According to some media sources, Ramalinga Raju of Satyam has confided to siphoning off huge funds from the software company to the ones owned by his sons. Maytas Properties has a land bank of around 6,800-acres with around 670 acres of land in Hyderabad. Raju wanted to acquire as much of land as possible with money he could get his hands on.

This kinda kept me thinking as to what personal greed can lead a man to. During my schooling, I had read this kind of thirsty greed in a story by the famous Russian storyteller, none other than Leo Tolstoy. In 1886 he wrote a short story about a man who, in his lust for land, forfeits everything, including his own life.

Well to cut the short story shorter –

There was peasant named Pakhom, a humble man with good values. He was poor and did not have much land to sustain. By fate of luck a landlady in the village sells her estate and many of the peasants bought as much as they could. Pakhom purchased some land and earned more.

However, Pakhom becomes very possessive of his land and starts to quarrel with his neighbors frequently. This was the first sign that greed was disrupting his moral values. Later, he moves to a larger area of land at another Commune. He cultivated more crops and amassed a small fortune, but he had to grow the crops on rented land, which annoyed him very much.

Finally, he meets the Bashkirs, simple-minded people owning huge amount of land. He goes to them to take as much of their land for as low a price as he could bargain. Their offer was very unusual – for a sum of one thousand rubles, Pakhom could walk around as large an area as he wants to, starting at daybreak, marking his route with a spade along the way. If he reached his starting point by sunset that day, the entire area of land his route encloses would be his. He was delighted as he believed that he could cover a great distance and had chanced upon the bargain of a lifetime.

In his greed to acquire land he tries to cover as much land as possible, not content with what he already had. As the sun set neared he realized his mistake and ran back as fast as he could to the waiting Bashkirs. He finally arrived at the starting point just as the sunset. The Bashkirs cheered his good fortune, but exhausted from the run, he drops dead. They bury him in an ordinary grave just six feet long and six feet deep.

If only Mr. Raju’s fate had him read that story, it would have changed his life for good.

The great storyteller sleeps in this beautiful place