Panchatantra : Principle 2
Story 6 : The Unlucky Weaver
Somilaka was a weaver living on the edge of the city. He was an expert at making fine garments worthy of kings and princes. He enjoyed the patronage of the nobility. Despite all this, he was poorer than those weavers who were making coarse cloth for the common people. Worried at his condition, he told his wife, “Look dear, how rich these weavers of coarse cloth have become. There is something wrong with this place. I am not a success here. I will go elsewhere.”
“No dear. It is not true that you can be successful elsewhere. Our luck is linked to what we have done in a
previous birth. If you have done a good deed in your previous birth, you will reap the harvest in this birth without your effort. If you don’t have it in your destiny, you will not get it even with effort. Just as sun and shade are inseparable, cause and effect are also linked to each other.”
Somilaka did not agree with her. He said, “Without effort, you can achieve nothing. Without cause there is no effect. Even if you get a good meal as a result of a good deed in the past, you have to use your hand to eat it. Wealth comes to a person who toils. There is no point in chanting the name of God. You must do your bit first. If you are not successful despite your effort, you are not to blame. Therefore, I have decided to go abroad.”
Ignoring his wife’s pleas, Somilaka left his place and reached Vardhamanapuram. Working day and night, he earned three hundred gold sovereigns within three years. He thought he should go home now and started the homeward trek. At dusk he found himself in the middle of a forest. Wild animals began their hunt for prey. The weaver climbed a tall tree and went to sleep on a big branch. He saw a dream: The God of Action and the God of Destiny were talking to each other. Destiny asked Action, “The weaver is not destined to live in luxury. Why did you give him three hundred sovereigns?” Action replied, “I have to give to those who try and toil. Whether the weaver can keep it or not is in your hands.” The dream jolted the weaver. He looked into his bag and found the sovereigns missing.
Heart-broken, Somilaka began crying, “Oh I have lost what I have earned in three years with great effort. I have become a poor man again. I cannot go home in this condition and show my face to my wife.” He saw no point in brooding over what has happened and decided to go to Vardhamanapuram and try again.
This time, he could collect five hundred sovereigns in one year. He stored all this money in a small bag and began his homeward journey. When it was sundown, he had already entered a forest. This time, he did not sleep, afraid that he would lose his money. He continued to walk through the forest. This time also he saw those two persons he saw earlier in his dream coming in his direction. They repeated the same conversation about God rewarding a hardworking person and destiny denying it. He immediately looked into his bag and found there was no gold in it.
This time Somilaka lost his courage and thought he should commit suicide. He made a strong rope with the fibers he found in the forest. He tied one end of the rope to a high branch of the tree and made a noose of the other end. Everything was ready for his suicide when he heard a voice in the skies: “O Somilaka, don’t be rash. I am destiny who took away your wealth. I cannot give you more than what is necessary for your bare needs. Not a single cent more. But I am pleased with your adventurous spirit. Ask for a boon. I shall give it.”
“Please give me lots of wealth,” said the weaver.
“What do you do with so much money,” asked the voice.
The weaver replied, “People serve him who is rich even if he is a miser.”
“In that case, go back to Vardhamanapuram where two wealthy merchants, Guptadhana and Upabhuktadhana are doing business. After studying them well, decide who you want to become, Guptadhana, the man who earns a lot of money but does not spend a cent of it or Upabhuktadhana, the man who earns but also enjoys the wealth he has amassed.”
Somilaka followed their advice and went back to Vardhamanapuram reaching the place in the evening after a tiring journey. With great difficulty he traced Guptadhana’s house and entered it despite resistance from the merchant’s family. When the time for dinner came, the merchant grudgingly gave food to Somilaka, suggesting that he was an unwanted guest. The weaver found a corner in the house where he could sleep.
Somilaka again had the same dream in which Action and Destiny were debating Guptadhana giving food to him. Destiny told Action, “You have made Guptadhana give food to Somilaka.” Action said, “You cannot blame me. I had to ensure that Somalika was fed. It is for you to decide who deserved what.”
Next day, Destiny saw to it that Guptadhana had an attack of cholera and had to miss his meal. In this manner what was given away was saved.
Later, Somilaka visited Upabhuktadhana’s house where the host welcomed him with great love and respect. The weaver had a good meal and slept. He had a dream as usual, the same two figures appearing in the dream. Destiny told Action, “O Action, the host has spent a lot of money to entertain Somilaka. He even borrowed to make the guest happy. It is not in his destiny to have surplus. How will he repay what he has borrowed?” Action replied, “My job is to see Somilaka got what he deserved. If Upabhuktadhana crossed the limits in entertaining his guest, that is not my fault. It is for you to decide what should be done.”
Next day, a messenger from the royal household came to Upabhuktadhana and gave him a big sum of money on behalf of the king.
Somilaka thought, “It is better to be like Upabhuktadhana. He enjoys life with whatever he has. What’s the use of being rich but miserly? I will better be Upabhuktadhana.” Pleased, the Gods showered on him the wealth that he needed to enjoy life.