The Story of A Weaver: Panchatantra Stories

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Somewhere in a certain town, there lived a weaver by name Somilak. the cloth he wove was so exquisite that it was fit to be worn by kings.

Somehow, he could earn only just enough to make two ends meet. On the other hands, the other weavers, who produced inferior cloth, had become very rich.

‘Seeing this, the weaver said to his wife, ‘My dear, look at this! These weavers produce inferior cloth and yet they have become rich, while I remain poor. I am fed up with this place! I mean to go to some other country and make more money there.’

‘My dear replied his wife, you’re quite wrong in thinking that you will earn money somewhere else, when you can’t make it here, for they say, “What is not predestined, do what you will, can never happen - What is not predestined, will even come into your hand and yet slip away but what destiny has given will surely come to pass without your help For destiny and action go hand in hand, The one is as much a part of the other, as the light and the shade. “And, “As a calf will find out its mother amongst a thousand cows. So destiny selects its performers for amongst the masses.” ‘And so,’ continued his wife, ‘carry on working here.’

But my dear, said the weaver, ‘what you say isn’t true, for they say, “No plan can succeed, without determined effort, any more than you can clap with one hand.” ‘Even if destiny makes food available, you have to stretch out your hand and take it. It does not fall into your mouth, any more than a deer falls into the mouth of a reclining lion. It’s the people who make a determined effort who succeed. It is said money Goddess bestows her favors, on the zealous man, she scorns the idle, who depend entirely on luck. So, brush destiny aside and try with all your might. If you still fail, Find out what went wrong.” ‘And so, said the weaver, ‘I have made up my mind to go somewhere else.’

“Soon afterward, the weaver left his hometown and went to Vardhamanpur. “He lived there for three for years and earned three hundred pieces of gold. Then he started off on his return journey.

“He was halfway home, and still deep in the jungle, when the sunset. For fear of the wild animals, he climbed up a big tree and went to sleep there. While he slept, he saw a dream. He saw two terrifying-looking people, arguing with each other.

‘Action!’ said one of them to the other. ‘Why did you allow Somilak to earn three hundred pieces of gold? Don’t you know that he is destined to earn only what he requires for his food and clothing?’

‘Destiny!’ replied the other. ‘What could I do? This man put in a great effort and I had to reward him according to his acts. But it is still for you to decide how much he is going to retain. So why are you blaming me?’

When the weaver woke up, he peered into his bundle and found that the gold coins had disappeared.

He began to think sadly, ‘Oh, whatever has happened? I took so much time and trouble to earn this money and it has vanished in a moment. All my efforts were in vain. How can I show my face to my wife and friends in this condition?’ And so, he decided not to continue the journey home and he returned to Vardhamanapur again.

In a year’s time, he earned five hundred gold coins. Once more, he started off on his homeward journey.

As before, halfway home, he was still deep in the jungle when the sunset.

For fear of losing his gold coins, as on the previous occasion, he did not stop to rest but continued to walk fast, even though he was very tired.

“After a while, he heard voices. Two men were talking - ‘Action!’ said one of them to the other. Why did you let Somilak earn five hundred gold pieces? Don’t you know that he is destined to earn only what he requires for his food and clothing?’

‘Destiny!’ replied the other. 'What could I do? The man put in a great effort and I had to reward him according to his actions. But it is still for you to decide how much he is going to retain. Please do not blame me. 

When Somilak heard this, he peered into his bag and found that the gold coins had disappeared.

Now he was so utterly disheartened that he thought to himself, ‘Oh, what is the good of living, if I have lost my money. I shall hang myself from this tree.’

And so, he wove a rope of grass, made a noose and tied the rope to the tree. He put the noose around his neck and was just about to throw himself down, when he heard a voice from heaven.

‘Somilak!’ said the voice. ‘Stop! Don’t do such a thing! It is I, Destiny, who stole your gold coins. I cannot bear that you should earn even more than what you require for your food and clothing. But I am pleased with your industrious spirit. I have not revealed myself to you in vain-ask any boon and I will grant it to you.

‘Very well then,’ replied Somilak, ‘Please give me a lot of money?

‘But what will you do with money that you can’t make use of?’ asked the voice. ‘You are not destined to earn more than what you require for your food and clothing.’

Even if I can’t enjoy it, said Somilak, ‘Please give it to me, for - A man who has riches, is always well received by everyone, even if he is a miser or of low caste.’

‘Ah!’ said the voice from the sky. But first return to Vardhamanapura and go to the homes of two merchants. One is called Guptadhana and the other, Upabhuktadhana. When you have studied their behavior, come back and tell me whether you would prefer to be like Guptadhana and have money but not enjoy it, or to be like Upabhuktadhana and have no surplus money because you enjoy spending all what you have.’

And the voice in the sky ceased.

Somilak started back to Varhamanapura in a dazed condition. By evening he reached the city, absolutely worn out. He inquired for Guptadhana’s house and finally arrived there. Although Guptadhana, his wife and his son objected very strongly, he forcibly entered their house and became their guest.

