Reading C: Tales from India (100 Words)

You will find the texts of the stories below the audio, and the titles are linked to individual blog posts where you can learn more about sources, see notes, etc.
You can also find storytelling ideas here: Teaching Guide, see #138-149.


~ 101. The Elephant-Driver ~
A guru and his disciples lived in the forest.
One day, a mad elephant came rampaging through the trees.
"Get out of the way!" yelled the elephant-driver.
All the disciples fled to safety, but one disciple didn't move.
The elephant grabbed him and hurled him against a tree; the disciple barely survived.
"Why didn't you run?" the guru asked his disciple later.
"You taught us that all things are God," he said. "Why run from God?"
"Yes, the elephant is God, but the elephant-driver is God also!" explained the guru. "You should have listened to God in his elephant-driver form."

~ 102. The Pilgrim and the Snake ~
A pilgrim converted a cobra to the holy life.
"Do no harm," he told the cobra, "and don't bite!"
The snake nodded, and the pilgrim departed.
The village boys, however, grew bold and pelted the snake with rocks.
Its bones broken, the snake could barely slither in and out of its hole.
When the pilgrim returned, he was shocked by the snake's condition.
"The boys attack me," it said. "But I keep my vow!"
"I told you no biting, but I didn't forbid hissing!" the pilgrim exclaimed. "Do no harm, but you must hiss if someone threatens to harm you."

~ 103. The Two Men and the Mangos ~
Two men went into a mango orchard.
One man immediately began to count the number of trees and the number of mangos on the trees, and even the number of leaves, estimating how much might be harvested, what the mangos would weigh, and so on.
The other man went to the orchard's owner and befriended him. Then, at the invitation of his host, he began to eat the mangos. They were delicious!
Be like that man: befriend the Creator and enjoy the gifts of creation. What is the good of numbers and calculations when you could be eating mangos instead?

~ 104. The Two Friends in Town ~
Two friends went to town together.
"Let's go listen to a reading of Holy Scripture!" said one.
"I think I'll go to a whorehouse!" said the other.
The man who went to the reading was bored; he wished he had gone to the whorehouse.
The man who went to the whorehouse felt ashamed; he wished he had gone to the reading.
The Angel of Death came for them both at that moment, taking the man in the whorehouse to heaven, and taking the other man down to hell.
God looks at your deeds, and he also looks at your heart.

~ 105. The Priceless Diamond ~
A wealthy man possessed a priceless diamond.
"Take this to the market," he said to his servant, "and see what people are willing to pay for it."
The eggplant-vendor offered twenty pounds of eggplants.
"Not more?" asked the servant.
"That is a lot for this small bauble!" the vendor replied.
The clothes-dealer offered a thousand rupees.
"Not more?" asked the servant.
"That is too much already!" he said.
And so on, until the servant finally approached a jeweler who said, "I'll give you everything I have!"
So it is with God: each comprehends within the limits of their own experience.

~ 106. The Fish and the Flowers ~
A fishmonger ran into her cousin, a flower-seller, in the marketplace.
"You've sold all your fish, and I've sold all my flowers," said the flower-seller. "Come have dinner with me! You can stay the night."
The fishmonger gladly accepted.
She left her fishbasket at the door of her cousin's house.
They ate dinner, and then they went to bed.
During the night, the fishmonger tossed and turned. The smell of flowers was suffocating!
She finally went and got her fishbasket, putting it in the bed beside her. Smelling the familiar smell of fish, she was able to sleep at last.

~ 107. The Pilgrim Couple ~
A husband and wife decided they would renounce the world and spend their remaining years on a holy pilgrimage.
One day the husband, walking ahead of his wife, saw a diamond lying in the dust of the road. He scratched at the ground, trying to bury the diamond so his wife wouldn't see it and lapse back into worldly desires.
His wife then noticed what he was doing and rebuked him. "Why did you do that? Do you still see a difference between diamonds and the dust of the road? You must look beyond," she said. "There is no difference."

