Bharathiayar Stories
Madurai Project. Article in Tamil
Translation: Veeraswamy Krishnaraj

1. A donkey named Rasika Sirōmani was a resident sage in Pothika mountain forest.

It was huge in size and fat because it grazed on a verdant grassland. One day in the evening, during the spring season, the donkey walked by a tree and listened to a peacock singing songs perched on the tree branch. Rasika Sirōmani stopped for a while and enjoyed the heart-warming sweet voice of the peacock.   


2. Having been engrossed in the song, the donkey, looking at the peacock named Madhukandikai, said, 'Dear girl! Your song makes me ecstatic. Your music is heavenly—such a joy to hear. Your voice is soft. My body is large. If I have your talent and practice, it would be fantastic. The forest animals hearing my songs will be joyous, and the king of the beasts, the lion, will appoint me as the court musician. He will declare that the verdant grassland is hereafter the eminent domain of Rasika Sirōmani, and only he can graze in his domain. I will have a life of leisure. I can live a celebratory life every day."  


3. The peacock laughed, hearing the donkey's hyperbole, and said sarcastically, "Hear me, uncle Rasika Sirōmani (Music Aficionado or Lover), you will not get this job at the lion's court. It is a waste of time to build castles in the air."     

4. Uncle Rasika Sirōmani continued his self-edification. The peacock cut him short. The donkey became very angry and gave the peacock a piece of his advice.   


5. Riches, beauty, education, and strength give arrogance to all. An idiot thinks that a deficient person will remain deficient always. Anyone can thrive in any trade. With effort, there is nothing impossible to attain. Don't you know the story of a laughing Chetty who ate crow with shame for saying that the Brahmin boy is incapable of doing business?"  


6. Madhukandikai, the peacock, asked, "What story is that?"

7.  The Rasika Sirōmani told: Listen, you, arrogant Madhukandikai. Once upon a time, Manikka Chetty lived in a mansion on Māsi street in Madurai. His father, having been an owner of a provisions store, sustained a loss with debt in his business and died at a young age bereft of his home and hounded by creditors. His wife took care of her son by selling on the street savories and crepes. Manikka Chetty, aged ten years then, worked in a shop for a monthly salary of half a rupee. His mother instilled in him good qualities, which earned support and trust from the big merchants.

8. The leading merchant in the town had no son but one daughter, named Marakathavalli. He took Manikka Chetty as his partner and gave his daughter in marriage to him. After his death, the son-in-law became the owner and the inheritor of his property. Madurai Māsi Street provision store became famous under the banner of Manikka Chetty. A 16-year-old Brahmin boy named Māni Aiyar came to Manikka Chetty. 

8. Chetty: Hey Aiyar! What do you want? 

The boy: I am seeking a job in your shop.

Chetty: What do you know?

The boy: I know maths, accounting, and reading and writing. 

Hearing this, the Chetty laughed. 

When Brahmin boys come for a job, they never tell they don't know. They know all. 

Chetty: My dear Aiyar! Take leave. We don't need such an over-qualified candidate for the job.

The Brahmin boy: It is fine with me. So saying he left.

Mannikka Chetty called him back. The youngster came back. 

9. Chetty: Did you know that Muruga Chettiar had a shop in Chittirai Street? 



Māni: Yes.

Chetty: Why did you resign from that job?

The youngster: Muruga Chettiyar and I did not get along. 

Chetty: What was the matter? 

Māni:" He did not like my conduct, and I did not like his conduct. No use explain the matter." 

Chetty: "Was it not your crime?"

Māni: There was no crime on my part. One day he left the store, leaving me in charge. His son was not in the store. I was alone in the store. Sangu Thēvan showed up in the store and said, "Chettiar is home. He asked me to bring five thulāms of sugar from the store for his personal use. 

I know Sanghu Thēvan is a close friend of the Chettiar. How could I have refused to give me what he demanded in the name of Chettiar?I could not leave the store to find out from Chettiar in person. There was no one to mind the store. How could I leave the store in charge of Sanghu Thēvan, whom I could not trust for five thulam sugar? So I gave him the sugar. 

Chettiar came and asked me, "Did you give Sanghu Thēvan sugar? I said in the affirmative. 

