A Tale From The Panchatantra – The Foolish Weaver

In one of the villages of southern India, there lived a weaver by name Mandharaka. Mandharaka was not very rich as he had no helpers and had to weave cloth by himself and with limited resources, he could not earn much money.

One day, while he was weaving a cloth, the weaving frame suddenly broke. The frame was made of wood and in those days, one had to make the frame himself. So Mandharaka set out to the forest which was near the seashore at the outskirts of the village. He surveyed the trees, taking time to choose a sturdy one. Finally he got a strong tree which was the best amongst all.

As he raised his axe to start cutting the tree, he heard a voice, “Halt!” Surprised, he looked up to see who had ordered him to halt. High up on one of the branches, he saw a Yaksha, a celestial being, sitting in a relaxed manner. The Yaksha smiled at Mandharaka and said, “Do not cut this tree, my friend.  I am a Yaksha and this is my place of dwelling. And I love this tree as it is facing the sea and I get a lot of cool breeze. Choose some other tree!”

Mandharaka was surprised, but he told the Yaksha, “I need this tree only for making my weaving frame as this is the sturdiest tree around here. If I do not make a frame, I cannot weave and my family will starve to death”. The Yaksha thought for a while and said, “Will you stop cutting the tree if I give you a boon?”  Mandharaka was confused and said, “I need some time. Can I consult my friends and wife and decide on the boon? I shall come back tomorrow”. “Okay, as you wish”, said the Yaksha. “You may come here tomorrow and I shall give you a boon”.

Mandharaka, started walking back home, in a totally confused state of mind as he did not know what boon to ask the Yaksha. He met his barber friend near the outskirts of the village and told him what had happened. “I am in a fix as to what boon to ask!” said Mandharaka. “What is the confusion about? “asked his friend, “Ask the Yaksha to make you a King and you can live your whole life in luxury. I shall be your Minister. Come, let’s go back and ask the Yaksha”

“Wait, wait,” said Mandharaka, “I shall have to consult my wife also.”

“Your wife??, Do not mistake me my friend, but women are not to be relied upon for taking such important  decisions. Women  know to choose good silks and jewellery, but not something like a boon, which is very very rare. Have you not heard the saying that a whole kingdom  can be destroyed by a woman ? So, I advise you not to consult your wife but take the decision yourself or listen to me”  said the friend.

Mandharaka was even more confused and said, “Friend, whatever you say, I shall have to ask my wife. I shall come tomorrow” So saying, he headed home.

He told his wife what had happened and also the boon suggested by  his friend. “ Throw his idea to the winds” said the wife. “What intelligence will a barber have? Do not be foolish to ask for a Kingdom. Do you not know how Rama suffered, or the Pandavas suffered in exile? Ruling a kingdom  means a lot of foes and enmity . Do you want to spend your life waging wars against brothers and cousins instead of leading a peaceful life huh??”

Poor Mandharaka felt that his head would split into a thousand pieces. “ Okay, at least tell me what I should ask and I shall do so” said he.

“ Ask the Yaksha to give you one more head and another pair of arms” said the wife. “With one head and two hands you can weave enough for our daily needs, and with the other head and pair of hands, you can weave extra cloth for earning extra money  for our luxuries”.

Without thinking any further, Mandharaka went back to the Yaksha, the next morning and asked him the boon suggested by the wife.

The Yaksha had no problem granting the boon and the next second, Mandharaka  had two heads and four arms. The moment he neared the village, he was spotted by some urchins who shouted, “Monster, Monster…..” and in a minute, he was surrounded by people with sticks and axes beating him and in a few minutes he lay dead.

This is what happens to a person who has no wits of his own, or does not listen to his clever friends and acts without prudence.

3 Comments


  1. Nice story. Goes to show how aspiration and imagination can be limited by what one knows and learns. For a person who does not see beyond weaving, getting one more head and an additional pair of hands may be a very legitimate wish. As one broadens knowledge and horizon, one will know what to ask or where to go….

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  2. Vidyaa   Mandharaka story is an interesting reading. Good. Wherefrom you pick these kinds of stories.   Am now in Austin. Good Wishes J.Ram Prasad 

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