~ 108. The Holy Man and the Dog ~
There was a holy man who lived on food given to him in charity.
One day when he received some food, he sat down next to a dog, and they ate together. The man took a morsel of food and placed it in the dog's mouth, then he put a morsel in his own mouth, back and forth, taking turns.
The villagers saw this and started laughing, thinking he was a lunatic.
The holy man also laughed and he said, "God sits with God; God feeds God! You, God, are laughing, and I, God, am laughing! Whatever is... is God."

~ 109. The Lizard on the Tree ~
There was a tree in the center of a village.
One man told another about the green lizard he saw on the tree.
"It's not green!" said another man. "I saw that lizard, and it's red."
Another man chimed in. "No, the lizard is brown."
Or black or orange or yellow.
The people were all arguing about the color of the lizard.
Finally, they went to the tree and found a man sitting there, a stranger to the village. He explained to them about the chameleon's many colors, and then he added, "In the same way, people argue about God."

~ 110. The Woodcutter's Dream ~
A woodcutter was napping when his friend shook him and said, "Hey, wake up!"
"Why did you wake me up?" complained the woodcutter. "I dreamed I was a king, the ruler of a great kingdom and father to many children. I sat happily on my throne and administered justice to all my subjects. Why did you destroy my happy state?"
"But it was just a dream!" protested his friend. "What does it matter?"
"You fool!" said the woodcutter. "You understand nothing. Being a king is just as real, and not real, as my being a woodcutter."
So teaches the Vedanta.

~ 111. The Farmer's Dream ~
A farmer and his wife doted on their young son, but one day he fell ill and died.
The mother was stricken with grief; the farmer, however, did not cry.
When she asked him why he was not grieving for their son, he said, "Last night, I dreamed I was a king, and I had eight fine sons. Then, in the morning, I woke up. Who should I weep for? The eight sons in the dream who vanished? Our son who died? It is all Maya; it is all illusion."
The farmer then took his plow and went to work.

~ 112. The Hill of Sugar ~
You cannot know all of God.
You are an ant who found a hill of sugar.
You rejoice! You eat a whole lump of sugar, and it fills your stomach completely. You barely manage to carry back a lump of sugar to your home, something to share with your fellow ants.
"Next time," you think to yourself, "I will bring back the whole sugar hill."
But you can't. You are just an ant.
Even the biggest ant, the most wise among the ant seekers, might be able to bring back two or three lumps of sugar, no more than that.

~ 113. The Doll of Salt ~
There was a doll made of salt who wanted to measure the ocean's depth.
"Take me to the ocean!" the doll said to its owner. "Put me in the ocean, and I will measure how deep it is. Then I will be able to tell others about the depth of the ocean."
The ocean was far off, many hundreds of miles away. But the owner did as the doll asked: she took the doll to the ocean.
Then, when she put the doll into the ocean's water, the doll began to dissolve.
The doll disappeared.
The doll was the ocean.

~ 114. The Seeker and his Family ~
A man desired to follow his guru, but love of family held him back.
"Go home and take this pill," said the guru. "You will seem to be dead while hearing everything."
The man did so, and his family began to mourn.
The guru arrived and proclaimed, "I have medicine that will save him! He will drink it and live, but one of you will also have to drink, and you will die."
Mother, father, sisters, brothers... they all refused. "What's done is done," they said.
Having heard everything, the man awoke, and he left them to follow his guru.

~ 115. The Thief-Turned-Sadhu ~
The king decided to choose a husband for his daughter from among the sadhus who meditated by the river.
A thief heard about this and disguised himself as a sadhu, hoping to marry the princess.
He sat among the sadhus when the king and princess came to inspect them. All the sadhus refused the king's offer.
As the thief sat there, watching one sadhu after another reject wealth and power, preferring the spiritual life, he was moved to become a sadhu himself.
"Will you marry the princess?" asked the king.
"No," said the thief-turned-sadhu, and with the sadhus he remained.