Chettiar: "How much?"

"Five Thula."

"On whose authority did you give the sugar?"

"On your authority."

"When did I ever give you the authority?"

"Sanghu Thēvan said you gave the authority."

"If he told you that, where did your common sense go."

I got a little angry. Thēvan is your friend. Assuming he does not tell lies, I gave him the sugar. If I am at fault, I owe you five thula sugar. 

11. Muruga Chettiar had a long-held anger. The family wanted to appoint his brother-in-law to the post. He was thinking for a long time to remove me under a pretext. Chettiar fired me from the job. I agreed with him. That is what happened.

Manikka Chetty: "What is your name?"


Chetty: "Your father's name?"

Māni: ''Sitaramaiyer.''

Chetty: "Is he alive?"

Māni: "No, he is dead."

Chetty: "Is your mother home?"

Māni: "Yes."

Chetty: "How many more are there in the family?"

Māni: "No one else. I am not married."

Hearing this, Chetty laughed.

Chetty: "Aiyar! Why are you not married? The Brahmin boys, even before they go in search of food, get married and have children to feel complete. If the family grows, begging becomes easier. One can assemble the family members and go begging with the accompaniment of drum and cymbals."

Māni: "Mr. Chettiar! I am not here asking for wedding expenses. I came to find out whether you have a salaried job for me. You said in the negative, and so I am leaving. You Called me back."

Chetty: At what age do you plan to marry?"

Māni: "It is not a matter under my consideration now."

Chetty: "Did your mother think of it?"

Māni: "I don't know."

Chetty: "When it comes to marriage, would you not listen to your mother's advice?"

Māni: "Not a certainty."

Chetty: "What then will you do?"

Māni: "I am trying to support my family while you are happy and rich and have the time to chat. Bhagavan has not given me such luxury."

Chetty: "Aiyare! Should you go back home? Are you in a hurry? Don't you need money for your meals?"

Hearing this, Māni became angry.

Māni Aiyan said, ''Chettiare! By the grace of Goddess Mīnākshiamman, we have enough food to last a few months. My mother owns lands. If I don't make it here, I can go elsewhere. I considered that futile talk has no place and showed some haste. Besides that, there is nothing else."

Māni continued. "From the flavor of your questions, I thought I would express my opinion to you. My mind will not calm down if I don't tell you about my observations of the town's merchants. I thought I should not proffer my opinion to you. But you kept on needling me with your questions. It appears you have time to spare. So I decided I would tell you my observations."

Mānikka Chetty: "Spill the beans, Aiyare! Please don't keep it in your mind and suffer. Those who do not seek riches always consider reforming society. I have the penchant for finding out what kind of ideas you have."

Māni Aiyan: North Indian merchants come south often. I have moved with them. Our merchants do not have their business acumen and sharpness of mind. This is the first point. Our merchant's intelligence does not match with their arrogance. If the business were to thrive, there must be fertile lands and general wellbeing. Greatness in business goes parallel to greatness in the town. I bet no one said this to you."

Mānikka Chetty: "I know that. No one needs to tell that. Go on with your story."

Mani Aiyan ''Chettiare! What I say is not fiction. The next thing is the town's merchants do know how to get work out of the employees. First, the merchants do not want to pay the employees directly. The employer must appease the employee's hunger. The merchant should not practice nepotism. They should not think a stupid relative is better than an intelligent outsider. If you entrust your business to a stupid relative, he will ruin it. Besides, do not let a stupid manager, a sycophant, and a false actor oversee the intelligent, the honest, and the efficient. There must be posted hours of work for each employee. It is unacceptable to ask the employees to do work beyond their time slot and exploit them by calling them off-hours. Do you want me to go further?"

Mānikka Chetty: ''Aiyare! Take it easy. You will know the full measure of the business if I tell you the crimes committed by the employees. The hires are dishonest. The rich boys do not take up these jobs because they perceive these jobs are below their dignity. The applicants are rags. There is no place to entrust them with the management of 

  money and work ethic. They want to make money by doing handyman's jobs. They have no enthusiasm for hard work and business management. The poor have the poor's intellect. Our relatives will not engage in deceit. 

Māni Aiyan:" