The Two Headed Weaver – Panchatantra

Once upon a time there was a weaver by the name Mantharaka. One day when he was weaving the cloth, the wooden frames of his loom broke. He took an axe and went to the forest to bring wood in order to make new frames. He found a huge tree decided to cut it. The wood from this tree would be enough for all frames he needed.

As Mantharaka raised his axe to cut the tree, a spirit living on that tree said, “O weaver, this tree is my home and you must spare it. Mandharaka said if he doesn’t get the required wood, his family will starve and die. So, he requested the spirit to go somewhere else so that he can cut the tree. The spirit answered, “If you do not cut the tree, I will give you a boon of your choice”. The weaver said,” Sir, in that case, I will go home and ask my wife and friends for suggestions.

The spirit agreed to this and the weaver returned to his city. On his way back, he met his friend, the barber and explained him what happened and asked him for suggestions on what to ask. The barber said, “My dear friend, ask for a kingdom where you could be the king and I would be your Prime Minister. This way both of us can enjoy life here and hereafter”. Mantharaka said, “True. But let me ask my wife too”. The barber said,” A wise man should never ask women for advice. He can give a woman food, clothing, jewellery and above all the duties of marriage, but should never ask for their advice. As women think only of their own benefit and they have low wits.” The weaver replied, “Even though this is true, still I would consult my wife, as she is my better half.”

After this, the weaver quickly went to his home and narrated the whole story of the spirit and his boon to his wife. He also told her that his friend, the barber had advised him to ask for a kingdom. His wife said, “O my lord, what do barber understands? No wise man would consult children or barbers or servants or beggars. A king’s life is full of hardships. He is always worried about friendships, animosities, wars, servants, defence alliances, and duplicity. He never gets a minute’s rest because anyone who rules hardly gets anytime. The same container that is used for comfort can also be used to pour out bad luck. Never envy the life of a king.”

The weaver said, “You are right. But you haven’t told me what boon I should choose”. She answered,” Every day you are able to weave a single piece of cloth which is barely enough to meet our daily needs. You should ask for another pair of arms and another head so that you can work on two pieces of cloth at once, one in front of you, and one behind you. The first piece will help us meet our daily needs. The second one will help us meet special needs. Thus, we can sail our life comfortably and happily.”

After listening to his wife, he said,” You are a faithful wife and you have spoken well. I will do what you have suggested.” The weaver happily went to the spirit and said, “Sir, you have kindly given me a choice. I request you to give me two more hands and an extra head.” He had hardly spoken before he was two-headed and four-armed. Rejoiced, he began his homeward journey. People on the way saw him and considered him as a kind of demon. They hammered him with stones and sticks and the poor weaver died at the spot.

Moral: One who has no wits of one’s own will perish.

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