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Tag: merchant

The Lazy Donkey – A folk tale

This is a folk tale but I know not from which part of India.

Once upon a time, in ancient India, there lived a merchant Ramu, who had a donkey named Bhola. Ramu was a very kind fellow who took good care of Bhola. He fed him well with green grass everyday (which many donkey owners did not do), gave enough rest and saw that Bhola’s stable was neat and clean and always had a supply of fresh water. The work was also not much. Bhola had to make just two or three trips to and from the market every day, carrying the goods to market, sometimes bringing something back, but mostly with very light load.

Though Ramu was such a kind master, Bhola was a lazy donkey. Most of the time he would pretend to struggle with the weight, though it was much less than what he could actually carry, and he would pretend so well that Ramu would feel pity for him and feed him with some carrots.

During a particular season, it happened that Ramu was trading in salt and was continuously carrying sacks of salt to the market on Bhola’s back. On the way to the market, there was a rivulet and they had to cross it every day. There was a bridge, however Ramu chose to walk through the rivulet everyday as it saved time for him and the distance was shorter under the bridge. Moreover the water was a little above ankle level and it was not difficult to walk through.

This particular day, as usual, Ramu loaded a sackful of salt on Bhola’s back and was proceeding to the market. Bhola, as usual, with a grumpy face came trudging along pretending that the sack was too heavy.
Just a little while after they entered the rivulet and crossing it, there was a small rock on the river bed that Bhola tripped and “PACHAK” he fell sack and all in the water. It was a rude shock to him and Ramu, and by the time they stabilised themselves and Bhola got up on his four legs, and Ramu retrieved the sack from the water, lot of the salt had dissolved and the sack was lighter. Bhola was pleasantly surprised, but still pretended to be under pressure.

The next day, there was again salt to be carried and today, while crossing the rivulet, Bhola intentionally pretended tripping and fell down. Today also the weight became lesser.

“Aha” thought Bhola, “At last I have learnt to be smart and carry much less load than I can!! Master is foolish, he believes I am really not well and tripping and falling down!!” He smiled to himself in glee. He started doing it again and again for few days in a row.

But Ramu started thinking otherwise. “How can a donkey fall every day in the same place?” He also noticed the eagerness of Bhola to reach the rivulet fast. Finally, he understood that Bhola was doing this on purpose. He also realised that Bhola needed some punishment to get him rid of his attitude.

The next day, as usual, a sack was loaded on Bhola’s back and it was lighter than usual. Bhola was even happier. “As it is, it is light,” he thought. “After I fall down, it will be even lighter”. Chuckling to himself, he eagerly started his journey. When the ‘falling spot’ came, he fell down as usual. The sack did not sink quickly, like other days and sank slowly. Ramu was also not in a hurry to retrieve the sack. This puzzled Bhola.

Then, Ramu retrieved the sack and with great difficulty put it on Bhola’s back. The sack was not containing salt, but had been stuffed with cotton and cotton had absorbed lot of water.

To his horror, Bhola found the sack ten times heavier. Further, Ramu’s face was red with anger, something Bhola had never witnessed before. And to add to his woes, Ramu took out a stick which he had hidden on his back inside the shirt.

“Come on you donkey” he shouted as he gave a sharp beating with the stick. Bhola brayed in pain. Ramu had always addressed him by name and never had he wielded a stick. “Hmm.. move fast and if you still want to pretend, here is what you will get!” Saying so, he gave another blow with the stick.

Bhola was aghast at this rapid change but he learnt his lesson that laziness does not pay and one cannot deceive others for long…..

I need not say how Bhola behaved from the next day. Yes, he was one of the best donkeys.

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.

The lion, monkey, snake and the merchant

Once upon a time, in an ancient city of India, lived a simpleton by name ‘Dharmabuddhi’. He was a very kind-hearted soul who helped anybody in need be it man or animal, expecting nothing in return. He was not a very rich person and lived a very frugal life.

One day, Dharmabuddhi was going to visit his friend in the next village. As he was passing by an open well in the nearby woods, he heard sounds of a lion grunting, a monkey screeching, a snake hissing and a man yelling for help. He peered into the well and saw all of them in distress. True to his nature, He pulled a long log of wood and pushed it into the well. The animals climbed out one by one but the man was not able to climb out without Dharmabuddhi’s help. When Dharmabuddhi tried to pull out the man, all the animals told Dharmabuddhi not to help the man get out. But Dharmabuddhi ignored them and rescued the man. What a mistake that was. All of them thanked Dharmabuddhi profusely and asked him to call them in times of distress. The lion told Dharmabuddhi to visit him in the deep jungle while the snake told Dharmabuddhi to think of him if Dharmabuddhi wanted help. The monkey told him to visit the mango tree which was located on the outskirts of the jungle and the merchant who so happened to be a gold merchant told Dharmabuddhi to visit him in the next town after passing the deep jungle. All of them  returned to their respective homes.

One day, Dharmabuddhi heard from one of his friends that there were better job opportunities in the neighbouring town. So, he set off to the neighbouring town in search of a job. He had to pass through the forest to get to the town. After walking for a while, Dharmabuddhi got tired and sat down under a tree to rest. The tree happened to be in a lion’s territory.

