Wood Cutter

Collected by Maya Thakuri

There lived a wood cutter and his wife in a village. They were very old
and they had no child.
The wood cutter would always go to the forest to collect wood which he sold
in the market. And the wife would grow vegetables in a small garden near
their house besides doing her daily house hold chores.
It had been the daily practice of the old wood cutter to divide into three
equal parts of whatever grain he could buy by selling the wood: two parts
of which the wood cutter would keep for himself and his wife, and the
remaining one part he would keep aside to be distributed among the birds
and insects that would visit their hut every morning and evening. The wood
cutter could never think of eating his food before distributing their share
of food among the birds and insects.
As the wood cutter was getting older and older day by day it was becoming
more and more difficult for him to collect enough wood that could enable
him to earn his daily bread. But the husband and wife always thanked God
for whatever they had and they lived contentedly and happily.
Due to his age and weakness, sometimes, he would show sings of
indisposition and the wife realizing his difficulties would very
sympathetically suggest him not to go to work. She would say, “Why don’t
you take a day’s rest today and go to work tomorrow . I can prepare very
warm and tasty soup of assorted vegetables for both of us .”
“It is very fine that we live on the vegetable soup but what about the
birds and insects that visit us every morning and evening? Won’t they
remain hungry?” he would ask her and would again add, ” Let me go today.
Little walk and light work does make me strong.” And he would set out on
his duty as usual.
One day, he suddenly felt weak and could not cut enough wood so he went to
the market with a very small bundle of wood that he was able to collect.
With the little money that he could get by selling the small bundle of wood
he bought little eatables and came towards his home. As he was approaching
his house he felt very tired and sat down to rest under a banyan tree.
There he saw, sitting next to him, a mendicant with a gray hair and a long
gray beard.
” I am hungry and so please give me something to eat .” begged the mendicant.
” Yes, I have some. Why don’t you walk up to my residence which is not
very far and where my wife will serve you warm food”, replied the wood cutter.
But the old mendicant replied, ” I am sorry I can’t walk that distance; so
please give me whatever you have and I will eat it here and now.”
At this, the old wood cutter divided the food that he had brought with him
into three equal parts and one of them he gave to the old mendicant.
The old mendicant when had eaten the food was very happy and thanked him
saying, “Thank you very much for the delicious food.” And blessed him with
the words, ” And may you always possess plentiful in your stock to enable
you to distribute bountiful of alms and donations for the poor and the
needy.”
After that, the wood cutter left the place and proceeded towards his house.
Before he had walked some distance, he saw on his way an old and frail
looking woman crying and lamenting by herself.
On seeing her the old man went near her and asked,” What is hurting you?
What can I do to help you?”
” I am famished. Please give me some food if you have ” replied the old woman.
“Yes, I have some. Why don’t you walk up to my residence which is not
very far and where my wife will serve you warm food.” replied the wood
cutter.
But the old woman replied, ” I am sorry I can’t walk that distance so
please give me whatever you have and I will eat it here and now.”
At this, the old cutter divided the remaining food into two equal parts
and one of them he gave to the old woman and the remaining one part he kept
aside for the birds and insects. The old woman when had eaten the food was
very happy and thanked him saying,” Thank you for the delicious food. May
you always have plentiful in your stock and may you always possess
bountiful for alms and charities”
“It is going to get dark very soon so why don’t you come with me to my
house. My wife will make you comfortable and look after you.” requested the
woodcutter to the old woman.
“Please don’t worry about me. My husband will be here any minute now and I
will go with him. You may go now and please take care of yourself.” replied
the old woman.
That evening, the old man told everything of the days’ event to his wife.
” It was very kind of you to do that. We will eat the vegetable soup
tonight and sleep.” replied the wife.
Next morning, the old man, after distributing the food that he had saved
and brought for the birds and insects and after eating his meal of
vegetable soup, left the house for the forest with an ax in his hand.
That day, he could do the cutting and collecting of the wood better than
that of the previous day and, therefore, he could make more money and with
the money he bought some amount of Ghiu# besides his regular quota of grain.
And, on his way back home, he saw the same old mendicant and the old woman
whom he had fed the day before. They both were sitting under the same
banyan tree where he had met the old mendicant the day before.
And they both said, “We are hungry and we need to eat. Please give us
something.”
“Oh yes, I have also brought some Ghiu# with me today.” So saying, the wood
cutter divided the food into three equal parts: one, he gave to the
mendicant and another, he gave to the old woman and the last one he kept
with himself for the birds and the insects.
They both ate the food with great relish and they thanked him for his
generosity.
That evening when he reached his house, the wood cutter found his wife
waiting for him at the doorstep.
The wood cutter told her of the day’s events and giving her the packet of
food that he had brought asked her to keep that aside for the birds and
with the Ghiu# that he had brought he asked her to prepare something special.
And the wife asked, “What about all the food stuff that is lying inside?”
“What sort of food are you talking about?” asked the woodcutter in surprise.
And when he had entered inside the house, to his utter amazement, he saw
not only food stuffs in big baskets but also baskets-full of jewels and
riches.
“Where did they all come from?” asked the wood cutter.
“Well, it was an old mendicant and an old woman. They just came from
nowhere and brought these baskets carried by five strong men.” replied the
wife.
The wood cutter again asked, ” Where did they go after that?”
“They just disappeared after that”, replied the wife.
After a few minutes reflection the wood cutter said, “They were not, for
sure, old mendicant and an old woman but the Lords themselves in disguise.
So, we had a tryst with the Lords. This tryst with divinity has made our
life successful . We have achieved salvation. It must be no lesser than
Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi themselves in their real selves.
Next morning, the old couple went to the banyan tree in the hope of meeting
the Lords, and there, they found, to their surprise, two beautiful statues
of Lord Vishnu and of Goddess Laxmi already installed under the tree.
With the riches they had found in their hut the wood cutter and the
wife, then, got a huge temple constructed at the site of those statues.
They also got a tavern constructed near the temple where the worshippers
could get free food and lodging.
They planted many trees and encouraged others to plant trees near the
temple so that birds , animals and insects could find plenty of food and
shelter there.
The old couple then passed the rest of their lives praying in the temple
and serving the poor.
And after many years of service of the Lords when he old woodcutter and
his wife had died the people of the place got their life size statues
erected near the gate of the temple where , at their feet, the worshippers
paid homage by offering flowers and burning incense sticks.

May the narrator of this tale be blessed with a golden garland,
And the listener, with a flower garland;
May this tale remain in the heaven,
To be here again
At the time of next narration.

,Ghiu# = Clarified butter

Sumber : http://stud.hsh.no/lu/norsk/vidsteen/nepal/Tekstar/tekst11.htm

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