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Pandit Ji
by Minal Saran & G.F. Wear

A Birbal Story

In the city of Delhi there lived a Brahmin called Karunashankar. He was rich, he owned his house, and he appeared to have all the things he could wish for; but he was not satisfied. He wanted to be known by the name Panditji, which means a clever man who has been to school, a man with a knowledge of religion and other subjects. 

This man could not get what he wanted, for he had not the right kind of brain. He took lessons from clever teachers, but every night he forgot what was taught to him during the day, so that he had to start again every morning. At last both he and his teachers decided to give up their work; so Karunashankar remained plain Karunashankar.

But although he did not give up hope, Karunashankar lost his love of life. Some of his friends told him about Birbal.

“Why not go to see him?” they said. ‘He may know of other ways besides study.’

So one day Karunashankar came to Birbal, who saw him because he respected all Brahmins.

‘I want you to advise me,’ said Karunashankar.

‘I am quite willing,’ said Birbal. ‘What is the matter?’

‘Ever since I was young, I have wanted to be called Panditji.’

‘If you study –‘ began Birbal.

‘Study will not help me. I cannot remember what I am taught. My teachers and I have realized that lessons are a waste of time and money.’

‘Then how can you become Panditji?’

‘That is why I have come to you. Can you help me?’

Birbal told the man he knew of no secret way to learning without study.

‘I only want to be called Panditji,’ said the Brahmin. ‘I cannot learn or study.’

‘Is that all you want?’ asked Birbal. ‘You want people to call you Panditji whether it is true or not?’

The unhappy Karunashankar said it was so. ‘I shall remember how kind you are,’ he said, ‘all my life.’

‘If your memory is so good, then you need not have come to me for help,’ Birbal could not help saying, but he added that he would do what he could do.

When the Brahmin went out, Birbal called to some boys playing in the street.

‘You see that man? Call “Panditji” after him.’

‘Why?’

‘Call the name after him and see what happens.’

So the boys called out, ‘Ho there, Panditji!’

Karunashankar stopped, raised his stick and shouted angrily, but they called him Panditji all the more. Boys are like that. Some people passing by saw what was happening, and they joined in calling out ‘Panditji!’ Karunashankar was very angry but there was nothing he could do, especially as the whole street then began shouting ‘Panditji!’

Next day, as soon as Karunashankar was seen in the street, people called ‘Panditji!’ after him. This went on for a week, and then Karunashankar grew tired of being angry. He came to be known everywhere as Panditji.

by Minal Saran and G.F. Wear

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Gulbo The Tailor 
Pandit Ji 
The Ghee Merchants and the Gold Mohur 
The Old Woman's Money-Bag  
The Ten Foolish Men 
The Three Cases 

6-May-2007
 
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