Title: Don’t Want Riches?

Undaunted in his efforts, Vikraman went up the tree again, brought down the hanging body to the ground, and carried it on his shoulders to the funeral grounds. The Vedalam (ghost) inside the body addressed Vikraman, saying, "Now, I am unable to tell you what your future will be because if you were like Ramanathan, you will lose what you attained with great difficulty. But once he attained his goal with extraordinary difficulty, he gave up on it. Hear me tell that story.

Ramanathan, a youth who lived in Mayanur, had his fortune foretold by a palmist Swamiyar passing through the village. The palmist predicted that fortune would come seeking him. From then on, Ramanathan abandoned his job and began dreaming of riches yet to be in his possession. Another man came looking for him and made an enticing offer: "If you work for five years in the place I name, you will gain plenty of riches. Are you willing?"

Ramanathan demanded full details, and Anandan explained the offer. Sripuram’s Anandan desired to marry a girl from the same village, but her father demanded a thousand gold coins as a dowry from prospective husbands. Anandan did not have that amount of gold with him. Saravanan, the village merchant, invited Anandan to work in his house for five years to earn one thousand gold coins.

Anandan accepted the job. A few days after he joined, a strange disease afflicted him, making him look unattractive in his body and face. The girl rejected him, and he decided to become a Sannyasin (ascetic). That idea did not appeal to Saravanan. Anandan told Saravanan that he was going on a pilgrimage to temple towns and on return, he would do his job.  

In Biruhadhāranyam, Anandan met Rishi Pirakandar. He expressed his desire to become a Sannyasi and asked the Rishi to initiate him. Pirakandar assured him, "Your disfigurement is temporary, and I will teach you the Dhana Mantram (prosperity Mantra), which, when recited, will lead you to a buried treasure. After acquiring the treasure and still not desiring to enjoy wealth, you will be eligible to become a Sannyasin. If you waste your austerities within a year under the influence of emotions, you will not become a Sannyasin." The Rishi taught him the Mantra.

Anandan established his own Asrama (Hindu monastery/hermitage) and continuously recited the Dhana Mantra. In a few days, his internal vision pointed to the base of a pipal tree as the treasure site. One day, a young woman named Nilambari sought refuge with Anandan. She explained that she was poor but led a luxurious life, and a young man named Somu desired to marry her without paying any dowry. Since he was poor, she rejected him, but her father approved of him. Nilambari ran away and sought refuge with Anandan. He agreed to help her safeguard the buried treasure for one year, after which he would help her acquire it.

One day, Somu, still wanting to marry Nilambari, visited her at the hermitage. He pestered her again to marry him. Nilambari told him, "If you kill Anandan, we can take the buried treasure, get married, and live happily." Anandan overheard this on his way back from a bath in the river. He appeared before her and said, "For mere money, you wanted to kill me. Therefore, you will become an ogress."

Rishi Pirakandar, passing by, looked at Anandan and said, "Since you cursed Nilambari, you lost the power gained by Tapas." Anandan begged Rishi, "Swamy! I lost faith in mankind. Please make me a Sannyasin immediately."

Rishi Pirakandar said to Anandan, "What happened to the promise you made to Saravanan? You must appoint someone in your place to work for him. Give Sāpa Vimōsanam (= Curse expiation) to Nilambari. After that, we will talk about Sannyasam." Anandan pleaded, "Can't you do me a favor?" Rishi said, "Nilambari ventured to kill you because of greed for the buried treasure. In an equitable manner, anyone who thinks of money as inconsequential and donates money, through that donor Nilambari will obtain expiation and revert to a human. Her expiation will make you a Sannyasin."

Explaining these recent events to Ramanathan, Anandan told him he would take him to Saravanan. Hearing this, Ramanathan became enthusiastic and joined Saravanan's employment. He soon realized how hard it was to work in his house. One day, the woman of the house told Ramanathan, "A cook by the name of Chandra lives in this village. You must somehow convince her to come here and do the cooking. If you fail to bring her, I will dismiss you from your work."

Chandra initially refused to go along with Ramanathan's plea. To persuade her, he promised to share one thousand gold coins with her after five years. Stubborn Chandra said, "I don't need your money, but since your situation is pitiable, I agree to help you."

Chandra came to Saravanan's house and did all the cooking. She also helped Ramanathan with other jobs. Over time, Ramanathan's perspective on money changed. He began to value the companionship of Chandra more than any wealth.

Five years later, Ramanathan went to Anandan and said, "On your behalf, I completed working in that house, but I do not need those one thousand gold coins. You can keep them. I feel that Chandra is my biggest treasure." Ramanathan's statement surprised Anandan. Rishi Pirakandar, coming there, blessed Ramanathan, and at that moment, Nilambari received expiation from the curse and reverted back to her original form.

Vedalam stopped the storytelling and said, "King Vikraman! Desirous of money, Ramanathan toiled in Saravanan's house for five years and at the end, gave up the claim on one thousand gold coins. Why did he do it? Anandan did nothing, and Nilambari received expiation from the curse. Why is it so? What did Ramanathan do to receive Rishi's blessings with his heart, mind, and soul? Though you know the answers, if you remain silent, your head will explode into one hundred pieces."

King Vikraman answered the Vedalam, "Ramanathan's desire for wealth is true. Since he met Chandra, he had a change of heart and mind. His liking for riches diminished, ever since Chandra rejected his offer of gold coins but helped him out of compassion. Because of that, he sacrificed the gold, though deserving. Due to his sacrifice, Nilambari attained expiation from the curse. What else can Rishi Pirakandar do other than bless Ramanathan?"

Because of Vikraman's correct answer and the cessation of silence, Vedalam flew back to the moringa tree.