The Shandili and The Sesame Seeds - Panchatantra Stories

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Once, during the monsoon season, I requested a Brahmin to allow me to stay with him, so that I could fast and pray undisturbed. He agreed, and I went to his home. ‘One day, as I was listening attentively to the conversation the Brahmin was having with his wife. “Dear, he said to her, “tomorrow is a special festival, it’s a very favorable time for collecting alms. So I shall go to one of the villages to beg. And you too should give something to a Brahmin.”

The Brahmin’s wife got excited when she heard him say this. “How can we afford to give something to a Brahmin when we are so poor ourselves!” she exclaimed. “And another thing, ever since I married you, I have had no luck whatsoever. I have never had any good food to eat or any good clothes to wear and you’ve never bought me a single ornament!”

On hearing this Brahmin spirits were very dampened and he said, “Oh, when you have only a mouthful, you should give half of it to someone in need. They say, ‘An insignificant person who gives, is respected by all, but not so a rich man who is miserly. Sweet water from a small well quenches the thirst, But not the salty water of the ocean.”

“Well,” said the Brahmin’s wife, “I have got a few sesame seeds. I’ll take the husks off them and make them into a tasty dish for some Brahmin.”

Early next morning, when the Brahmin had left for the next village, his wife cleaned the sesame seeds in hot water, removed the husks and put them in the sun to dry. Then she got busy with her household work.

‘Meanwhile, a dog came along and cocked his leg up over the sesame seeds and went away.

When she saw what had happened, she said, “Fate has turned against me! What a trick to play! Well, I’ll take the seeds to some other house and exchange them for some unhusked seeds, anyone will agree to such an exchange them for some unhusked seeds, anyone will agree to such an exchange.” Thus Shandili went off to exchange them.

Now, she happened to go to the very house that I was visiting that morning to collect alms. She said to the lady of the house, “Would you like to change these husked sesame seeds for unhusked ones?”

The lady of the house was just about to make the exchange when her son stopped her, “Mother!” he went on. “There must be some reason for Shandili to be trying to exchange these husked sesame seeds. Don’t agree to it!

When Shandili saw that she had failed, she quietly left the house and returned home.

‘And so,’ continued the Sanyasi, ‘that’s why I said, that for every action there is always an explanation. And the explanation for this mouse’s supernatural jumping power lies in his vast accumulation of food. Now, you say you don’t know where he comes from?’

‘No, said the Sadhu.

‘Do you have a pickaxe?’ - asked the Sanyasi.

Yes, said the Sadhu. ‘I have an iron one.’

‘Well,’ said the Sanyasi, ‘early tomorrow morning, both of us will follow the mouse’s tracks, find his hole and dig up his store of food.’

When I heard this, I thought to myself, I am done for. What this Sanyasi says is logical and I am quite sure that they will find my hoarding place.

So trembling with fear and accompanied by my followers, I avoided the usual way home and led them by a devious route, to try to mislead the Sadhu and the Sanyasi.

All of a sudden, there, right in front of us, was a big to meat. He pounced headlong, killed some of us and injured others.

Those who managed to survive, returned to their holes, cursing me all the way for having led them into this. The floor was covered with the blood of the injured and the dead. It’s true what they say, ‘When Fate is hostile, what can you achieve, by making an effort to avoid it?’ “I was very upset by this incident and afterward, I went off somewhere on my own.

After some time, the Sanyasi, accompanied by the Sadhu, followed the track of blood searching or mouse holes.

He chanced to arrive at the entrance of my hole and began to dig the ground. While he was digging, he found the hoard of food that I had been guarding all these days, whose possession made me exalted and gave me the energy to jump and reach such difficult places. Then, taking the hoard of food with them, the two returned to the temple.

I reached my hole, but I could not bear to look at the desolate place. I began to think, ‘What shall I do? Where shall I go? How can I find peace of mind?’ Absorbed in such thoughts, I spent a miserable night.

As the sun set, I made my way to the temple, dejected. My followers came with me. When Tamrachud heard the noise we made, he began to hit the begging bowl with the split bamboo stick.

‘My dear fellow,’ said Sanyasi ‘why don’t you relax and go to bed?’

Replied the Sadhu, ‘that wicked mouse and his gang are back again! That’s why I am hitting the bowl?

‘My friend,’ said Sanyasi with a smile, ‘don’t worry. After losing his hoard of food, this mouse will also have lost his energy to jump. All creatures react in the same way. When I heard this, I felt very annoyed and jumped at the begging bowl, but I missed it and fell to the ground.

When my enemy heard me fall, he laughed heartily and said to Tamrachud, ‘Look, Looks! How funny! See how he is staggering about! without his riches, this mouse has become as ordinary as any of the others in his gang. Now, go to sleep and let your mind be at rest. We have, in our hands, the source of his energy to jump.

I heard this, I said to myself, ‘Yes, my enemy is quite right. I can hardly jump. Cursed is the life of a fellow who is deprived of his riches. As they say, “A rich man who loses his money, suffers more than a poor man who never had any.”

While I was there, I discovered that my enemy was keeping my hoard of food in a small bag and using it for a pillow. I was very upset.

By the time returned home, it was morning. When my followers saw me, they began to whisper to each other.

‘He’s incapable of leading us properly. By following him, we shall only fall a prey to fat cats. What is the good of having a leader like that, “A master from whom one derives no benefits, should be avoided from a long distance.”

“When I heard them say this, I went quietly into my hole. Nobody came near me and I thought to myself, ‘Curse poverty, for, “The life of a man without riches, a marriage without children, Oblations to dead parents without a Brahmin’s rituals and religious ceremonies without gifts to charity, all these are futile.”

While I was thinking this, my followers chose another leader. Seeing me utterly deserted, they began to make fun of me.

“By now, it was evening. Half asleep, I began to think, ‘I shall try to enter the temple tonight while the Sadhu is fast asleep and slowly drag away the pillow and my hoard of food.

In this way, I shall regain my former status. And even if I lose my life in the attempt, it will be worth it.”

I went back to the temple. I reached the bag and stealthily began to pull at it, but somehow the Sadhu woke up and hit out at me with the split bamboo stick, I was destined to live longer, so I escaped the blow. It’s now what destiny gives me nobody can take away.

“How was that?” asked the crow and the turtle. On this the mouse told this story. WHAT’S COMING TO YOU

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