Dhanadeva was a mere boy.”
“How was that?” they asked, and Naduk told them the entire story. At this the judges laughed and ordered Naduk to return the boy and Lakshman to give back the balance to Naduk.