When it was meal time, they gave him food but in a most insulting manner. When he had finished eating, he went off to bed. While he slept, he heard the same two people talking.

‘Action!’ said one of them to the other. ‘Why did you force Guptadhana to provide Somilak with a meal when he gave it so begrudgingly. Don’t you know that Guptadhana is destined to have money but not enjoy spending it on himself or others?’

‘Destiny! replied the other.’ ‘What could I do? Somilak’s needs had to be provided for and Guptadhana did it according to his own miserly nature. But it is for you to decide the final outcome. So why blame me?’

Early the following morning, when somilak got up, he found that Guptadhan had an attack of cholera, and couldn’t eat all day.

Then Somilak went on to Upabhuktadhan’s house. He was welcomed with open arms. His hosts provided him with excellent bathing facilities and gave him new clothes. Afterward he dined lavishly.

At night time, he retired to a comfortable bed and went to sleep. While he slept, he heard the same two people talking - ‘Action!’ said one of them to the other. ‘Why did you allow Upabhuktadhan to entertain Somilak so extravagantly, even to the extent of asking for credit at the grocer’s? Don’t you know that Upabhuktadhan is destined to have no surplus money because he enjoys spending all what he has?’

Destiny!’ replied the other. ‘What could I do? Somilak’s needs had to be provided for and Upabhuktadhan did it according to his own generous nature. But it is for you to decide the final outcome. So why to blame me?’

Early next morning, one of the king’s servants arrived and brought money for Upabhuktadhan.

When Somilak saw this, he said, ‘This Upabhuktadhan is not a rich man and yet he is better off than Guptadhan. Let destiny make me like Upabhuktadhan.’

“His wish was granted and he began to enjoy his money to the full just like Upabhuktadhan.

“And so,” continued Mantharak “That’s why I said, ‘A wise man uses his wits to make money. But avoids being a miser, for he may be destined to lose his money - The art is in learning how to enjoy it. This is what Somilak learned in the deep jungle?

“Hiranyak,” continued Mantharak, “knowing this, one should not worry about riches. If someone has riches and is unable to enjoy them, it’s the same as if he had nothing.

When Mantharaka had finished the crow turned to the mouse and said, “My friend, what Mantharak has said just now is very true and should be put into practice. Don’t mind his talking like this. Only a real friend will say something unpalatable for your own good, the rest are friends only in name.”

While they were talking, a stag, named of chitrang, turned up on the scene.

He was in a state of panic because the hunters were after him. When they saw him coming, the crow flew up a tree, the mouse slipped into the bushes and Mantharak crawled into the lake.

When the crow had been watching the stag carefully for a short time, he called out to the turtle, “Mantharak! Come out, it’s all right. This stag has only come to quench his thirst.”

But Mantharak, who was a great observer of human nature, replied, “No, No, laghupatanak, I don’t think this stag has come to drink water. He is panting for breath and looking fearfully over his shoulder. I think he is being pursued by hunters. Go and find out whether I am right or not.”

So the crow flew off.

Then the stag said, “Turtle! You have understood why I am frightened. I escaped the hunter’s arrow and have managed to get this far. Now, I beg of you, show me some place to hide, where the hunters can’t reach me.”

Hearing this Mantharak replied “Stag,” “Listen ‘There are two ways of rescuing yourself from the clutches of an enemy - You can use your hands to fight or your feet to run.’ So in this case, before the hunters arrive, run into the deep jungle over there.” And he pointed out the direction.

Meanwhile, the crow, who had gone to see whether the hunters were about or not, returned and went after the stag. “Chitrang,” he called, “it’s alright! The hunters have killed many animals and have gone with the carcasses. You can come out of the jungle.”

And so, the four of them got friendly and, from that time onward, would meet everyday at noon, under the shady trees on the bank of the lake.

One day it was noon but Chitrang had failed to turn up. The other three got frightened and said to each other, “How is it that our friend has not come? Has he been killed by a lion or shot by the hunter’s arrow or been burnt in a forest fire or caught in a trap? Or has he fallen in a deep pit whilst trying to reach fresh grass?”

Then Mantharak said to the crow, “Laghupatanak! Hiranyak and I move slowly, so we can’t possibly go looking for Chitrang, but you can fly fast. You had better go and search for him to see if he is alive or dead.”

Laghupatanak started off promptly, but he had flown only a short distance when he discovered Chitrang caught in a net on the bank of the lake.

When the crow saw him, he was very upset and said to him, “My dear fellow! How did this happen?”

When the stag saw the crow, he too showed great distress and, with tears in his eyes, he said, “I am on the verge of death. I am very glad that you have found me before I die because I want to say to you that if I have ever, thoughtlessly, said or done anything unkind to you, please forgive me. And please say the same to Hiranyak and Mantharak on my behalf.”

