He came to Buddha, very arrogant, obviously, because he knew all the Vedas and all the Upanishads and he knew all the ancient lore. He was well-educated, well-cultured. He belonged to a very famous family of scholars; for generations they had been famous. And his name was spreading like wildfire – and, of course, five hundred disciples coming with him.
Buddha looked at him, and the first thing he did – he laughed.
Maulingaputta was offended. He said, “Why are you laughing?”
Buddha said, “I am laughing because once I had stayed in a village for the rainy season….”
In the rainy season Buddha used to stay for four months because traveling was impossible. You can think of the roads twenty-five centuries before – Indian roads! Even now in the rainy season they are not worth traveling, and Buddha was traveling on foot and it was difficult, almost impossible. So he used to stay for four months in one place; eight months he will travel to spread his word.
Buddha said, “Once I was staying in a village for four months. Every day I used to see a man sitting in front of his house counting all the cows and the buffaloes and the bulls going to the river to drink water and coming back from the river. I became interested that why he goes counting every day how many cows, how many bulls, how many buffaloes, have gone to the river. So I asked him, ‘What is the matter? Do these cows and the bulls and the buffaloes belong to you? Why you go on counting?’
“He said, ‘No, they don’t belong to me – they belong to the people of the village.’
“ ‘How many cows belong to you?’ I asked him.
“He said, ‘Nobody had ever asked me this. I am a poor man. I don’t have even a single cow.’”
Buddha said, ‘Then why you go on counting? And you look so happy counting others’ cows and bulls and buffaloes. Are you a fool? Why are you wasting your time? And every day! It is better to have one’s own cow, even if one has only one cow, because that will give you milk and nourishment.’
“Seeing you I remembered that man, Maulingaputta.”
Maulingaputta said, “How am I related to that man? Are you mad or something? Why should you remember that man?”
And Buddha said, “I am remembering that man because whatsoever you know does not belong to you. These are other people’s cows – the Vedas, the Upanishads. I can see your head is full of all kinds of things, beautiful sayings, wise sayings. They have made you look wise, but you are not a wise man. You tell me one thing: do you know or you are simply repeating the scriptures?”
The question had come in such a sudden way. Nobody had asked it before because Maulingaputta had never come across a buddha. He was meeting other scholars who were counting also the same – others’ cows and bulls and buffaloes – and of course he had counted more than they had counted.