An arrogant courtesan of the king, proud of her intelligence, kept insisting that Tenali Ramakrishna tell her the Ramayana.
“How did a mere monkey like Hanuman burn the city of Lanka?” she asked.
Tenali Rama decided to teach her a lesson.
“Like this!” he said.
And burnt down her house.
(55, during the week. More 55 here: 1, 2, 3)
I was a fortunate kid. I always had a voracious appetite for folk tales, be it from any part of the world. And India is a treasure-trove of folk tales.
There are tales of the wise men; Birbal the wise, or Rama of Tenali, the shrewd Bengali Gopal or Maryada Rama the just. There is the immortal “Panchatantra”, and the “Jataka tales”, where animals talk, and men become fools. But all of this is just the merest tip of the iceberg of tales that our great-grandmothers collectively knew.
But I chanced upon Folktales from India a superb compilation of folktales edited by the wonderful A.K. Ramanujan.. Here he complies folktales from twenty-two Indian languages. There are little known tales in Gondi or Santhali, or fables from Kashmir and Rajasthan, or tales with little morals from Tamil Nadu or Karnataka. There are tales of Birbal or Gopal or Tenali Rama (this 55 tale is adapted from one of the tales in this very book).
And these are stories centered around men, about heroes or imbeciles. There are stories about women, where men are fools or rogues. There are stories about families. There are stories about Gods, but Gods are not fearsome, but easily outwitted by men and women. There are humorous tales about jesters or wits, and stories about animals and birds who miraculously fly or talk. There are even stories with stories in them!
An absolutely wonderful collection, and a fine addition to any home library, perfect to be read, or read out loud.
(ps: A small request to my readers who have blogrolled me. I would appreciate it if you changed the link to read “Balancing life” or just “Sunil” instead of my full name. It’s mostly for academic purposes, just so that my blog isn’t the first hit on google).