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

Tag: food

The Foolish Miser – A Folktale

Once upon a time, in ancient India, there lived in a village a rich landlord. He was extremely wealthy but was a miser to the core. He never gave any food or shelter to anyone in need and also did not give any charity whatsoever. He would openly shoo away anyone who came seeking help from him. Soon his ‘fame’ spread throughout the village.

The landlord had a neighbour who was a poor farmer. The farmer had a small patch of land and grew some vegetables on it and earned a living out of selling those vegetables. Though he had a small patch of land and a small hut for his dwelling, he had a large heart. Many a time, when the landlord shooed away people, the farmer would be ready to feed them or give them shelter.

One day, a weary traveller came to the village and went to the landlord’s house. “Is there anybody in?” he shouted from outside. The landlord peered through the window and got angry. “Here is another nuisance who has come asking for food” he thought. It was late in the evening. “Most likely, the person will ask for shelter also. I should drive him away”, he muttered to himself as he rushed out.

Without even asking a question, he started yelling, “Go away from here. What do you think this is? A public inn or something eh? There is no food or shelter. Go away right now!” And turning his back on the traveller, he came inside the house and shut the door with a thud.

The farmer was watching this episode from his hut. He came out and called out to the traveller, “Sir, please come to my hut. You are looking very tired. Please come and relax yourself on this cot” The farmer had a cot made of rope which was put outside the hut. The traveller looked grateful and came to the farmer’s hut.

“Please make yourself comfortable. I will arrange for your food” said the farmer. He went inside the hut and the traveller could hear the conversation between the farmer and his wife which was in a low tone.

“What is there to offer this weary traveller?” asked the farmer.

“Nothing much. There was very little rice and I made gruel. Some buttermilk is available and a ladle of greens leftover from the noon is there” said the wife. The traveller could make out from their voices that there they both were concerned that there was not much good food to feed him.

“Give away my portion of the gruel to the man” said the farmer.

“I shall give my portion too” said the wife. “Giving your portion alone will be too little and the traveller should not remain hungry through the night”

The farmer came in and called the traveller. “Sir, we have some rice gruel, buttermilk and greens for you. Please take it”, said he.

“What about you people?” asked the traveller.

“We had our dinner just a while back” lied the farmer.

The traveller knew that the farmer was lying, but accepted the food however. The farmer gave his rope cot to the farmer and slept on the bare ground beside the cot. It was a full moon and the cool light of the moon and the salubrious breeze put them to sleep.

At the wake of dawn, the farmer felt a pat on his shoulder and got up to see the traveller glowing in a strange light. Surprised, the farmer stood up as the traveller with a smile said, “Dear friend. I am a messenger from God. I am so happy with your selfless service and hospitality and I want to grant you a wish. Come on, tell me what you want!!”

The farmer, unable to comprehend what was happening, was wondering whether this was a dream or reality, but said, “All I wish is that I should be able to continue this hospitality and give selfless service to needy people throughout my life!”

“So be it” said the traveller and walked out of the place. The farmer again fell into deep slumber as if he was under a spell. When he got up an hour later, he found himself on a soft mattress in a nice room. He got up wonderstruck and found that his hut had been converted into a mansion and the open space outside had become a beautiful garden! He could not believe his eyes. His wife was also unable to believe their luck. Both of them just looked up and thanked the Gods for the blessings.

Meanwhile, the landlord, whose wood carved windows which usually filtered the sunlight on to his room were not getting any sunlight today. “Unusual”, he muttered to himself, “What is obstructing the light?”

To his great shock and surprise, he saw a huge mansion on the adjacent plot on which the farmer’s hut used to stand.

“Heh? What is this? Who has built a building overnight?” he said as he hurriedly scrambled down from his bed. Not even waiting to brush his teeth, he rushed out, only to find the farmer and his wife sitting in their new lawn and drinking cups of hot tea.

On seeing the landlord, the farmer got up and invited him. “Come Sir, please have a cup of tea with us” said they. The landlord was infuriated all the more as the farmer was always submissive and now he was inviting him as if he was an equal.

“How did you build this overnight?” the landlord asked angrily.

“Sir, please cool down, I shall tell you” said the farmer and went on to narrate the happenings.

“What a fool I have been”, thought the landlord to himself.

“Do not worry Sir” said the farmer as if guessing the landlord’s thoughts. “The traveller may be around in the village only as I remember him leaving my hut early in the morning”.

“Okay, I will go then” said the landlord, mentally making up his mind to catch hold of the traveller wherever he was and get himself a wish!

After finishing his duties quickly, he went on a round to find the traveller. At about noon, he found the traveller under a banyan tree.