~ 116. The Fisherman-Turned-Sadhu ~
A fisherman was poaching fish from a rich man's lake at night.
The watchmen discovered him. "Stop!" they yelled.
The fisherman ran, and then to hide himself he covered his body with ashes and sat beneath a tree as if he were a sadhu.
By morning word had already spread that a sadhu had arrived. People came to see the sadhu under the tree, bringing offerings of flowers and fruits, bowing reverently.
The fisherman-turned-sadhu felt at peace.
"I think I shall become a true sadhu after all," he thought to himself, "and I will be worthy of these people's devotion."

~ 117. The Holy Man by the Roadside ~
A holy man lay by the side of the road in the dark of night, deep in meditation.
A passing thief saw him and said, "That thief exhausted himself in criminal activity and fell asleep here before he got home. I won't make his mistake!"
A passing drunkard saw him and said, "That drunkard collapsed in a stupor here in public. Shameful! I will make sure I get home before I pass out!"
Another holy man walked by and bowed down in reverence.
Only he could see what was in front of his eyes; the others could see only themselves.

~ 118. The Traveler and the Tree ~
A traveler lay down to rest by a tree, not suspecting it was Kalpavriksha, the wish-fulfilling tree.
Because the man was tired, he thought how nice it would be to have a bed. A bed appeared!
Then he thought how nice it would be to have food. Done!
A woman to rub his feet. Done!
"This is wonderful!" he thought. "How silly of me to have worried about this journey. I almost didn't come because the tigers scared me."
Just as soon as he thought of the tigers, a tiger appeared, and it attacked the traveler and killed him.

~ 119. The Wisest of the Brahmins ~
There were once four brahmins who went traveling. Along the road, they found the bones of a lion.
The first brahmin said a mantra to assemble the bones into a skeleton.
The second brahmin said a mantra to add flesh and skin to the skeleton.
"I will now give it life!" said the third brahmin.
"Wait a minute!" said the fourth brahmin, and he hurriedly climbed a tree.
The third brahmin then pronounced his mantra.
The lion woke up hungry and ate the three brahmins before running off into the jungle.
The fourth brahmin alone lived to tell the tale.

~ 120. The Brahmin and his Mouse-Daughter ~
A brahmin rescued a mouse from a hawk and turned her into a girl.
She grew up and needed a husband.
"I want the most powerful husband!" she said.
The brahmin thought Sun was the most powerful.
"Sun, marry my daughter," he said.
"Cloud is more powerful," said Sun. "He covers me."
Cloud said, "Wind is more powerful; he pushes me."
Wind said, "Mountain is more powerful; he blocks me."
Mountain said, "The mouse is the most powerful; he gnaws my foundations."
"Make me a mouse again!" said the girl, and thus she married the most powerful husband: a mouse.

~ 121. The Brahmin and his Snake-Son ~
A brahmin dreamed he would have a strong, handsome son, but his wife gave birth to a snake. They loved him nonetheless.
Time passed.
"He must marry!" said the mother, so the brahmin visited a distant relative.
"Marry your daughter to my strong and handsome son!" the brahmin proposed.
When the bride learned the groom was a snake, she said only, "Let fate bring what it may."
On their wedding night, the snake turned into a handsome man, shedding his skin as she watched. The bride's father threw the snakeskin in the fire, and the couple lived happily ever after.

~ 122. The Snake and the Brahmin's Wife ~
A wandering brahmin and his wife encountered a serpent.
The serpent ate the brahmin!
The wife wept. "How will I live now?"
The serpent spat out a golden cup. "Beg alms with this. If anyone refuses you, his head will explode."
"Then I beg you: return my husband, or your head will explode!"
The snake spit her husband out, and then turned into a gandharva, a heavenly being.
"I was cursed to be a serpent until a woman outwitted me," said the gandharva, and as he flew upwards, jewels rained down.
The brahmin and his wife were beggars no more.

