Jambali the Wealth-Giver


Article by: Brett Krkosska © 2001

The five young men gathered close around the fire. The day-long trek across the arid high plains had left them weary and discouraged. Was this journey an act of otherwise sane men?

Certainly the elders could not be mistrusted. Their constant ramblings about the man called Jambali filled the air almost daily. They said he was a man of immense wealth
and wisdom. A man that freely dispensed both to any that sought it.

Yet many had traveled to the eastern mountains in search of this man, and all had returned weeks later with nothing to show but callused feet. Was it all just a wistful tale; a fantasy concocted to give the people of their desperately poor village a reason to hope? This was the question that plagued the five travelers as they bedded down for the night, their hearts full of hope and their heads full of doubt.

The sun rose to find only four travelers remaining; the fifth having let doubt win over. His note by the ashes of the fire implored the four to push on, but he had returned to the village, unable to pursue a journey that held no promise.

And so the four travelers hiked throughout the morning and reached the tree line of the eastern slopes by mid-day. It was a welcome escape from the relentless heat of the desert sun. They had not walked more than 100 yards beneath the shade of the trees, when they happened across an old woman.

They told the woman of their quest to find a man called Jambali, and asked if she knew where to find him. She exclaimed that they were indeed fortunate, for he was a
nomad and was camped for the day just over the next rise. She bid them caution however, as he was not fond of unannounced strangers to his camp.

Thanking the old woman, they hastily made their way to the rise and thereupon did devise a plan. One of them would ascend the rise to investigate the layout of the camp and then report back to the others. In this way they could best decide a method of entering the camp.

They elected a scout, and he ascended the rise while the others anxiously waited. After a short time the scout returned looking forlorn and discouraged. He announced to the others that he did not see the camp of a wealthy man, rather was it the camp of a pauper. He spoke of a man dressed in rags and a tent of simple design.

And then this traveler did proclaim their journey a fool's adventure, and he marched back into the desert with a heavy heart.

The remaining three travelers were not so easily dissuaded. One was elected and he ascended the rise to scout the camp. He shortly returned with a puzzling report. Not only was this man without wealth, but he was also crazy. He told of a man standing in front of his tent waving his arms wildly in the air, screaming obscenities at an unseen demon.

And as before, this traveler also proclaimed their journey a fool's adventure, and marched back into the desert… with a perplexed heart.

The remaining two travelers had not come this far to give up so easily. One of the pair ascended the rise, only to quickly return shaking with fear. He exclaimed that the man was indeed acting crazy, but not because of an unseen demon, rather because there was a tiger crouched in the trees ready to devour the man.

This traveler hastily declared their journey a fool's adventure, and hurried back into the desert… with a fearful heart.

The last traveler began his ascent. He reached the top and peered into the camp. As he witnessed the scene below, he put his fear aside and decided to help the man defeat the tiger.

He quickly fashioned a makeshift spear using a dry branch sharpened with his hunting knife. He ran down the hill and jumped between the man and the snarling tiger. He readied his weapon and was on the verge of thrusting it into the beast, when the man suddenly let out a shrill whistle and grabbed the spear from the traveler's hands. The tiger abruptly ceased its attack, and trotted over to stand next to the man. Obviously, a cruel trick had been played upon the traveler.

Distraught over what had just transpired, the traveler demanded an explanation. The man explained that the old woman had seen the four travelers approaching from the desert, and had warned him of their arrival. He explained that his antics were designed to invite only the most sturdy of heart into his camp.

The man went on to introduce himself as Jambali the Wealth-Giver. He invited the traveler to sit beside him and tell of his journey. The traveler did so, explaining that the trip had began with five, of which he was the only one remaining. He went on to tell Jambali about his people's belief that all who visited him would receive wealth and wisdom.

Jambali told the traveler that his people's belief was true, but that before wealth can be possessed, one must first have the wisdom to own it.

Jambali explained, "The first traveler gave up on the first night. He did not want to work at acquiring wealth. The second traveler saw a poor man's camp. He had not the vision to perceive wealth among ordinary things. The third traveler witnessed a crazy man. He had not the vision to perceive wealth among non-ordinary things. The fourth traveler witnessed a man-eating tiger. He was not ready for wealth because he had not the courage to overcome fear."

Jambali watched as the traveler digested these words. They were powerful words that sank deep into the traveler's heart. Then, without notice, the traveler thanked Jambali for these wealth-giving secrets and stood up to depart. He promised Jambali that he would tell his people what he had learned.

As the traveler disappeared from sight, Jambali strode into his tent and filled a ruby-rimmed cup to overflowing with a dark, red wine. He drank largely, allowing the warm liquid to both caress and exhilarate his senses. A drop escaped from the corner of his mouth and momentarily danced upon his chin, as if unsure of which direction to fall before relinquishing its hold to the ground below.

Jambali tossed the cup, gestured loudly to the barren desert which had swallowed the travelers, and dispensed his last bit of wisdom, "And the fifth traveler was ready to receive wealth, yet received none, because he did not ask for it."

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