jtaka tales

I thought I’d feature another of the Jataka Tales retold by Ellen C. Babbitt, 1912. As I learned last week, the Jataka Tales are Hindu. The Jatakas form one of the sacred books of the Buddhists and relate to the adventures of the Buddha in his former existences, the best character in any story being identified with the Master.

In the “The Merchant of Seri,” there merchant travels from town to town with another man, each selling brass and tinware. They get to a town and split the roads. The other man is greedy, always trying to get as much as he can while giving away as little as possible. This greedy man comes to the house of a widow and young girl. All they have to offer in trade is a bowl, one that holds sentimental value for them but they don’t realize is actually made of gold. The greedy merchant scratches it, realizes it is gold, but throws it on the ground, saying it is worthless, and left.

The merchant of Seri came to the house, since they agreed they could go to the other’s streets once the other had left, and came to the same house. The woman offered the merchant the bowl, hoping to get something for her daughter. The merchant knew immediately it was gold and told the woman so, explaining he was not rich enough to buy it from her. The old woman told other merchant about the other man and said that if he valued the bowl to please take it and give the girl a dish she liked in return. The merchant would not agree. He gave the woman all his money and all his wares for the bowl, keeping only 8 pennies. The merchant went quickly to the river and gave the boatman the pennies to take him across.

Soon, the greedy merchant went back to the house and told the woman to give him the bowl and he would give her something for it. She told him she had given it tot he other merchant, that he paid a great price for it. The greedy man was angry, knowing he had lost a small fortune. he tried to stop the boat, but the boatman didn’t stop. The merchant of Seri made it across the river, went to the city there and lived for quite a while from the money he got for selling the bowl.

I guess the moral of this one is that honesty is the best policy. Don’t try to take advantage of people, even if they don’t know the value of what they have.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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