~ 123. The Farmer and the Snake ~
A snake lived in a farmer's field, and the farmer made milk offerings to that snake.
The snake would drink the milk and leave a gold coin in exchange.
The farmer kept all this secret, but eventually he told his son. "You are old enough now; you go make the offering!"
When the boy saw the snake emerge from its hole with the gold coin, he concluded that the snake's den must be full of treasure. He struck the snake, intending to kill it, but instead the snake bit him.
The boy died, and the snake was never seen again.

~ 124. The Monk in the Dream ~
A poor merchant saw a vision of a monk in a dream.
"I am money earned by your ancestors," said the monk. "You'll see me tomorrow. Kill me and take the money."
The next day, a monk came to the merchant as foretold. The merchant clubbed him to death, and the monk turned into a heap of gold coins.
The merchant's greedy neighbor happened to see this. He went to the nearby monastery and attacked the monks with a club.
Some died, some were wounded; none turned into gold coins.
The police arrested the neighbor for murder and hanged him.

~ 125. The Thief and the Demon ~
A thief was on his way to rob a brahmin's cow when he met a rakshasa-demon.
"You steal the cow, and I'll eat the brahmin!" said the demon.
When they arrived, the thief said, "I'll go get the cow."
"No," said the demon, "the noise will wake him. Me first!"
"No," said the thief. "Me first!"
They kept arguing.
"What's going on?" yelled the brahmin.
The thief said, "This demon wants to eat you!"
The demon said, "This thief wants to rob you!"
The brahmin pronounced a mantra to destroy the demon, and with a club he killed the thief.

~ 126. The Barber and the Fairy ~
A tree-fairy bestowed seven pots of gold on a barber.
When the barber got home, he discovered the seventh pot was only half-full. He felt compelled to fill the pot, so he put in all his own money. The pot was still just half-full.
He sold all his possessions, but even that did not fill the seventh pot.
He went begging, putting all the money in, but to no effect.
"This fairy's gift is a curse!" he shouted, and he told the fairy to take it all back.
So he lost all the gold, and all his own money too.

~ 127. The Dim-Witted Weaver ~
A weaver was chopping wood.
"I live here!" shouted a tree-fairy. "Stop, and I'll grant you a wish."
"I don't know what to wish for," the weaver said.
"I'll wait till you decide," replied the fairy.
The weaver's brother said, "Ask for a kingdom! You can be king!"
"No!" advised his wife. "Get two more arms and a second head so you can work two looms at once, weaving twice as much."
The weaver liked that idea, so he wished for extra arms and another head.
When the villagers saw him transformed, they screamed, "Monster!" and clubbed him to death.

~ 128. Sunda and Upasunda ~
There were twin demon brothers, Sunda and Upasunda.
They tormented the whole world, but they honored Shiva devoutly, so Shiva had to grant them a boon.
"We want Parvati!" the demons shouted; Parvati was Shiva's wife.
So, Shiva gave them Parvati.
But then the demon brothers quarreled; each wanted Parvati for himself.
Shiva appeared to them disguised as a brahmin.
"Brahmin, judge between us!" they said.
"You must fight each other," he replied, "to see who is stronger."
Because the demons were equally strong, they killed each other in the fight.
Shiva and Parvati, along with the whole world, rejoiced.

~ 129. Riding Shiva's Bull ~
One night a man saw Shiva's bull descend from heaven. He grabbed the tail and rode up Mount Kailash where Shiva served him heavenly cakes cooked by Parvati herself.
He then rode the bull down and told his friend.
"Take me there!" his friend said.
So the next night he grabbed the tail, his friend grabbed onto his feet, and up they went.
The friend shouted, "How big were those cakes?"
"This big!" the man replied, letting go of the bull's tail to show him, and so the fools both fell down to earth.
They never saw Shiva's bull again.