Suddenly there was a deafening roar and Dharmabuddhi sat rooted to the ground. He slowly turned around and what did he see? He saw a lion sitting right behind him. To his surprise, the lion did not attack him. The lion looked familiar to Dharmabuddhi. Aha! This was the lion that Dharmabuddhi saved!! The lion had recognized Dharmabuddhi instantly. It allowed Dharmabuddhi to hug him and it dropped a gold  necklace which it was having in its mouth at Dharmabuddhi’s feet.  Dharmabuddhi picked the glittering gold necklace up, thanked the lion and continued his journey. He thought he would sell this necklace to the gold merchant who he had rescued earlier and who was living there.

He had walked for a while when suddenly a gang of robbers pounced on him and took away his only radiant hope of feeding his family, the gold necklace. Helpless Dharmabuddhi sat under a mango tree thinking of what he would do now. Luck had favoured him so much in the last few minutes and now  his hopes were just washed away by the awful robbers. The monkey whom Dharmabuddhi had saved lived on this very tree. The monkey had witnessed what happened to  Dharmabuddhi and was determined to help him. He gathered some juicy mangoes and threw it near Dharmabuddhi. Surprised Dharmabuddhi looked up and saw the monkey smiling at him. Dharmabuddhi immediately recognized his old friend and asked him to also have some of the juicy mangoes. The monkey, who didn’t want to disappoint Dharmabuddhi climbed down and had two of the juicy mangoes he had given him. Sleepy after eating these mangoes, Dharmabuddhi  laid down and slept. The monkey, waiting for this moment jumped from tree to tree to find  robbers. Soon he found the robbers who so happened to be also sleeping under a tree. The monkey slowly and stealthily climbed down from the tree and found the  necklace. He grabbed it and  returned to his mango tree to find Dharmabuddhi. Dharmabuddhi had just woken up from his sleep and was searching for the monkey to bid him goodbye. The monkey landed near Dharmabuddhi and gave him the  necklace. Overjoyed by his friends’ faithfulness, he hugged the monkey and set off for the  town yet again.

After he reached the next town, he went in search of the merchant. Finally, Dharmabuddhi found the  merchant. The merchant welcomed Dharmabuddhi to his house and asked what Dharmabuddhi’s problem was. Dharmabuddhi told the merchant that had a gold necklace to be sold and also told him that the lion gave him the necklace. The wicked merchant recognized that this necklace belonged to the prince of this town who was killed while he was hunting. The merchant very well knew that Dharmabuddhi would not have committed this crime but he thought of the reward the king would give him of finding the “murderer”. He told Dharmabuddhi to stay at his house for the night as Dharmabuddhi would be ‘tired’ and the naive Dharmabuddhi agreed.

The merchant woke up early next morning and set off to the palace to inform the king that he had found the ‘murderer’. The depressed king, without holding any trial, put Dharmabuddhi in prison. Desolate Dharmabuddhi now realized that he should have listened to his friends’ advice and not helped the merchant. He realized that after all he had one more friend left, the snake. He thought desperately of the snake and suddenly he heard a hiss from the tiny window of the prison. Immediately, he saw a slim green snake slither into the prison cell from the window. Dharmabuddhi could not believe his eyes. This snake was the snake he had saved! The snake now spoke. “hisssssssss… dear Dharmabuddhi hissssssss why did you believe the cunning merchant………… you can’t do anything about it now………………. but i can………… I have brought  a herb which can cure my venomousssssssss ssssssssnake bite………… I will now bite the queen and nobody can sssssssssave her…………. except you……………. pour this herb juice in her mouth…….and she will be sssssssaved…………….the king will be overjoyed…….and release you……….good luck……………. ” The snake dropped a herb in front of Dharmabuddhi and  slithered out of the window. Soon it entered the  queen’s chamber and bit her. The queen instantly fell unconsious. The king now even more depressed announced that he would grant anyone anything they wish if they saved the queen. He summoned doctors from distant towns and villages but nobody could help.

Dharmabuddhi also heard of the announcement of the king and he seized the chance. He asked the king to allow him to cure the queen. The frantic king allowed Dharmabuddhi to cure the queen. As the snake had said, Dharmabuddhi crushed this herb and poured it into the queen’s mouth. The queen immediately regained consciousness. The  king, overjoyed by Dharmabuddhi’s help asked him what he wanted. Dharmabuddhi immediately narrated his story of how he got the necklace and how he was cheated by the merchant. The king got very angry at the merchant and wanted to punish him.  Dharmabuddhi told the king not to. Dharmabuddhi said that it would be bad if we take revenge on people who do bad to us. Dharmabuddhi also told the king about his shortage of money. The king instantly gave Dharmabuddhi a bag of gold coins and told Dharmabuddhi to start a business in this very town.

Dharmabuddhi, thrilled by this gesture of the king shifted to this town with his family and lived happily ever after thanking his friends and visiting them whenever he could.

 

P.S: This story has been written by my daughter who has listened to this story many times in her childhood. I have only edited it.

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