|India Folk Tales
A Lac of Rupees for a Bit of Advice
blind Brahman and his wife were dependent on their son for their
subsistence. Every day the young fellow used to go out and get what he
could by begging. This continued for some time, till at last he became
quite tired of such a wretched life, and determined to go and try his
luck in another country. He informed his wife of his intention, and
ordered her to manage somehow or other for the old people during the
few months that he would be absent. He begged her to be industrious,
lest his parents should be angry and curse him.
One morning he
started with some food in a bundle, and walked on day after day, till
he reached the chief city of the neighbouring country. Here he went and
sat down by a merchant's shop and asked alms. The merchant inquired
whence he had come, why he had come, and what was his caste; to which
he replied that he was a Brahman, and was wandering hither and thither
begging a livelihood for himself and wife and parents. Moved with pity
for the man, the merchant advised him to visit the kind and generous
king of that country, and offered to accompany him to the court. Now,
at that time it happened that the king was seeking for a Brahman to
look after a golden temple which he had just had built. His Majesty was
very glad, therefore, when he saw the Brahman and heard that he was
good and honest. He at once deputed him to the charge of this temple,
and ordered fifty kharwars of rice and one hundred rupees to be paid to
him every year as wages.
Two months after this, the Brahman's
wife, not having heard any news of her husband, left the house and went
in quest of him. By a happy fate she arrived at the very place that he
had reached, where she heard that every morning at the golden temple a
golden rupee was given in the king's name to any beggar who chose to go
for it. Accordingly, on the following morning she went to the place and
met her husband.
"Why have you come here?" he asked. "Why have
you left my parents? Care you not whether they curse me and I die? Go
back immediately, and await my return."
"No, no," said the
woman. "I cannot go back to starve and see your old father and mother
die. There is not a grain of rice left in the house."
Bhagawant!" exclaimed the Brahman. "Here, take this," he continued,
scribbling a few lines on some paper, and then handing it to her, "and
give it to the king. You will see that he will give you a lac of rupees
for it." Thus saying he dismissed her, and the woman left.
this scrap of paper were written three pieces of advice - First, If a
person is travelling and reaches any strange place at night, let him be
careful where he puts up, and not close his eyes in sleep, lest he
close them in death. Secondly, If a man has a married sister, and
visits her in great pomp, she will receive him for the sake of what she
can obtain from him; but if he comes to her in poverty, she will frown
on him and disown him. Thirdly, If a man has to do any work, he must do
it himself, and do it with might and without fear.
her home the Brahmani told her parents of her meeting with her husband,
and what a valuable piece of paper he had given her; but not liking to
go before the king herself, she sent one of her relations. The king
read the paper, and ordering the man to be flogged, dismissed him. The
next morning the Brahmani took the paper, and while she was going along
the road to the darbar reading it, the king's son met her, and asked
what she was reading, whereupon she replied that she held in her hands
a paper containing certain bits of advice, for which she wanted a lac
of rupees. The prince asked her to show it to him, and when he had read
it gave her a parwana for the amount, and rode on. The poor Brahmani
was very thankful. That day she laid in a great store of provisions,
sufficient to last them all for a long time.
In the evening the
prince related to his father the meeting with the woman, and the
purchase of the piece of paper. He thought his father would applaud the
act. But it was not so. The king was more angry than before, and
banished his son from the country. So the prince bade adieu to his
mother and relations and friends, and rode off on his horse, whither he
did not know. At nightfall he arrived at some place, where a man met
him, and invited him to lodge at his house. The prince accepted the
invitation, and was treated like a prince. Matting was spread for him
to squat on, 'and the best provisions set before him.
thought he, as he lay down to rest, "here is a case for the first piece
of advice that the Brahmani gave me. I will not sleep to-night."
was well that he thus resolved, for in the middle of the night the man
rose up, and taking a sword in his hand, rushed to the prince with the
intention of killing him. But he rose up and spoke.
"Do not slay
me," he said. "What profit would you get from my death? If you killed
me you would be sorry afterwards, like that man who killed his dog."
"What man? What dog?" he asked.
"I will tell you," said the prince, "if you will give me that sword."
So he gave him the sword, and the prince began his story:
upon a time there lived a wealthy merchant who had a pet dog. He was
suddenly reduced to poverty, and had to part with his dog. He got a
loan of five thousand rupees from a brother merchant, leaving the dog
as a pledge, and with the money began business again. Not long after
this the other merchant's shop was broken into by thieves and
completely sacked. There 'was hardly ten rupees' worth left in the
place. The faithful dog, however, knew what was going on, and went and
followed the thieves, and saw where they deposited the things, and then
"In the morning there was great weeping and
lamentation in the merchant's house when it was known what had
happened. The merchant himself nearly went mad. Meanwhile the dog kept
on running to the door, and pulling at his master's shirt and paijamas,
as though wishing him to go outside. At last a friend suggested that,
perhaps, the dog knew something of the whereabouts of the things, and
advised the merchant to follow its leadings. The merchant consented,
and went after the dog right up to the very place where the thieves had
hidden the goods. Here the animal scraped and barked, and showed in
various ways that the things were underneath. So the merchant and his
friends dug about the place, and soon came upon all the stolen
property. Nothing was missing. There was everything just as the thieves
had taken them.