~ 130. The Teeth of Shiva's Bull ~
There was a mystical poet, deeply devoted to Shiva, who had composed a hymn in Shiva's name.
"What a marvelous hymn I have composed!" he thought to himself.
Then Shiva's faithful white bull Nandi appeared to the poet in a dream. The bull opened his mouth, revealing his teeth, and there, written on each tooth, were the words to the hymn.
The poet realized that he had composed nothing. The words were not his but had come to him from a past that has no beginning.
Thereafter when he sang the hymn, he thought only of Shiva, not of himself.

~ 131. The Dog in Shiva's Temple ~
There was a peasant woman who wanted to marry the king.
She followed the king when he left the palace and saw he bowed down to a sadhu.
"A sadhu will be an even better husband!"
She followed the sadhu to a temple where he kneeled before Shiva's image.
"I will marry Shiva instead!" she decided.
As she gazed at Shiva's image, a dog came and peed there.
"That dog is powerful!' she thought, so she followed the dog as it entered a peasant's house.
"He must be the most powerful of all!" she concluded, so she married the peasant.

~ 132. Shiva and Vishnu ~
To defeat the demon Hiranyaksha, Lord Vishnu took the form of a mighty boar. In this form Vishnu defeated Hiranyaksha.
Next, Vishnu became a sow and gave birth to piglets, nursing them contentedly in his sow form.
The gods begged Vishnu to return to heaven. "Give up that body and come back to us!"
But Vishnu refused. "I'm staying here. I like this body."
Finally Lord Shiva came to free Vishnu from his incarnation. "Don't you remember who you are?" he said, and he struck Vishnu with his trident, destroying the sow's body.
Only then did Vishnu return to heaven.

~ 133. Maya: The Illusion of the World ~
Narada asked Lord Vishnu, "What is Maya?"
Vishnu ignored the question. "I'm thirsty," he said. "Bring me water."
Narada went to fetch water from a nearby river. There he saw a beautiful woman. He fell in love at first sight! They married and had children: two boys and a girl.
Years passed happily.
But then one day the river rose in a mighty flood.
Narada watched his beloved children drown, and then his wife.
As he sat on the riverbank weeping, Vishnu approached.
"Where is my water?" Vishnu asked. "And why are you weeping?"
At that moment, Narada understood Maya.

~ 134. Indra's Parrot and Yama ~
Indra, King of the Gods, had a pet parrot.
"Yama, God of Death, is coming!" announced Indra's gatekeepers.
The parrot hid behind Indra, quaking with fear.
"What's wrong?" asked Indra.
"I fear Yama!" squawked the parrot.
Yama arrived.
"Greetings!" said Indra. "And please, I beg you: don't kill my parrot!"
"I decide nothing," said Yama. "That is for Kala, God of Time."
"Did you hear that, parrot?" said Indra. "Come out now; it's safe."
The parrot came out, and as soon as he beheld Yama, he died of fright.
"I did nothing!" Yama protested. "It must have been his time."

~ 135. Indra and the Brahmin ~
A brahmin saw a cow nibbling flowers in his garden.
Enraged, he beat the cow so severely that it died.
"It's not my fault, " the brahmin later claimed. "Lord Indra presides over the right hand; this is Indra's doing."
When Indra heard, he came to the garden in human disguise.
"What a lovely garden!" Indra said.
"I did all the work myself," boasted the brahmin.
As Indra praised the flowers, the fruits, and so on, the brahmin beamed.
Then Indra revealed himself. "If you take credit for all that, how can you blame me for the death of the cow?!"

~ 136. Garuda and the Snake-Man ~
Fleeing the eagle-god Garuda, a snake disguised itself as a man and sought refuge with a prostitute.
"I charge one hundred elephants!" she said, just joking, but the snake-man conjured the elephants with magic.
The woman was amazed. "Who are you?" she asked.
The snake-man told her everything, but swore her to secrecy.
Garuda disguised himself as a man and also came to the prostitute's house.
"I already have a customer, and he paid a hundred elephants," she said, boasting. Then she added, "Don't tell anyone, but he's a snake!"
Garuda thus found the snake-man, killed him, and ate him.

~ 137. The Seagulls and Garuda ~
A seagull wanted to fly away to lay her eggs.
"No!" said her husband. "Lay them here in the sand."
"But the Ocean will take them."
"If he dares take them, I will drink him up!" replied the husband.
The Ocean took the eggs, so the seagull did as he promised. "I'll drink every last drop of you, Ocean!" he shouted.
"That's impossible with your small beak," said his wife. "We must ask Garuda to help us."
They prayed to Garuda, and the mighty eagle-god came down to the Ocean. "Give back the eggs!" Garuda commanded, and the Ocean obeyed.

~ 138. Agni and Varuna ~
The God of Fire, Agni, and the God of Rain, Varuna, were arguing about who was greater.
"Fire is greater than water!" said Agni.
"No!" said Varuna. "Water is greater than fire!"
They decided to have a contest to see who was right.
The God of Fire burned trees, crops and villages, but Varuna poured down rain and put out the fire. The God of Fire then fled into the mountain rocks, while rain kept pouring down.
Even now, Agni is hiding in the rocks; that's why when you strike rock with steel, sparks fly and you can make fire.

~ 139. Ganesha is Born ~
The goddess Parvati created a son, Ganesha, to protect her while she bathed.
"Stand guard here," she told him. "Admit no one."
Her husband, Shiva, arrived, demanding to see his wife.
"No," said the boy, obeying his mother's orders. "She's bathing."
Enraged, Shiva cut off the boy's head.
"What have you done?" shrieked Parvati. "That was my son!"
Shiva sent his servants to bring back the head of the first creature they encountered, which was an elephant.
So they brought back the elephant's head, which Shiva placed on Ganesha's body.
That is why the god Ganesha has an elephant's head.

~ 140. Ganesha and the Cat ~
One day little Ganesha found a cat in the woods.
He grabbed the cat's tail; then he let the cat go and chased her.
The poor cat fell into a mud puddle, and Ganesha laughed at the cat covered with mud.
He then went home to tell his mother Parvati what happened, but when he got there, he saw she too was covered with mud!
"Who did this?" asked Ganesha.
"You did," Parvati explained. "I am all life, and all life is me."
Ganesha bowed his head and promised her, "I will treat all life with respect from now on."

~ 141. Ganesha and Kartikeya ~
Kartikeya and Ganesha sat beside their mother, Parvati, who was wearing a necklace of beautiful jewels.
"My sons," she said, "I will give this necklace to the one who circles the Universe most quickly."
Kartikeya leaped on his peacock and flew off, certain he would win the race. "I'm so much faster than my fat brother with his elephant head!" he thought to himself.
Ganesha, meanwhile, walked in a circle around his mother and bowed down before her reverently, knowing she contained the whole Universe.
When Kartikeya returned, he saw Ganesha sitting beside Parvati, and he was wearing the necklace.

~ 142. Kubera and Ganesha ~
Kubera invited Shiva to a feast.
"It will be the best feast ever!" he boasted.
To teach Kubera a lesson, Shiva sent his son Ganesha in his place.
Ganesha ate everything, and then asked, "Is there more?"
Kubera brought food from the kitchen.
Not enough.
From the pantry.
Not enough.
"Why isn't there more?"
Finally, Kubera went to Shiva and begged for help.
"Food served with love is truly filling," said Shiva.
So Kubera brought Ganesha a handful of rice. "I offer you this food with my whole heart," said Kubera.
Ganesha took the rice. "I am satisfied," he said.