Immediately, tying his upper garment around his waist as a mark of respect, the landlord, with a sheepish smile, looking at the traveller said, “Hmm.. I am very very sorry, hee…. Hee…. I did not recognize you Sir. Please come to my house and stay for a night or more. Please, please do come”

The traveller threw a nonchalant look at the landlord and said, “I am too busy to come to you house. However I am happy that you are repenting your action of yesterday. As a reward, I will grant you three wishes. Go on, ask what you wish for!”

The landlord did not expect this at all. Three wishes against one given to the farmer! But he was very careful and did not ask anything immediately.

Sensing the landlord’s thoughts the traveller said, “Okay, take time if you want and go home, but the next three wishes of yours which you utter will come true!”

This was even better. “No need to waste food on this traveller and I can choose the wishes carefully” thought the landlord, proud at his achievement.

He thanked the traveller and walked home slowly thinking of what his wishes should be. After reaching home also he kept on thinking, much to the surprise of his wife who was not aware of anything that had happened. He was unusually quiet and after dinner went to retire very early. But he could not catch a wink of sleep and kept on thinking through the night as to what wishes he should wish for.

At daybreak, there was this sudden shrill crowing of the cock near his window. “Cokra co co……”. It startled the landlord who was in a dreamland thinking of what to wish for. He got up with a start and immediately shouted, “I wish that cock was dead.  Useless thing! So disturbing it is. I cannot think in peace!” The next moment he heard a ‘thud’ outside his window and he looked out to see the cock fallen dead, from its perch!

Only then he realised that he had wasted one of the three wishes. “What a fool I am” he thought to himself “I have wasted one precious wish! I will go to the garden and sit there alone and think”. Thinking thus, he walked to the bench under a neem tree in his garden and was soon engrossed in deep thought.

After a while, one of his servants came and said “Master, some guests have come and Madam (landlord’s wife) is calling you in to meet them”

“Is there no peace in this house huh?” he shouted at the servant. “I wish to be stuck to this bench here and will not come. Tell Madam”.

“OK Master”. The man went back.

The next moment the landlord realised that he was actually stuck to the bench and could not move! What a waste of the second wish! The landlord banged his head on the neem tree dismayed at his foolishness, but it was all that he could do. He was stuck to the bench like a statue and he could do nothing about it. He cursed his luck and was abusing his own self when his wife came out to see why he had refused to come and meet his guests. She was wondering what was wrong as her husband was kind of doing some circus with the bench! She had no idea about what had happened.

“What are you doing?” she asked, “and why are you sweating profusely?” She got worried also at the state of her husband.

The landlord told her what had happened and asked her “Tell me how to get out of this mess”

“The only way my dear husband” she said, “is to utter your third wish to get detached from this bench!” She was equally sad that the third wish also had to be ‘wasted’ like this, but there was no other way.

Sad and almost in tears the landlord said, “I wish to be free from this bench!” and the next moment he could get up from the bench. Not looking back, he ran into his house!

From that day, the landlord’s house became a resting place for all travellers and he was the first to give charity for any cause.

The reason for this change however has not been known to anybody except the landlord, his wife, me and of course you!!!

 

Krishna To The Rescue

In the Story of Mahabharatha, the five Pandava Princes along with their wife Draupadi were banished from the kingdom to live in exile in the forest, following their defeat in a game of dice with Duryodhana.

The Princes had no other go but to undergo this punishment and were living in the jungle. They were collecting roots and fruits available to meet their food requirements but felt very bad when any guest visited them. Being used to be generous and most hospitable, they found it extremely insulting not being able to provide food for their guests.

Yudishtira used to perform many penances while in exile and after one such penance to propitiate Surya, the Sun God, Surya, pleased with his penance appeared before him with his entire glorious splendor and gifted him an “akshaya patra”. In Sanskrit, “Kshaya” means waning or declining  and when an ‘a’ is added to it means the opposite that is inexhaustible, growing etc. So the ‘patra’  (vessel) which Surya gave was capable of giving food continuously. But Surya, very well knowing their living conditions gave the ‘patra’ with another boon that the vessel would be full of food from the time the brothers or Draupadi wanted it to be, till such time Draupadi had her food and once Draupadi had her food, the vessel would be empty and after being kept away after washing would resume its duty the next day.

The Pandavas and Draupadi were extremely happy that by this boon, they could provide tasty food to their visitors who were sages, kings, noblemen and sometimes some strangers too. Such was the spirit of hospitality and the value this virtue carried. Every day the brothers would feed their guests , eat themselves and Draupadi ate last of all, almost in the evening. The vessel was washed and put away for the next day.

Things went on smoothly and the news of this reached Duryodhana the envious and wicked cousin of the Pandavas. Duryodhana had his spies planted everywhere and all the news of his five cousins was reported to him immediately. He was very much enraged, at the thought that not only the cousins were no more troubled for food, but were able to get the wholehearted blessings of all those they fed. His mind started to think of what impediment could be created to thwart this.

