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Tag: barber

Seven Jars Of Gold

Once upon a time, there lived a barber in a city in central India. He was working at the king’s palace. He was a happy go lucky fellow and so even though he did not earn much he was always happy and cheerful. The king liked him for his cheerful attitude as he liked to see cheerful faces in the morning.

The barber’s house was quite far away in a village and he had to pass through a forest every day while going for work and coming home. He used to pass by a huge banyan tree in the jungle every day.

One day, when he was passing by the tree, he heard a booming voice. “Halt”, said the voice. The barber, though not frightened, was startled a bit by the voice.”Who are you?” he asked, looking around, as he could find no human being nearby.

“I am a Yaksha living in this tree”, the voice said. “I see you going past this tree everyday and I think you work in the city. Where do you work and how much do you earn?”

“I work in the palace and I earn just enough to make ends meet”, said the barber. “Why do you ask?”

“Well”, said the voice, “I am the guardian of seven jars of gold in the hollow of this tree. I like you and I want to gift them to you. You can take them to your house and if ever you do not need them, you can bring them back to me.”

The barber could not believe his luck. “I shall take them”, said he and eagerly peeped into the hollow of the tree trunk. To his utter surprise, he found that there were indeed seven closed jars. Without opening them, he took them back home and told his wife about his luck. The wife was indeed happy and eagerly opened the jars. To their surprise the barber and his wife found six jars full of shining gold coins, but the seventh jar however was only half full. They were disappointed at this discovery.

“I shall ask the Yaksha tomorrow. Maybe the balance of gold coins is in the hollow of the trunk itself!” said the barber to his wife. Already his mind was full of curiosity as to why the seventh jar was only half full. He could not stop thinking about the jars and his luck and could not sleep at all.

Early in the morning he left to meet the Yaksha. As he neared the tree he heard the Yaksha call out,”Hello friend, what is it that brings you here so early? It is not your usual time yet” “Er…well,l want to ask you something… One jar out of the seven is only half full. Why is that?”

The Yaksha replied,”It is like that only. You can fill up the jar with your earnings. And if ever you do not need the jars bring them back as they are, okay?” The barber nodded his head though he was puzzled and went home.he told his wife what the Yaksha told him.The husband and wife picked up a few coins from the seventh jar and the level reduced and they hurriedly put back the coins in the jar. The wife said,” Do not worry my dear! From now on we shall save whatever we earn and put it in this jar and fill it up fast.”

The barber went for work with a confused mind. He didn’t talk much, to the surprise of the king.He was also not smiling as usual. The king had never seen him this way but anyhow thought that he must be having some domestic problem and therefore did not ask him anything. The barber took his day’s wages and went home. His wage was a gold coin.

As soon as he went home, he dropped the coin in the half full jar. He told his wife,”For the next few days, we shall eat with whatever provisions are available, for, I want to fill the seventh jar.” “Okay”, said the wife. “The provisions at home will last for three days. But there are no vegetables for tomorrow.” “Never mind”, said the barber. Pluck the greens from the garden and cook them.” The wife agreed as she also wanted to see the seventh jar full.

Over the next two weeks the barber’s earnings went straight into the jar. The jar however seemed to be absorbing all that was put into it. The level of gold coins did not rise by even a millimeter. The barber and his wife were puzzled and worried. Why the jar was not getting full was the only topic they discussed amongst themselves late in the nights. The barber decided to do extra work and went to the market in the evenings to help another barber and thereby earned extra money. The wife took up a job as domestic help and earned some money.

However they spent a miniscule portion of what they earned towards their needs and put the major portion in the seventh jar. The coins in the jar however remained at the same level as it was on the first day. Due to their extra occupation, the couple hardly talked to each other these days. The barber had lost his cheer and wore a very worried look. He hardly joked or laughed when he heard anything funny.

The king was noticing the behavior of the barber. Initially he had ignored it but as days went by it was difficult for him to ignore the barber as the barber’s sullen face was affecting the king too. He did not feel good to see a constantly worried face with lot of mental burden every day in the morning.

