Once upon a time, there lived four Bhrahmin friends in a village. They were learned persons, but were not satisfied with the knowledge they possessed. So one day, they decided to join some good university in some other part of the country for the sake of learning.
The next day, they travelled to Kanyakubja. There they got admission in the university. They studied at the university for ten long years.
One day, they said to each other, ‘We’ve now acquired enough knowledge of Sanskrit and other subjects. Let us go back to our native village.’
The four learned friends, then, set off for the long journey. After travelling for hours they arrived at a place, where two roads met. The four pandits got puzzled. They didn’t know which road to follow. At the same time, a funeral procession passed by on its way to crematorium. There were some prominent citizens walking along with the procession. One of the Bhrahmins consulted his shastras: ‘Follow the road, which is followed by eminent people.’ So all of them started following the procession.
When they reached the crematoruim, they saw a donkey standing there. They didn’t know what to do with the donkey. So the other Bhrahmin took out his Shastra and began to read it: ‘Whosoever meets you at the crematorium is your true friend.’
And so, while one of the Bhrahmins put his arms round the donkey’s neck, the others touched his feet with respect. Just then, they saw, at a distance, a camel moving quickly towards the crematorium. The third Bhrahmin, then consulted his books, which said: ‘Religion spreads rapidly. It must be tied with something friendly.’
So the four Bhrahmins thought, that the camel was the religion because it was walking swiftly and so the friendly donkey should be introduced to the camel – the religion. When the camel came nearer, they tied its neck together with the donkey’s neck.
When the owner of the donkey, a washerman, came to know of this, he picked up a stick and started chasing the Bhrahmins. All the four Bhrahmins ran for their lives.
. While being chased by the washerman, the four Bhrahmins came to a river. There in the river, they saw a Palash Leaf floating on the surface of water. One of the Bhrahmins said, “This leaf is like a raft. It’ll save our lives.” And with these words, he jumped on to the leaf. As a result, the Bhrahmin began to drown as he did not know how to swim. The second Bhrahmin, then, caught hold of his hair and said, “When a thing is going to be fully destroyed, a wise man saves at least half of it.” So he cut the drowning Bhrahmin into two halves with a sword.
The remaining three Bhrahmins proceeded further on their journey. They reached a village, where they were welcomed by the villagers and invited for lunch and dinner.
One of the Bhrahmins was served with a noodle like long substance. The Bhrahmin, then, consulted his Shastras and read out the verse, which said: ‘Anything lengthy is a cause of destruction.’ So he didn’t take his meal and went away hungry.
The second Bhrahmin was served a coconut dish in his lunch. Seeing the dish, the Bhrahmin remembered the verse that said: ‘Frothy things have temporary life.’ So, the Bhrahmin left his food and went away without eating anything.
The third Bhrahmin was served with a dish round in shape. Seeing the hole in the middle of the cake like round rice and pulse dish, the Bhrahmin thought of the verse which meant: ‘the holes are like defects and are a sure sign of approaching disaster’.
So, the third Bhrahmin also left the village without taking his meals.
In the end, the three learned idiots had to go hungry for days till they returned to their native village.