The Panchatantra – Story 23a

MOTHER CHANDILI’S BARGAIN

Brihaspati said to Choodakarna : Once when the rainy season came along, I begged a Brahmin in a certain town for permission to spend the rainy season in his house and he allowed me to do so(Monks spend the rainy season in a fixed place as touring is not convenient). One day I heard my host, the Brahmin, telling his wife : “Tomorrow the holy summer solstice in Dakshinayanam. Let us feed some Brahmins.” 

She said in an angry tone : ” How can we feed any Brahmins when we are so poor ? We have so little ourselves.” He said : My dear, you should not say so. Even poor people should feed worthy persons to the best of their capacity and not hoard. Be thrifty and economic but not reedy for hoarding, By greed for hoarding the jackal was killed.” How was that ?” she asked. Then he told her story the story of “The Jackal who wanted to Hoard“. After hearing that story, his wife, Mother Chandili said; ”All right, I have got a little roasted sesamum. Go early in the morning to the woods and get some fire-wood and kusa grass. I shall prepare food for three Brahmins with the rice and sesamum.” 

Early next morning the Brahman left for the woods. Mother Chandili husked the sesamum and spread it out in the sun for drying prior to preparing sweets with it, and went into the kitchen to work. A dog went and made the sesamum unfit for human consumption by passing water on it. On seeing this, Mother Chandili said to herself: ” How can I feed Brahmins to day, as the sesamum is polluted by this dog, and I can make no sweets with it. There is only one way. I must go and exchange this husked sesamum for unhusked sesamum and come back with it and proceed with my cooking.” She rushed with the husked sesamum to the next house, where I had just gone to beg for alms, and said : ” Please give me unhusked sesamum equal in quantity to this husked sesamum.” The lady of the house was delighted to receive an equal quantity of husked sesamum in exchange for the unhusked, and eagerly effected the exchange at once.

After Mother Chandili had gone, she told her son Kamandaki about the extremely profitable exchange she had made. He asked her, ” What is the basis of the exchange ?” She told him that she got the same quantity of husked sesamum as the unhusked sesamum she had given, and said, ” Can you beat this?”. Kamandaki told her, “The very fact of this extraordinary exchange makes me suspicious. Who will offer such an exchange without some good hidden motive ? Who is the person ?” His mother said, ” Mother Chandili.” Kamandaki laughed and said, “She is a deep and cunning woman and must have some good motive for passing off the husked sesamum. Throw it away, mother.” His mother was convinced, and threw away the polluted sesamum.

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