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

Tag: money

Birbal Helps Again !!

akbarbirbal-1-ConvertImageBirbal was one of  the gems of Emperor Akbar’s court. He was one of those persons who could give a solution to any sort of problem which is why Emperor Akbar liked him so much.

We have heard of many instances where Birbal came to the rescue when justice had to be delivered. People preferred to go to Birbal rather than going to the court when they had a problem or case against somebody. This is yet another story of Birbal’s intelligence.

Once there was a person by name Shaam in a village near Agra. He had purchased a piece of land from his neighbour Mangat Ram. The piece of land had a well on it and Shaam had paid the purchase price in full and also registered the land in his name mentioning the presence of the well in the document. He had fenced the land and put a small gate with a lock.

The day after the purchase was over, Shaam heard a knock on his door. On opening the door, he found Mangat Ram standing outside with many drums of varied sizes. To the puzzled Shaam, Mangat Ram said, “I have come to take my water from the well and from tomorrow, give me a duplicate key to the lock you have put for the land, so that I do not have to disturb you to take my water”.

Shocked, Shaam asked, “But Sir, I have purchased the well from you by paying cash. So where is the question of your water? If you want, take water today, but I cannot allow you to take water from the well everyday as a matter of right!”

Mangat Ram, furious at Shaam’s reply said, “How dare you say that I cannot take water huh? I have sold only the well to you not the water okay? Show me where in the document is it written that I have sold you the water in the well? Don’t try to act smart!”

“Act smart?” thought Shaam. Who was acting smart? He did not feel like arguing with Mangat Ram as he knew that it would lead to nowhere. Gathering his wits Shaam said, “Mangat Ramji, it is okay if you take water today, but I want to take this matter to Birbalji for a solution. Of course, you have not mentioned the water in the well in the sale agreement, but then maybe it has to be included and I wish to meet Birbalji in this regard”.

Mangat Ram thought for a moment and said, “Theek hai, we will meet Birbalji tomorrow and I am sure he will agree that I am right! I will come to his house at 5 in the evening.” Birbal used to meet people in the evenings if his help was required by them to solve such issues. Mangat Ram was very sure that Birbal could not ‘dispute’ his version of the ‘ownership’ of the water in the well.

Shaam was worried the whole night, though he knew that he would get a just decision from Birbal. Anyhow, he thought he should apprise Birbal of the case beforehand and went to meet him in the morning.

Birbal gave Shaam a patient hearing and said, “Do not worry. I will see you in the evening. Go and take rest”

The anxious Shaam, left the place a wee bit relieved.

It was evening and both Shaam and Mangat Ram were present in the courtyard of Birbal’s mansion. Shaam was tensed up, while Mangat Ram had a cunning smile on his face.

Birbal came and signalled to them to sit on the benches there. Looking at Mangat Ram he said, “Yes, Sir, tell me what brings you here”.

Happy that he was given the chance to speak first, Mangat Ram told Birbal of how he had sold the patch of land with the well to Shaam, but had not sold the water in the well and therefore, he was entitled to take any amount of water at any time of the day from the well.

“Am I not correct Huzoor?” he asked with arrogance. “I never promised to sell the water to Shaam. Ask him if you want!”

Birbal looked at Shaam and asked him, “Is it true that Mangat Ram did not sell you the water?”

Almost in tears Shaam said, “Huzoor, I never imagined that a person would sell only the well without the water in it. I bought the land with the well only because there was copious water in the well and I could irrigate the land with that. I have paid lot of money for the purchase by mortgaging my wife’s jewels. Now what is the use of the well without the water? I feel Mangat Ram is being unjust. I plead that you may deliver justice”

Birbal said, “Mangat Ramji, I agree that you have not sold the water from your well to Shaam and that you have sold only the well. But do you agree that the well belongs to Shaam now?”

Happy, thinking that the case was moving in his favour, Mangat Ram, with a wide grin said, “Ha ji Huzoor, the well belongs to Shaam only. The water alone belongs to me!”

After a moment’s silence, Birbal, clearing his throat said, “Well, I understand that the well belongs to Shaam but the water belongs to Mangat Ram and the water can be kept only in the well. So…, Mangat Ramji, it is only fair that you should pay rent to Shaam on a daily basis for him to let you keep your water in his well. The rent can also be fixed right away. Is it not Shaamji? How much rent do you expect?”

