Once upon a time, there lived a merchant called by the name of Manibhadra, in a town known as Patliputra. He was of a charitable nature. But, somehow, due to misfortune, he lost all his wealth and became a pauper. His status in the society gradually came down. He became sad and dejected.
One night, as he lay in his bed, he started cursing his fate and thought of committing suicide by starving himself to death.
While thinking thus, he fell asleep. A Jain monk appeared in his dream and said to him, “Don’t worry! I’m wealth, gathered by your forefathers. You are their legitimate heir. It’s your legal right to possess me. Tomorrow, I shall come to your house in the guise of a Jain monk. Just hit me on my head with a stick and I’ll turn into solid gold.”
The next morning, when the merchant woke up he felt pain in his head. He didn’t believe his dream. In the meantime, his wife had called in a barber to massage her feet. Soon after the arrival of the barber, a Jain monk came to the merchant’s house. The merchant welcomed the monk. He offered him seat and a glass of water. Then he hit the monk’s head with a stick. The monk fell down and turned into gold from head to toe.
The merchant picked up the gold and hid it in a basement room.
The barber who was a witness to all this thought to himself: ‘I’ll also invite these magical monks to my home to dine with me. When they come, I’ll hit them on their heads, to turn them in gold. Soon I’ll be a wealthy man’.
Then the barber went to the head monk and invited him and other monks to his house to dine with him. But the head monk refused the invitation. He said, “We are no Bhrahmins, who’re invited to the houses to eat. Everyday, we collect alms and accept food only from the first devotee of the day. We eat to live only and not live to eat.”
The barber then waited outside the monastery. When the monks came out, he requested them to come to his house and conduct prayers. A few monks agreed to it and went to the barber’s house.
As soon as the monks entered the house, the barber hit them on their heads with a heavy stick. A few monks died, whereas a few others were badly injured.
The news of the barber hitting the monks spread in the town like wild fire. The barber was arrested by the authorities and taken to the court of law.
The judges, in the court, asked the barber, “Why did you do this?”
The barber then narrated the whole story. He said, “I did it because saw the merchant doing it.”
Then the merchant was ordered to appear before the court. The merchant narrated the whole story.
The judges then ordered, “Let this wicked barber be hanged till death.” The barber was then hanged to death.