~ 143. Durga Puja ~
There was a wealthy man who arranged a feast to celebrate the Durga Puja each year, honoring the goddess. He sacrificed countless goats, and people came from all around to enjoy the goat curry and elaborate dishes that the man offered to his hungry guests, year after year after year.
Later on, though, the man stopped organizing the feasts, and his celebration of the Durga Puja was nothing like it had been in the past.
"Why do you no longer celebrate with a feast as before?" a friend asked him.
"Can't you see?" said the man. "My teeth are gone!"

~ 144. The Stingy Man's Dinner ~
A stingy man and his wife were about to eat dinner when a neighbor knocked.
"Say I'm dead!" the man hissed at his wife, and he stretched out in the bed.
"Alas, my dead husband!" she wailed.
The neighbor was suspicious, seeing dinner on the table. As a joke, he also wailed, calling the villagers to carry the man to the burning-grounds.
"Get up; they're going to cremate you," the wife hissed.
"No!" her husband hissed back.
So he lay there motionless while they carried him away and burned his body.
All because he didn't want to share his dinner.

~ 145. The Poor Man's Pot of Honey ~
A poor man had gathered some honey. He suspended the honey-pot from a rafter and sat beneath it, daydreaming.
"When I sell this honey, I'll buy some chicks. They'll grow into chickens, lay eggs, more chicks, more chickens. With that money, I can buy land. Then I'll get a fine wife. We'll have a fine son. But if he ever disobeys me, that bad boy, I'll strike him with my cane…"
And as he lifted his cane to thrash the boy, he broke the honey-pot, spilling the honey all over himself.
Thus the man ended up more poor than before.

~ 146. The Hermit in the Forest ~
A hermit had retired to the forest, setting aside all the cares of the world, and a simple loincloth was his only possession.
But rats came and nibbled holes in the loincloth, so the hermit got a cat.
The cat needed milk, so the hermit acquired a cow.
To care for the cow, he employed a cowherd.
The cowherd wanted a house, so he built a house.
To clean the house, he needed a maid.
The maid was lonely living in the forest, so they built more houses.
The result was a village, and all the cares of the world.

~ 147. The Guru's Two Disciples ~
A wise guru had two disciples.
He gave each of his disciples a small sum of money and said, "Use this to go buy something that can completely fill this hut where I live."
One disciple went and bought a huge load of hay and with that hay he filled the hut.
"You disappoint me," said the guru, and he threw all the hay into the woods.
The other disciple used the money to buy a candle, and the candle filled every corner of the hut with light.
The guru smiled. "That," he said, "is the light of wisdom indeed."

~ 148. The Beggar and Emperor Akbar ~
A poor man came to beg from Emperor Akbar.
As he waited with the other petitioners, he heard the emperor praying. "O God, I pray that you grant me prosperity, I pray that you grant me..." and so on.
The beggar then got up to leave, which attracted the emperor's attention.
"Hey there!" shouted Emperor Akbar. "Why are you leaving? Didn't you come for something?"
"I did," the beggar replied. "But then I heard your prayer and realized you too are a beggar, just like me. If I must beg, then I will beg help from God, not from you."

~ 149. The Widow and her Sons ~
A widow lived with her sons and their wives who all treated her unkindly.
One day she wandered outside of town. She found an abandoned house in ruins and without a roof.
She went inside.
"My elder son treats me unkindly!" she said to one wall, venting her frustrations in detail; the wall collapsed.
She felt lighter!
Then she vented her frustration with her other son to another wall; it also collapsed.
Then she complained about her daughters-in-law to the two remaining walls. They collapsed.
Standing in the heap of rubble, she felt happy again, and ready to return home.

~ 150. The Old Woman Going to Town ~
A young man riding horseback passed an old woman on the way to town.
"Poor thing!" he said as he rode by. "It's going to take you all day to get to town on those old legs."
"Hurry on your way, young man," she said. "I'll get there, God willing."
Along the way the young man talked to various friends, took a nap, and spent some time adjusting his turban to look especially elegant.
Imagine his surprise when he reached town and found the old woman already there.
"With my old legs," she said, smiling, "I have outpaced your horse."


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