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

Tag: garden

The Clever Servant

Once upon a time there lived a man by name Ramaiah in Andhra who had a servant by name Kuppan. Kuppan was a very clever and shrewd fellow.

One day, his master brought home two ripe big mangoes. They had a heavenly aroma and Kuppan was attracted to them. His master told him, “Kuppan, my friend Sarma is coming for lunch tomorrow. Prepare good dishes and also cut these two mangoes for lunch tomorrow.” Kuppan nodded his head and took the mangoes and went in. He could not stop drooling at the thought of the sweet mangoes.

Ramaiah’s family had gone to the neighbouring town for a festival. At night, after his master had slept, Kuppan stealthily cut one mango and tasted it. Mmmmmmm… It tasted heavenly. He could not stop helping himself to the whole mango. After licking away the last bits of the mango, Kuppan decided he would not let go of the other mango and he thought of a plan.

Accordingly, the next day, Kuppan, took the mango and hid it inside his bag to eat it later. It was nearing lunch time and Kuppan knew that Sarma would be coming in a short while. He looked out from the kitchen window and could see Sarma walking slowly from the end of the long street.

Ramaiah was sitting in the hall reading something. Kuppan suddenly rushed in and said, “Master, master, you told me to cut the mangoes for your friend. But.. but the knife, master…. the knife is so blunt… oh.. I don’t know what to do now…” He stood restlessly with a blunt rusty knife in his hand. The master looked up, thought for a moment, and then said, “OK, you go and arrange the dishes, I shall sharpen the knife on the stone in the garden. Give it”. He took the knife and went to the garden behind the house and started to sharpen the knife. Just as he started sharpening, Sarma entered the house.

Kuppan rushed to the entrance and welcomed him. Sarma looked around puzzled why the host wasn’t there. Kuppan said in a hushed voice, “Sir, I should not be telling you this” and he looked around as if to see that the master was not there. Sarma was even more puzzled and asked, “Why, what is the matter, tell me”. Kuppan lowering his voice even further said, “Sir, My master’s behaviour has become very weird these days. He tries to chop off the ears of his guests. Even yesterday, two people came and luckily ran away before my master could chop off their ears”.

Sarma looked at him with disbelief. Kuppan continued, “Sir, you do not believe me is it not? Come, see for yourself from the window”. Sarma went and peered from the kitchen window and he saw Ramaiah feverishly sharpening the knife and was startled. He turned to Kuppan and said, “Thank you my friend, I will not wait even for a moment” and he started to walk out of the house fast. Just as he went out of the gate Ramaiah came in and asked Kuppan who had gone out of the gate just then.

Kuppan, with an innocent look said, “Master, your friend Sarma came and saw the two mangoes I had kept out for cutting. He wanted both for himself and when I restrained him from taking them, he just picked them up and walked away. I told him to leave at least one for you to taste as their aroma was heavenly, but Sir… he did not even listen!” Ramaiah said, “ He could have left at least one for me, what arrogance!” and went out of the house calling out loudly, “Sarma… Sarma…” Sarma who was at the far end of the street turned back, saw Ramaiah with the knife in one hand and started running, holding his bag which had his purse, close to his chest. Ramaiah had forgotten to give the knife to Kuppan.

Ramaiah now thought that what Kuppan said was really true and shouted, “Arre Sarma, I do not need two, at least give me one!” Sarma also thought that what Kuppan had told was true and ran away fast , fast and faster thinking that Ramaiah wanted at least one of his ears!!!. He was never seen again in Ramaiah’s locality.

As for Kuppan, he happily ate the second mango also to his heart’s content.

The Story Of Appoodhi Adigal – one of the sixty-three Nayanmars

This is the story of Appoodhi Adigal who is one of the sixty three saivite saints (Nayanmars).

Appoodhi was a Brahman living in Thingaloor, which is situated near Tiruvaiyaru of Tanjore District. He was a great philanthropist as he believed that service to mankind was service to God. He built many buildings, roads etc. and used to erect Thanneer Pandhals in summer. Thanneer Pandhals were kiosks erected to supply cool water and buttermilk to thirsty people in summer.

Appoodhi Adigal was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and loved to serve the devotees of Lord Shiva. He had heard a great deal about Saint Tirunavukkarasar and revered him equal to God even without seeing him! His respect for Navukkarasar was so much that he named every thing, every being as Tirunavukkarasar. The road built by him were Tirunavukkarasar road, his cows were named Tirunavukkarasar, the things in his house were referred to as Tirunavukkarasar and his sons were also named Periya Tirunavukkarasar (meaning Senior) and Siriya Tirunavukkarasar (Meaning Junior).