One day the king decided that enough was enough. He asked the barber what the matter was. Though initially reluctant, the barber blurted out the cause of his worry. The king was quiet for some time. He was a wise man and could empathize with others and so felt sorry for the barber. “Do you want to be happy once again?”, he asked the barber. “Yes. Your majesty”, said the barber, his eyes filled with tears. “Will you do as I say?”said the king. “Yes Sire” said the barber willing to do anything for getting relieved from this mental torture. “Well then”said the king.”Go and. give back the jars of gold from wherever you got them from”

The barber knew that that was the right solution and he had also contemplated this. He had realized that the jars were the primary reason for his change in attitude and lifestyles and lack of cheer from his life. Almost instantly, he agreed to do what the king said and went home straight. “Bring the jars”, he told his wife, “let us give them back to the Yaksha.” The wife also had realized their folly and willingly brought the jars out.

The barber took the jars and hurried to the banyan tree. He placed them in the hollow and addressed the Yaksha in a cold voice, “Here! Take your gold coins back! I was a fool to have accepted them. They have robbed me of my happiness and have given me only sorrow”

The Yaksha replied, “You were a fool to have added all your earnings in the jar! And you cannot have them now as I already told you that I want the jars as I gave them to you.” The barber angrily turned to go back when he heard the Yaksha’s booming voice again.

“But you have to thank me , friend, for now you are wise to know that it is always better to enjoy what you have rather than going after what you do not have”. The barber went back, finally relieved and wiser and remained so for the rest of his life.

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.

Gopal, The Jester, Again!!

Gopal was the jester at Raja Krishnachandra’s court. He was a barber by profession but entertained the king a lot with his sharp wit, that the king made him his jester.

The Raja had a peculiar habit that he believed that his day being good or bad depended on who he saw first in the morning.  So if his day was extremely good, the person whom he saw first on the morning would be rewarded and similarly, if he had any mishap, the poor guy who he saw first in the morning would be punished. This was a regular practice. Gopal, however, never approved of this. But he could never convince the king to change this bad habit.

One day, it so happened that the king saw his own brother-in-law, Virendhra first in the morning. Things went on smoothly until the king sat down for a shave. The barber came and started his work. Now, Gopal also happened to be there and was talking in his usual jovial manner, cracking jokes. For a particular joke, the king started laughing aloud and his whole body shook. In spite of the barber’s caution, he accidently caused a cut in the king’s face. Blood started oozing out of his chubby cheeks and the king cried out in pain and anger.

“That wretched Virendra should be punished!” he roared. “Today I saw him first in the morning and because of that, I have suffered this cut. Bring him to the court this evening and I shall give him a hundred lashes. Gopal tried to intervene and said,” Your Highness, it is not Virendhra’s fault….” “Shut up and tell the Commander to bring Virendhra to the court in the evening. “ Gopal decided that it would be best to keep his mouth shut and obey the king.

After a while, when the wound was dressed up, the king calmed down. He also got to listen to a nice musical programme in his court and by noon, he was in a happy frame of mind. Gopal came to see him in the afternoon. “Your Highness,” said he, softly, “I met the most unfortunate man a while ago. Poor fellow, just like you, he saw an unlucky face in the morning and as a result, has to suffer great pain. Krishnachandra was curious. “Who is that unlucky person, Gopal? Tell me and I shall banish him from the kingdom. Come on, who is he?”

Gopal hummed and hawed. “Er…. Er….  He cannot be banished from your kingdom, Your Highness. It is very difficult,” said he. “Why? Why?” said the King. “Is he so royal that he cannot be punished eh? “

“Exactly” said Gopal to the surprised king. “Now do not get angry Your Highness. The person is indeed a royal” As the king looked on more and more surprised, Gopal continued, “It is you, your Majesty!” “Me? “ thundered the King . “How dare you…” Gopal calmly said, “Your highness, you suffered only a cut in your cheek which has almost healed now. But look at poor Virendra. He saw your face first in the morning and he has to bear a hundred lashes on his back. For him, is your face not unlucky?  OK, I will go and ask the Commander to bring Virendhra, he has to suffer his fate hmm…”  Saying so, he got up and pretended to go when Krishnachandra said, “Gopal, thank you for enlightening me. What a fool I have been, for practicing such a superstition! Do not call the Commander; instead send an invitation to Virendra to have dinner with me! “

Gopal was indeed happy that this stupid practice had come to an end and he went away smiling to himself that his plan had worked!!

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