Buddha – ‘Rags to Riches’

Pudukottai 349

In this day of consumerism, this story might be
inspiring to follow the 3 Rs – REDUCE, RECYCLE and

Let us take a minute to read this – what did we
‘waste/indulge/overuse’ today –
money/food/water/things? When we shop, do we pause a
moment and ponder if the stuff we buy is of real need
and would have lasting use? There is a divine quality
in being a minimalist. If only we cut down our “wants”
to just half, nations will be richer than the nations
that push and propagate “consumerism”.

A disciple went to Buddha and bowed. Buddha was
meditating over the painful life of humanity on this

“Teacher, my cloths have become soiled and torn, may I
have new ones?” asked the disciple hesitantly.

Buddha preached simple living and was against
accumulation. His followers were limited to only two
set of cloths and a bowl for food. Buddha took a close
look at the student in front and asked him to get
near, “the mistake is indeed mine, as I always think
about the misery of people afar, I’ve overlooked the
needs of the ones near by” and the student was given a
new set of cloths.

A few days went by. Buddha noticed the student one day
in his bright new cloths and beckoned him closer.

Is the new cloth comfortable?

Yes dear Lord, it protects well during this winter

Well, what did you do with the old ones?

I’m using that to sleep on, dear Lord.

Well then, you must have had an old one for that

Yes Lord, I’ve made a pillow-cover with that one.

Very well, have you rid of the old pillow-cover?

No, dear Lord, I’m using that as a door-mat.

Mmmm..I wonder about your old door-mat??

I’m using that for cleaning my room, my Lord.

Well, you know what my next question is going to be…

Yes, dear Lord,  I’m using the old cleaning cloth in
the kitchen to hold hot dishes

So, your old kitchen-cloth..?

Well, dear Lord, that was totally in shreds and hence
I made them into wicks.

Buddha’s smiling face glistened in the dim light that
was emanating out of that oil-lamp right next to him.

Please pass this on to family and friends – thanks for
your time !!

( translated  from the Tamil version and peppered..)

Note : The picture was taken last month at Trichy Museum. It was right outside the wall of the museum, on the street side but fenced in, amidst stench, autos and men sleeping –  this beauty deserves a better installation  for sure!

4 thoughts on “Buddha – ‘Rags to Riches’

  1. Ahh, deep moving profound moral lesson and all that, but this is economic superstition – which Gandhi and most socialists also preach(ed).

    Consumerism why several billion people are wealthy, employed, well off, well fed, comfortable, live long, healthy, and can take photos and post blogs like this 🙂

    I would like to see how a computer or light bulb can be “reused” the way the Buddhist disciple recycled his clothing.


    • Mmmmm….guess Buddha would let one have all that + one 8 year old digi-camera to take photos and post blogs like this –
      Let’s try and not invite HIS wrath here 🙂


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