Long long ago, in a village in North India, there lived a well-to-do farmer named Balbir. He was a hard worker and was very sincere and so naturally, he earned a good amount of money. His wife was also a sweet-natured lady.
Unfortunately, his wife died during childbirth of their first child, a son, who was named Ganesh. Balbir married again, but the second wife Seetha was equally a good natured and kind woman. She treated Ganesh as her own child and Ganesh never got to know that his mother had died. In due course Balbir had two more sons, Umesh and Naresh and the couple brought up all the three sons equally well and even Naresh and Umesh did not know that Ganesh was their step brother.
The boys were also hard working and toiled with their father and Balbir had acquired considerable wealth in the form of lands. Balbir was also good in managing the lands productively. Balbir grew old and died one day. Ganesh took up his father’s place and showed that he was equally capable in managing the lands. Their wealth continued to grow.
There were a couple of jealous neighbours who were always looking for an opportunity to pull down Balbir’s growth and now that he was not around anymore, they got a chance. They casually mentioned to Naresh and Umesh that Ganesh was actually their step brother and it was he who was wielding the baton now and if left unchecked, he could any day drive away Naresh and Umesh.
The brothers were shocked. They went to their mother and demanded to know the truth. The mother admitted that as for his being their step brother, what the neighbours told was true. “But sons,” said she, “Ganesh Bhaiyya is so affectionate to you. Why on the earth do you imagine that he would drive you away?” The brothers were unwilling to relent. Naresh said, “I am so angry that I want to murder him” Umesh added, “My blood boils to think that we have been sharing our wealth with a step brother. Hmmph..I want to get rid of him forever!” Seetha, a kind soul as she was felt very distressed to see their anger and wanted to teach them a lesson. “Okay sons,” she said, “You do not show your anger thus. I will get rid of him”. The sons were pacified.
A few days later, Naresh and Umesh had gone to see their cousin in the next village. That night, Ganesh and his mother were asleep. Suddenly Ganesh heard his mother scream loud “Snake! Snake!” Ganesh woke up with a start and took up the stick near his bed. “Where mother? Where is it?”, he asked looking around everywhere. Seetha, with a frightened look on her face said, “I… I saw it.. entering your mouth and it vanished…” Saying thus, she fainted.
Ganesh was shell-shocked as he had this habit of sleeping with his mouth open. He immediately sprinkled some water on his mother and she woke up. He comforted her saying that it must be a dream and she went back to sleep. But that night changed Ganesh totally. He became very worried and kept on thinking of the snake. He could not rest his mind.
Slowly over the days, he was not talking much and was always seen with a worried and depressed look. He did not eat much and did not do any physical work. He did not seem to be interested in any material thing. This took a toll on his health and within two weeks he became bed-ridden.
His younger brothers were feeling gleeful for without physically getting rid of him, he was now out of active life and now they had all the wealth to themselves to manage and they totally ignored Ganesh and started to take their own decisions. The jealous neighbours were waiting for this day. Slowly, they started interfering in the brothers’ decisions and imposing their will. One of them even occupied a chunk of land belonging to the brothers, by putting up a small house, on the pretext that it was to supervise the rice planting in his field which was nearby. The other neighbour also was planning a similar exercise on another portion of the land. Umesh and Naresh could physically work very hard no doubt, but they did not possess the assertiveness or shrewdness that their elder brother Ganesh had.
Slowly, Umesh and Naresh started to realise that they were being taken for a ride by the neighbours and in no time, the neighbours would usurp the whole of their wealth. For the first time, they felt very sore about their own attitude towards Ganesh. They felt that if Ganesh had been around, all this could have been averted. That night they spoke out their mind to their mother and told her that they realised how mean they were. “We thought of killing Bhaiyya,” said Naresh. “We are ashamed, mother, of how bad we have been” echoed Umesh. “Poor Bhaiyya, we have not been even talking to him for the past two months. After how well he has protected father’s property, we realise how good he is, and….mother, as you said, we feel Ganesh Bhaiyya would not have even dreamt of chasing us away”. He continued, “But, what is the use now, Bhaiyya is bed-ridden and looks miserable. I do not know whether we can save him even. I shall go to the town tomorrow and find out if the Vaid (doctor) can come home and see Bhaiyya”.
Seetha saw that the brothers had realised their folly. She told them, “ Naresh and Umesh, before you go to the doctor, go to the temple of the Goddess in the hills and stay a night there and offer prayers. Then you can come home and go to the doctor”. “As you say, mother said the brothers and started for the temple the very next morning.
That night, again, Ganesh heard his mother shriek in the middle of the night. “Snake” she cried, “Ganesh, a snake!!!” Ganesh was not able to get up. But Seetha got up and lit a lamp and happily said, Ganesh, I saw the same snake which entered your mouth, go out of your mouth. There… there, it slid out through the window.” Ganesh who was so weak and could not even sit up, slowly got up. His face had a relieved look. “Are you sure mother? “ he asked. “Yes” said Seetha. It was the same snake. It got out of your mouth and slid away”. That was enough. Ganesh was up early in the morning and was feeling hungry. Seetha gladly gave him breakfast. He ate well that day and chatted with his mother on the goings on in their lands. When he heard about the antics of the neighbours, he was furious and vowed to shoo them away from their land.
The next day when Naresh and Umesh returned, they were pleasantly surprised to see Ganesh sitting up in his bed and eating. They fell at his feet and asked for forgiveness for their rude behaviour. Ganesh had not a wee bit of hatred and he embraced them and told them, he would be up soon and would start working. Both the brothers were relieved and so was Seetha.
For, she knew the Power of the Mind!!