The Bráhman said, ‘They have related, that there was a trader who had compassed land and sea, and traversed the regions of east and west, and experienced the chills and heats of fortune, and tested the sweets and bitters of many* days.

Prudent and faithful and expert was he,
By much experience taught sagacity.

When the van of Death’s array—for so the infirmity of age is termed—began to make inroads into the realm of his constitution, and the advanced guard of fate, by which white hairs are implied, took possession of the outworks of the fortress of his existence,

When the changing watch of age, strikes the drum of deep distress,*
The heart grows cold to joyous things, to mirth and happiness.
The white hair comes, its message gives from fate and terror’s king,
And the crooked back and stooping form death’s salutation bring.

The merchant knew that every moment they were about to beat the drum of departure, and would demand back the stock of life which they had deposited in the tabernacle of the body. He assembled his sons, three youths, intelligent and learned, but who, from the pride of riches, and the inpetuosity of youth, had overstepped the path of moderation, and extended the hand of expenditure to the property of their father; and having averted their faces from business and professional employment, passed their precious time in vanity and sloth. Their kind father, from excess of that affection and tenderness which fits the character of the paternal relation, began to admonish them, and opened to them the gates of disinterested advice, which com­prehended all the topics of fear and hope: and said, ‘O youths! if ye understand not the value of the property, in the acquisition of which ye have suffered no toil, ye are excusable in the judgment of men of wisdom, but ye ought to know that wealth may be made the source of happiness in this world and in that which is to come, and whatever men seek of every degree in the two worlds may be secured by means of wealth, and all people seek for one of three conditions. The first is abundance of worldly goods and an ample supply of effects and chattels, and this is desired by the class whose mind is limited to drinking and dress, and labouring for the fulfilment of sensual gratifications. The second condition is exalted rank and elevation in dignity, and the class whose object this is, is that of the nobility and men of office; and it is impossible to attain these two conditions save by wealth. The third condition is the obtaining the reward of a future state, and the arriving at the grades of religious excellence; and the class who look to this object are the people of salvation and pious eminence; and the acquisition of this dignity may be through lawful wealth, [according to the saying,] ‘Good is pure wealth to the man that is pure,’* and the Great Doctor of Mysticism has said in his Poem.*

If for the Faith thou bear’st thy wealth, ‘It then,’
The Prophet says, ‘is pure to righteous men.’

Wherefore it is plain that by the blessing of wealth, most objects of pursuit are attained, and to get wealth without a profession, and the due quest of it, appears impossible, and if a person, as is rarely the case, obtains it without toil, inasmuch as he has not undergone labour in acquiring it, he will assuredly, through not knowing its worth and value, quickly pass it from his hands. Therefore, having averted your faces from sloth, incline towards the acquisition of money, and employ yourselves in the same profession of traffic in which ye have for many years seen me engaged.’ The eldest son said, ‘O Father! thou enjoinest us to acquire money, and this is repugnant to dependence on God, and I feel assured that whatever is predestined to me by fate will accrue to me although I employ no labour or exertion for it, and as to that which is not my destiny, however much I may exert myself in pursuit of it, it will be all in vain.

Whate’er my fate, will surely be my lot.
And that unfated will, as sure, be not.
Why then for that which I can ne’er obtain,
Use fruitless efforts and exertions vain.

And I have heard that a sage has said, ‘That which was my destiny, though I have fled from it, has adhered to me; and that which was not fated for me, however much I have stuck to it, has fled from me.’ Wherefore, whether we undertake a profession or not, it is all the same.

Eternal fate can ne’er be overthrown.

Accordingly, the story of those Two Princes is a proof of this, since one of them gained the treasure of his father without toil, and the other—in the hope of that treasure—lost his country and the sovereignty.’ The father asked, ‘How was that?’