Mangat Ram was in for a shock. He did not in the least expect that the issue would boomerang in this manner on him.

Hurriedly he said, “Huzoor, Shaam and I are very good friends and we will fix the rent mutually. I have to leave now as I have to meet a friend. Namaste!” He walked out of the place without turning back!!

Shaam had no words for Birbal. Overwhelmed by the simple, yet the best solution that had sent his foe running, all Shaam could do was to hold the hands of Birbal with tears of gratitude streaming down his cheeks.

“Thank you so much Huzoor, thank you …thank you… “was all that he could say as Birbal looked at him with the satisfaction of having saved yet another naive citizen from the clutches of a greedy fellow.

Sacks Of Affection

Once upon a time, there was an old man by name Rao. Rao was very rich and possessed four houses and a lot of gold. Rao’s wife had died long back and he was well taken care of by his four sons.

Rao had grown old and things were going on smoothly till such time Rao fell ill following an accident. He suffered an injury in his spinal cord and was recovering very very slowly. Being an active person otherwise, Rao became very depressed with his pace of recovery and thought that he would die very soon. So one day, he called three elderly men of the village as witness and distributed all his wealth and his houses to his four sons. Unfortunately or fortunately for Rao, he did not die as he expected. He recovered to some extent but was almost bed ridden and needed help for everything.

Over the next few days, Rao realized that the attitude of his sons and daughters-in-law had changed drastically. One day, on the pretext of his room being painted, he was shifted to the verandah of the house, and was given a tattered cot to sleep on. The silver plate on which he ate was replaced by a tin plate and a small can for drinking water. The arrangement became permanent. Day by day, the quantity and quality of food and the time his family spent with him, reduced drastically.

His calls were answered after a long time and his moans of pain were ignored completely. Nobody talked to him and he was left to stare at the ceiling and be alone. Rao was completely broken inside as he never expected his sons and their families to behave thus. He had always seen them affectionate and caring and thought they respected him highly. The grandchildren were also following the behaviour of their parents.

One day, Rao’s childhood friend Shamu who lived in a town far off, came to visit him. He was terribly shocked at Rao’s pathetic condition. Rao was very happy to see Shamu and poured out his heart to him.  Shamu was overwhelmed with grief and was angered beyond measure. “Look Rao,” he said, “you have done a mistake by distributing your wealth to your children while living. Do you not know that the best way is to write a will? You could have sent word to me. I would have helped you draft a will”

“Shamu, what has happened, has happened. I cannot undo it now. I will have to be resigned to my fate” said Rao, despondently. Shamu thought for a while and whispered something in Rao’s ears. Rao looked disbelievingly at Shamu, but Shamu just nodded his head and left. The family was so indifferent that they did not notice Shamu’s coming and going.

Fifteen days later, a huge bullock cart with two bullocks having big bells hung around their necks came with a lot of jingle bangle and stopped in front of Rao’s house. Somebody with a long beard and a topi got out of the cart shouting “Rao, Oh Raoji… Raoji…” Rao’s elder son and youngest son were inside the house and they were disturbed by the noise and came out. The man looked questioningly at the sons and asked them “Is this Rao’s residence?” The sons were not very cordial. With an indifference they replied, “yes, but who are you?”

The man turned around and called out to his men on the cart, “Bete, bring the sacks down!” As the sons looked puzzled, the men brought down four sacks made of very thick material, that what was inside was not visible. The sacks were well sealed.

“Where is Rao?” the man demanded, “I have come back to repay with interest the loan I took forty years back from Rao. Thanks to him, I am a successful businessman now”. He looked around impatiently and asked, “Is Rao there or not? If he is not there I will go back with my money!” The next second both the sons bowed down with so much humility which was unseen till now and said “Arre Saab, who said our father is not there? He is very much there. Please…. Please do come…” And they led him to Rao’s presence. Rao could recognise Shamu who was in the disguise.

