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

Tag: elephant

Somu And The Coconut

In medieval India, in present day Tamilnadu, lived a person by name Somu. Somu was the most miserly fellow one could imagine. When he was eating, if he had to shoo away a crow, he would first lick his fingers clean and then only shoo the bird since he did not want the morsels on his finger to fall on the ground and the crow to eat them!!

Because of his miserly nature, he would never attend any weddings as he had to give some gift and he felt that it was a waste. Every night, it was his habit to count the money he had saved and he felt proud that he had saved ten thousand silver coins (rupya) till then.

One day he got an invitation from his cousin Ramu, to attend his daughter’s wedding. Ramu came personally with his wife and invited Somu and his wife in a traditional manner. He presented the invitation along with lot of fruits kept on a silver plate and also gifted them a silk dhoti and silk sari. “Somu Anna” he addressed him, “You being the eldest member of our family should certainly be present for the wedding ceremony. Please do not disappoint us”.

Somu was in a fix as he had accepted the silver plate which was easily quarter kilo in weight and also the silk dresses. If he did not attend the wedding, his relatives would all talk badly about him. So after lot of thought, he finally decided to attend the wedding with his wife and therefore with great effort he searched  out an old silk shawl gifted by somebody to him on his wedding and wrapped it up to give it as a gift. He and his wife attended the wedding and gifted the shawl and when they went to eat, Somu told his wife Jamuna, “Arre Jamuna, eat as much as you can as we have gifted a shawl to them, which is a very costly one!” So, he and Jamuna ate till their bellies were bursting. The food was very tasty especially the coconut barfi which had been prepared with ripe coconuts and rich ghee. Somu asked for two more and ate them but before he could ask for more, the batch in which he and his wife were eating finished eating and he had to get up.

Somu could not forget the barfi. It was so….. delicious, that the very thought of the barfi made him drool. Jamuna also liked the barfi very much. So after reaching home, he slowly asked his wife, “Jamuna, how many barfis can you make with a coconut?” Jamuna was shocked that Somu was asking such a question! He generally insisted that only the minimum food should be cooked.  “Well”, she said, “with a big coconut, I can make about twenty five pieces and with a small one, I can make ten to fifteen pieces. Why do you ask?” “Well Jamuna… er…… The coconut barfi in the wedding was so good that I wanted to eat some more. I know it will be costly to buy it from the shop. Here at home, you can use the ghee we sell from our cows. I need to buy the coconut and some sugar only. So… I thought if I can buy …..”

Jamuna was pleasantly shocked. She was a good cook and loved making good dishes but had to restrain herself due to the miserly nature of Somu. “Yes, yes,” she said with glee, “please buy a coconut and I shall make the most delicious barfi for you”.

So, with one silver coin (rupya), Somu set out to the shop. He went to a vegetable vendor and asked him the price of a coconut. “one rupya” said the vendor.” How many do you want?” Somu was shocked. He had not bought a coconut for months together and so he said, “One rupya! Atrocious! Can you not give it to me for twelve annas ?” Twelve annas equalled to almost seventy five paise.  The coconut vendor looked mockingly at him and said, “Twelve annas? You walk down two miles and you will find the whole sale vendor who will give you for that price”.

“Okay”, said Somu and walked down two miles in the hot sun. He came across the wholesale vendor and went to him and asked him the price. “Twelve annas” said the vendor. “Are you looting?”  asked Somu, “you are a whole sale vendor and you are selling at such a high price. Give me at eight annas”

The whole sale vendor looked at him in anger and said, “eight annas eh? Go down the road for another three miles and the coconut farm is there. You will get it there. Hmm!”

“If it will be that cheap” thought Somu, “I do not mind walking that distance” And so he set off to walk the three miles, puffing and panting and soon he reached the farm. There was a small shop outside with only the guard there and Somu told him that he wanted one coconut and asked the price. The guard was shocked as he had not seen anyone coming all this distance walking for the sake of just one coconut. “eight annas” said the guard. “what” said Somu, “I have walked all this distance and you are wanting eight annas? Give it for four annas”. The man looked at Somu wondering if he was mad. The in a fit of anger he said, “Oh, you have walked all this distance for this is it? Then why don’t you walk to the outskirts of this town and you will find coconut trees on the sides of the road. You can yourself climb and take how many ever for free!”

At the mention of the word “free” Somu pricked up his ears and started to walk in that direction immediately. He reached the outskirts and to his delight, found four coconut trees which belonged to no one. He was even more glad to see all of them with ten to fifteen coconuts each. “This is the best decision” he thought to himself.

He did not know how to climb a coconut tree though he had seen persons climbing coconut trees but if he had to ask anyone to climb, he would have to spend money and so he took off his towel from his shoulder and tied it around his legs like a rope and somehow grappled the trunk and after huffing and puffing for an hour, reached the top. He had imagined he could just pluck the coconut easily, but it was so difficult without a knife. He tugged and tugged at the coconut and plucked one. He wanted another one and succeeded in getting another.

Now, with two coconuts in hand, he could not climb down. As he tried to carefully slide down, “chhhharrraak….” his leg slipped. Shocked, Somu hurriedly caught one of the leaves (known as frond) and in the hurry could not save the coconut in that hand.  “Chapppaaakk…” It fell in the canal nearby. His leg also slipped and in a second, he was hanging holding his one hand on to the frond . He held  the coconut in the other hand.

“Help… help” he yelled at the top of his voice, his body dangling in the air. There was no one nearby. “hello… is not any one nearby? Hello…” he shouted. No use. Nobody was in sight. He cursed himself for wanting to eat a coconut barfi and cursed his cousin for serving the tasty barfi at the wedding prompting him to go on a coconut hunt!!

