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Tag: miser

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!!!

 

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 hermit and the miser

This is a story I heard on radio this morning. Thought it was nice enough to share. My own additions are there to the story!

Once upon a time, in a village in Central India, there was a very wealthy land owner named Dhanlal, who was extremely miserly. He was so.. so miserly that he used to eat just one item a day like rice on one day, dal on another day, vegetables on one day and so on as it would be very ‘costly’ to eat all dishes on the same day. The whole day time he spent in counting the money he hoarded. His family members were a distressed lot as they also were subjected to the torture of one dish a day.

One day as Dhanlal was counting the coins, there was a sadhu going on his way singing bhajans , stopping in front of each house in the village. In olden days the practice of feeding sadhus or needy people was common and the sadhus used to enlighten the public with their spiritual talks and stories in return.

The sadhu stood in front of Dhanlal’s house and sang a song on earning merit by helping the needy. The song was about how the quality of charity was essential to get Moksha or salvation. Dhanlal was hearing the song all the while counting his coins but did not move an inch. But somehow, the song kept ringing in his ears and he knew he had to do some charity to get salvation.

He spent two or three days in calculating how much he would lose if he spent a certain quantity of rice in alms everyday to a few needy people. Then he decided that he would give one fistful – just one fistful of rice to one person everyday. He would not lose much at the same time he would qualify for salvation.

He started his “charity”. He was particular that the same fellow should not get the rice everyday lest he become “rich”. One fistful a day went on for a month or so. The sadhu who had sung the song was camping near the banyan tree on the river bank on the other end of the village. Dhanlal wanted to go and meet him.
So he went and met the sadhu and told him how he was influenced by his song and how he had started being very charitable by donating a FISTFUL OF RICE EVERY DAY.

The sadhu did not utter a word. He signalled to Dhanlal to wait and went and sat under the banyan tree. He did something like gnawing at the roots of the tree with his nails and Dhanlal did not understand what he was doing. Dhanlal waited and waited and waited for three hours. He got very impatient. He wanted to check the status of his salvation efforts and go back and count his coins and here was this sadhu doing some useless thing making him wait.

Dhanlal called out “Swamiji, Can you please talk to me for a moment and then do what you are doing?” The sadhu said “Beta wait for sometime. I shall come as soon as I cut the roots of this tree with my nails. It wont be long”

Dhanlal was amused. He did not imagine that the sadhu was so silly. He laughed out aloud and said , “Swamiji do you know how many hundred years it will take to cut such heavy roots with your nails?? Ha ha ha ….” The sadhu coolly replied “Only that many number of years it will take as it will take for your salvation with half heartedly donating one fistful of rice a day!”

Dhanlal immediately realised his folly and fell at the feet of the sadhu who had with his simple action made him realise his mistake. Dhanlal turned a new leaf much to the happiness of his family members and the villagers and it is said that he became to be called “Daanlaal” from “Dhanlal”!!!

Help the needy in times of need and be happy like Daanlaal.

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