Archive for the ‘fables’ Category

A fuller whose job is to make the clothes shine had large grounds. He thought someone else could set up his trade there. He knew the rent would add to his profits. So he sent advertisements all around for some trader or an artisan to move in. One day a collier dropped in. He was interested. All he needed was a furnace and space for storing firewood. ‘Just let me in. I look after my needs and pay rent on the day agreed and give you no trouble’,said he.
The fuller took the collier to show his line of business. ‘See I only need sunshine and space to hang all the clothes bleached to dry out.’
The collier showed him in his turn how he worked. ‘See that chimney stack. It takes all the smoke and will not trouble you or me.’
The fuller however was not convinced. He said, ‘you shall keep your end of the bargain.I know. Unfortunately we share the same sky. I need the sun to make my clothes shine spotless and keep their whiteness. But can I trust wind or your smoke? I know you mean no harm. But the wind may blow all that smoke onto my space and undo my hard work. It is better that you go elsewhere. It will give me peace.’
The State and Religion cannot mix. There are so many imponderables and not a single state has been saved by religion. Instead Religion has only defeated every effort of best of men who would give peace to men within the state. Look at Spain under the Moors. How the Moors and Christians fought for its control? Imagine what would have been the case had the Moors still controlled Spain? It would have been another Syria under Bashar Assad or Libya. Now Spain under the Catholic Church produced Franco. With the Church interfering every horror man could think of under the sun has come one after the other: Inquisition, civil war, stolen children, forced adoption,sex abuse. For all the iron heel of church or dictatorship what is the economic situation? Unemployment is very high and Recession is very much there. If one looks where Spain (or any other nation where religion plays a vital role), it will be clear where these nations stand in terms of happiness.(OECD.org) Religion has been man’s own device to make him fall headlong into the pit of misery. Religion and State have been devil’s prescription for man’s pride that makes him think he is in control of his own destiny.
Remember Guernica? Remember Bali Bombing?

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A Dream By Half©

There was a scholar in Aleppo who was ridiculed by his neighbors. They
were mostly artisans or traders who traded in useful goods and they faulted him “Why study dreams or speak with spirits of the dead?” they asked him.
“I study dreams because I dream myself.” The scholar defended himself. “What about speaking with the spirits of the dead?” “Perhaps I might learn something from my ancestors.” His neighbors snorted at his pigheadedness and left him alone.
A few weeks later the scholar had a dream in which his ancestor visited him and asked, ‘What are you doing with my wealth?’ “ Your wealth? Will you speak plainly?”
‘I had left all my wealth, fearing that my enemies were after me, at the bottom of a dry well behind the house.’ His ancestor described the exact spot and what to look for. Next day the scholar went down into the well and discovered the treasure. But the news of his find got around. It reached the ears of the sultan. The sultan immediately confiscated the treasure trove according to the law of the land. The scholar was at least thankful to the sultan that his life was spared. What was more, a royal pension allowed him to pursue his scholarly interests.
A few months later he had another dream in which his ancestor appeared again to ask the whereabouts of his wealth. ‘You were right grandfather. Your enemies finally got around to it by legal means.’
A dream is left handed version of reality. Only trouble is that you need to let reason rearrange it.If it has not happened as foreseen your rational mind has still an escape clause that it went wrong only as far as sleep had a hand in it.

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Prophet Totem Pole ©

Long ago when American Indians roamed the heart of American continent they had no miracle workers. Iroquois lived close to the soil, hunted the bison for meat and lived from the fruits of the earth. They dressed themselves too well,- they wore buffalo skins in winter and loin clothes of various fibers spun from plants at other times. Children of the Plains they were.
A prophet one day came out of nowhere and revealed to them of the Great Spirit of the Plains. They were impressed. The chief asked him to marry his daughter as a mark of respect. The prophet refused politely saying that his dress was special and it did not brook any person ever touching his person.
“See how white it is?” the prophet asked.” It is made out of some cactus the likes of which grows only in the Blue Yonder. He pointed dramatically to the horizon and said,” My sanctity and powers come from this poncho which I shall leave at my death which is soon.”
One morning he went on the top of a hillock to die. His dress lay in a tepee decorated with sacred objects he had brought along. “As long as this remains white as now, it is a sign that my body shall never decay.” So he died.
The whole tribe mourned for him. They revered the dress, which each member of the tribe, young and old alike kissed in veneration. It was not obvious at first but with time the poncho changed color. It became yellow. Was it as a result of the breath of devotees or time working out changes? One day pilgrims filed past the relic: the poncho was no better than rags.
Next they checked the body to see, and it had to their horror, become a totem pole! Since then the tribe began praying to the pole instead.