“I am Babulal” said Shamu. “Thank you so much sir, for your help. You may not remember, but you gave me 50 silver coins as loan forty years back, and I invested it in my new business and have become a millionaire Sir. I owe my wealth to you and so have brought the money back with interest” Saying thus he signalled at the men who brought the sacks. They brought the sacks and kept it in front of Rao. “Thank you Babulal”, said Rao, “I remember vaguely now. Thank you very much”

The elder son of Rao started, “We shall keep the money inside…” when Rao cut him short. “Let it remain underneath my bed. It is my money and I will decide on how it will be spent”, he said in a stern voice, and looking at Shamu, said, “Babulal, do me a favour. Please go to the next street and call the headman of the village with two more elders. I would like to have a witness for this money being received by me and later on after my time, there will not be a problem in distributing the money”.

The shocked sons, whose mouths had run dry at this unexpected turn, were helpless. Shamu immediately did as he was instructed and in the presence of the elders, Rao gave Babulal a receipt. Suddenly it started to rain and water was splashing from the side of the verandah and Babulal asked him, “Sir, you are so rich, why are you lying in the verandah, if there is no place inside I could take you to my place with your money just now. Should I Sir?”  And he stood bowing his head humbly.

Within a minute, the sons were ready with the soft mattress in his old cot inside and held out their hands in support to lead him to the bed. “Keep the sacks in the almirah” said Rao, “and put my bed against the almirah”. There was not a word of protest and soon Rao was in his cosy bed.

Within a matter of minutes, the household’s attitude had completely changed. Rao was offered hot food and drink and the youngest son said he would stay with the father in his room at all times to help him. Babulal took leave of Rao and went his way and Rao’s comfortable life returned to him. But Rao had learnt the lesson of how money could change people’s attitudes totally!

After a few years, Rao died a natural death due to old age and the sons did all the rituals waiting patiently to take the “money” their father had kept in the sacks in the cupboard.

I leave it to you to imagine the expressions on the sons’ faces and that of their families when they found nothing but sand and gravel in the four sacks. Ha ha ha….

Hard earned money stays with you

Once upon a time in a village in India there was a farmer named Ramu who was a hard worker. He worked all day tending to his paddy fields and that year, due to timely monsoon, Ramu got an excellent harvest.

He sold all the grain in the market and got 300 gold coins. He brought home the coins in a bag and counted them again and again. He was so happy counting the coins when he heard somebody call out him at the entrance.

Ramu was worried that whoever was calling him would walk in and see the treasure and so hurriedly, he put all the coins into the bag except three coins which he took with him. He then stuffed the coin bag into a large empty pot and kept it on the shelf.  The caller was his friend Somu who was going to the market and wanted Ramu to come with him. Ramu was in a jolly mood and immediately agreed to with Somu.

He called out to his wife “Seetha, I am going to the market with Somu. Make my favourite brinjal curry for lunch!” Seetha nodded her head. Ramu and Somu were off to the market chatting away happily.

Meanwhile, Seetha looked around and to her dismay found no water in the house for cooking. In olden days, people used to bring water from rivers or ponds nearby for their household use as piped water was not available. She took the pot in which the coin bag was kept and started out to get water. Just outside the house, she met Raakka, the butcher taking a stroll leading a goat. She called out to him, “Raakka Anna, can you please get me a pot of water?” Raakka Anna as he was called, had no urgent work and so took the pot from Seetha and started walking towards the pond.

“Jingle clink, jingle clink, jingle clink” What was that? The pot seemed to be making a noise. Raakka went under a tree’s shade and peered into the huge pot through its narrow mouth. He could not see anything and so he put his hand in and what did he pull out? A bag of gold coins! Raakka was so thrilled at seeing so many gold coins and hurriedly stuffed them back into the bag and looked around. What if someone suddenly saw him? Raakka got an idea. He opened his goat’s mouth and stuffed the bag down its throat. Now the bag had gone into the goat’s stomach with the gold coins!

He left the pot under the tree and started leading the goat home. Just then Raakka’s son Chhappa came from the opposite direction and Raakka quickly handed over the goat to Chhappa and told him to take home the goat quickly. “I bought the goat for two gold coins remember!” he said. “Be careful”.