“But, Chitrang!” said Laghupatanak. “Please don’t give up hope when you have friends like us. I shall hurry hack and fetch Hiranyak. Don’t be afraid.”

In this way, the crow put courage in the stag’s heart and quickly flew to Hiranyak and Mantharak and told them about chitrang’s captivity.

The mouse said he would rescue Chitrang and jumped on the crow’s back. Then the two of them made their way swiftly to where chitrang was. When Chitrang saw them, his spirits brightened and he said, “The wise choose good friends, for, with their help, it is possible to survive every calamity.”

Then Hiranyak said to Chitrang. “Friend, How was it then that you got caught in this trap?”

“Hiranyak,” replied Chitrang, “please, tis isn’t the time for discussion. Bite off these meshes and free me, before the hunter returns.”

“Now that I am here, you need not worry about the hunter,” said Hiranyak,

“But the fate is hostile,” said Chitrang, “even your knowledge does not help you. As they say, ‘When Destiny frowns on him, even a sage may lose his power of thought. What is predestined cannot be avoided even by the great’.”

While they were discussing this, Mantharak, who was worried about his friend’s welfare, also arrived on the scene.

When Laghupatanak saw him coming, he said, “Oh, Look, Hiranyak!”

“What?” said Hiranyak. “Is the hunter coming?”

“Hunter-nothing!” retorted Laghupatanak. “It’s mantharak who is coming! How silly of him! If the hunter arrives, we shall all be in danger because of him for, I can easily fly away. You, Hiranyak, can slip into a hole and chitrang, when he is freed, can run. But what can this water dweller do to save himself? That’s what worries me.”

Meanwhile, Mantharak reached them. "Friend,” said Hiranyak, “you have done a silly thing in coming here!
You had better go back as quickly as you can.

“But, Iliranyak,” said mantharak, “what else could I do? I couldn’t bear to sit and think of my friend suffering, so I came here. I would rather lose my life than lose friends like you.

While they were talking, the hunter appeared with an arrow fixed to his bow. As soon as they saw him approaching, Hiranyak quickly finished biting off Chitrang’s meshes and the stag bolted. Laghupatanak flew to the top of a tree and Hiryanyak slipped into a hole.

The hunter was very much disappointed to see the stag escape, but when he saw Mantharak slowly dragging himself towards the lake, he thought to himself, “Fate has snatched away the stag from me, but at least it has sent this turtle for my food. His flesh will satisfy my whole family.” And so, the hunter caught the turtle and tied him up with a net of grass blades. Slinging him on his shoulder, beside his bow, he started off for home.

When Hiranyak saw the turtle being carried away, he was heart-broken and said, “Oh, what a dreadful thing to happen, to us! Hardly had we got over one trouble when the other was upon us! Disasters never come singly. Destiny, that destroyed my hoard of food, has also snatched away my friend, and a friend like Mantharak is not easy to find. First I lost my hoard of food, then I was separated from my friends and family, then I had to leave my home, and now, as if all that wasn’t enough my dearest friend has been snatched away from me forever. Such is the fate of all living creatures.

Meanwhile, Laghupatanak and Chitrang arrived where Hiryanyak was, their eyes flooding with tears.

“You can stop crying,” said Hiranyak, “and do something about it before Mantharak gets out of sight. We must think of a plan to save him.

“Listen the crow said I have a plan. Let Chitrang lie on the ground in the hunter’s path as though he was dead. I will sit on his head and pretend to peck at his eyes with my beak. Then the hunter will think, Chitrang is really dead and he will drop Mantharak and run after Chitrang. The minute he does this, Hiranyak must start biting the grass net and set Mantharak free. Mantharak will then make for the lake, as fast as he can meanwhile, Chitrang, I shall tell you the right moment to get up and make a dash to safety, before the hunter can reach you.”

“What an excellent plan!” said Chitrang. “I take it for granted that Mantharak is as good as free.

At that time the hunter was going along the bank of the lake when suddenly, he saw a stag lying in his path and a crow pecking at his eyes.

Delighted with the sight, he said, “This is the same stage that slipped from my clutches and escaped into the jungle. Perhaps he has died of exhaustion. Well, the turtle is safely ties up, so I will drop him and catch the stag. Then I shall have them both.” And so he put down the turtle and approached the stag.

In the meantime, Hiranyak quickly bit the meshes with his sharp teeth and mantharak crawled to the safety of the lake. Chitrang, prompted by the crow, also made a dash to safety and Hiranyak and Laghupatanak also fled to safety.

The hunter looked dejectedly after the bolting stag and then returned to the place where he had dropped the turtle. He was astonished to find him gone.

He stood amazed. He finally went home.

When the hunter was gone, the four friends came out of the hiding places and danced with delight.

They hugged each other and returned to their usual place, on the bank of the lake.

They felt as though they had been reborn. From then on, they spent their time very happily, talking to each other.

It is wise to make an effort to make friends and to behave straightforwardly towards them.

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