He hung on to the frond for some time yelling and shouting and after about half an hour, he spotted someone. Yes.. there was a man coming on an elephant. Somu raised his voice and started shouting again.  The man noticed Somu and came nearby. “Help me Sir.. please…” Somu was almost in tears. The man looked at Somu and said, “Look here, I am a senior person in the king’s army and am on a job given by the King. What will you give me for the time I waste in helping you huh?”  Somu’s plight was such that he would have to give anything the person demanded. “What do you want Sir?” asked Somu hoping that the fellow would not ask much.

“Five hundred rupya” , said the man. Somu almost dropped down in shock. Then, composing himself , he said, “Ok Sir, please bring the elephant below the tree. I shall give what you ask” The man brought the elephant below the tree below the frond onto which Somu was hanging. There was still five feet between the elephant’s back and Somu. The man said, “I will stand up on the back of the elephant and help you get down.” So saying, he  stood up reaching Somu’s leg , expecting the elephant to stand still. Alas, at the same time the elephant spotted the coconut lying in the canal nearby and moved ahead to pick it up. The sudden jerk upset the man and in the process, the man caught Somu’s leg and the elephant moved from under his feet!!

What a sight to see it was!! Now, instead of one, two were hanging one after another  from the coconut frond  and the elephant was wandering somewhere nearby. “Help… help…” Both of them shouted. The man was cursing Somu. “The King had given me an important job and now if it is not done…. What a fool I was to come and help you…”

Just then a man on horse was going by. Luckily he happened to be working in the army under the man on the elephant. “Hey Kumar” shouted the man hanging on to Somu’s leg, “come here and help us to get down”. The man looked up and almost burst out in laughter to see the comical sight but held himself in fear of his boss. As he came near, the elephant rider said, “Come quick, this fellow has made me late for work. I will lose my job”  And briefly he told the horseman what had happened. The horseman looked at Somu and said, “Okay I will help you but you will have to pay me two hundred silver coins” Somu almost had a heart attack and in the shock dropped the other coconut. It hit the horseman on his shoulder. The man looked up with anger and said, “How dare you throw the coconut on me? I will not help..” and started moving.

“Wait.. wait.. wait” said Somu, I shall give you three hundred silver coins. Please..  please help” The man waited for few minutes and then decided to  help them. Slowly, he brought the horse near and told them to balance and get down on the horse. The elephant rider got down skilfully as he was used to such things, but Somu in his hurry jumped with a thud on the horse’s back that the horse jumped with shock and  Pachaaaak…,Somu was thrown to the ground. He got hurt but had no time to fret as the elephant man and horseman were peering down at him demanding his address to come and get their share of money.

After they left, Somu picked up the coconut and trudged home slowly. He reached by evening and Jamuna was shocked to see his state. “Take this coconut and keep it in the almirah safely” said Somu. Jamuna was puzzled. What about the barfi, she thought. “Arre, do not imagine even of the barfi. This coconut is very very costly. It cost me eight hundred silver coins!!

Jamuna fell down with shock not at the price but at the fact that her husband spent so much and was telling it coolly to her!!

The Blue Jackal

This is a story from the Panchatantra.

Long ago, there lived in the jungles of central India, a jackal by name Chandaraka. One day, Chandaraka did not get any prey in the jungle. Hunger drove him to the outskirts of the jungle and he entered the town.

Being new to the town, he was wandering aimlessly in search of some food, when a pack of dogs spotted him. They had not seen a jackal and so started chasing him. He ran and ran all over the town panting for breath and finally managed to enter the compound of a dyer. The dyer had kept a vat of indigo dye for his next batch of clothes and Chandaraka, in his hurry, tripped and fell over into the vat.

Startled and shaken to the core, Chandaraka managed to get out of the vat spluttering and spitting the blue dye. The dogs that had come chasing him saw this dreadful figure in blue and started running fast with their tails between their legs. “What is this? Why are the dogs running away from me?” thought Chandaraka to himself.

He looked at himself. He was totally blue from head to tail! He was ashamed and did not know what to do next. Slinking by the bushes, he slowly went back into the jungle. Another shock awaited him there. All the big animals like the lion, tiger and elephant stared at him at awe and started running away from him.

Just then Chandaraka got an excellent idea.

He called out to the animals, “Hey lion, tiger, elephant and all others! Here, I have come from the heavens to rule over you! Do not be afraid, I am your king”. The animals cautiously and curiously looked at him as he continued, “I am Kakadruma, your guardian and king, sent by the heavenly beings. I will take care of all of you as long as you all serve me faithfully”

The animals were confused and decided to submit themselves to this mysterious blue creature. Kakadruma said in a stern voice, “The lion will be my bodyguard, the tiger will be my Prime Minister and the elephant will be my door keeper! But all the jackals of this forest are banished from this moment. All jackals should get out of the jungle by tomorrow or all of you will earn my wrath!”

He was banishing the jackals as he feared they would find him out. Once the jackals were gone, it was totally a royal treatment for Chandaraka aka Kakadruma. The lion brought him food everyday and after he had his fill, he distributed the rest to the others. The elephant accompanied him, everywhere he went, clearing the way for him and he really enjoyed life.

As they say, ‘All Good Things Come to an End’, one fine day, a new pack of jackals came into this forest from the neighbouring forest. They were blissfully unaware of the ‘King’ and his orders and had had a good meal and while passing the King’s resting place, were howling away with joy.

Our ‘King’, who had, all these days controlled his instinct, could control it no more. He started to howl away in a high pitch and that was it! The giveaway startled all the animals as they realised how they had been fooled into believing that this blue creature was from the Heavens whereas he was no more than a jackal. The next minute, all of them pounced on him and that was the end of Chandaraka.

Morals:

  • You can never hide your true colours for long.
  • Truth always comes out in the end.

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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