Much to his joy, one day the sage Durvasa came to visit him with one hundred of his disciples. Durvasa was well known for his anger and the number of curses he hurled upon the ones who had angered him. Duryodhana, who was very much aware of this trait of Durvasa, welcomed him and offered him the best hospitality ever and  after enjoying few days of this hospitality, Durvasa wanted to leave to his ashrama. He called Duryodhana and said, “Son, you have taken care of me and my disciples very well. I wish to leave  for my ashram now. But I would like to give you a boon for the excellent treatment you have given to me. Tell me, what is it that you seek?”

Duryodhana, who was waiting for this very moment, said in a very humble tone, “Sire, it is indeed my greatest fortune to have had an opportunity to serve you and your disciples and get your blessings. I wish that my Pandava cousins who are living in the jungle also get your blessings. Just as you have visited me with your disciples, please visit them also and shower your blessings. But take care to go in the late afternoon since they might have gone out in the mornings for collecting wood or hunting. This is the boon I want”

Durvasa was a bit surprised, but happy at this ‘good intention’ of Duryodhana, granted the boon. “Done” he said, and  went the next day with the same hundred disciples  to the jungle where the Pandavas where. It was late afternoon and just a while back, Draupadi had had her food and washed and kept away the ‘akshaya patra’.

The brothers, not aware of this, wholeheartedly welcomed the sage and washed his feet and  Yudishtira said, “O Holy one, you have blessed our abode with your coming. You should partake food here and give your blessings!”

“Why not?” said Durvasa, “I will certainly take food with my disciples, but I need to have a bath first. I shall go to the river nearby and have a bath and come back.” So saying, he along with his disciples, went towards the river which was nearby.

Draupadi was aghast. “What shall we do now?” she asked the brothers. “Just a while back, I had my food and washed the vessel. Now, how do we feed the sage and his disciples? If we now tell him that,  he will surely curse us out of his anger. As it is we are suffering in the  jungle and do we need the sage’s curse now?”  She was in tears and started sobbing. The brothers also realized the gravity of the situation and were in a fix, not knowing what to do. To feed one person would be possible, but to feed a hundred and one?

All of them knew that their cousin Krishna, the Lord of this Universe could alone save them from this embarrassment. They all prayed with folded hands inviting him from the bottom of their hearts and there he came, the ever delightful Krishna, with his mischievous smile.

“Draupadi” said he as soon as he came . “I am terribly hungry. I want some food immediately. Bring some, my dear sister!” The Pandavas and Draupadi were even more puzzled. What was this, the omniscient Lord was asking. They never had to spell out their difficulties to Him. He knew it all and now, he was asking them food?  The Pandavas said, “Krishna, we are in great difficulty….” He cut them short and said, “Draupadi, can you not feed a hungry being at your doorstep. You have the great ‘akshaya patra’ and yet, when I ask for food, there is so much delay… Go, bring the vessel!”

Unable to disobey his command, Draupadi brought the vessel muttering to herself, “The vessel has been washed for the day…” Krishna heard it and said, “Do not worry Draupadi, show it to me” and snatched the vessel from her. Looking inside and near the inner rim, he suddenly exclaimed, “Aha, here is a morsel of rice, and here, what is this, a bit of greens?” Draupadi  peered in to see a small morsel of rice and a wee bit of greens sticking to the rim. The vessel had not been washed completely clean. And to the surprise of the Pandavas and Draupadi, Krishna took out the morsel of rice and greens carefully and popped it into his mouth and chewed it as if he were having a mouthful. Swallowing it he said, “Hmmm.. my hunger is satiated. Bhima, I think Durvasa and his disciples are getting ready to come here. Go to the riverfront  and welcome them”. A puzzled Bhima hesitated to which Krishna said, “Go my dear Bhima, go fast!” Bhima, still puzzled rushed to the riverfront.

At the riverfront  Sage Durvasa and his disciples suddenly experienced a strange phenomenon. Their stomachs became suddenly full, as if they had eaten two full meals. Their bellies were bulging  and some of them were literally dragging themselves out of the water! “I cannot eat even one morsel of rice now !” exclaimed one . “Yes, same here!” chorused many others. They all looked pathetically at Sage Durvasa, who was also no different from them , feeling  full and satiated. All they needed was a good nap. As Durvasa said, “Let’s go away”, he saw Bhima approaching. “Hurry, hurry”, he told his disciples, “Let’s move fast!” And seeing Bhima at a distance he waved and said in a loud voice, “Thank you Bhima for your hospitality, but we are in some urgency, we shall come later some day” And raising his hands he said “My blessings are always with you” And all of them hurried away into the thick jungle.

Bhima could not understand what had happened for the sages to go away, but he and his brothers and Draupadi understood one thing clearly, that Krishna had come to their rescue!!.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén