A villager, Gopi, earned his living selling salt in a nearby town. He had a donkey and he would load a sack of salt everyday on the donkey’s back and they would walk to the town, crossing a canal. The canal had no bridge, so they had to walk in the water but the water was not deep. After he sold all the salt, he would return home on his donkey.
One day, Gopi fell sick and could not go to town. He did not recover even after two days. He lay and thought, ‘I am sure my donkey knows the way to the town by heart. If I send him with my sack of salt he can go to the town by himself and my friend, Raju can sell the salt.’ He sent word to his friend about his plan.
The next day, he managed to load a sack of salt on the donkey’s back and pushed him on the path leading to the town. The donkey understood that he had to go alone to the town and walked on. He returned with the sack empty of salt and filled with the day’s earnings for the salt. Gopi was very happy and rewarded his donkey with a carrot.
Even after Gopi recovered, he continued sending the donkey alone and focused on extra work at home. The donkey went alone every day with the salt and returned with the money.
One night, it rained and the next day, the canal had more water flowing. The donkey slipped and fell and when he managed to get up, he felt that his load had become lighter. Well, it had as most of the salt had dissolved in the water! He tried the same the next day and experienced a lighter load. He grew lazier by the day and spent more time in the water, so more salt dissolved.
Gopi was puzzled as he started receiving lesser money. When Raju came to visit he learnt the truth as Raju told him that the sack was nearly empty every day and also wet.
Gopi was disgusted and decided to teach the donkey a lesson. The next day, he filled the sack with cotton. The donkey happily set off and when he crossed the canal, he stopped midway and sat in the water. After a while, he got up and found to his dismay that the load was very heavy. In fact it was heavier than the sack of salt. The cotton had absorbed water and had almost doubled in weight.
Clever Gopi had taught the lazy donkey a good lesson.
Moral: Laziness only brings disdain.