"The merchant was very glad. On returning to his
house, he at once sent the dog back to its old master with a letter
rolled under the collar, wherein he had written about the sagacity of
the beast, and begged his friend to forget the loan and to accept
another five thousand rupees as a present. When this merchant saw his
dog coming back again, he thought, 'Alas! my friend is wanting the
money. How can I pay him? I have not had sufficient time to recover
myself from my recent losses. I will slay the dog ere be reaches the
threshold, and say that another must have slain it. Thus there will be
an end of my debt. No dog, no loan.' Accordingly he ran out and killed
the poor dog, when the letter fell out of its collar. The merchant
picked it up and read it. How great was his grief and disappointment
when he knew the facts of the case!
"Beware," continued the prince, 'lest you do that which afterwards you would give your life not to have done."
By the time the prince had concluded this story it was nearly morning, and he went away, after rewarding the man.
prince then visited the country belonging to his brother-in-law. He
disguised himself as a jogi, and sitting down by a tree near the
palace, pretended to be absorbed in worship. News of the man and of his
wonderful piety reached the ears of the king. He felt interested in
him, as his wife was very ill; and he had sought for hakims to cure
her, but in vain. He thought that, perhaps, this holy man could do
something for her. So he sent to him. But the jogi refused to tread the
halls of a king, saying that his dwelling was the open air, and that if
his Majesty wished to see him he must come himself and bring his wife
to the place. Then the king took his wife and brought her to the jogi.
The holy man bade her prostrate herself before him, and when she had
remained in this position for about three hours, he told her to rise
and go, for she was cured.
In the evening there was great
consternation in the palace, because the queen had lost her pearl
rosary, and nobody knew anything about it. At length some one went to
the jogi, and found it on the ground by the place where the queen had
prostrated herself. When the king heard this he was very angry, and
ordered the jogi to be executed. This stern order, however, was not
carried out, as the prince bribed the men and escaped from the country.
But he knew that the second bit of advice was true.
Clad in his
own clothes, the prince was walking along one day when he saw a potter
crying and laughing alternately with his wife and children. "O fool,"
said he, "what is the matter? If you laugh, why do you weep? If you
weep, why do you laugh?"
"Do not bother me," said the potter. "What does it matter to you?"
"Pardon me," said the prince, "but I should like to know the reason."
reason is this, then," said the potter. "The king of this country has a
daughter whom he is obliged to marry every day, because all her
husbands die the first night of their stay with her. Nearly all the
young men of the place have thus perished, and our son will be called
on soon. We laugh at the absurdity of the thing--a potter's son
marrying a princess, and we cry at the terrible consequence of the
marriage. What can we do?"
"Truly a matter for laughing and
weeping. But weep no more," said the prince. "I will exchange places
with your son, and will be married to the princess instead of him. Only
give me suitable garments, and prepare me for the occasion."
the potter gave him beautiful raiment and ornaments, and the prince
went to the palace. At night he was conducted to the apartment of the
princess. "Dread hour!" thought he; "am I to die like the scores of
young men before me?" He clenched his sword with firm grip, and lay
down on his bed, intending to keep awake all the night and see what
would happen. In the middle of the night he saw two Shahmars come out
from the nostrils of the princess. They stole over towards him,
intending to kill him, like the others who had been before him: but he
was ready for them. He laid hold of his sword, and when the snakes
reached his bed he struck at them and killed them. In the morning the
king came as usual to inquire, and was surprised to hear his daughter
and the prince talking. gaily together. "Surely," said he, "this man
must be her husband, as he only can live with her."
"Where do you come from? Who are you?" asked the king, entering the room.
"O king! "replied the prince, "I am the son of a king who rules over such-and-such a country."
he heard this the king was very glad, and bade the prince to abide in
his palace, and appointed him his successor to the throne. The prince
remained at the palace for more than a year, and then asked permission
to visit his own country, which was granted. The king gave him
elephants, horses, jewels, and abundance of money for the expenses of
the way and as presents for his father, and the prince started.
the way he had to pass through the country belonging to his
brother-in-law, whom we have already mentioned. Report of his arrival
reached the ears of the king, who came with rope-tied hands and
haltered neck to do him homage. He most humbly begged him to stay at
his palace, and to accept what little hospitality could be provided.
While the prince was staying at the palace be saw his sister, who
greeted him with smiles and kisses. On leaving he told her how she and
her husband had treated him at his first visit, and how he escaped; and
then gave them two elephants; two beautiful horses, fifteen soldiers,
and ten lacs rupees' worth of jewels.
Afterwards he went to his
own home, and informed his mother and father of his arrival. Alas! his
parents bad both become blind from weeping about the loss of their son.
"Let him come in," said the king, "and put his hands upon our eyes, and
we shall see again." So the prince entered, and was most affectionately
greeted by his old parents; and he laid his hands on their eyes, and
they saw again.
Then the prince told his father all that had
happened to him, and how he had been saved several times by attending
to the advice that he had purchased from the Brahmani. Whereupon the
king expressed his sorrow for having sent him away, and all was joy and