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Least of These ©

The gods were sure the leech was a mistake: an animal that somehow got out of hand. How well they had thought to the creation of lions and the like! But leech was clinging on to each as though it would solve his problem. The gods were in a fix. He was their creature.
Aeons later.
Atlas holding up the earth developed DVT and somewhere a vein burst. He had his hands full so he asked the leech to do something about it. Of course he stanched the flow of blood and the vein closed itself as by magic. The gods who watched it were unimpressed, ”There is nothing to it. A beginner’s luck.” It was Hera who said, ”Just the same we shall keep him around. Accidents can happen.”

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There was an artist who discovered himself even as a toddler. The child that he was, he saw the ancestral home typical of Lucknowi nawab filled with objets d’art that had their origin elsewhere. His father an avid collector had brought everything that was pleasing to the eye: while he searched for more to fill his home the child discovered a world. The fragile porcelain along with fox furs and Gobelins tapestries were his constant companions. One morning he saw them and yet it was as though he was turned inside out in order to see them. His other self played with them and made his eyes see through its arrangement!
It was so unusual that he took a paper and sketched in his child like scrawl what was the true state of his father’s house. His other self was a world of its own. It made order to the other world that rolled on, changing each day and with seasons.
It was an epiphany! in this beatific experience he discovered his soul and it loved order. Many objects that were in gilt and lapis lazuli had vanished! when he filled in blocks of areas with crayons even the heavy draperies that always stood in mournful indolence become charged with a luminance. In other times where the sun had barely filtered through heavy latticed sunscreens he saw light had become subtle; and even shadows had a violet hue nestling against greens and amber! The mystery of nature as though had yielded itself to him through a pencil of light.
By instinct he identified soul and while he redrew the picture of his late father among his collection his soul held the hand to make him once again come to life! He was the true artist who made dead come to life and memory that sought beneath the surface,-and his eyes and hands had done only its bidding.
First time he cut himself loose from whatever were his support and went to Bombay as it was called then he was an artist but art of life was not yet learned. He did whatever came his way and if he had to be huckster he didn’t mind since he did it with brush and colors. The life of lower depths did not drag him down since his soul was buoyant to be otherwise. This life in the dumps freed him from the trap that the petty necessities often make one slave for financial security the be-all in life. Rest of his life he would go on making art of life and art of his soul come together as a sure stroke with his loaded brush on a canvas.
At the age of eighteen he had ventured into the harsh world where man bartered his soul for a mead of praise and cared for nothing except the money that jingled in his pocket. In discovering his soul his mundane world knew what took precedence. It was as natural as it was meant to be. Never more he took note of another man’s word where his soul had spoken.
Consequently he made a pact with himself to preserve his soul as the sole authority and it was non-negotiable. His very own heaven!
Thus it was with him when India got her independence. The electric energy of such freedom made him celebrate his own in such colors and those who saw the result said,’Our tryst with destiny is there for all to see.’ Here is a patriot whom we shall patronize and make him celebrate our national policies visually. Alas our artist was not for a leash around his neck to dance to the powers that be.
His world went about where his paint and canvases laid out his soul’s state of health in cool or vibrant colors.
One morning one Sethji came with an offer. Just after the Mundhra scam it was. He wanted him to paint the pantheon of gods with the faces of many masters he wanted to please. Our artist looked at him as he extolled the Hindu culture and said India without her traditions would be a dark and lonely place. In his mind’s eye he presented a man bound to a corpse for whom he had not paid any obsequies! But here was he waxing eloquent about his debt to the dead and departed. He refused.
Since that day the artist found he was alone. He wished to present his canvases for the art summit that was convened with much publicity. They looked at his entries. They shuddered. ‘Oh no these would raise the hackles at some quarters. ‘We artists need our recognition and money! So they made appropriate noises at his dilemma and wished him luck.
The artist had over the years found his soul for inspiration needed very little. It had made cosmos its rightful place while politician made boundaries and maneuvered constantly he was free. Only he needed privacy of soul and thoughts to make the work hold its own and when it was finished each had a life of its own. His soul had liberated from past and he could move onto something else. Everything that soul could feed on was already absorbed in his four decades.
An artist lives among flesh and blood. Even his detractors all real and yet strangers to his soul, wanted their reality imposed on him!
Every artist who tenders his soul as hard currency would face opposition. In India he had plenty and they hated him for independence of his thoughts. No one had valued his soul as he. Hence their stand hardened. His enemies fought as hard as only they could. They would bring him down and drag him through mud. He escaped to foreign parts where they did not ask of his religion or his affiliations to this political party or that party. He wanted time and peace where his soul could express itself.
When he died after a lifetime of feasting with great masters who were scattered all over,- from Hokusai to Matisse,Picasso, some dwarves made a cry,’Had he loved Mother India he would have chosen to die on her soil.’ Some Jackals who in his moments of peril smelt trouble and had merely turned to other side lamented,’We truly wanted to help him had he asked for our help’
The artist who had lost his mother when he was but 18 months old never accused fate,’why you have deprived me of my mother?’ Instead he sublimated his sorrow ever since in his canvases and his soul had salved his loss. Yet some idiots would want him to paint Mother India after their fashion! The artist was through and through a son of the soil and his soul had celebrated this using the vocabulary of art. He knew it and the art lovers everywhere knew and loved him for it.
If some blind fools throw tantrum who cares?

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Tainted Money©
The plume from Fukushima nuclear pant became alarmingly dense and lethal. The Ancient of the Days was in council and He had 5 nano sceonds to decide. The angel representing Japan kowtowed before God and said,’ Don’t let it fall on Japan. Already they had been hurt in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.To afflict them once again would be double jeopardy and illegal.’
‘It’s true.’God was sure that Japan should be spared from it.
One angel who acted as the devil’s disciple said,’ But nuclear leak creates a cloud and it must break on somewhere.’
God created a tornado out of it. Instantly the angel representing the USA complained, ‘ No Lord,’ said he,’ our land has become a dustbowl already. Send it somewhere else.’
God thought and said, ‘Great.’ He converted all that pestilential nuclear cloud into rain and it had to go somewhere.
The Council quickly concluded:’There must be someone who cannot resist a bargain and shall do anything to get it all free’.
Meanwhile on the earth a man suddenly woke up and said ‘Free!’
Much of the day he thought over it and went to a giant tree and cut it down. Sure enough he found a hoard of gold coins. Hauling it home he went into business.
‘Goldstein & Co, Bankers.The Corporate heads were from all across the globe. Isidor the President and his CEO a Turk knew they held all the aces.
There was a credit crunch going on. And the gold held by the Banking house was like water from a bottomless well. The Bank was sure that they could charge interest as high as he could go. They specialized in financing wars wherever it occurred across the globe. People saw how lavishly the bankers lived and none asked their source. None drew a parallel with the countries and the money they had at their disposal to decimate the population before time. No country ever thought of peace but money and power that war brought to it.

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Mr. Wolf finally took subscription with a cable T.V Company and had a flat screen installed in his lair. Watching TV became a routine and an addiction. Once surfing channels with his remote he was struck by a talk show. A kid was waxing eloquent and all through the show he ridiculed wolves.
He asked: ”What can one do with a wolf who has become a couch-potato?”
He himself supplied the answer: ”You still got to skin him.” Watching how the lamb was getting all the laughs he fumed: ”Talking head, your wisecracks do not worry me so much as not knowing what you have done with the rest of your body.”

No marks for guessing the source of this story.
Who has not heard of Aesop? Or read his fables? Very little is known of his life and the present book, I hope, shall to some extent satisfy that lacuna.
Who was Aesop?
The name is nothing more than a label that has come to be tacked on certain stories and these are the forerunner of fables as a literary genre. Of course he is a historical person if we were to go by the account of Herodotus in the Histories. According to him he lived in the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis (middle of the 6th century BC). By the latter part of the fifth century the name was familiar in Greece as the author of fables. Fables were extant even before Greeks ascribed this unique distinction to Aesop. It was in keeping with the Greek tradition of affixing various compositions to real or imaginary ‘finder out’. According to present day scholars there is likelihood that Indian fables served as model for fables as much as Assyrian and Persian fables became known to the Greeks in classical times. Be that as it may Aesop and fables have become inseparable and no further proof we need to call for the present purpose.
My intention is to piece together from stray historical details a biography as representative of Everyman.
Let us see what are his credentials to be our spokesman. He was a slave. Are we not to market economy? We are slaves to the extent we have no independent spirit to go against the trends and we play the game. We play by their rules and not by our own. On this point I consider him as good as any to speak for us.
Consider the intent of fables which speak for him and did they spare him from death? According to Plutarch the storyteller was hurled to his death because of offending powers that be. Even this day do we not see how the just and innocent are as much as the bad affected by events beyond their control? Aesop serves as a template for all in life as well as in his death.
From the beginning of the Christian era fables served as regular feature of Rhetorical training. Fables have been treated as part of moral treatises and interest in this literary genre has continued even in later centuries.
Aesop’s stories gave rise to a literary genre that bridges the Archaic and the modern era. It has attracted many illustrious names, among them La Fontaine and Thurber in recent times. What lessons in prudence and morality he inculcated through his stories have shaped our ethics. Aesop remains fresh as ever, being impressed in imagination that is not bound by time or fads. Consequently this is a work of imagination. Having said this by way of preface I can only add: ‘go little book, do your thing! I am quite done.’
(The modified version)

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One day the boy, Pheidonides said he was alone in the wide world. ‘No one cared if I lived or died,’ he said. Aesop let him speak. The boy explained that since he considered himself not responsible for his little brothers he came to the conclusion there existed no reason why should others care if he existed or not. Aesop explained how the world was connected by means of an example.
“When eagles fly the wild hares sunning on the rocks run as fast as their legs can carry. If hares run what will a tortoise do? He thinks hares are running to spite him. So he also sprints not realizing he is clumsy. He is bound to slip and fall over. “Sad uh?” Aesop asked: ”with his heavy shell he merely scratches the air; helpless he is.” The boy said, ”If I were there I would set him right.”
“Why would you want to do that?”
“I think of Creon whenever I see a tortoise.” Aesop didn’t press the obvious. For he knew the boy already had sensed the connection.

When Aesop told Xeno the cynic about his discourse to the neighbor kid Xeno said, ”What, are you partial to the tortoise? The poor eagle has his mate and a brood of chicks to feed. Think of their state if every one had the same notions as you?”
“Xeno,” Aesop said, ”you are right. Eagles with red talons and beak also have their place in the scheme of things.”
“I did not think you would agree so quickly!”
“ You are right but you miss the whole picture.” Aesop said, ”It is the duty of every living being to preserve the right to life in others. Speaking of the right no more compassion can be shown than when one is helpless. Compassion is the means to provide equal chance for the birds of prey and tortoises. Equal chance, Xeno”
Xeno agreed.

It was evident Xeno had given much thought to the last discussion he had with Aesop. “But you did not get equal chance. Neither did I.” Xeno explained in so many words about his past. He was the second son who merely replaced the one who died before. He said, ”I knew I was not loved for what I am.” Controlling himself he added, “By the time my younger brothers came my parents were cured of their folly and they got their share, alright.” Suddenly Xeno fell silent.
“Yes, my friend,” Aesop explained, ”there is so much ignorance and cruelty. Those who ought to have loved and cherished us merely failed in their duty. We came into this world naked and dispossessed already. It is the law of deprivation at work. We had no choice in the matter. Did we?” Xeno shook his head.
“It is random and an accident. Why make it worse by feeling sorry?  The law of deprivation entitles us to another law.”
Xeno shot up his eyebrows.
“Yes. Law of Compensation.” Aesop said, ”Whatever good comes your way you have earned it. How I came into the household of Iadmon was not how I went out.”
“You are still cash strapped,” Xeno asked, ”Aren’t you?”  “Yes,” Aesop said, ”Making riches was not how I wished to be compensated.” Aesop realized life compensated him only in directions he sought to remedy his wants.
He told him a story to illustrate it.  An Argive went in search of gold after hearing of a gold rush in the neighborhood. He came to the right spot all right. But he was too late. So many had before him panned gold from the rocks and so quickly too, and had exhausted the deposit. So he went on in dismay not knowing where. He stumbled upon a field strewn with bodies of men and horses. A bloody carnage the battlefield had witnessed and he was the only living person there. The Persian army lay dead in their rich apparel and armor before him. He picked as much gold plated helmets and body armor, not to mention swords with handles studded with precious jewels. He brought home a fortune! There was gold much more than he would have ever picked from panning. Was he wrong if he treated his find as compensation for his trouble?
The city of Athens was electrified by the news. The Battle of Salamis was fought and the City drew some kind of shock that converted each citizen. A new confidence was evident everywhere. Aesop had put himself for the war effort and Basileus relieved him for the purpose. Because of his lameness he could not do active service as a foot soldier. When Xeno asked him if he was disappointed he said, ”Oh no! I do not care for the glory of a war but it is necessity to put myself to the cause of Athens.” With a smile he said, ”The commander who saw me awaiting marching orders said, you will not do, son. Your bad foot shall not hold up other soldiers.”
“Law of compensation at work I see!” The cynic said. Aesop continued, ”I spend part of my day copying orders in a clear hand. My commander says he is satisfied with my work. My beautiful hand must serve instead.”  (Selectd from The Life of Aesop-Ch.8, pages 147-151)


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