Around The Campfire : A Raman Story Once while traveling, Raman found himself in the company of a group of soldiers. They were all veterans of war and soon they got to talking about their experiences on the battlefield. One old soldier told of the time he had single-handedly slain seven enemy soldiers. Another gave a detailed description of the manner in which he had held an entire enemy battalion at bay. When they had finished they looked condescendingly at Raman. "I don't suppose you have any adventure worth telling," said one of the grizzled warriors. "Oh, but I have," said Rama "You have?!" said the soldiers. "Yes," said Rama. "Once while traveling I chanced upon a large tent. I entered and there, lying on a mat was the largest man I had ever seen. I recognized him at once as a dreaded dacoit who had been terrorizing that part of the country for years!" "What did you do?" asked the soldiers, their interest now fully aroused. "I cut off his toe and ran for dear life," said Rama. "His toe?" said a soldier. "Why toe? You should have cut off his head while you had the chance!" "Somebody had already done that," said Rama, grinning. Honest Opinion : A Raman Story A poet visited Tenali Raman hoping to impress him with some poems he had written. Raman asked him to leave the poems with him and promised to read them later. The man, however, insisted on reading out the poems to him. As the poet droned on Raman fell asleep. When he woke up, the poet asked: “Sir, shall I read the poems again?” “Why? I‟ve already given you my opinion, haven‟t I?” “No, Sir,” said the man. “You fell asleep.” “That‟s right,” replied Raman. “When I fell asleep I gave my opinion.” Tricksters Humbled : A Raman Story Four travelers once asked an old woman to keep a little bundle for them and told her to give it back only when all four were present. One of them, however, returned alone and tricked her into giving him the bundle. Later the other three came to collect the bundle. She explained she had given it to the man who had come earlier. They were very angry and took her to court. Maryada Raman, the judge listened to their complaint. "So, you see, Sir, she has to pay us compensation now!" the three cried. "But she will give you the bundle itself," said Maryada Raman, and pausing a little, he added, "provided all four of you are present." There was laughter in the court and the three men realized that they had lost the case. The Key to Heaven : A Raman Story The villagers were delighted. A sage who performed miracles had come to their village. Every morning and evening they would gather at the temple with specially prepared delicacies as offerings to the sage. When Tenali Raman heard of this, he smelt a rat. He went to the temple and sat near the holy man. The sage began reciting shlokas. To Raman’s surprise, he went on repeating the same shloka over and over again. Raman realized that he was a fraud. Suddenly, he leaned forward and plucked a strand of hair from the sage’s beard. “I have the key to the Heaven!” he shouted triumphantly. The villagers looked startled. “This sage is so great that if I keep the hair from his beard with me, I will be blessed forever!” said Raman. Immediately there was a scramble as the villagers rushed to get hold of a hair from the sage’s beard. The frightened sage ran for his life and was never heard of again. The Irreverent Devotee : A Raman Story Tenali Raman prayed fervently to Goddess Kali. And one day the goddess sporting a thousand faces appeared before him. Rama was awed and was about to prostrate himself when a silly thought entered his head. He looked at the goddess again and burst out laughing. "Why are you laughing?" asked the goddess. "Mother," replied Rama. "I have only one nose yet when I have a cold I suffer so much. I was wondering what would happen in case you caught a cold." The goddess, pleased with his audacity and sense of humor, held out two crucibles of nectar to him. "One is the nectar of wealth, the other is the nectar of wisdom," explained the goddess. "Dip your finger in the crucible of your choice." Rama immediately dipped his fingers in both crucibles. The goddess hastily blessed him and disappeared. The Fool of the Year : A Raman Story Fool of the Year contest was open to all the courtiers of King Krishnadeva Raya. All the people looked forward to the event as the winner stood to gain a handsome prize of 5000 gold coins. The trouble was, Raman always won the contest. One year the other courtiers decided that he must be kept out of it and bribed his servant to lock him in his room to prevent him from reaching the palace in time for the event. Consequently Raman reached the palace after the contest was over and just as the name of the winner was about to be announced. Seeing Raman come in, the king asked him why he was so late. Raman told him he was in need of a hundred gold coins and had been engaged in trying to raise the amount. "If you had participated in the contest you might have won the prize money and your problem would have been solved,” said the king. "You've behaved very foolishly." "I am a fool," said Raman. "You're the greatest fool I've ever seen!" said the king. "That means I have won the contest!" said Raman. The king realized that he had made a slip but he was too proud to acknowledge it and to the chagrin of the other courtiers declared Raman the winner of Fool of the Year contest! The Dutiful Son : A Raman Story The King's mother died before she could eat the mango she had asked for. And some wily courtiers convinced the king that his mother's soul would not rest in peace until a golden mango was given to each one of them. Accordingly a long line of courtiers formed outside the palace. Raman met them at the gate and told them that each man would get as many golden mangoes as burns he agreed to receive on his body with red hot irons. The courtiers gritted their teeth and suffered three or four burns each but when they went in, each man got only one golden mango. The courtiers were very angry and complained to the king. The king sent for Raman and asked for an explanation. Raman said, "Your Majesty, you mother died before she could eat the mango and mine died before she could be cauterized and I wished to fulfill her last wish." The king realized that Raman was trying to show up the greedy courtiers and laughed and sent them away. Raman Provides Justice : A Raman Story Two men stood before Maryada Raman, the law-giver. One was a farmer and the other was a village elder. The farmer said he had given the other man a diamond for safe- keeping and that he was now refusing to give it back. "Well, is that true?" Maryada Raman asked the old man. The man paused a while, deep in thought. Then, he handed his walking stick to his accuser. After another pause, he raised his eyes up to the heavens and said, "As God is my witness, I swear, I have given the diamond back to this man." He then was at the point of taking back his stick, but Maryada Raman said, "Stop! The stick shall be awarded to the farmer." "Take it away," he said to the farmer, "and break it when you are safely home." The man was a little disappointed. To be awarded a stick in place of his diamond! But he followed Raman's instructions. When he reached home he broke the stick - and out tumbled the diamond! Raman's List of Fools : A Raman Story One day a horse trader, a foreigner, came to the court of Krishnadeva Raya and told him he had some fine horses for sale. The emperor offered to buy them. The man took an advance of 5000 gold coins and promising to return with the horses in two days, went away. That evening Krishnadeva Raya saw Raman writing on a sheet of paper. "What are you writing?" he asked. "I'm making a list of the greatest fools in the empire," said Raman. The emperor was astonished to see his own name on the top of the list. "What is the meaning of this?" he demanded. "You think I am a fool!" "Any man, who would give 5000 gold coins to a stranger and expect him to return, is a fool!" replied Raman. "Oh, so that's what is troubling you," said the emperor. "You think the man won't return. What if he does?" "In that case," said Raman with a twinkle in his eye, "I'll scratch out your name and put his there." Climbs Out of Trouble : A Raman Story Tenali Raman once incurred the displeasure of the king, and the monarch ordered him to quit his dominions. Some days later as the king was riding through a forest, he saw a man, who on seeing the king, promptly climbed up a tree. The king stopped under the tree and looking up saw that it was Tenali Raman. "You are still here!" he thundered. "Did l not tell you to leave my kingdom?" "You did, Your Majesty," said Raman. "Accordingly, I traveled all over the world, but wherever I went l learnt that l was still in your dominions. Now the only thing left for me to do is to go to Heaven, and as you can see l have already made a start in that direction." The king laughed and forgave the jester. Peaches for Raman : A Raman Story The Emperor of China had sent some peaches to the king of Tondmandalam with a note stating that the fruit gave long life to anyone who ate them. As the fruits were being shown to the ruler, Raman, giving in to temptation, picked up one of the luscious peaches and bit into it. The king was enraged. "You've bitten into a fruit meant for me!" he thundered. "For this you must die!" As Raman was being taken away by the royal guards he sighed dramatically and exclaimed, "What a deceitful man the Emperor of China is. He says the fruit gives long life. I took just one bite and I'm about to die. O, what a fate awaits the one who eats an entire fruit!" The king was greatly amused by Raman's wit. He not only pardoned him but also gave him a dozen of the peaches he had risked his life for. The Boy Wonder : A Raman Story When Raman was a boy, his neighbor once took him to the house of a rich and powerful landlord. “He‟s a prodigy,” the neighbor told the landlord. “I‟ve never seen a more intelligent boy. He has an answer for everything!” The landlord was a proud and haughty man who thought himself the only intelligent person in the country. He was not at all pleased to hear his visitor praise Raman. “He doesn‟t look very intelligent,” he