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

Tag: hungry

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!!!

 

From The Panchatantra – The Frog And The Cobra

This is a story from the Panchatantra from the chapter Labdhapranasam or Loss of Gains – where one loses due to improper planning.

Once there lived the King of frogs in a huge well in a forest. His name was Gangadutta. He had a host of relatives in the well and more often than not he was being harassed by them. At a point of time, he got so fed up that he decided that he should get rid of them. But he did not know how to go about it.

Constantly thinking of what could be done to get rid of his relatives, he came out of the well one day and went into the jungle. There, he saw a huge anthill and suddenly noticed a snake sliding very slowly into it.

“Aha” he thought to himself, “here is my born enemy, a snake. I think it is best to set up an enemy to crush other enemies which will bring happiness at the end.”

Quickly, hopping over to the snake, he called out, “Hello Sir, please look here, I am Gangadutta, the King of frogs. I have come to seek your help”

The snake noticed him and said, “Oh is it so? Do you not know that we are born enemies? Thank your stars that I have just finished my meal and am not hungry now. Go away from here!”

Gangadutta said, “Please do not say that O Sir! If we join together for this cause both will be benefited. Just listen to my plan Sir, and…May I know your name?”

“Priyadarsana.  That is my name. Now, tell me what you want me to do and I will tell you whether I can or cannot do it.”

Gangadutta, relieved that Priyadarsana was at least ready to listen to his plan continued. He told Priyadarsana about how his relatives were harassing him continuously in the well and how he needed help to  get rid of them. “You can only help me”, he said. “I will take you to the well and you will not need to hunt for food daily, you see, and I will get rid of them who harass me and both of us will be happy”

Priyadarsana thought for a while. He was also becoming older by the day and hunting for food was not as easy as it used to be some years back. The thought of abundant food and ensured continuous supply was enticing enough. But how would he reach the well? He asked the same to Gangadutta.

“No problem” said Gangadutta, happy that Priyadarsana was coming around. “There is a long crevice adjacent to the well and it leads to a landing inside the well. I will show you the way. But you have to promise me that you will eat only those whom I show you okay?”

“Okay, done” said Priyadarsana, ready to follow Gangadutta. Gangadutta led Priyadarsana into the well through the crevice. Priyadarsana was overjoyed to see so many frogs. The frogs on the other hand became panicky.

Every day, Gangadutta would show Priyadarsana whom to devour  and Priyadarsana would do his bidding and when Gangadutta was not looking, he would gobble up a few more!

Gangadutta was happy at last. His enemies were diminishing  day by day and all the frogs were afraid of him now. They were ready to do his bidding. Gangadutta started to relax. But his happiness was short-lived.

One fine day there were no more frogs left other than his wife and son Jamnadutta.

“Where is my food?” asked Priyadarsana lunging forward to grab Jamnadutta who dived in the water to escape.

When the reality struck on Gangadutta, he was aghast. “My enemies have all been destroyed Priyadarsana, thanks to you. You may now go up the same way you came in as my task is over” said he.

“Where will I go?” asked the angry Priyadarsana. “I cannot go to the same anthill as some other snake  would have occupied it. Besides , you never talked of my going back after few days, did you? I  am very hungry now and cannot wait” So saying, he went under the water and had Jamnadutta in a mouthful much to the grief of Gangadutta and his wife.

Gangadutta  repented a lot that he had made friends with a natural enemy and remembered the old saying that “He who befriends a stronger enemy invites certain death!”. He thought and thought but could not find any solution and before he could realise what was happening, the Queen of frogs became the prey of Priyadarsana, the next day.

Gangadutta  realised that the next day he would not be alive if he continued staying here. He said to Priyadarsana, “Friend, I am very unhappy that I brought you here as a guest but not have been able to provide enough for you!. What a disgrace! I will just now go and bring my friends from another well around here so that you do not starve!”

Gangadutta sounded so sincere that Priyadarsana was fooled. “Okay”, said he. “ I cannot kill you as you are like a brother to me. But if you will bring me food  I will respect you as my father. But come back soon”.

The next moment Gangadutta was up through the crevice to the ground. “Thank god, that Priyadarsana  believed my story”, he thought to himself. He felt extremely sad that his plan had boomeranged and went about to seek another living place.

Meanwhile Priyadarsana, who truly believed that Gangadutta would come back waited and waited in vain. One day, he saw a chameleon on the side of the wall of the well and called out to him. “Hey, he said, when you go out please tell Gangadutta that I am waiting for food”.

The chameleon went out of the well and saw Gangadutta at a distance. Rushing to him, the chameleon called out, “Hey Gangadutta, your friend is waiting with hunger inside the well. Come back soon.” Gangadutta , hurrying away said, “Who can trust a hungry man? I am off “ and he sped away into the wilderness of the jungle, full of remorse at his act of befriending a born enemy!!

