Kamma, Nyana, and Wiriya
by Daw Wai Wai Lwin

Dear Children:

Once upon a time, in a far away land, there ruled a very wise king. The people in that land were honest, learned and industrious. The country was rich, prosperous, happy and peaceful.

In this land of peace and harmony, there were three friends, named Nyana, Kamma and Wiriya. In Pali Nyana means intelligence, Wiriya means hardworking and industriousness. As for Kamma, you will have to figure out what it means after reading this story.

Like all friends they agreed on almost everything, and like friends also, there were some things they did not agree on. Anyway, they got into heated arguments whenever they met and, whenever they talked about this subject.

Wiriya would forcefully bang his hand on the table and say in his deep rough voice, “How can you be successful without hard work and industry? Ha, Ha, I know better. Just look at me. How do you think I get all these riches?”

“Come, come, my friend. If I do not know you, I would agree with you. You are not that stupid. Whatever you say, I know you have some intelligence; and I say, that makes you get the moneys that you have,” Nyana, the intelligent one retorted with a grimace.

Then Kamma’s voice cut in complacently. “I really do not understand what the two of you are arguing about. I have told you often enough that success depends on Kusala Kamma. You should know. In your daily actions if you observe and abide by the five precepts, then you will never go wrong. To me that is the rule of the thumb for peaceful and successful existence, both for now and for future.”

These three men were very rich, famous, and influential, as you probably have figured out by now. And just like everywhere else, the rich and the famous people are role models for everyone, young and old alike. And just like all the rich and famous, they’re very strong and determined in their beliefs and convictions.

Everybody wishes to be rich and famous. So, everyone in that peaceful country became very interested in what to do in order to succeed. Is it Wiriya, or Nyana, or Kamma? Each and every person had his own view and opinion. One agreed with Wiriya, and another with Nyana and still another with Kamma. Soon the harmony in that country was threatened with chaos over this small issue.

The wise king in the palace came to hear of it. “I am not going to stand anybody disrupting my harmonious and peaceful country,” he boomed in his firm voice. “Lock them up in jail without food for one night and bring them to court tomorrow,” he ordered. The three friends were put in jail without food. Soon the night became dark and cold in the cell, and the three friends became very hungry.

“Wiriya, take a look at these ants. They are carrying food, see?” Nyana’s excited voice broke the silence in the cell.

“Ha! You are right. It is from up there. Let me climb up and take a look,” Wiriya replied. Wiriya determinedly climbed up the wall to the window, high up in the wall. He found a large cake on the windowsill.

All this time Kamma huddled himself in a corner, hungry and cold. He did not make any comment. Nyana and Wiriya looked at him and then at each other with the “Shall we or shall we not?’. Then both of them nodded their heads in unison. They divided the cake in three equal parts, one for each of them.

Then only Kamma moved and quickly broke the cake. Lo and behold! A large diamond ring fell on to his lap. Wiriya and Nyana’s eyes popped out like big round wheels. “No! No! This cannot be,” Nyana and Wiriya shouted. But it was true.

The next day the wise king said to the three friends in front of all the courtiers. “If it was not for Nyana nobody would notice the ants carrying the food. And if it was not for Wiriya the food would still be on the high window sill. However, because of his past Kusala Kamma, Kamma has friends like Nyana and Wiriya and also the
diamond ring. So, in order to be successful, all of these three qualities have to come together. Success is obtained by the combination of Kamma, Nyana and Wiriya. I want you to go back to your homes and I do not want to hear any more arguments over this issue.”