The Panchatantra – Story 56


In a certain village there lived a weaver called Mandaraka. One day, as the pegs in his loom had broken down, he took an axe and went in search of wood to repair the loom. He reached the sea-shore. He found a nice big tree there. He was about to cut it down saying himself : ‘I can make plenty of pegs with this tree’. A fairy in that tree said to him : “Good man, spare this tree. This is my home. I live in it peacefully enjoying the ocean breeze.” ”But what am I to do ?”asked the weaver. I want to repair my loom without which I shall go hungry’ “Let us make a bargain,” said the fairy. “I shall give you whatever you like, provided you spare this tree’.

“All right,”said the weaver, “I will go home and get the advice of my friend and wife as to what to ask of you.” She agreed. Entering the town he met his friend, a barber, and consulted him. The barber said : ‘Ask for a kingdom over which you can rule. I will be your prime minister and we can both enjoy to our hearts’ content.” “Let me consult my wife also.”said the weaver. “Don’t” said the barber. “Give a woman food jewels and dresses galore, but never ask her advice.” “I must ask her,”said the weaver. He then went and consulted his wife. He also told her what the barber had advised. She said : “Never take a barber’s advice. What do barbers know except to shave? What do they know of kings and kingdoms ? Ruling a kingdom means endless trouble and lot of worry about peace, war,, diplomacy and what not. His very sons and brothers will plot against the ruler s life so that they may rule the kingdom instead.”

The weaver said : “You are right. What shall I ask?”. She said, “With your one pair of arms and one head you are making one cloth per day and that is meeting all our expenses. You ask the fairy for two pairs of arms and an extra head so that you may make two clothes a day, one to meet our expenses and one for buying luxuries.” “Splendid,” said the weaver, and went back to the fairy and begged for an extra pair of arms and an extra head. She granted his boon and he became two-headed and four-armed. But, when he was coming home, people mistook him for a devil and beat him with clubs and stones and killed him. 

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