Justice And Arithmetics.

This is a fable that I remembered for its Arithmetical jugglery when I read Ekoshapu’s 2019 Through Recreational Mathematics. I am not into mathematics and his post flew right over my head but this story is something that has come back to me as a result of reading the post.

A traveller seeks shelter in a stormy night in a temple and finds that there are two monks already camping there. Tired and hungry, he asks them if he can get some food. One monk says that he has five rotis and the other three. Both express their inability to decide how to share the rotis. The traveller suggests that both of them divide each roti into three equal parts so that they will have a total of 24 pieces of roti which then could be divided amongst them at eight pieces per head. This is duly done and the three have the meal and go off to sleep.

In the morning, the traveller finds that the rain has stopped and on his way out, gives eight gold coins to the two monks as an expression of his gratitude and goes away.

The two monks then start to quibble about how to share the coins. The monk who had contributed three rotis suggests that they share it four pieces each while the monk who had contributed five suggests that he should get five and the first one only three in proportion to the number of rotis each contributed.

Not finding an amicable solution, they go to the Abbot and ask for justice.

The Abbot after mulling over the matter gives one coin to the monk who had contributed three rotis and seven to the monk who had contributed five. The former immediately cries that this is unfair and asks for an explanation as he points out that the other monk had already offered three coins which was not acceptable to him.

The Abbot explains that the first monk with the five rotis actually gave seven pieces of rotis to the guest from his fifteen pieces whereas the monk with the three gave only one from his share of nine pieces from his original three rotis. So, the monk who gave seven pieces of rotis should get seven coins and the monk who gave only one piece should get one coin!

This story is often used to explain how Karma actually works and I hope that Ekoshapu will come up with some such enlightening stories from his fun with recreational mathematics.

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6 Responses to Justice And Arithmetics.

  1. tammy j says:

    I find Roti sharing exhausting.
    but then I find most mathematical problems tiring.
    I know they are fascinating I suppose. and in this case… enlightening?
    but I don’t think monks worth their salt should be arguing over coins anyway!
    BUT… if you remembered that all from memory with no notes…
    WOW. I’m impressed!!!

    • You flatter me Tammy. I simply know how to search for stories that I have vague recollections of on the internet and refresh my memory as I go along. And yes, the story is a metaphor when it comes to the coins and the monks.

  2. shackman says:

    Makes perfect sense to me. And it reinforces what I have long known to be true – Karma is a pain in the butt.

  3. ekoshapu says:

    Very nice story! I had known it, in a different form.

    And thank you for mentioning me!

    I have many such stories, fables related to Mathematical puzzles, paradoxes. Will post few some time this year.

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