Once, it so happened that the Saint Tirunavukkarasar was visiting a temple near Thingaloor and since it was a hot day, went to have some water at the Thanneer Pandhal there. Just as he had water he noticed the name engraved in bold letters “TIRUNAVUKKARASAR THANNEER PANDHAL”. The saint was amused that his name was written so boldly and enquired with the people there about this. The people told him about the devotion Appoodhi had towards Saint Tirunavukkarasar and told him that he had just left the Pandhal a while back to his house which was nearby. The Saint wanted to meet Appoodhi and went to his house.

Sighting a Saint outside the entrance of his house, Appoodhi came hurriedly and welcomed him with all warmth. The Saint then congratulated Appoodhi on the good work he was doing, but asked him why everything was named after someone else and not in his name itself. Appoodhi Adigal was enraged at the word “someone else” and he admonished the saint about not knowing about Tirunavukkarasar despite being a Saivite saint. The time had come for Saint Tirunavukkarasar to disclose his identity. “I am that ‘some else’ ” said he, much to the pleasant shock of Appoodhi Adigal. “I am that Navukkarasar who was tested by Lord Shiva many a time”. Appoodhi Adigal was overwhelmed with joy and tears rolled down his cheeks. He did not for a moment know what to do. Then, he called out to his wife and children and introduced Saint Tirunavukkarasar to them. They were equally overjoyed and honoured the saint by washing his feet and fell at his feet for blessings. Appoodhi Adigal insisted that the saint should have lunch with them and the saint agreed.

Appoodhi’s wife cooked a good meal and called out to her elder son, “Periya Tirunavukkarasu” said she, “go to the garden and get a big plantain leaf for the guest”. The boy hurried with a knife in hand and just as he cut the leaf, a snake on the tree, dug its poisonous fangs into his hands. The boy shrieked and realised immediately that he would fall dead any moment but his thought was all that the leaf should be delivered to his mother so that the guest would not be delayed for lunch. So he ran back staggering under the effect of the poison which was working real fast and handed over the leaf to the mother and fell dead at her feet.

The lady immediately realised what had happened and was shell shocked and called in her husband and told him what had happened. But then the foremost thought in both their minds was that the guest should not go away if he knew this had happened. So they both decided to pretend that nothing had happened and so wrapped the body of the boy in a mat and kept it in the back yard.

The guest was invited to the inner room where the lunch was to be served. It was the habit of Saint Tirunavukkarasar to smear the Holy Ash before partaking food. So he smeared the Holy Ash on himself and also gave the same to Appoodhi, his wife and younger son.

Noticing that the elder son was absent he asked Appoodhi, “Where is Periya Tirunavukkarasu? Call him, for I will give him also Sacred Ash before I start eating”. Appoodhi could say nothing and said “He is not in a position to come now O’ Lord. Please go ahead and have your food”. The Saint was insistent. “No”, he said, “please call him. I will have food only after I give him the Sacred Ash”. Now Appoodhi Adigal had no other go than to tell him the truth. He reluctantly told him what had happened, with more concern that the guest would go away without having food.

Saint Tirunavukkarasar was moved by the philanthropic attitude of the entire Appoodhi family and told Appoodhi Adigal to bring the body of his dead son to the Shiva Temple there. Appoodhi Adigal and his wife, trembling with mixed emotions, brought the body of their dead son and placed him outside the temple. The Saint then, prayed to Lord Shiva and sang ten songs starting with “Onru Kolaam”. The dead boy got up as if waking up from sleep and came and got the blessings of his parents and the Saint. The onlookers were surprised beyond measure.

The Saint went back to Appoodhi’s house and had food. It is said that even at that juncture Appoodhi and his wife were asking for forgiveness for the delay caused by their family in feeding the guest!!! Saint Tirunavukkarasar stayed with Appoodhi family for some time giving them great joy!!

The Rat Merchant

Long long ago, in one of the port towns of Southern India there was a young man Ramu who was poor, but intelligent. Ramu was going in the market street one day, when he saw a dead rat. The Minister of the Kingdom who was also passing by with his friend looked at the rat and commented to his friend, “An intelligent man can earn thousands of gold coins with this dead rat”. Ramu who was nearby, was puzzled by the minister’s comment but nevertheless knowing that the minister was a shrewd man, picked up the dead rat in his hand and started to go home.
On the way, he was approached by the servant of the army commander, who was out to buy some food for the Commander’s cat. “Sell me this rat”, said the man. Ramu sold the dead rat to him for the price of one gold coin. This was his first earning. He was very happy.

