Kathāmṛta - 72 - Śaktiyaśo-lambaka - Stories of the Fools (Continues)

This article is part 72 of 74 in the series Kathāmṛta

 

There lived a man who had a beautiful wife; fearing that she might have an affair, he monitored her at all times. Once, he had to travel to another place and he got his wife accompany him. On their way, they encountered a forest and came to know that there was a village of the bhillas. Scared of her safety, he dropped her off at an older person’s house and went ahead alone. By the time the man came back, his beautiful wife had fallen for a bhilla man, got married to him and gone away to his village. Upon his return, the man asked the older person, who replied –“I don’t know where she went. Bhillas Visited this place. Probably they carried her away!”

He searched for her in the village of the bhillas and found her there. She told him that the bhilla had brought her to his village by force. He asked him to hide there and suggested that the next morning, they could jointly kill the bhilla and escape from the place. However, when the bhilla returned that evening, she handed over her husband to him. The bhilla tied him up and decided to offer the man as a bali to the devī. The man, however, prayed to devī and chopped off the bhilla’s head with the sword that devī held. His wife, however, brough the chopped off head of the bhilla to her village and announced that it was her real husband’s head and the man had killed him. The king looked into the matter, got to know the truth and got her nose and ears chopped off.

Therefore, one must be very careful with women. You should never share a secret with her. It is safer that way. Let me narrate a story in this regard.

A nāga, who was scared of Garuḍa, took a human form and hid in the house of a prostitute. She received an amount of five hundred coins from him as her daily rent. When she cornered him by asking where he got so much of wealth from, he said that he was a nāga and he procured it all because of his magical powers. She informed this to the kuṭṭanī

Once, Garuḍa came to the place and decided to stay there for a day. Kuṭṭanī said –“We have a nāga living here; he pays us five hundred coins everyday!”

Listening to this, Garuḍa killed the Nāga who was living as a guest in the house.

Therefore, a wise person should never share a secret with women.

Having said so, Gomukha continued to tell the story of the fools –

The Story of the Fools (Continued)

One of them had lost his hair and it now looked like a brass container. But, he was wealthy and wished for hair to grow on his head. A wicked man convinced him that he would get a medicine prepared by a doctor for the purpose and extracted a lot of money from him. He got another evil soul with him and claimed that he was the doctor. He too extracted a lot of money. One day, for some reason, he removed the turban from his head and revealed his hairless head. That too was bald just like his. Yet, he continued asking for a medicine to cure him of his bald head.

Then the quack said, “I am unable to grow hair on my own bald pate; how can I ever succeed in making hair grow on another bald head! That is the reason I showed you my bald head; even so, you didn't get the point?” Saying so, he went away.

Once, a servant had purchased oil from a store and was bringing it home. Someone on the street said, “It appears that there’s a leak in your vessel of oil. Hold it carefully as you go forward!” Wanting to check if there was a crack at the bottom of the vessel, he turned it upside down. All the oil gushed out. He took an empty vessel back home. Therefore, one should not try to correct a fool; it is best to leave them to their own devices.

~

A certain bloke had a slut for a wife. By the time he returned from a journey outside town, the maid servant told him—upon the instruction of her mistress—“Your wife died; we cremated her; behold, here are the ashes!” And she handed him some burnt bones that had been procured from the cemetery. His wife had been all along in the company of her paramour. The poor husband wept for her, had the ritual post-funeral bath, offered the ashes in flowing water, and performed all the post-death rites. To perform the māsika ritual a month after the death, he had to invite a brāhmaṇa and ended up asking his wife's paramour to partake of lunch. Along with the paramour came his (supposedly deceased) wife, all decked up with ornaments, and gladly partook of the delectable meal. The maid servant told the simpleton, “Oh what a chaste wife you had! She has arrived from the hereafter in her bodily form to come and partake of the māsika meal!” This is the manner in which wicked women dupe unsuspecting, straightforward men.

~

There once lived a beautiful cāṇḍālā woman. She was determined to marry an emperor. Therefore, one day when the king had come to the town on his rounds, she saw him and followed him. On the way, the king saw a muni and at once climbed down from his elephant and sought the blessings of the ascetic before going on his way. She then decided that the muni was superior to the king and began following him. On his way, he came across a dilapidated śivālaya and at once he bowed down to Śiva. Realizing that Śiva was greater than the ascetic, she stood there. In the meantime, a dog came there and lifted it leg upon the pāṇipīṭha and performed an action typical of its kind. She then decided that the dog was superior to Śiva and hence began following it. The dog then proceeded to the house of a cāṇḍāla that it was familiar with and out of affection for him, it rolled about on his feet. She then thought that the cāṇḍāla was greater than the dog and married him and lived in peace. Therefore, if fools try to fly too far away, they land up where they started out.

~

There once lived a stingy king who was advised by his ministers thus: "Deva! If you offer dāna in this world, then in the hereafter you will avoid a despicable state! Therefore, perform dāna; neither wealth nor life is eternal!" In response he said, "I will first see whether or not I attain a despicable state after death and then take a call on whether I should perform dāna or not!"

~

Candrapīḍa, the king of Kānyakubja, had an aide by the name of Dhavalamukha. Every evening he would return home after eating dinner. When his wife asked, "Where do you eat every evening before coming home?" he replied, "I have two friends by name Kalyāṇavarma and Vīrabāhu; I eat my dinner at their place and come home. Of the two, Kalyāṇavarma shows his hospitality by offering food and drink. Vīrabāhu will even sacrifice his life to help me!"