said, glancing at Raman. “In any case the more intelligent a boy is, the duller he becomes as a man!” “Is that true?” asked Raman, with an air of innocence. “Then, sir, as a boy you must have been even more intelligent than I am!” Mooli and Recipe : A Raman Story "I‟ve never eaten anything tastier in my life!” declared Raman, who had just returned from his friend‟s house. “What did you eat?” asked his wife. “Mooli (radish) halwa,” Raman said, smacking his lips. “Mooli! Whoever has heard of halwa being made from mooli! It must have been something else,” said his wife disbelievingly. She just could not understand how anyone could make halwa out of mooli. Nevertheless, her curiosity was aroused and next day she asked him to get her the recipe from his friend and some moolis from the market. “Where are the moolis?” she asked, when he returned. “You see,” he explained, “while I was returning from the market, a goat snatched the moolis away.” Annoyed at his carelessness, she said “Have you brought the recipe?” “Well, I thought,” said Raman with a shrug, “The recipe is of no use without moolis, so I let the starving animal eat that too.” Birbal Stories: Birbal Betrays Himself Birbal was missing. He and the emperor had a quarrel and Birbal had stormed out of the palace vowing never to return. Now Akbar missed him and wanted him back but no one knew where he was. Then the emperor had a brainwave. He offered a reward of 1000 gold coins to any man who could come to the palace observing the following condition. The man had to walk in the sun without an umbrella but he had to be in the shade at the same time. "Impossible," said the people. Then a villager came carrying a string cot over his head and claimed the prize. "I've walked in the sun but at the same time I was in the shade of the strings of the cot," he said. It was a brilliant solution. On interrogation the villager confessed that the idea had been suggested to him by a man living with him. "It could only be Birbal!" said the emperor, delighted. Sure enough it was Birbal and he and the emperor had a joyous reunion. Birbal Stories: Birbal Denies Rumor One day a man stopped Birbal in the street and began narrating his woes to him. "I've walked twenty miles to see you," he told Birbal finally, "and all along the way people kept saying you were the most generous man in the country." Birbal knew the man was going to ask him for money. "Are you going back the same way?" he asked. "Yes," said the man. "Will you do me a favor?" "Certainly," said the man. "What do you want me to do?" "Please deny the rumor of my generosity," said Birbal, walking away. Birbal Stories: Birbal Identifies Thief One fine morning, a minister from Emperor Akbar's court had gathered in the assembly hall. He informed the Emperor that all his valuables had been stolen by a thief the previous night. Akbar was shocked to hear this because the place where that minister lived was the safest place in the kingdom. He invited Birbal to solve the mystery. Akbar said "It is definitely not possible for an outsider to enter into the minister's house and steal the valuables. This blunder is definitely committed only by another minister of that court." Saying so, he arranged for a donkey to be tied to a pillar. He ordered all the courtiers to lift the donkey's tail and say "I have not stolen." Birbal added "Only then we can judge the culprit." After everyone had finished, he asked the courtiers to show their palm to him. All the courtiers except Alim Khan had a black patch of paint on their palm. Birbal had actually painted the donkey's tail with a black coat of paint. In the fright, the guilty minister did not touch the donkey's tail at all. Thus Birbal once again proved his intelligence and was rewarded by the king with 1000 gold coins. Birbal Stories: Birbal Is Brief One day Akbar asked his courtiers if they could tell him the difference between truth and falsehood in three words or less. The courtiers looked at one another in bewilderment. "What about you, Birbal?" asked the emperor. "I'm surprised that you too are silent." "I'm silent because I want to give others a chance to speak," said Birbal. "Nobody else has the answer," said the emperor. "So go ahead and tell me what the difference between truth and falsehood is — in three words or less." "Four fingers" said Birbal "Four fingers?" asked the emperor, perplexed. "That's the difference between truth and falsehood, your Majesty," said Birbal. "That which you see with your own eyes is the truth. That which you have only heard about might not be true. More often than not, it's likely to be false." "That is right," said Akbar. "But what did you mean by saying the difference is four fingers?' "The distance between one's eyes and one's ears is the width of four fingers, Your Majesty," said Birbal, grinning. Birbal Stories: Birbal Outwits Cheat A farmer and his neighbor once went to Emperor Akbar's court with a complaint. "Your Majesty, I bought a well from him," said the farmer pointing to his neighbor," and now he wants me to pay for the water." "That's right, your Majesty," said the neighbor. "I sold him the well but not the water!" The Emperor asked Birbal to settle the dispute. "Didn't you say that you sold your well to this farmer?" Birbal asked the neighbor. "So, the well belongs to him now, but you have kept your water in his well. Is that right? Well, in that case you will have to pay him a rent or take your water out at once." The neighbor realized that he was outwitted. He quickly apologized and gave up his claim. Birbal Stories: Birbal Returns Home Birbal was in Persia at the invitation of the king of that country. Parties were given in his honor and rich presents were heaped on him. On the eve of his departure for home, a nobleman asked him how he would compare the king of Persia to his own king. “Your king is a full moon,” said Birbal. “Whereas mine could be likened to the quarter moon.” The Persians were very happy. But when Birbal got home he found that Emperor Akbar was furious with him. “How could you belittle your own king!” demanded Akbar. “You are a traitor!” “No, Your Majesty,” said Birbal. “I did not belittle you. The full moon diminishes and disappears whereas the quarter moon grows from strength to strength. What I, in fact, proclaimed to the world is that your power is growing from day to day whereas that of the king of Persia is about to go into decline.” Akbar grunted in satisfaction and welcomed Birbal back with a warm embrace. Birbal Stories: Birbal Shortens Road The Emperor Akbar was traveling to a distant place along with some of his courtiers. It was a hot day and the emperor was tiring of the journey. “Can’t anybody shorten this road for me?” he asked, querulously. “I can,” said Birbal. The other courtiers looked at one another, perplexed. All of them knew there was no other path through the hilly terrain. The road they were traveling on was the only one that could take them to their destination. “You can shorten the road?” said the emperor. “Well, do it.” “I will,” said Birbal. “Listen first to this story I have to tell.” And riding beside the emperor’s palanquin, he launched upon a long and intriguing tale that held Akbar and all those listening, spellbound. Before they knew it, they had reached the end of their journey. “We’ve reached?” exclaimed Akbar. “So soon!” “Well,” grinned Birbal, “you did say you wanted the road to be shortened.” Birbal Stories: Birbal's Sweet Reply One day the Emperor Akbar startled his courtiers with a strange question. "If somebody pulled my whiskers what sort of punishment should be given to him?" he asked. "He should be flogged!" said one courtier. "He should be hanged!" said another. "He should be beheaded!" said a third. "And what about you, Birbal?" asked the emperor. "What do you think would be the right thing to do if somebody pulled my whiskers?" "He should be given sweets," said Birbal. "Sweets?" gasped the other couriers. "Yes”, said Birbal. “Sweets, because the only one who would dare pull His Majesty's whiskers is his grandson." So pleased was the emperor with the answer that he pulled off his ring and gave it to Birbal as a reward. Birbal Stories: Birbal The Child Birbal arrived late for a function and the emperor was displeased. "My child was crying and I had to placate him," explained the courtier. "Does it take so long to calm down a child?" asked the emperor. "It appears you know nothing about child rearing. Now you pretend to be a child and I shall act as your father and I will show you how you should have dealt with your child. Go on. Ask me for whatever he asked of you." "I want a cow," said Birbal. Akbar ordered a cow to be brought to the palace. "I want its milk. I want its milk," said Birbal, imitating the voice of a small child. "Milk the cow and give to him," said Akbar to his servants. The cow was milked and the milk was offered to Birbal. He drank a little and then handed the bowl back to Akbar. "Now put the rest of it back into the cow, put it back, put in back, put it back..." wailed Birbal. The emperor was flabbergasted and quietly left the room. Birbal Stories: Birbal The Servant One day Akbar and Birbal were riding through the countryside and they happened to pass by a cabbage patch. "Cabbages are such delightful vegetables!" said Akbar. "I just love cabbage." "The cabbage is king of vegetables!" said Birbal. A few weeks later they were riding past the cabbage patch again. This time however, the emperor made a face when he saw the vegetables. "I used to love cabbage but now I have no taste for it." said Akbar. "The cabbage is a tasteless vegetable" agreed Birbal. The emperor was astonished. "But the last time you said it was the king of vegetables!" he said. "I did," admitted Birbal. "But I am your servant Your Majesty, not the cabbage's." Birbal Stories: Birbal The Wise Ram and Sham both claimed ownership of the same mango tree. One day they approached Birbal and asked him to settle the dispute. Birbal said to them: "There is only one way to settle the matter. Pluck all the fruits on the tree and divide them equally between the two of you. Then cut down the tree and divide the wood". Ram thought it was a fair judgment and said so. But Sham was horrified. "Your Honor" he said to Birbal "I've tended that tree for seven years. I'd rather let Ram have it than see it cut down." "Your concern for the tree has told me all I wanted to know" said Birbal, and declared Sham the true owner of the tree. Birbal Stories: Birbal Turns Tables Emperor Akbar was narrating a dream. The dream began with Akbar and Birbal walking towards each other on a moonless night. It was so dark that they could not see each other and they collided and fell. "Fortunately for me," said the Emperor. "I fell into a pool of payasam. But guess what Birbal fell into?" "What, your Majesty?" asked the courtiers. "A gutter!" The court resounded with laughter. The emperor was thrilled that for once he had been able to score over Birbal. But Birbal was unperturbed. "Your Majesty," he said when the laughter had died down. "Strangely, I too had the same dream. But unlike you I slept on till the end. When you climbed out of that pool of delicious payasam and I, out of that stinking gutter we found that there was no water with which to clean ourselves and so guess what we did?” "What?" asked the emperor, warily. "We licked each other clean!" The emperor became red with embarrassment and resolved never to try to get the better of Birbal again. Birbal Stories: Cooking The Khichdi It was winter. The ponds were all frozen. At the court, Akbar asked Birbal, "Tell me Birbal! Will a man do anything for money?" Birbal replied, 'Yes'. The emperor ordered him to prove it. The next day Birbal came to the court along with a poor Brahmin who merely had a penny left with him. His family was starving. Birbal told the king that the Brahmin was ready to do anything for the sake of money. The king ordered the Brahmin to be inside the frozen pond all through the night without any attire if he needed money. The poor Brahmin had no choice. The whole night he was inside the pond, shivering. He returned to the durbar the next day to receive his reward. The king asked "Tell me Oh poor Brahmin! How could you withstand the extreme temperature all through the night?" The innocent Brahmin replied "I could see a faintly glowing light a kilometer away and I withstood with that ray of light." Akbar refused to pay the Brahmin his reward saying that he had got warmth from the light and withstood the cold and that was cheating. The poor Brahmin could not argue with him and so returned disappointed and bare-handed. Birbal tried to explain to the king but the king was in no mood to listen to him. Thereafter, Birbal stopped coming to the durbar and sent a messenger to the king saying that he would come to the court only after cooking his khichdi. As Birbal did not turn up even after 5 days, the king himself went to Birbal's house to see what he was doing. Birbal had lit the fire and kept the pot of uncooked khichdi one meter away from it. Akbar questioned him "How will the khichdi get cooked with the fire one meter away? What is wrong with you Birbal?" Birbal, cooking the khichdi, replied "Oh my great King of Hindustan! When it was possible for a person to receive warmth from a light that was a kilometer away, then it is possible for this khichdi, which is just a meter away from the source of heat, to get cooked." Akbar understood his mistake. He called the poor Brahmin and rewarded him 2000 gold coins. Birbal Stories: Half The Reward Mahesh Das was a citizen in the kingdom of Akbar. He was an intelligent young man. Once when Akbar went hunting in the jungle, he lost his way. Mahesh Das who lived in the outskirts helped the king reach the palace. The emperor rewarded him with his ring. The Emperor also promised to give him a responsible posting at his court. After a few days Mahesh Das went to the court. The guard did not allow him to enter. Mahesh Das showed the guard the ring which the king had given him. Now the guard thought that the young man was sure to get more rewards by the king. The greedy guard agreed to allow him inside the court on one condition. It was that Mahesh Das had to pay him half the reward he would get from the Emperor. Mahesh Das accepted the condition. He then entered the court and showed the ring to the King. The King who recognized Mahesh asked him "Oh young man! What do you expect as a reward from the King of Hindustan?" "Majesty! I expect 50 lashes from you as a reward." replied Mahesh Das. The courtiers were stunned. They thought that he was mad. Akbar pondered over his request and asked him the reason. Mahesh Das said he would tell him the reason after receiving his reward. Then the king‟s men whipped him as per his wish. After the 25th lash Mahesh Das requested the King to call the guard who was at the gate. The guard appeared before the King. He was happy at the thought that he was called to be rewarded. But to his surprise, Mahesh Das told the King ,"Jahampana! This greedy guard let me inside on condition that I pay him half the reward I receive from you. I wanted to teach him a lesson. Please give the remaining 25 lashes to this guard so that I can keep my promise to him." The King then ordered that the guard be given 25 lashes along with 5 years of imprisonment. The King was very happy with Mahesh Das. He called him RAJA BIRBAL and made him his chief minister. Birbal Stories: Identify The Guest Birbal had been invited to lunch by a rich man. Birbal went to the man's house and found him in a hall full of people. His host greeted him warmly. "I did not know there would be so many guests," said Birbal who hated large gatherings. "They are not guests," said the man. "They are my employees, all except one man. He is the only other guest here beside you." Then a crafty look came on the man's face. "Can you tell me which of them is the guest?" he asked. "Maybe I could," said Birbal. "Talk to them as I observe them. Tell them a joke or something." The man told a joke that Birbal thought was perhaps the worst he had heard in a long time. When he finished everyone laughed uproariously. "Well," said the rich man. "I've told my joke. Now tell me who my other guest is." Birbal pointed out the man to him. "How did you know?" asked his host, amazed. "Employees tend to laugh at any joke told by their employers," explained Birbal. "When I saw that this man was the only one not laughing at your joke, and in fact, looked positively bored, I at once knew he was your other guest." Birbal Stories: Just One Question One Day a scholar came to the court of Emperor Akbar and challenged Birbal to answer his questions and thus prove that he was as clever as people said he was. He asked Birbal: "Would you prefer to answer a hundred easy questions or just a single difficult one?" Both the emperor and Birbal had had a difficult day and were impatient to leave. "Ask me one difficult question," sad Birbal. "Well, then, tell me," said the man, "which came first into the world, the chicken or the egg?" "The chicken," replied Birbal. "How do you know?" asked the scholar, a note of triumph in his voice. "We had agreed you would ask only one question and you have already asked it" said Birbal and he and the emperor walked away leaving the scholar gaping. Birbal Stories: Limping Horse A nobleman‟s prized racehorse began to limp for no apparent reason. Veterinarians who were called found nothing wrong with the leg - no fracture, no sprain and no soreness - and they were baffled. The nobleman finally consulted a sage, a man known for his wisdom. “Has anything changed for the horse in the last few months?” he asked. “I changed his trainer a few weeks ago,” said the nobleman. “Does the horse get on well with his new trainer?” “Very well! In fact, he‟s devoted to him.” “Does the trainer limp?” “Uh… yes, he does.” “The reason for the horse‟s limp is clear,” said the sage. “He‟s imitating his handler. We all tend to imitate those whom we admire. The company we keep has a great influence on us.” The nobleman put the horse in the charge of another trainer and the horse soon stopped limping. Birbal Stories: List of blinds Once King Akbar questioned Birbal if he knows the number of blind citizens of their kingdom. Raja Birbal had requested Akbar to give him a week‟s time. The next day Raja Birbal was found to be mending shoes in the town market. People were astonished to see Birbal doing such work. Many of them started to question "Birbal!! What are you doing?" Once when he was asked this question by someone he started writing something. It continued for a week when on the 7th day King Akbar himself asked Birbal the same question. Giving him no answer, Birbal reported at the court the next day and handed over a note to King Akbar. Akbar read the note when he found that it was the big list of people who were blind. Emperor Akbar was stunned when he found his own name in the list. Angered by this, Akbar asked Birbal the reason for writing his name in the list. Birbal said "O! My majesty! Like all other people you also saw me mending the slippers but you still asked me what I was doing. Therefore I had to include your name too." Akbar started laughing at this and everyone enjoyed Birbal's sense of humor. Birbal Stories: Noble Beggar Emperor Akbar asked Birbal if it was possible for a man to be the lowest and the noblest t the same time. "It is possible," said Birbal. "Then bring me such a person," said the emperor. Birbal went out and returned with a beggar. "He is the lowest among your subjects," he said, presenting him to Akbar. "That might be true," said Akbar. "But I don't see how he can be the noblest." "He has been given the honor of an audience with the emperor," said Birbal. "That makes him the noblest among beggars." Birbal Stories: Painting By Birbal Once Akbar told Birbal 'Birbal, make me a painting. Use imagination in it. To which the reply was 'But hoozoor, I am a minister, how can I possibly paint?‟ The king was angry and said 'If I don‟t get a good painting by one week then you shall be hanged!‟ The clever Birbal had an idea. After one week, he went to the court and with him he carried a covered frame. Akbar was happy to see that Birbal had obeyed him, until he opened the cover. The courtiers rushed to see what was wrong. What they saw made them feel very happy. At last, they would not see Birbal in court! The painting was nothing but ground and sky. There were a few specs of green on the ground. The Emperor, angrily, told Birbal 'what is this?' To which the reply was 'A cow eating grass hoozoor!‟ Akbar said 'where is the cow and grass?' and Birbal told 'I used my imagination. The cow ate the grass and returned to its shed!' Birbal Stories: Question for Question One day Akbar said to Birbal: "Can you tell me how many bangles your wife wears?" Birbal said he could not. "You cannot?" exclaimed Akbar. "You see her hands every day while she serves you food. Yet you do not know how many bangles she has on her hands? How is that?" "Let us go down to the garden, Your Majesty," said Birbal, "and I'll tell you." They went down the small staircase that led to the garden. Then Birbal turned to the emperor: "Your Majesty," he said, "You go up and down this staircase every day. Can you tell me how many steps there are in the staircase?" The emperor grinned sheepishly and quickly changed the subject. Birbal Stories: The Blind Saint There lived a saint in an ashram in the kingdom of Emperor Akbar. He was believed to prophecy the future correctly. Once he had a visitor who had come to treat their niece. The child's parents were killed in front of the girl's eyes. Once she saw the saint, she started to scream loudly saying that that saint was the culprit. Angered by the girl's words, the saint demanded the couple to get away with their child. The whole day the girl cried which made the couple to realize that the girl was not lying. Therefore, they decided to seek the help of Birbal. Birbal consoled them and asked them to wait at the Emperor's assembly. Birbal had invited the saint to Akbar's court too. Then in front of all the ministers he drew a sword and neared the saint to kill him. The saint in bewilderment immediately drew another sword and began to fight. Thus by this act of the saint it was proved that he wasn‟t blind. Therefore, Akbar demanded to hang the culprit and rewarded the girl for her bravery for telling the truth even at the critical situation. Birbal Stories: The Choice of Birbal One day Emperor Akbar asked Birbal what he would choose if he were given a choice between justice and a gold coin. “The gold coin,” said Birbal. Akbar was taken aback. “You would prefer a gold coin to justice?” he asked, incredulously. “Yes,” said Birbal. The other courtiers were amazed by Birbal‟s display of idiocy. For years they had been trying to discredit Birbal in the emperor‟s eyes but without success and now the man had gone and done it himself! They could not believe their good fortune. “I would have been dismayed if even the lowliest of my servants had said this,” continued the emperor. “But coming from you it‟s . . . it‟s shocking - and sad. I did not know you were so debased!” “One asks for what one does not have, Your Majesty!” said Birbal, quietly. “You have seen to it that in our country justice is available to everybody. So as justice is already available to me and as I‟m always short of money I said I would choose the gold coin.” The emperor was so pleased with Birbal‟s reply that he gave him not one but a thousand gold coins. Birbal Stories: The Jealous Courtiers One day Emperor Akbar was inspecting the law and order situation in the kingdom. One of his ministers, who was jealous of Raja Birbal, complained that the Emperor gave importance only to Birbal's suggestions and all the other ministers were ignored. Akbar wanted the minister to know how wise Birbal was. There was a marriage procession going on. The Emperor ordered the minister to enquire whose marriage it was. The minister found out and walked towards the Emperor wearing a proud expression on his face. Then the king called Birbal and asked him too to enquire whose marriage was going on. When Birbal returned, Akbar asked the minister "Where are the couple going?" The minister said that the king had only asked him to enquire whose marriage was going on. Then Akbar asked Birbal the same question. "O My Majesty! They are going to the city of Allahabad," replied Raja Birbal. Now the King turned towards the minister and said, "Now do you understand why Birbal is more important to me? It is not enough if you complete a task. You have to use your intelligence to do a little more work.‟ The minister‟s face fell. He had learnt the importance of being Birbal, the hard way. Birbal Stories: The Loyal Gardener One day the Emperor Akbar stumbled on a rock in his garden. He was in a foul mood that day and the accident made him so angry that he ordered the gardener‟s arrest and execution. The next day when the gardener was asked what his last wish was before he was hanged, he requested an audience with the emperor. This wish was granted, but when the man neared the throne he loudly cleared his throat and spat at the emperor‟s feet. The emperor was taken aback and demanded to know why he had done such a thing. The gardener had acted on Birbal‟s advice and now Birbal stepped forward in the man‟s defence. "Your Majesty," he said, "there could be no person more loyal to you than this unfortunate man. Fearing that people would say you hanged him for a trifle, he has gone out of his way to give you a genuine reason for hanging him." The emperor, realizing that he had been about to do a great injustice, set the man free. Birbal Stories: The Musical Genius Famous musicians once gathered at Akbar's court for a competition. The one who could capture a bull's interest was to be declared the winner. One by one, they played the most heavenly music but the bull paid no attention. Then Birbal took the stage. His music sounded like the droning of mosquitoes and the mooing of cows. But to everyone's amazement the bull suddenly became alert and began to move in a lively manner. Akbar declared Birbal the winner. Birbal Stories: The Sadhu Akbar came to the throne when he was only thirteen years old. In the years that followed, he built on of the greatest empires of his time. He lived in unimaginable splendor. He was surrounded by courtiers who agreed with every word he said, who flattered him and treated him as if he were a god. Perhaps it was not surprising that Emperor Akbar was sometimes arrogant and behaved as if the whole world belonged to him. One day, Birbal decided to make the great emperor stop and think about life. That evening as the emperor was going towards his palace, he noticed a Sadhu lying in the centre of his garden. He could not believe his eyes. A strange Sadhu, in ragged clothes, right in the middle of the palace garden? The guards would have to be punished for this, thought the emperor furiously as he walked over to that Sadhu and prodded him with the tip of his embroidered slipper. "Here, fellow!" he cried. "What are you doing here? Get up and go away at once!" That Sadhu opened his eyes. Then he sat up slowly. "Huzoor," he said in a sleepy voice. "Is this your garden, then?" "Yes!" cried the Emperor. "This garden those rose bushes, the fountain beyond that, the courtyard, the palace, this fort, this empire, it all belongs to me!" Slowly that Sadhu stood up. "And the river, Huzoor? And the city? And this country?" "Yes, yes, it's all mine", said the emperor. "Now get out!" "Ah", said the Sadhu. "And before you, Huzoor. Who did the garden and fort and city belong to then?" "My father, of course", said the emperor. In spite of his irritation, he was beginning to get interested in the Sadhu's questions. He loved philosophical discussions and he could tell, from his manner of speaking, that the Sadhu was a learned man. "And who was here before him?" the Sadhu asked quietly. "His father, my father's father, as you know." "Ah", said the Sadhu. So this garden, those rose bushes, the palace and the fort all this has only belonged to you for your lifetime. Before that they belonged to your father, am I right? And after yours time they will belong to your son, and then to his son? "Yes", said the Emperor Akbar wonderingly. "So each one stays here for a time and then goes on his ways?" "Yes." "Like a dharmashala?" the Sadhu asked. "No one owns a dharmashala. Or the shade of a tree on the side of a road. We stop and rest for a while and then go on. And someone has always been there before us and someone will always come after we have gone. Is that not so?" "It is", Emperor Akbar quietly. "So your garden, your palace, your fort, your empire... these are only places you will stay in for a time, for the span of your lifetime. When you die, they will no longer belong to you. You will go, leaving them in the possession of someone else, just as your father did and his father before him." Emperor Akbar nodded. "The whole world is a dharmashala", he said slowly, thinking very hard. "In which we mortals rest awhile. That's what you are telling me, isn't it? Nothing on this earth can ever belong to a single person, because each person is only passing through the earth and must die one day?" The Sadhu nodded solemnly. Then, bowing to the ground, he removed his white beard and saffron turban and his voice changed. "Jahanpanah, forgive me!" he said, in his normal voice. "It was my way of asking you to think about..." "Birbal, oh, Birbal!" the emperor exclaimed. "You are wiser than any philosopher. Come, come at once to the royal chamber and let us discuss this further. Even emperors are but wayfarers on the path of life, it is clear!" Birbal Stories: The Sharpest Shield and Sword A man who made spears and shields once came to Akbar's court. "Your Majesty, nobody can make shields and spears to equal mine," he said. "My shields are so strong that nothing can pierce them and my spears are so sharp that there's nothing they cannot pierce." "I can prove you wrong on one count certainly," said Birbal suddenly. "Impossible!" declared the man. "Hold up one of your shields and I will pierce it with one of your spears," said Birbal with a smile. Birbal Stories: The True King The King of Iran had heard that Birbal was one of the wisest men in the East and desirous of meeting him sent him an invitation to visit his country. In due course, Birbal arrived in Iran. When he entered the palace he was flabbergasted to find not one but six kings seated there. All looked alike. All were dressed in kingly robes. Who was the real king? The very next moment he got his answer. Confidently, he approached the king and bowed to him. "But how did you identify me?" the king asked, puzzled. Birbal smiled and explained: "The false kings were all looking at you, while you yourself looked straight ahead. Even in regal robes, the common people will always look to their king for support." Overjoyed, the king embraced Birbal and showered him with gifts. Birbal Stories: The Well Dispute Once there was a complaint at King Akbar's court. There were two neighbors who shared their garden. In that garden, there was a well that was possessed by Iqbal Khan. His neighbor, who was a farmer wanted to buy the well for irrigation purpose. Therefore they signed an agreement between them, after which the farmer owned the well. Even after selling the well to the farmer, Iqbal continued to fetch water from the well. Angered by this, the farmer had come to get justice from King Akbar. King Akbar asked Iqbal the reason for fetching water from the well even after selling it to the farmer. Iqbal replied that he had sold only the well to the farmer but not the water inside it. King Akbar wanted Birbal who was present in the court listening to the problem to solve the dispute. Birbal came forward and gave a solution. He said " Iqbal, You say that you have sold only the well to the farmer. And you claim that the water is yours. Then how come you can keep your water inside another person's well without paying rent?" Iqbal's trickery was countered thus in a tricky way. The farmer got justice and Birbal was fairly rewarded. A Short Story : Advising A Fool On a mango tree in a jungle, there lived many birds. They were happy in their small nests. Before the onset of the rainy season, all the animal of the jungle repaired their homes. The birds also made their homes more secure. Many birds brought twigs and leaves and others wove their nests. “We should also store some food for our children,” chirped one of the birds. And they collected food, until they had enough to see them through the rainy season. They kept themselves busy preparing for the tough times. Soon the rains came. It was followed by thunder and lighting. All the animals and birds stayed in their homes. It continued raining for many days. One day, a monkey wet in the rain came into the forest. He sat on a branch, shivering with cold, water dripping from its body. The poor monkey tried his best to get shelter, but in vain. The leaves were not enough to save him from the rains. “Brrr! It is so cold!” said the monkey. The birds were watching all this. They felt sorry for the monkey but there was little they could do for him. One of them said, “Brother! Our small nests are not enough to give you shelter.” Another bird said, “All of us prepared for the rainy season. If you had, you would not be in this piteous situation.” “How dare you tell me what to do?” said the monkey, growling at the bird. The monkey angrily pounced on the bird‟s nest, tore it and threw it on the ground. The bird and her chicks were helpless. The poor bird thought, “Fools never value good advice. It is better not to advise them.” A Short Story : Foolish Imitation Long ago, a hawk lived on the top of a hill. At the foot of the hill there was a banyan tree on which a crow used to perch everyday. The crow was very foolish. He would imitate everyone. The hawk atop the hill would fly down everyday in search of food. The crow watched the hawk circling in the air for long hours and swooping down when he saw his prey. The hawk gifted with eyes that could see long distances would spot his prey from the hill top and then fly down to pounce upon the prey. The crow watched the hawk thinking, “Hunh! If the hawk can do that, I too can. What does he think? One day, I will show the hawk that I can do the same thing.” A few days later, as the hawk was circling in the air, the crow decided to do the same. Suddenly a baby rabbit came out of the bushes. The hawk saw it and the crow too saw the rabbit. Before the crow could move, the hawk swooped down, caught hold of the rabbit in his strong sharp talons and flew away. “Swoosh!” was all the crow heard as the hawk disappeared in the sky with his prey. “Hmmph! That is no great skill,” thought the crow, angrily. Next moment he spotted a big fat mouse coming out of a hole. Without wasting time, the crow swooped down. Like the hawk he tried to catch the mouse in his claws. But the mouse saw the crow and moved away, the crow crashed against the hill. “Eeeaaa!” cried the crow in pain. Just then the hawk came flying down. “I hope, now you know it is not easy to hunt and it is not easy to imitate, either,” said the hawk and flew away. There after, the crow never imitated any one in its life. It lived happily with the god-given abilities. The Hospitality of The Pigeon Once upon a time, there lived two pigeons. They were husband and wife. They spend their day looking for food. In the evening they would come and rest on their favorite tree in the forest. One evening, the wife returned home early. A usual she was waiting for her husband, when suddenly it started raining. She strated to worry. “Where are you, my dear? You never get so late,” she whispered to herself. Just then she saw a bird-catcher coming towards her. In a cage he had a pigeon. It was her husband. “OH no, what shall I do now” I wish I can help my husband,” she said. She desperately tried to distract the bird-catcher by flapping her wings, but all in vain. Soon, it stopped raining. “Brrr! It is so cold,” said the bird-catcher. His clothes were wet. He decided to sit under the same tree where the two pigeons lived. The poor wife sat by her husband‟s cage. And she started to cry. The husband said. “Do not feel sad, dear. We now have a guest. This man is shivering and hungry. He needs your help.” Hearing this, the wife flew around getting dry twigs. She made a fire for the bird-catcher. Then she looked at the bird-catcher and said, “You are our guest, since I have no food to offer, I will jump into this fire. In few minutes I will become an edible item for you. You can eat me.” By now, the bird-catcher was overwhelmed by the hospitality of the humble pigeon couple. He at once stopped the wife jumping into the fire. He opened the cage and set the husband free. “I have been cruel and selfish. I will never trap any bird in my net again,” said the bird-catcher and went away. The two pigeons were happy to be reunited. A Short Story : The Arrogant Swans In a far away kingdom, there was a river. This river was home to many golden swans. The swans spent most of their time on the banks of the river. Every six months, the swans would leave a golden feather as a fee for using the lake. The soldiers of the kingdom would collect the feathers and deposit them in the royal treasury. One day, a homeless bird saw the river. “The water in this river seems so cool and soothing. I will make my home here,” thought the bird. As soon as the bird settled down near the river, the golden swans noticed her. They came shouting. “This river belongs to us. We pay a golden feather to the King to use this river. You can not live here.” “I am homeless, brothers. I too will pay the rent. Please give me shelter,” the bird pleaded. “How will you pay the rent? You do not have golden feathers,” said the swans laughing. They further added, “Stop dreaming and leave once.” The humble bird pleaded many times. But the arrogant swans drove the bird away. “I will teach them a lesson!” decided the humiliated bird. She went to the King and said, “O King! The swans in your river are impolite and unkind. I begged for shelter but they said that they had purchased the river with golden feathers.” The King was angry with the arrogant swans for having insulted the homeless bird. He ordered his soldiers to bring the arrogant swans to his court. In no time, all the golden swans were brought to the King‟s court. “Do you think the royal treasury depends upon your golden feathers? You can not decide who lives by the river. Leave the river at once or you all will be beheaded!” shouted the King. The swans shivered with fear on hearing the King. They flew away never to return. The bird built her home near the river and lived there happily forever. The bird gave shelter to all other birds in the river. A Short Story : The Bonded Donkey In a small village, there lived a potter. He had a donkey. Everyday his donkey would carry soil from the field to his house. Since the field was quite far off, the potter would rest under a tree midway, tying his donkey nearby. One day, the potter forgot to take the rope with which he tied the donkey everyday. When he reached the tree, he thought, “How do I tie this donkey today? He might run away if I sleep. “The potter decided to tie down holding the donkey‟s ears so that the donkey would not run away. But this way neither the donkey was comfortable nor the potter was able to take rest. A saint, who happened to be passing by, saw the potter holding on to the donkey‟s ears. Then the saint wanted to know what the problem of the potter was. When the potter told the saint what the problem was, the wise saint said, “Take the donkey to the place where you tie him everyday. Pretend to tie him using an imaginary rope. I assure you he won‟t run away.” The potter did what the saint had said. He left the donkey and went to take a nap. When he woke up, to his surprise and relief, he found the donkey standing in the same place. Soon the potter prepared to leave for home. But the donkey did not move. “What is wrong with this donkey!” exclaimed the potter in frustration. Luckily, the potter saw the wise saint again. He ran up to the saint and told him about the donkey‟s strange behavior. The saint said, “You tied up the donkey, but did you untie him?” Go and pretend to untie the rope with which you had tied the donkey.” The potter followed the saint‟s advice. Now the donkey was ready to leave for home. The potter understood that donkey was the bonded donkey. The potter thanked the wise saint and went home happily with his donkey. A Short Story : The Bone in Throat Once upon a time, there was a lazy wolf living in a jungle. Near his house was a pond. Many animals came to the pond to drink water. The wolf was always in search of food. One day, he was sitting near the pond hoping to get something to eat. When suddenly he spotted a dead bull. “Aha! What a luck! Now I can eat all I want,” he thought and his mouth strated watering. He began to eat the bull. A thought struck him, “if another beast comes this way he will ask for a share. I had better eat fast.” „Grub! Grub! Grub! Grub1‟ he chewed, faster and faster. In his haste, a piece of bone got stuck in his throat. “Ohh! Errk!” cried the wolf. He tried to bring it out of his mouth. He tried to cough it out but in vain. Next, he tried to swallow it down but he failed. “Ooh, the bone in throat hurts. What shall I do now?” thought the wolf. Suddenly he remembered that a crane lived on the nearby riverbank. The wolf went to the crane and pleaded, “My dear Crane! I have got a bone stuck in my throat. I will give you a present, if you pull it out of my throat with your long beak.” The crane took pity on the wolf. He asked the wolf to look up with his mouth open. The crane then put its head into the wolf‟s mouth and pulled out the bone. “Oh! What a relief!” the wolf sighed. “Now where is my present?” asked the crane. “What present?” the wolf replied, pretending not aware of its promise. “You said that you would give me a present if I remove the bone from your throat,” said the crane humbly. “Hah! Is it not a present that you put your head into my mouth and got out alive? I could have easily crushed your head while your beak was inside my mouth,” said the ungrateful wolf and went away. The crane felt helpless and decided not to help any ungrateful creature in the future. The Brahmin and His Enemies Long ago, a poor Brahmin lived with his family in a small house. His disciples would help him with food and clothes. He somehow managed to pass his days. One day, the Brahmin received two calves as a gift from one of his disciples. He was overjoyed. Though he had difficulty in arranging for fodder and grain for the calves, he managed to feed the two calves. Years passed by and the calves grew up into two bullocks. A thief had seen the bullocks. “The foolish Brahmin does not even know the proper use of these bullocks. I will steal the bullocks and sell them,” he thought. That evening, the thief started for the Brahmin‟s house. While on his way, the thief was stopped by a fierce demon. “I am hungry. I will eat you,” said the demon, in a thundering voice. “Wait! Wait, dear friend! I am a thief I am on my way to the Brahmin‟s house to steal his bullocks. You can eat the Brahmin instead of me,” said the thief. The demon agreed. The thief and the demon proceeded towards the Brahmin‟s house. Reaching the house of the Brahmin, the thief said, “Let me take the bullocks and go. Then you can eat the Brahmin.” “No! Let me eat the Brahmin first. I am hungry,” roared the demon. The two started to quarrel. The noise woke up the Brahmin. As soon as he saw the demon, he started chanting some mantras. The demon uttered a sharp cry, “AAIEE!” and disappeared. Then the Brahmin got hold of a thick stick, “You tried to steal my bullocks, did you?” said the Brahmin. And he thrashed the thief. Thus the Brahmin saved himself from the demon and eventually punished the thief. The Brahmin and His Enemies were separated from each other. A Short Story : Bad Temper There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence. Finally the day came when the boy didn't lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone. The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, "You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won't matter how many times you say I'm sorry. The wound is still there." A verbal wound is as bad as a physical one. The Curse of The Bullock Long time ago, in a small village lived an old woman with her daughter. While the old woman was hard working, her daughter was lazy and selfish. They had a bullock. “We should take proper care of our bullock.” The old woman would say. “Hah! Animals should serve us, not we serve them,” the daughter would reply. There was a pond, at some distance from the old woman‟s house. Every afternoon, she used to take the bullock to the pond to have a bath and to drink water. Meanwhile the lazy daughter would eat and sleep. One day, the old woman fell ill. She requested her daughter to take the bullock to the pond. “It is very hot today, dear! The bullock must be thirsty,” said the old woman. “Look! I have some sweets here. I know you love sweets, dear. Take the bullock for a drink. While he is drinking water, you can eat these sweets,” the old woman added, handing a box of sweets to her daughter. The greedy girl agreed. But as soon as she was out of her mother‟s sight, the lazy girl tied the bullock to a tree and sat down to eat the sweets. The thirsty bullocks waited for the daughter to finish eating the sweets. “I hope she eats fast. I am really thirsty,” thought the bullock. But after having eaten all the sweets, the daughter returned home and lied to her mother that she had taken the bullock to the pond and that the bullock drank water from the pond. The bullock was extremely angry. He cursed the daughter, “In your next birth, you may be born as a Chatak, a bird that drinks water when only it rains. As you kept me thirsty today, so will you remain thirsty.” The Curse of The Bullock came true. In her next birth, the daughter was born a Chatak. It is said that a Chatak is a bird that waits for rains, remaining thirsty throughout the year, despite having water all around. A Short Story : The Clever Crow Once upon a time there lived a crow. She had built her nest on a tree. At the root of the same tree, a snake had built its home. Whenever the crow laid eggs, the snake would eat them up. The crow felt helpless. “That evil snake. I must do something. Let me go and talk to him,” thought the crow. The next morning, the crow went to the snake and said politely, “Please spare my eggs, dear friend. Let us live like good neighbors and not disturb each other.” “Huh! You cannot expect me to go hungry. Eggs are what I eat,” replied the snake, in a nasty tone. The crow felt angry and she thought, “I must teach that snake a lesson.” The very next day, the crow was flying over the King‟s palace. She saw the Princess wearing an expensive necklace. Suddenly a thought flashed in her mind and she swooped down, picked up the necklace in her beak and flew off to her nest. When the Princess saw the crow flying off with her necklace, she screamed, “Somebody help, the crow has taken my necklace.” Soon the palace guards were running around in search of the necklace. Within a short time the guards found the crow. She still sat with the necklace hanging from her beak. The clever crow thought, “Now is the time to act.” And she dropped the necklace, which fell right into the snake‟s pit of house. When the snake heard the noise, it came out of its pit of house. The palace guards saw the snake. “A snake! Kill it!” they shouted. With big sticks, they beat the snake and killed it. Then the guards took the necklace and went back to the princess. The crow was happy, “Now my eggs will be safe,” she thought and led a happy and peaceful life. The Clever Bull There was a forest with many birds and animals. Once, a bull wandering in the forest came upon a cave. Near the cave was a big pond and lush green grass. “This is an ideal place for me to settle down,” the bull thought. So, he made the cave his home. Many days passed. The bull became quite healthy, grazing in the meadows. The bull was happy and peaceful living in that cave. He had made many friends in that forest. One day, the bull was resting outside his cave house. A lion happened to come by that way. The lion was happy to have spotted a bull after a long time. “Aha! A bull! He is so healthy too,” thought the majestic lion, licking his lips in anticipation of a good meal. The bull too noticed the lion. He could sense danger. I must be on my guard now,” the bull thought and decided to do something to hide himself from the lion. When the lion came close to the bull, the clever bull looked into the cave and called out, “Darling, do not cook anything for dinner. I have just spotted a lion. I am waiting for it to come near.” When the lion heard the bull, he returned around and ran for his life. A jackal saw the lion running breathlessly. “Why are you running, Mr. Lion?” asked the jackal. The lion told him all that had happened. “The bull has made a fool out of you,” replied the jackal. And the jackal added, “Come with me. Together we can feast on the bull.” But the lion was too scared to believe the jackal. The jackal understood why the lion was hesitating to come with him. “Alright then! Tie your tail with mine and let me lead you to the cave of the bull. In case the bull attacks, then I will be the one who will get caught first,” the jackal said. The lion agreed to this plan of action prepared by the jackal. And then the lion and the jackal tied their tails together. They set off to the bull‟s cave. Both the lion and the jackal went near the cave where the bull was. When the bull saw the lion coming with the jackal, he thought, “I am sure that cunning jackal knows I fooled the lion. Without panicking, the bull cried out to the jackal, “I had asked you to being me two lions. Do you want me to keep my children hungry?” Even this time the lion did not realize that the bull was again fooling him. He was terrified. He ran as fast as he could run dragging the jackal with him over stones and thorns. The clever bull outwitted his enemies and saved himself from its enemies. Both the lion and the jackal never returned that way. Thereafter the bull lived a peaceful and happy life with his wife and children. A Short Story : The Clever Fox There once lived a crow. One day he was very hungry. He had not been able to get any food the previous day. “If I do not get anything to eat I will starve to death,” he thought. As the crow was searching for food, his eyes fell on a piece of bread. He quickly swooped down, picked it up and flew off. Far away in a lonely place he sat on a tree to enjoy the bread. Just then a hungry fox saw the crow sitting on the tree holding the bread in his mouth. “Yummy! That bread looks delicious. What I would give to get that piece of bread,” the fox thought. The fox decided to use all his cunning means to get the piece of bread from the mouth of the crow. He sat under the tree. The crow saw him and thought, “I guess this fox wants to eat my bread. I shall hold it carefully.” And he held on to the bread even more tightly. The clever fox spoke to the crow politely. He said, “Hello friend! How are you?” But the crow did not say anything. “Crows are such lovely birds. And you are very charming too,” said the fox, flattering the crow. Then the fox said,” I have heard that besides being beautiful you also have a sweet voice. Please sing a song for me.” By now the crow started to believe what the fox was saying. “The fox knows true beauty. I must be the most beautiful bird in this whole world. I will sing him a song,” thought the crow. As soon as the foolish crow opened his mouth to sing the bread fell from its beak and into the ground. The Clever fox, which had just been waiting for this very moment, caught the bread in his mouth and gulped it down his throat. The crow had paid a heavy price for his foolishness. A Short Story : The Cunning Bats Many years ago, the members of the jungle did not have any King. The animals said, “The lion must be the King of this jungle.” While the birds said, “The Hawk must be the King.” There were many discussions and debates, but no final decision could be taken. The bats were cunning. They approached the animal and said, “Since we too are animal, we would like our dear lion to be the King. He is surely the most powerful among us.” And the animals thought that the bats were on their side. The bats then went to the birds. “Since we are birds, our dear Hawk must be made the King of this forest. He is so royal and dignified,” they said. And the birds thought that the bats were on their side. A few days went by. One day the birds came to know that the cunning bats were not honest. They informed the animals about this. “So the bats think they are clever, let us teach them a good lesson,” said the animals. So, the next day, the birds and the animals made peace with each other. The lion was made the King. The newly crowned King addressed to the bats, “You must choose the group to which you belong.” The bats thought. “We must join the animals because the lion is the King.” “We are animals!” the bats announced. “But you have wings. No animal has wings. You must join the birds,” said all the animals. “Bats have babies. They do not lay eggs. And birds lay eggs. Since, the bats give birth to young babies without eggs, they can not be birds,” said the birds. The bats felt helpless. They just stood there, not knowing what to do. Since then, the cunning bats have been hiding during the daytime in deserted places. They come out for food only at night when others are asleep. The Dangerous Helper In a dense forest, there was lake. All the animals used to drink water from the lake. The water of this lake was so sweet that many fish lived there for long time. In this lake there lived a crab. The crab‟s best friend was a swan. That swan was in the same lake. They were happy in the company of each other. Their happiness lasted until one day a snake made its home near the lake. Every day the swan laid an egg. The snake would come and eat it up. “I have to find a way to save my eggs,” thought the swan. One day, he went to the crab and said, “Please help me, dear friend. My eggs are under threat. That cruel snake eats all the eggs in the nest. What can I do?” The crab decided to help its best friend. The crab thought for a while. Then he said, “I have an idea. Let us catch some fish from this lake and scatter them from the snake‟s house till the mongoose house.” That mongoose lived in the nearby tree. Then, the crab and the swan caught some fish and dropped them from the mongoose‟s house all the way to the snake‟s house. Then both of them hid behind a tree and watched. They waited for some time. After a long time, the mongoose came out. He saw the fish and was overjoyed. “Mymm! Fish right outside my own house!” he said, smacking his lips. He happily ate all of them one by one. As he ate he kept following the fish trail to the snake‟s house. Finally, the mongoose reached the house of the snake. Both the crab and the swan were watching all these events, waiting behind the tree. When the snake saw the mongoose, he thought, “That mongoose is here to attack me. I had better fight with it.” After some time, the snake started to fight with the mongoose. They fought for some time. After a fierce battle, the mongoose killed the snake. Watching this behind the tree, the swan and the crab heaved a sigh of relief. But her joy was short-lived. The next day, the mongoose, looking for more fish, came upon the swan‟s nest. There the mongoose found more eggs of the swan. He immediately ate all of them. The swan and the crab now felt helpless. They had brought this new threat upon themselves. They did not know that the mongoose was the dangerous helper. “Our thoughtlessness has got us a new enemy. Even more dangerous than the previous enemy,” cried the two friends. After few days, they decided to form one more plan to get rid of the dangerous helper - mongoose. It is must to be careful while fighting with an enemy. The Donkey and The Cotton There once lived a salt merchant. He had a monkey for his assistance. Every morning, he would load a sack of salt on the donkey and go to the nearby town to sell it. On the way, they had to walk across a pond. One day, while crossing the pond, the donkey thought,”Ooh! This load is so heavy that I become exhausted very soon. I wish I could get some of this load taken off my back.” Just then the donkey tripped and fell into the water. Fortunately, the donkey was not hurt. But the sack of salt on the donkey‟s back fell into the water. Both the donkey and the salt became wet. Some of the salt in the sack got dissolved, making the load on the donkey lighter. The donkey felt very happy about the reduction in the weight of the sack of salt on its back. The merchant did his best to help the donkey to get up and they carried on their journey. From that day, it became a regular practice for the donkey to slip and fall in the pond whenever they crossed the pond to the market. This would dissolve some salt in the sack thus reducing the weight and relieving the donkey of some load. The merchant was not aware of the donkey‟s cunningness. This continued for a few days. One day, the merchant noticed the donkey deliberately slipping and landing with the sack into the water. “Oh! So this is the way I am losing my salt everyday” he thought. He decided to teach the donkey a lesson. Next morning, instead of loading a sack of salt, the merchant loaded a sack of cotton on the donkey‟s back. As usual they had decided to reach the market by crossing the same pond. While crossing the same pond, the donkey, as usual, slipped and fell into the pond, hoping that after some time the weight of the sack would go reduced. As usual, both the donkey and the cotton would become wet. But this time, when he got up, the load on his back seemed heavier. “Ooh! The Load seems to have gotten heavier,” thought the donkey. The donkey was astonished at what had taken place against the usual result. The merchant looked at the donkey and said, “Dear friend, I saw you fall into the water of the pond deliberately every day with the malicious intention of reducing the weight of the salt. So, I loaded a sack of cotton today. Cotton when wet gets more weight and becomes heavier. Now you will have to carry it to the town.” The poor donkey had learnt his lesson. The Donkey and The Dog A washer man had a donkey and a dog. Both the donkey and the dog helped his master in many ways. One night, few thieves broke in the house of that washer man. The dog heard them and started barking. The washer man got up and so did the neighbors. “What is that? A dog. Let us run,” said the thieves. They feared some dangerous consequences. By that time many people gathered in the street. They tried to run away but they were caught by the people. The washer man said, “I am glad I had this dog in my house. I am sure the thieves would have looted me if my dog had not barked.” The washer man was highly proud of the dog. Every one too praised the dog. From that day, the donkey started thinking, “The master thinks that the dog is a more useful animal than me.” The donkey decided he will show his master, the washer man, that he too could be useful just like the dog. Few days passed. One night, it so happened, two thieves again entered the washer man‟s house. The thieves became aware of the animals, present in that house. “We should be careful, friend! I have heard that a dog guards this house,” one thief said to the other. As the thieves peeped in, they saw the dog sitting just outside the main door. “It seems the dog is quite alert,” said one thief. “It is better to leave this house alone. We had better go at once,” the other thief said and the two thieves fled. But unknown to the thieves, the donkey was watching all this. He thought, “It is a good opportunity for me to show my master that I too can be useful to him. The thieves have run away. If I start shouting, the master will think that I have driven the thieves away and out of this house.” And the foolish donkey started braying loudly. When the washer man heard the donkey bray at this odd hour, he got angry. He came out with a stick and thrashed the donkey. “This will teach him not to bray at night,” he screamed. The donkey got all the thrashes in silence. It did not know what was taking place. Just then the dog came to the donkey and said, “It is better to do your duties than try to be like me.” The donkey knew that the dog was right.There after both the donkey and the dog remained peaceful. The Donkey and The Horse Once, there lived a washer man named Bheema. He had a donkey and a horse. The donkey carried clothes to the pond and back to his house. The horse carried Bheema to the market and back, occasionally. The donkey worked much harder than the horse. On a bright sunny day, Bheema was going to the pond with donkey. He took the horse along to give it a drink of water. The donkey was carrying a heavy load of clothes. The horse was carrying nothing. The load was unusually heavy and the donkey‟s back was hurting. When the pain became unbearable the donkey said to the horse, “This load is too much for me, brother! Please take some of this load on your back.” The horse replied some what rudely, “Eh! Why should I? I am here only to carry our master to the market.” The proud horse continued on his way. The day was getting hotter as the day went on. The donkey felt totally exhausted. He was almost dragging himself. “Humph! Humph!” The donkey tried to move. He just could not. The poor donkey collapsed to the ground. “Oh! What has happened to the poor donkey?” thought the washer man. Immediately he took the load off the donkey. “Indeed the load is really very heavy. I should have been little more careful,” thought the washer man. Then he gave some water to the donkey. The donkey felt better now. The washer man then picked up the bundle of clothes off the back of the donkey and placed it on the horse‟s back. “Umf! Umf! Came the sound from the horse‟s mouth. “I should have helped the donkey. I made a mistake. I should have taken half the load when the donkey requested me. Now I realize sharing a burden is easier.” The horse carried the heavy load of clothes for the remaining distance. There after both the donkey and the horse lived together. A Short Story : The Foolish Fish In a huge pond, there lived many fish. They were arrogant and never listened to anyone. In this pond, there also lived a kind-hearted crocodile. He advised the fish, “It does not pay to be arrogant and overconfident. It could be your downfall.” But the fish never listened to him. “There is that crocodile, advising us again,” they would say. One afternoon, the crocodile was resting beside a stone near the pond, when two fishermen stopped there to drink water. The fishermen noticed that the pond had many fish. “Look! This pond is full of fish. Let‟s come here tomorrow with our fishing net,” said one of them. “I am surprised we have not seen this place before!” exclaimed the other. The crocodile heard all this. When the fishermen left, he slowly slipped into the pond and went straight to the fish. “You all had better leave this pond before dawn. Early morning those two fishermen are going to come to this pond with their net,” warned the crocodile. But the fish just laughed and said, “There have been many fishermen who have tried to catch us. These two are not going to catch us either. Do not you worry about us, Mr. Crocodile,” they said in a mocking voice. The next morning, the fishermen came and threw their net in the pond. The nets were big and strong. Very soon all the fish were caught. “If only we had listened to Mr. Crocodile. He had only wanted to help. For our arrogance we have to pay with our lives,” said the fish. The fishermen took the foolish fish to the market and sold them for a good profit. The Fragrance In a small town lived a wealthy merchant. He was very kind and charitable. He had a son, who had unfortunately fallen into a bad company. Many times the merchant advised his son not to go with the bad company. But all in vain. “Please, do not advise me what to do, my father. I know what is good for me and I know what to do,” said the son. One day, a great saint came to the town. The merchant went to the saint, sought his blessings and said, “My spoilt son is the only cause of my worry. Please help me.” After few minutes of contemplation, the saint replied, “Send your son to my Ashram tomorrow morning. I will talk to him.” Next morning, the merchant sent his son to the Ashram of the saint. There the saint asked the son to pluck a flower of rose from the garden of the Ashram. The son did as asked by the saint. Then the saint asked the son,”Smell it and feel its fragrance, my son.” The boy did so. Then saint showed the son a sack of wheat said, “Keep the rose near the sack.” The boy followed the instructions. After an hour, the saint asked the boy to smell the rose again. “How does it smell now?” the saint asked the boy. The boy smelt the rose and said, “It smells as good as before.” Then the saint said, “Hmm! Now keep the rose near this sack of jaggery.” The boy did so. After an hour, the saint asked the boy to smell the rose again. “Is there any change in the fragrance?” the saint asked the boy. “No. it smells as fresh as before,” replied the boy. Then the saint said, “Boy, you should be like this rose, giving the fragrance to everyone but at the same time not letting the bad smell rub on to you from anyone. Your good qualities are your strength. You should not lose them in bad company.” The boy understood the saint‟s words and wisdom. “I am grateful to you, O Saint, for opening my eyes,” said the merchant‟s son. From that day onwards, he was honest and charitable like his cultured father. The Golden Swan Long time ago, there lived a King. He was lazy and liked all the comforts of life. He never carried out his duties as a King. “Our King does not take care of our needs. He also ignores the affairs of his kingdom.” The people complained. One day, the King went into the forest to hunt. After having wandered for quite sometime, he became thirsty. To his relief, he spotted a lake. As he was drinking water, he suddenly saw a golden swan come out of the lake and perch on a stone. “Oh! A golden swan. I must capture it,” thought the King. But as soon as he held his bow up, the swan disappeared. And the King heard a voice, “I am the Golden Swan. If you want to capture me, you must come to heaven.” Surprised, the King said, “Please show me the way to heaven.” “Do good deeds, serve your people and the messenger from heaven would come to fetch you to heaven,” replied the voice. The selfish King, eager to capture the Swan, tried doing some good deeds in his Kingdom. “Now, I suppose a messenger will come to take me to heaven,” he thought. But, no messenger came. The King then disguised himself and went out into the street. There he tried helping an old man. But the old man became angry and said, “You need not try to help. I am in this miserable state because of out selfish King. He has done nothing for his people.” Suddenly, the King heard the golden swan‟s voice, “Do good deeds and you will come to heaven.” It dawned on the King that by doing selfish acts, he will not go to heaven. He realized that his people needed him and carrying out his duties was the only way to heaven. After that day he became a responsible King. The Golden Egg Haria, a poor barber lived alone in his small hut. He was dedicated to his work. And whatever he earns was enough to fulfill his needs. One evening, after returning from work, Haria was hungry. “What shall I cook tonight?” he thought. Just then he heard a hen clucking outside his hut. “That hen would make a great feast for me,” thought Haria and prepared to catch the hen. With a little effort he was able to catch the hen. As he was about to kill the hen, it squeaked, “Please do not kill me, O kind man! I will help you.” Haria stopped. Though he was surprised that the hen spoke, he asked, “How can you help me?” “If you spare my life, I will lay a golden egg everyday for you,” said the hen. Haria‟s eyes got widened in delight. Haria was surprised to hear this promise. “A golden egg! That too everyday! But why should I believe you? You might be lying,” said Haria. “If I do not lay a golden egg tomorrow, you can kill me,” said the hen. After this promise, Haria spared the hen and waited for the next day. The next morning, Haria found a golden egg lying outside his hut and the hen sitting beside it. “It is true! You really can lay a golden egg!” exclaimed Haria with great delight. He did not reveal this incident to any one, fearing that others would catch the hen. From that day onwards, the hen would lay a golden egg everyday. In return, Haria took good care of the hen. Very soon, Haria became rich. But he became greedy. He thought, “If I cut open the hen‟s stomach, I can get out all the golden eggs at once. I do not have to wait for the hen to lay the golden eggs one by one.” That night, he brought the hen to the interior portion of his house and killed the hen. But to his dismay, he found no golden eggs. Not even one. “What have I done? My greed had made me kill the hen,” he wailed. But it was too late. The Greedy Dog Once there lived a dog. He was very greedy. There were many times that he had to pay for his greed. Each time the dog promised himself, “I have learnt my lesson. Now I will never be greedy again.” But he soon forgot his promises and was as greedy as ever. One afternoon, the dog was terribly hungry. He decided to go look for something to eat. Just outside his house, there was a bridge. “I will go and look for food on the other side of the bridge. The food there is definitely better,” he thought to himself. He walked across the wooden bridge and started sniffing around for food. Suddenly, he spotted a bone lying at a distance. “Ah, I am in luck. This looks a delicious bone,” he said. Without wasting any time, the hungry dog picked up the bone and was just about to eat it, when he thought, “Somebody might see here with this bone and then I will have to share it with them. So, I had better go home and eat it.” Holding the bone in his mouth, he ran towards his house. While crossing the wooden bridge, the dog looked down into the river. There he saw his own reflection. The foolish dog mistook it for another dog. “There is another dog in the water with bone in its mouth,” he thought. Greedy, as he was, he thought, “How nice it would be to snatch that piece of bone as well. Then, I will have two bones.” So, the greedy dog looked at his reflection and growled. The reflection growled back, too. This made the dog angry. He looked down at his reflection and barked, “Woof! Woof!” As he opened his mouth, the bone in his mouth fell into the river. It was only when the water splashed that the greedy dog realized that what he had seen was nothing but his own reflections and not another dog. But it was too late. He had lost the piece of bone because of his greed. Now he had to go hungry.