Friday, May 25, 2012

Episode 7: A Thousand Beggars

In this feature, we outline the chapters of The Legend of Ponnivala as we've laid them out in the animated and print series. The sub-story descriptions are those that occur in each episode, and are drawn from our Teacher's Handbook.

A young couple have worked hard to plant their only field and happily watch their maize plants grow tall. But the seed buds on those green stalks do not hold grain. Then one day the wife discovers jewels hidden there instead. Beggars now magically appear as a test. The wife gives generously and so Lord Vishnu replenishes their wealth.

The Rivals Try Another Trick

...but a god counters this effort

The hopeful farmer now begins to check his newly-planted field once a week. After the second week there is nothing, not even a sprout. After the third there are some strong green shoots and after the fourth the field is full of young tender stalks. The rival clansmen see this and are worried that a harvest might be possible after all. So they send their cows in to devour the growing plants. But Lord Vishnu, with a little magic, sees to it that no permanent damage is done. After the tender shoots have been well bent down the clansmen drive the animal herd back to their own lands. The husband soon inspects the field. He is shocked by the trampled stalks but there is no serious harm.

The Insightful Wife Finds Magical Wealth

The next week there are many buds but none have opened. The wife becomes anxious. Unlike her husband she wades deep into the crop and then pinches a bud with her fingernail. Inside she finds a pearl! So she pinches another one. There she finds another jewel. She becomes excited and calls her husband. Together they discover that their planted field has sprouted gems of all kinds!

Bountiful Wealth Acquired...Unexpectedly

The couple now call in laborers to help harvest their field but they only allow these men to cut down the stalks. When the laborers leave the husband calls on Lord Vishnu to help the two of them privately cut each bud from its stalk and break it open. Again Lord Vishnu helps and soon they have filled their harvest baskets with beautiful jewels. They story these baskets inside their home and measure out their new found wealth.

A Doubting Husband and a Saintly Wife

Vishnu is watching their actions and wants to test the couple’s generosity. So he turns a hundred shepherds who are grazing animals nearby into beggars. He sends these “holy men” to the couple’s home to ask for alms. The husband is upset and demands that they be sent away. But the heroine ignores him and starts generously giving the jewels away to the beggars. Somewhat dismayed, the husband decides to go to visit their overlord, the great Chola king, and to take him a token gift. When he returns from this trip the door of the house is stuck shut. Together he and his wife manage to open it, Now, to their surprise, they find that their stash of jewels has been replenished. The heroine recognizes Lord Vishnu’s hand in this beneficence. Together they decide to spend their new-found wealth building a fine palace.

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