This one is really a simple folk tale from a book by Children’s Book Trust that I recently bought. The comparisons just flashed in my head based on a client engagement earlier that day. Keeping with the text in original form, I have kept the language simple. Read on…
Baloo, a trader, lived in Gujarat. So stingy was he with money that he didn’t like spending money even upon himself, leave alone others. Coming back from work one day, he spotted a Date tree with rich fruits hanging near the top…he was tempted.
The question now was, how to reach the top? Paying an expert tree-climber would cost money, and he didn’t know how to do it himself. Preferring to save money, he decided to climb the tree himself, and somehow managed to reach the top.
Just as he was reaching out to finally pluck the fruit, he looked down, and nearly fell – land seemed far away, he hadn’t noticed how far he had come, and now he had no idea how to get back down.
He looked around for help, finding none, he started to pray to God. He promised that if he reached to safety, he’d feed a thousand brahmins.
The prayer seemed to have bolstered his strength and somehow slipped down a bit, land seemed closer by…and “feeding a thousand brahmins for ‘just this much’ does seem a bit steep, five hundred should suffice,” he thought.
Five hundred became two hundred, and then even less. Finally when his feet touched the ground, he heaved a sigh of relief and promised to God that he will feed ONE brahmin, for sure.
On the way back home he kept thinking about ways to keep the cost of feeding the brahmin as low as possible and decided that the trick would in finding someone who ate really little.
He reached his village and after some asking around, was told that Janki Das, a brahmin, ate very little. What he did not know was that Janki Das was also a very sharp and wicked creature. When Baloo extended the lunch invitation to Janki Das, he promptly accepted.
Baloo reached home and told his wife Shyamali about the promise and about Janki Das coming for lunch the next day. He also advised her to keep the cost as low as possible.
Next day, which was the weekly bazaar day, Baloo thought he would be better off doing business to make up for the loss incurred on feeding Janki Das, and decided to let his wife fulfill the lunch commitment.
When Janki Das, the brahmin, saw Baloo leave for work and landed at his place early, smelling an opportunity. Shyamali was surprised to see the guest come so early. Janki Das told her “I thought let me see if you need any advice on how to prepare for the feast, so enroute to the temple, I decided to stop at your place.”
Shyamli listed all items on the menu; Janki Das appeared pleased but cautioned her that while he is coming for lunch alone, quantities for about 10-12 people needed to be prepared. He also advised Shyamali to prepare 3 different sweets to please Lord Ganesha, the remover of hurdles.
Later when Janki Das returned for lunch, he advised Shyamali to offer 2 gold coins as to please the Gods. “Baloo didn’t mentioned anything about the coins,” thought Shyamali, but not wanting to displease the Gods, she got the coins and offered them to Janki Das.
Janki Das ate his fill, and packed the rest for his family. On the way out, he demanded 10 more gold coins as his dakshina (traditional gift given to a priest as part of a religious ceremony). Shyamali was baffled and knew that her husband wouldn’t like this, but, again, didn’t want to displease a brahmin either.
Janki Das, satiated, reached home and warned his wife that an angry Baloo would likely come home and explained a few things to her…
Baloo reached home late evening and heard the episode from Shyamali. Livid, he rushed to Janki Das’ place, armed with a thick stick.
As soon as Janki Das’ wife saw an enraged Baloo coming at them, she started to cry out loudly, beating her chest “You poisoned my husband, what did you feed him? If anything happens to him, you won’t be spared by the police, I promise you that…”she cursed.
Taken aback, Baloo was now terrified. “Please don’t speak so loudly,” he pleaded and continued “Why don’t you call a doctor?”
“Call a doctor? Where do I have the money for that. Give me 10 gold coins so I can call for a doctor,” said the wife.
“If he dies, you will be dead too.”
Baloo asked for the priest’s son to accompany him back home, and , trembling, handed over 10 gold coins to the boy.
“God, save me please – I will feed a 1000 brahmins.” he promised.
So what are the learning?
Encountered a Baloo, a Janki Das yourself? :)
Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.