 

 

All For A Pot Of Flour

Today my blog has completed one year. To celebrate this, my daughter has written this story which I am posting below:

Once upon a time, there lived a young man called Changilal who had neither money nor family. Changilal used to help anybody in need. One day, after his daily stroll to the temple, he heard a few hens clucking nearby. Curiosity gripping him, he started going towards the direction of the sound. He found that the chickens were clucking since they were really, extremely hungry. He found this out because they were picking on the bare ground. As he was very kind, he wanted to help them in some way. He found a bag of grains lying somewhere nearby. Without hesitating, he pulled the heavy bag and threw a handful of grains to them. All of them started eating the grains joyfully. He was so happy in committing a good deed that he did not notice the owner of the chickens come behind him. He took a long time to realize that someone had tapped him on the back. He turned back slowly only to discover that whoever was standing behind him was smiling widely. “I am the owner of this farm.” said the man. “I am really happy that you have fed my chickens. I want to give you something in return.” Saying this, the man went to a house just next to the small chicken farm. He came out with a big pot in his hand. Aloud he said “This is a gift that I wish to give you for feeding my chickens. This is a pot of flour. I hope this will help in feeding you.”

Overjoyed by this offer, Changilal took the pot of flour and left for home. Changilal who had starved for the last few days, was really tired even to make chappatis with the flour. He tied the pot to a hook hanging from the ceiling of his house. “Now it will be safe here” he thought. He laid down on his cosy cot and thought of what he could do with so much flour…..

The next day he went to the market to sell the flour. Since this was very high quality flour, he had got two gold coins for it. Delighted by his profit, he set out further into the market, his head bobbing with joy of what he could buy with these two gold coins. “ I could buy rice” he thought “or milk……” “Aha!! Milk! “ He had just seen a man selling calves. “ only for 1 gold coin, and one calf is yours!” said the man. Changilal was thrilled. He could buy two calves with the money he had!! And the calves would grow into cows and they would give milk!! Instantaneously Changilal turned to the man who was selling the calves and stretched out the hand which had the 2 gold coins. The man gave Changilal both the calves he was selling in exchange of the gold coins. Changilal, now on cloud nine, went home joyfully. What a profit he had made!! He would now be a rich man only because he had done a good deed.

Days passed and the calves had now grown into beautiful white cows with the patient care of Changilal’s hands and in course of time they gave birth to two calves. Changilal was now ecstasic that he could finally sell the milk of his cows after so many days of patient waiting! He sat down on a stool and started milking his cows. Churrk! Churrk!, Churrk! Churrk! Milk was streaming from the cows into the big bucket he had kept for milking his cows. “Yippee!! thought Changilal. Now I can sell this milk in the market and get 5 gold coins!!
So Changilal set off to the market. Pop! Blob! Pop! Blob! The milk was swaying in the vessel! “Yes!! Now I can sell this milk for 5 gold coins and buy something else!” thought Changilal. He had reached the milk stall. “Best quality milk, sir” said Changilal. “for 5 gold coins!”

The shopkeeper had lots of customers on that day and was in shortage of milk. Glad that Changilal came, he had to make a good offer since this was his only chance to keep his reputation up and said “O Changilal! Thank the gods you came! I am in shortage of milk! And I can pay you whatever you desire!”
Pleased by his good fortune, Changilal gave his milk for 5 gold coins.

Elated Changilal now set off further inside the market. He now enjoyed his life thoroughly! “Now I have 5 gold coins!!” thought he. “I can buy 2 more calves or many pots” he thought. “I could even buy silk sarees to start my own business!!” Thrilled by this idea, Changilal now went to the ‘Valli silks’ which was a very famous silk store. He bought 10 silk sarees with his 5 gold coins. He was now pleased with himself. He now walked to his house thinking in which part of the house he could start the silk shop. He could name the shop Changilal silks………

And so he did! He had now converted his whole house into a saree shop. The house was now filled with all kinds of beautiful, colourful sarees. It was only after two months of plentiful profit that he noticed a beautiful woman in the shop. She was called Sita. He fell in love with her instantly and asked her to marry him. She happily agreed.
Therefore, their marriage was celebrated with pomp and ceremony.

So Changilal and Sita had 2 children. Ramesha and Suresha. Ramesha was the elder son and Suresha, the younger. Suresha was very naughty and he used to tease the cows who were the root of Changilal’s happiness. Changilal got really angry with Suresha and started beating him with a long stick. Tup! Tup! Tup!………….

But this did not sound like beating a child! This sounded like beating a pot of flour! What was this???? All of this had been a dream!! Changilal was still lying down on his cot and his house was still a house. Not a silk shop! He peeped out of the window only to see his old wilted grass! Not his white cows and lush green grass! Sita was nowhere to be seen! His children had disappeared to thin air! All of this had been a dream!!! He had now beaten the pot of flour which was the only hope of Changilal getting rich! The pot had broken into pieces and the flour had spilt all over him!! All was over!! Changilal was nowhere close to being rich!! All his hopes were shattered!!

Moral: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

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