Once upon a time there lived a man who was a great sinner. He lied and cheated and stole from people and there was not a single living being in the village who was not hurt by him in some way. He was unrepentant and unrelenting, and when death came, his record in Chitragupt’s book sowed only black deeds and not a single good action. So he had to go to the darkest of hells.
When he was on earth he only knew how to inflict pain. He never knew what it was to suffer. Now, one by one all his past deeds gave back the sufferings he inflicted on others. I piteous tone he cried out to heaven to help him escape from hell. One day, as he was thus praying to the Lord, a voice came fom the sky, ” O unfortunate man, you wish to be rescued from hell. Do you deserve it? Is there any good you did, which would atone for your wicked deeds.?
The sinner went through his whole life on earth trying to remember whether he did any good action. There was not a single deed which could be considered as even tolerably good. He shook his head and woefully replied, ” No, I was very ignorant then. I did not do any good action. ” The voice in the sky spoke again, ” Please think over it again. Perhaps there was a bad action you refrained from doing? “
The sinner again reviewed his whole life. He cruelly hurt human beings, even animals if they happened to cross his path. Was there any occasion where he did not do the harmful act? Suddenly he remembered. One day he was walking on the road and he saw a spider crossing it just in front of him. He was busy planning some mischief at that time. So he left the spider alone without killing it. Having remembered this he cried out aloud, ” Yes, Lord. On one occasion, I saw a spider in front of me but did not hurt it. “
” Good ” , said the voice, ” Then the spider can save you.” As the sinner looked at the sky, a spider appeared and wove a long web reaching from the hell to the heavens. The sinner got hold of the web and saw how strong it was, quite strong enough to hold his weight. Happy with the thought that his delivery was near at last, he started climbing up the web. Higher and higher up he went. A little more, some more….. there, almost within reach were the heavens. Only one more effort was needed..
Just then he felt a pull on the web. He looked down. Several other people in hell had also seen the web and getting hold of the it had started to climb. The sinner felt very angry……. ” How dare they “, he thought and shouted loudly, ” Eh, you, let go of the thread. It is mine.” The moment he said it, the thread snapped and he fell fumbling back straight into hell. As he fell, the voice in the sky spoke, ” Unfortunate one, if you cannot drop your selfishness, who can help you? “