His wife was curious to meet them, so he took her along. Kalyāṇavarman turned out to be a very fine host; but Vīrabāhu who was gambling just said, ‘Welcome!’. The wife asked, ‘Why do you rate Vīrabāhu better?’ Dhavalamukha said, ‘Go and inform them separately that we have incurred the king’s wrath and ask them for help, you’ll understand the reason.’ She did likewise, Kalyāṇavarman said, ‘I’m just a merchant; How am I a counter to the king? What can I do? Vīrabāhu as soon as he listened took up his sword and shield and ran towards the palace. Dhavalamukha saw him and convinced him, ‘The minister has placated the king; he is no more angry!’ Vīrabāhu returned only after he was thoroughly convinced. ‘One is a namesake friend, the other is a true friend; sneha (means both friendship and oiliness) is there in both oil and ghee, oil is only oil but ghee is indeed ghee!’, Dhavalamukha described the difference.

~

 A traveller was afflicted with thirst; he reached a river; but he did not drink water and continued; his companion asked, ‘Why didn’t you drink water?’ he replied, ‘How can I drink so much water!’ ‘Will the king punish you if you don’t drink all the water in the river?’ his friend ridiculed him but still he didn’t drink water!

~

A fool’s son died; he killed his other son too. When someone asked he said, ‘Poor boy! How would he go so far! Doesn’t he need some company!

~

Another fool pointed to a well-to-do person who was going from afar and said, ‘He is my elder brother; I’ll get all the riches he has; but I need not do anything; I need not give back anything!’

~

Yet another fool praising his father’s qualities said, ‘My father is a brahmacārin throughout his life; is there anyone equal to him!’ his friends said, ‘How were you born then? He replied, ‘I am his mānasaputra (born out of his mind!)’ Everyone laughed.

~

An astrologer not able to make money in his own place went abroad with his son and would cry embracing him. When people asked him he said, ‘He is my son; he is destined to die on the seventh day from today! So I’m crying!’ On the seventh day he himself killed his son while he was asleep. Thus he was able to convince the people there and became rich!

~

A group of people were discussing. Someone said something about a person who was not present there at the moment, ‘His anger and recklessness, both are his flaws!’ The person got to know this. He barged in, held the person by the scruff of his neck and thundered, ‘Rascal! Who is reckless, angry? When did you see me acting that way?’ the others said, ‘What would he tell? We are all seeing it ourselves!’

~

A king had a daughter; he wanted to see her grow instantaneously so he called for the doctors.

They said: ‘O king! We need to arrange for medicines from faraway land. Until then, she must remain unseen by you. This is one of the prerequisites laid down for this treatment’. The king acquiesced and the doctors kept the princess away from the king’s eyes for a few years. As time passed, she grew into a beautiful woman. The king was elated when he saw what he thought was the effect of the medicine and rewarded the doctors lavishly.

~

Once a servant quit his job since he felt his salary was insufficient. The master of the house queried his wife ‘Were there any dues we had to recover from him?’ The wife replied ‘Yes, half a coin’s worth’. Then the man spent ten coins just to reach his erstwhile servant and made him pay back the lowly amount that was owed. Everyone saw the man’s financial wisdom and laughed out loud.

~

Once when a man was sailing the seas, his silver vessel fell off the ship. The dejected man noticed a whirlpool nearby and marked in his mind to remember this as a landmark. On his journey back, he saw a whirlpool in the sea and jumped in to retrieve his lost vessel.

~

Once a king caught a man stealing meat from the royal kitchen. He then ordered for five measures of flesh to be extracted from his body. After the cruel command was carried out, the man lay writhing and screaming in pain on the floor. The king then came to a merciful mood and declared ‘Alright! Give him more meat than was cut off of him. May he find solace with this!’. The guard simply said ‘So be it my lord!’ and muttered to himself ‘What’s the use of severing a man’s head and later paying him back with a hundred other heads!’ and rushed the poor man to a doctor for treatment. Thus a stupid master understands well neither punishment or reward.

~

A woman had a son - he was her only child. It was her wish to be blessed with another son. A barbaric ascetic misguided her saying ‘Sacrifice your son to the god in heaven and he will bless you with another one!’. The foolish woman was about to carry out the misdeed when an old woman came to her and chastised her saying ‘You sinful wretch! Why would you sacrifice your hale and healthy son and pine for another who doesn’t even exist? What if the promised son is never born?’. The stupid woman realized her mistake and retreated from the horrific path she was about to tread.

~

Once a master told his servant ‘Run to the grove and get us some sweet gooseberries’. The stupid servant went to the grove and nibbled and tasted every fruit and brought them home. What would one ever do with such partly eaten fruits!

The current article is a translation of Prof. A R Krishnasastri’s Kannada classic Kathāmṛta along with additional segments added from the original Kathā-sarit-sāgara (of Soma-deva). Bṛhat-kathā-mañjarī (of Kṣemendra) and Bṛhat-kathā-śloka-saṃgraha (of Budha-svāmin) have also been referred to. The translation has been rendered by Raghavendra GS, Arjun Bharadwaj, Srishan Thirumalai, and Hari Ravikumar.

The original Kannada version of Kathāmṛta is available for free online reading. So are the other works of Prof. Krishna Shastri

Author(s)

About:

Prof. A R Krishna Sastri was a journalist, scholar, polyglot, and a pioneer of the modern Kannada renaissance, who founded the literary journal Prabuddha Karnāṭaka. His Vacana-bhārata and Kathāmṛta are classics of Kannada literature while his Saṃskṛta-nāṭaka and Bankimacandra are of unrivalled scholarship.

Prekshaa Publications

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