Chhappa was a young lad of twelve and he started going home, humming his favourite song. Meanwhile Ramu and Somu were coming to the market. When Ramu saw the goat he felt it was a fine goat and he should buy it and host a feast for his neighbours as he had had a good harvest that year. “How much is the goat young man?” asked Ramu. Chhappa remembered his father’s words and said “three gold coins Sir”. He wanted to show his father that he was also smart by selling a goat at a profit of one gold coin. “Here, take this” said Ramu shoving the coins into the boy’s hand and took the goat and went home.

“Seetha, is lunch ready?” called Ramu as he entered his hut. Seetha was looking very worried. The butcher had not brought water yet and where was the question of lunch? Ramu became panicky when he heard about the pot. He chided Seetha, tied the goat to a tree and ran to find Raakka. He could find neither Raakka nor the pot.

Sadly he came back home and told Seetha about the coins. Seetha told him    ” Why don’t we sacrifice this goat to the Gods? May be the Gods are angry that we did not thank them for the harvest”. Ramu thought that it might be true that the Gods were angry and therefore decided to do what Seetha said. When he cut the goat’s belly, what did he get? Yeah, his own gold coins! “Seetha, Seetha , see what I got!” he yelled at the top of his voice and rushed inside with the bag.

“From now onwards, I shall tie this bag to my waist”, thought Ramu. “That is where it will be safe”. Accordingly he tied the bag with a rope to his waist and went around with it. He was happy that nobody could steal the coins anymore. He went around like this for some time.

One day it was very hot and dusty and when Ramu was passing by the village stream, he felt like having a dip. He looked around and when he saw no one around, he thought it was safe to remove the bag and keep in on the banks of the stream. He started having a bath and it was so refreshing that he did not notice the shepherd Chokkan coming and picking up his bag of coins. Alas!! The bag was gone again.

Ramu felt very upset and headed for home sadly. Meanwhile Chokkan was walking very fast hiding the bag under his arm pit when he heard the sound of horses. “Oh, it’s the police” thought Chokkan and threw the bag into a nearby well which was open and did not have any parapet. In villages, in those days, such wells were very common. Chokkan thought to himself, “I will come tomorrow and recover the bag”. Thinking so, he went home.

Meanwhile our hero Ramu,  was aimlessly walking very near the same well the next day, thinking how unfortunate he was. Suddenly a gust of wind blew from behind and blew off Ramu’s turban and Ramu yelling ran behind the turban and PLOP! fell into the well.

Luckily there was not much water and what was that in the side? Aah!! The same bag of his. He grabbed the bag and caught hold of the heavy banyan roots on the side of the well and was climbing up and who was at the top? Chokkan. Yes. Chokkan had come to collect his booty. Both Ramu and Chokkan were equally shocked to see each other and Chokkan hurriedly said, “Arre Ramu Anna, thank you so much for recovering my bag. You saved me a lot of trouble” He further went on building a false story of how he had lost his hard earned money. Ramu could not say anything at all but had to handover the bag to Chokkan.

Chokkan chuckled to himself at his having outwitted Ramu and ran away with the bag. But Chokkan got very cautious and thought that the coins will not be safe in the bag for long. He took a long bamboo staff which he used to herd the sheep and filled the coins into it. He filled the gaps with mud and sealed the ends.

Days passed by and Ramu was becoming more and more depressed that his gold coins could not be retrieved. Meanwhile, one day Chokkan was herding his sheep on the river banks and when he wanted to pull down a branch to pick some leaves for his sheep, he tried to use his bamboo staff and PLONK fell the staff in the river. “My staff my staff” cried Chokkan but the current in the river was too fast and Chokkan was a poor swimmer. So helplessly he watched as his staff vanished in a jiffy.

Now Ramu was having a bath at the downstream and suddenly he noticed a sturdy bamboo staff floating by. He caught it just in time and felt it was very heavy. “Seetha told me to get wood urgently. This Bamboo will last for two days as firewood” Ramu thought. He carried the staff home and when he cut the bamboo what was there YESSSS!  His money!!! Ramu was so overjoyed as he found the staff contained the same number of coins as his and then he decided that he should celebrate and feed the poor after keeping money for his needs. He did so and learnt the lesson that hard earned money always sticks to us and therefore money is to be spent in good manner, not hoarded.

This is a story I remember having read from Amar Chitra Katha long back.


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