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This is a nice story from the collection of Jataka Tales. Once upon a time, there lived a merchant in a small village. The merchant dealt in different kinds of goods. He wanted to sell his goods in the town, in order to gain good sum of profits. One day, he decided to go to the town to try his fortune. He arranged for some men who could go along with him. During the journey, he had to pass through a desert, so he also arranged for water, rice and firewood.
According to the plan, he packed his goods in several carts and set out for the journey along with his mates. When they reached the desert, the sun was shining on the fine sand, making it severely hot. In the day time, no one could dare to walk on it. One could only think of travel through the desert during the night time, when the moon made the sands cool. So, the merchant and his people waited for the night to start their further journey.
With the arrival of night, they started their journey. One of them, had knowledge about the stars, so he was guiding the way to other people by reading the position of stars. They traveled for the whole night without taking any break. At daybreak, they stopped and camped. They released the oxen from the carts and fed them. They made fire, cooked the rice and ate the food to their fill. They spread a huge covering over all the carts and the oxen. Subsequently, all the men laid down under it, to rest till the sunset.
When the sun set in the early evening, they again built fire and cooked rice. After the meal, they folded the covering and tied the oxen to the carts. As soon as, the sand became cool, they again started their journey across the desert. Night after night, they traveled in such manner and rested during the day time. On the last morning, the one who was guiding the group said, “In one more night, we will cross the desert”. Every one was happy to hear this, as all of them were tired.
After taking meal in the evening, the merchant said, “Now, you people can throw the water and the firewood because tomorrow we will reach the town. Tie the oxen and start”. The Guide took his position at first in the line of the carts, but instead of sitting and guiding the drivers, he laid down in the cart on the cushions. Soon, he was in a deep slumber because he had not slept for many nights and in the daytime, the sun had been so strong that he had not slept properly.
The oxen went on, for the whole night. Near daybreak, the guide awoke and looked at the last stars fading in the light. He said to the drivers, “Stop! We are in the same place where we were yesterday. The oxen must have turned about while I slept”. They released the oxen, but there was no water for them to drink, as they had thrown away the water the previous night. They spread out the covering over the carts and the oxen rested tired and thirsty. The men lay down too, saying, “Without wood and water, we are lost”.
Every one was tired and sat down. The merchant thought, “This is no time for me to sleep. I have to find water. The oxen cannot start unless they get water to drink. The people need water other wise they cannot cook rice. If I give up, we will lose. There must be water somewhere below”. He walked down and down, keeping a close watch of the ground. Finally, he saw some grass and thought, “There must be water somewhere below otherwise that grass would not be there”.
He ran back, shrieking to the people, “Get the spade and the hammer”. All of them jumped up and ran with the merchant to the spot where he saw the grass. They started digging and after much toil, they struck a rock. After this, they could dig no further. The merchant jumped down into the hole they had dug and kept his ear to the rock. He called to them, “I can hear water running under this rock. We must not give up”. Then, the merchant came out of the hole and said to the serving boy, “My boy, if you give up, we are lost. Please go down and try”.
The boy stood up raising the hammer high above his head and hit the rock with his full strength. He didn’t give up, thinking the words of the merchant. Every time the hammer came down, he thought that everyone must be saved. Ultimately, the rock broke, the boy hardly got any time to come out of the hole and it was full of water. All the men drank water, as if they could never get enough. They watered the oxen and took bath.
After drinking and bathing, they split the extra wooden yokes and axles from their carts. They made a fire out of it and cooked their rice. They had their meal and rested through the day. They also placed a flag on the well, so that the passing travelers could see and have water. After the sunset, they started their journey and reached the town in the morning. They sold the goods making huge profits and happily returned back to their village.
Moral: Will and Determination can achieve anything.