Panchtantra Story: The Foolish Brahmin and the Clever Thieves


Photo by Felipe Vallin on

In a tiny village lived a Brahmin with his wife and children. Now while he had a lot of knowledge of the Holy Books, and prayers, he was not a very smart man. Clever evil people often cheated him, and he easily believed anyone. His wife was tired of his foolish ways, and she often scolded him. Like most Brahmins, he made money, or collected food from the villagers, by saying prayers on holy days or at the temple. He didn’t make much money or collect much food, as he was foolish, and his wife and children suffered greatly. But they somehow managed to live. 

One evening, after a long day of saying prayers at many homes and the village temple, he received a goat as a thank you gift from one of the villagers. He was pleased with this delicious gift and couldn’t wait to get home to enjoy a tasty goat curry dinner. While walking home with the fat goat on his shoulders, he was excited about surprising his family with a lovely meal. Every person in his family loved to eat goat curry, and this gift was truly a treat. 

He had to walk down a lonely road to get to his home, which was quite far from the village. He was walking along quickly and couldn’t wait to get home to bring this delicious gift to his family. Just then, three thieves spotted him from a distance. Now, these thieves were very hungry as they had spent all day looking for something valuable to steal but could find nothing. With no money to buy food, they had to find another way to fill their bellies. Seeing him walking along with his goat on his shoulders made them even more hungry. Goat curry would be a great end to a long day for these hungry thieves. 

The Brahmin had not yet spotted them together, so they began to talk among themselves to come up with a brilliant plan to get the goat, which they planned to kill and eat. The smartest among them whispered into the others’ ears, and they hid behind the bushes at different points of the long road. They were waiting for the Brahmin to come by so that they could put their plan into action. 

As the Brahmin walked along, the first thief was soon walking beside him. He looked at him confused and said, “wise, holy man, why are you carrying a dog on your shoulders, what do you plan to do with it, is it your pet?” The Brahmin was very angry and replied, “Do you have eyes, can’t you see that this is a fat goat, this is no pet, no dog, it’s dinner for my family and myself tonight.” He gave him another look of anger and walked ahead. But before he could walk away, he heard the thief mutter to himself, “is he gone mad, can’t he see that he’s carrying an ugly dirty dog?”

A little bit further down the road, he soon met the next thief, who turned to him, looked him up and down many times, and finally said, “why are you carrying that large cat on your shoulders, is it your pet, are you taking it home to your children, so that they can play with it?” This made the Brahmin even angrier; he shouted out loudly, “you stupid person, what has happened to your eyes, can’t you see, do not bother me, I need to get home fast to kill this goat and make a delicious curry, go on your way now.” The thief laughed loudly and said to himself, “this silly man is going to kill a cat and eat it; I hope he enjoys his dinner.”

The Brahmin heard these words, and he was puzzled, he started walking quickly towards his home, thinking what was wrong with these people, had everyone gone blind? He was now just a few minutes away from home when he met the last thief. This man looked at him in disgust and kept looking at him while holding his nose shut. The Brahmin was confused; he said, “what are you looking at, why are you closing your nose, can’t you see that I’m a holy Brahmin, I’m not some dirty beggar.” The thief said, ‘ sorry sir, I’m looking at nothing’ but continued to hold his nose. 

He was now furious; he shouted, “tell me what’s wrong?” The thief finally said, “Sir, I did not mean to insult you, I can see that you are clean and holy, but why are you carrying this dirty, stinky pig, what need do you have with this filthy animal?” He was now confused, he asked, “do you see a stinky pig, the man before you saw a cat, and the man before him saw a dog.” The thief shook his head in confusion and walked ahead. 

The Brahmin began to think to himself, and he was afraid. What if this was not a goat and was instead some shape-changing monster. Was he taking a monster home? Would this monster end up eating his family and himself? He was now very sure that he was carrying a dangerous beast, he quickly threw the goat down and ran for his life. It was at this time that the thieves came together again, and they caught the goat. They were laughing loudly at how cleverly they had fooled the Brahmin. 

With the Brahmin out of sight, they lit a fire and were getting ready to kill and roast the goat. When the Brahmin arrived at his home, he was sacred and trembling. He told his worried wife the entire story of the monster, and she was very angry. She shouted at him, “you foolish man, you gave away our dinner to three clever thieves.” “When will you ever learn, will you always be this foolish?” That night he and his family had a potato curry dinner, while not so far away, the thieves were eating delicious roasted goat meat.

Moral: Gain knowledge because foolish people often loose a lot of opportunities.

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