He went to the market and got a big earthen pot and some jaggery with the gold coin. He filled up the pot with sweet water from the stream nearby. He went to the jasmine gardens near the outskirts of the city where the farmers were plucking flowers. He had powdered the jaggery and as the farmers came out tired after the work, he offered them jaggery and water. The farmers were very happy and gave him each a handful of jasmine buds. Ramu strung the buds into garlands and went to the temple a bit far from the town. He sold the flowers to the devotees and the temple and this practice went on for few weeks until Ramu had saved eight gold coins. In the process, Ramu had befriended some people of the next town and was keeping himself aware of the developments in the city.

In the next few days, there was a severe thunderstorm and the following day after the storm had subsided, as Ramu was passing the Royal Garden, he found the Royal Gardener very upset as the garden was strewn with lot of twigs and small branches and dead leaves and the garden had to be cleaned before the next day as the king was holding a party there the next day. Ramu thought for a while and told the gardener that he could clean the garden for him if he was allowed to take all the twigs and branches. The gardener was gratified and happily agreed. Ramu then went and bought some sweets from the mithaiwala with the money he had saved over the days. He found a bunch of young boys playing nearby and told them that if they helped him clear the debris in the Royal Garden, he would reward them with the delicious sweets. The boys were overjoyed and gladly cleared the garden of the twigs and branches and leaves. Ramu gave them the sweets and collected all the twigs and branches and took it home.

The next day was very sunny and Ramu cleverly dried all the twigs and branches. The next day as he was passing by the potter’s house, as he casually enquired about his well being, he came to know that the potter was not having dry wood for baking his pots that day. Ramu immediately encashed this opportunity and sold him the dry twigs and and branches and got fifteen gold coins and ten earthen pots in return. Ramu kept some of the money safely and bought jaggery with the rest.

He now bought jaggery powder and lemon and and went to the  fields where a number of  workers were cutting the weeds and grass. He filled the pots with lime juice and  offered the workers cool lime juice after their day of hard work. They were very pleased and asked him what they could give him in return. Ramu told them that he would ask them at the opportune moment. This went on for a few days. One fine day, Ramu came to know from his friends that a merchant was coming to the city with 500 horses to be sold to the king. Ramu told his worker friends that he would take two bundles of grass from each of them that day and also requested them that they should not sell grass in the coming week. The workers agreed and each of them gave him two bundles of grass.

Over the next few days, a horse trader came with the 500 horses to the town  to sell them to the king. To the horse trader’s surprise, there was not a single grass seller to be seen in the town. But as he passed by the market, he saw Ramu sitting with a lot of grass and he was the only grass seller available. The trader, in his anxiety bought all the grass Ramu had and Ramu made a quick 1000 gold coins that day.

A few days later a ship had arrived in the port carrying lot of precious stones and perfumes. Ramu, was aware that the ship was to arrive and immediately went and met the ship owner. He told the ship owner that he would take all the goods in the ship and gave the thousand gold coins in advance. A day later, the richest merchants and nobles of the town came to know of the ship and flocked to buy the cargo. But the owner said that the whole of the cargo was booked by one Ramu!! They could buy the cargo only if Ramu permitted. They were surprised as they had not known any merchant by name Ramu. Anyway, they enquired and made their way to Ramu’s house and told him that they also wanted to purchase the goods that had arrived from abroad. Ramu acted reluctant  for a while and after some time told them that they may have to pay 200 gold coins each if he was to give up the goods. The merchants had no way but to agree and gave Ramu the coins. This way he collected 10000 gold coins.

He bought a tray full of fruits and a small silk bag in which he put the coins he had earned. He went to the minister’s house and told the security guard that he had come to meet his ‘guru’. The puzzled guard went in and conveyed the same to the minister. The minster was also puzzled as he had not ‘tutored’ any student, but called him in. Ramu went in and presented the fruits along with the gold coins and prostrated at the feet of the minister. He then told him how he overheard his comment on the dead rat few months back and how he had come a long way with the help of the dead rat.

The minister was overwhelmed at the sincerity of Ramu and that he had given so much importance  to a casual remark made by him . He praised Ramu openly and also gave back the money placed in front of him and also announced that he would give his daughter in marriage to Ramu as he was looking for a sincere, hard working, enterprising individual!!

Ramu’s life took a full U-turn and he lived a very happy life ever after.

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