Sunday, 20 May 2012

THE TWO HEADAED WEAVER STORY FROM PANCHATANTRA TALES OF INDIA


It is another funny story from the Panchatantra collection. Once upon a time, there was a weaver by the name Mantharaka. One day when he was weaving the cloth, the wooden frames of his loom broke. He took an axe and went to the forest to bring wood in order to make new frames. He went round the forest but didn’t find the adequate wood for the frames. From the forest, he drifted towards the seashore where he saw a huge tree. He thought that if he could cut wood from the tree, he would have enough wood for all frames and would stay throughout his life.

As the weaver raised his axe to cut the tree, a spirit living on that tree said, “O weaver, this tree is my home and it must be spared in any event, because it prevents my body from the cool breeze which comes from the sea”. Mandharaka said, “Sir, if I don’t cut the tree and take its wood home, then my family will starve and die. So, please go somewhere else as I have to cut this tree.”

The spirit answered, “If you do not cut the tree, I will give you a boon of your choice”. The weaver said,” Sir, in that case, I will go home and ask my wife and friends. When I will return, you must give me what I ask for”.

The spirit agreed to it and the weaver returned home with joy. While coming back to the city, he met his friend, the barber and said,” Friend, a spirit has given me a boon of my choice and gave me time to consult friends and my wife. Tell me what I should demand from him". The barber replied, “My dear friend, demand a kingdom where you could be the king and I would be your Prime Minister. You would be having a palace, where we can enjoy the pleasures of this world. Like this, both of us can enjoy life here and hereafter”.

Mantharaka said, “True. But let me ask my wife too”. The barber said,” A wise man should never ask women for advice. He can give a woman food, clothing, jewelry and above all the duties of marriage, but should never ask for their advice. As women think only of their own benefit and they have low wits.” The weaver replied, “Even though this is true, still I would consult my wife, as she is my better half.”

After this, the weaver quickly went to his home and narrated the whole story of the spirit and his boon to his wife. He also told her that his friend, the barber had advised him to ask for a kingdom. His wife said, “O my lord, what do barber understands? No wise man would consult children or barbers or servants or beggars. A king’s life is full of hardships. He is always worried about friendships, animosities, wars, servants, defense alliances, and duplicity. He never gets a minute’s rest because anyone who rules hardly gets anytime. The same container that is used for comfort can also be used to pour out bad luck. Never envy the life of a king."

The weaver said, "You are right. But you haven’t told me what boon I should choose”. She answered,” Every day you are able to weave a single piece of cloth which is barely enough to meet our daily needs. You should ask for another pair of arms and another head so that you can work on two pieces of cloth at once, one in front of you, and one behind you. The first piece will help us meet our daily needs. The second one will help us meet special needs. Thus, we can sail our life comfortably and happily.”

After listening to his wife, he said,” You are a faithful wife and you have spoken well. I will do what you have suggested.” The weaver happily went to the spirit and said, “Sir, you have kindly given me a choice. I request you to give me two more hands and an extra head.” He had hardly spoken before he was two-headed and four-armed. Rejoiced, he began his homeward journey. People on the way saw him and considered him as a kind of demon. They hammered him with stones and sticks. The poor weaver died at the spot.

Moral: One who has no wits of one’s own will perish.

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