A collection of Indian tales of wit, wisdom, humour, bravery, devotion and lots more...

Tag: die

Birbal Again!

Birbal, as we all know was a master in the art of using the right words/ sentences at the right time. This combined with his sharp intelligence and brilliant wit earned him the adulation of the Emperor and all others and of course he also got what he wanted. We shall see two such instances.

Emperor Akbar, on an occasion when Birbal had pleased him announced that he would give him a piece of land in a posh area of the city. However it was never granted. The Emperor had not forgotten about it, but every time when Birbal broached the subject, he pretended not to hear and turned his neck as if to observe what was going on, on the other side. After a few months Birbal stopped talking about the plot of land, but was waiting for the right moment when he could get it from the Emperor.

Now, one day, the Emperor was going for a stroll in disguise, along with Birbal. Both were walking through the country side. They spotted a group of camels there as camels were very much used in carrying goods and passengers in those days. One of the camels in the group had a crooked neck and appeared to be turning its neck and looking away.

Akbar was curious. “Birbal”, said he, “look at that camel. Why is it turning its neck and looking on the other side?”
Pat came the reply from Birbal. “Huzoor”, he said in a very polite voice, “May be the camel has also promised land to somebody and does not want to give it now”

Akbar was amused and also surprised at the clever way in which Birbal had got his point through. The very next day, Birbal got his piece of land!

On another instance, the Emperor got a talking parrot as a gift from another king. The parrot was an intelligent bird, for not only it could repeat what anyone said, but it could give replies to questions too. It was very charming and beautiful too and the Emperor instantly took a liking to it.

“Arrange a golden cage for the parrot!” he ordered his men. “He should be fed with the best fruits and food and taken care of extremely well”

“Yes, your highness!” said the courtiers to whom the order was given. “We will do everything as you wish”

“And” said Akbar, “once again I am telling you, he should be given the best care and…If any one of you comes and tells me that the parrot is dead, I will not hesitate to execute you!”

When Akbar was angry, he would really do what he said and the courtiers knew it and so off they went and arranged a beautiful big golden cage for the bird They fed it with exotic fruits and food and gave it sweet water and were always guarding it.

Despite all the good care given to it, unfortunately, the parrot died one night. The courtiers panicked. Not because the parrot died but one of them had to go and report it to Akbar! And their head would go next!!

The courtiers discussed among themselves and instead of going to Akbar, ran to Birbal. Birbal was surprised on seeing two courtiers coming puffing and panting at such a late time in the night.

He asked them in and told them to have a seat. “Now, may I know what brought you here at this time of the night?” he asked.

“Sire…. Sire…” they hesitated.

“Tell me. Fear nobody. What is the matter?”

Both the courtiers fell at his feet pleading. “Save our lives Sire” they said. “You can only grant us the gift of life”
Birbal knew that these were the two who were in charge of the parrot. “What happened” he asked. “Is all well?”

“The parrot died Sire…..” the first man broke down.

“In spite of taking so much care, the parrot is gone” continued the other, “but Sire if we go and tell the Emperor that the parrot has died, we will be hanged”. He started sobbing and narrated what the Emperor had told them.

Birbal knew that the King loved the parrot so much and may do what he had said. “I will take care” he said. “Both of you go home and rest. Go… Go and do as I say. I will take care”

The men left hesitantly.

The next morning, Birbal, with a pensive look went to the Emperor. Akbar looked at him and asked, “What happened Birbal? Why is the worried look on your face?”

“Nothing, your majesty. A strange thing happened. Your parrot is neither eating anything, nor drinking anything. It is neither moving its wings nor moving its beak. It is neither sitting up nor seeing anything…”

“The parrot died?” asked a shocked Akbar.

“You said it your majesty. I did not say it with my mouth” said Birbal.

The Emperor was so amused at the clever way in which Birbal broke the news and forgave the courtiers and rewarded Birbal!

Sacks Of Affection

Once upon a time, there was an old man by name Rao. Rao was very rich and possessed four houses and a lot of gold. Rao’s wife had died long back and he was well taken care of by his four sons.

Rao had grown old and things were going on smoothly till such time Rao fell ill following an accident. He suffered an injury in his spinal cord and was recovering very very slowly. Being an active person otherwise, Rao became very depressed with his pace of recovery and thought that he would die very soon. So one day, he called three elderly men of the village as witness and distributed all his wealth and his houses to his four sons. Unfortunately or fortunately for Rao, he did not die as he expected. He recovered to some extent but was almost bed ridden and needed help for everything.

Over the next few days, Rao realized that the attitude of his sons and daughters-in-law had changed drastically. One day, on the pretext of his room being painted, he was shifted to the verandah of the house, and was given a tattered cot to sleep on. The silver plate on which he ate was replaced by a tin plate and a small can for drinking water. The arrangement became permanent. Day by day, the quantity and quality of food and the time his family spent with him, reduced drastically.

His calls were answered after a long time and his moans of pain were ignored completely. Nobody talked to him and he was left to stare at the ceiling and be alone. Rao was completely broken inside as he never expected his sons and their families to behave thus. He had always seen them affectionate and caring and thought they respected him highly. The grandchildren were also following the behaviour of their parents.

One day, Rao’s childhood friend Shamu who lived in a town far off, came to visit him. He was terribly shocked at Rao’s pathetic condition. Rao was very happy to see Shamu and poured out his heart to him.  Shamu was overwhelmed with grief and was angered beyond measure. “Look Rao,” he said, “you have done a mistake by distributing your wealth to your children while living. Do you not know that the best way is to write a will? You could have sent word to me. I would have helped you draft a will”

“Shamu, what has happened, has happened. I cannot undo it now. I will have to be resigned to my fate” said Rao, despondently. Shamu thought for a while and whispered something in Rao’s ears. Rao looked disbelievingly at Shamu, but Shamu just nodded his head and left. The family was so indifferent that they did not notice Shamu’s coming and going.

Fifteen days later, a huge bullock cart with two bullocks having big bells hung around their necks came with a lot of jingle bangle and stopped in front of Rao’s house. Somebody with a long beard and a topi got out of the cart shouting “Rao, Oh Raoji… Raoji…” Rao’s elder son and youngest son were inside the house and they were disturbed by the noise and came out. The man looked questioningly at the sons and asked them “Is this Rao’s residence?” The sons were not very cordial. With an indifference they replied, “yes, but who are you?”

The man turned around and called out to his men on the cart, “Bete, bring the sacks down!” As the sons looked puzzled, the men brought down four sacks made of very thick material, that what was inside was not visible. The sacks were well sealed.

“Where is Rao?” the man demanded, “I have come back to repay with interest the loan I took forty years back from Rao. Thanks to him, I am a successful businessman now”. He looked around impatiently and asked, “Is Rao there or not? If he is not there I will go back with my money!” The next second both the sons bowed down with so much humility which was unseen till now and said “Arre Saab, who said our father is not there? He is very much there. Please…. Please do come…” And they led him to Rao’s presence. Rao could recognise Shamu who was in the disguise.

“I am Babulal” said Shamu. “Thank you so much sir, for your help. You may not remember, but you gave me 50 silver coins as loan forty years back, and I invested it in my new business and have become a millionaire Sir. I owe my wealth to you and so have brought the money back with interest” Saying thus he signalled at the men who brought the sacks. They brought the sacks and kept it in front of Rao. “Thank you Babulal”, said Rao, “I remember vaguely now. Thank you very much”

The elder son of Rao started, “We shall keep the money inside…” when Rao cut him short. “Let it remain underneath my bed. It is my money and I will decide on how it will be spent”, he said in a stern voice, and looking at Shamu, said, “Babulal, do me a favour. Please go to the next street and call the headman of the village with two more elders. I would like to have a witness for this money being received by me and later on after my time, there will not be a problem in distributing the money”.

The shocked sons, whose mouths had run dry at this unexpected turn, were helpless. Shamu immediately did as he was instructed and in the presence of the elders, Rao gave Babulal a receipt. Suddenly it started to rain and water was splashing from the side of the verandah and Babulal asked him, “Sir, you are so rich, why are you lying in the verandah, if there is no place inside I could take you to my place with your money just now. Should I Sir?”  And he stood bowing his head humbly.

Within a minute, the sons were ready with the soft mattress in his old cot inside and held out their hands in support to lead him to the bed. “Keep the sacks in the almirah” said Rao, “and put my bed against the almirah”. There was not a word of protest and soon Rao was in his cosy bed.

Within a matter of minutes, the household’s attitude had completely changed. Rao was offered hot food and drink and the youngest son said he would stay with the father in his room at all times to help him. Babulal took leave of Rao and went his way and Rao’s comfortable life returned to him. But Rao had learnt the lesson of how money could change people’s attitudes totally!

After a few years, Rao died a natural death due to old age and the sons did all the rituals waiting patiently to take the “money” their father had kept in the sacks in the cupboard.

I leave it to you to imagine the expressions on the sons’ faces and that of their families when they found nothing but sand and gravel in the four sacks. Ha ha ha….

The Curse On King Dasaratha

This is a story from the Valmiki Ramayana.

Dasaratha, who was the emperor of Kosala, died a painful death separated from his four sons- Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugna. It is indeed ironic that a powerful emperor who had not one, but four valiant, handsome and righteous sons, did not have even one of them near him, while he passed away.

On the sixth night after Rama left Ayodhya, the devastated King Dasaratha could not have a wink of sleep. It was past midnight and the King lay wide awake, his heart full of grief at the injustice he had done to his beloved Rama. His mind was looking back at all the events in his life and he suddenly remembered this incident. He asked Kausalya to come nearer and started narrating the incident to her.Dasaratha said, “When a person does good things, he reaps good things and the same way, when he does bad things, he reaps its effect. By the time one realises this principle, it is too late to make amends. I am also a victim of this cycle and I want to relate to you an incident which happened when I was a young prince.” Dasaratha then shared his story with Kausalya.

When Dasaratha was a young prince, he was a master archer and had learnt a difficult technique in archery by name “Shabdavedi”. By mastering Shabdavedi, he could, by listening to the sound made by any animal, kill it with his arrow aimed from a distance. Dasaratha was very proud of his achievement and it helped him in his hunting.

One day during the rainy season, Dasaratha went to the banks of the Sarayu, to hunt. It was raining and it was exciting for him to hunt in the rain. As he stood near the Sarayu, he could hear the noise made by an elephant drinking water with its trunk. Since Dasaratha was well versed in Shabdavedi, he shot an arrow in the direction from which the sound came. After a moment, much to the dismay of Dasaratha, a human voice cried in pain and someone said, “Who has done me to death? Why should I be hunted like an animal? Who is this shameless man who has done this heinous crime?” A horrified Dasaratha rushed to the spot to see a young man lying along the banks of the river, with mud and blood smeared on his body. Beside him was a pot half filled with water.

Dasaratha at once realised the grave mistake he had committed. He had mistaken the sound of the pot being filled up with the river water to be that of an elephant drinking water. The young man looked at Dasaratha and said, “You are a prince! And yet, you have hunted me like an animal? I was going to carry water to my old parents who are both blind. They are totally dependent on me and now you have hunted me, who was their only support….” Shravan Kumar, the young man, was now speaking with great difficulty due to the pain he was suffering on account of the arrow which was embedded on his chest. He continued, “My parents will be helpless without me and they do not even know that I am dying.” Shravan stopped talking, writhing in pain. Dasaratha, overcome with emotion, fell at the feet of the young man pleading with him to be forgiven.

The man could not be pacified and after a while, told Dasaratha to take the pot full of water to his parents who were waiting with thirst at the ashrama which was some distance away from the river. He also said, “O Prince! Please tell my father what you have done and please ask for forgiveness as he may curse you in his anger. Please also remove this arrow from my chest so that I may die in peace.” A reluctant Dasaratha obeyed Shravan and removed the arrow from his chest after which Shravan died almost immediately. Then, with a heavy heart, he proceeded to the ashrama with the pot of water in his hands.

The old couple were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their son at the doorway of the ashrama. Hearing Dasaratha’s footsteps, they were impatient as their son had gone a long time back to fetch them water. So, mistaking Dasaratha for Shravan, they called out to him in endearing words to give them water without delay.

Dasaratha, mustering enough courage, broke the tragic news to them. The couple were shocked beyond words. After a long moment of silence, Shravan’s father spoke, “If you hadn’t admitted your guilt, my anger would have caused your head to explode. Lead us to our son.”

Dasaratha witnessed heart-rending scenes as the couple mourned their son and performed his last rites. Still unable to reconcile with what had happened, Shravan’s father turned to Dasaratha and cursed him, “I’m suffering the pain of separation from my son on account of your thoughtless action! I CURSE YOU THEREFORE TO SUFFER A DEATH SIMILAR TO MINE! YOU WILL DIE WHEN YOUR SON IS SEPERATED FROM YOU!!” Saying thus, the couple entered the fire which had been created for the last rites of their son.

As he ended the story, Dasaratha’s eyes were flowing with tears. Kausalya too wept as she was too stunned to react. Dasaratha lay,lamenting his fate, and his life ebbed out that tragic night. The Sun of the Ikshwaku clan had set.

This is the story of The Curse On Dasaratha.

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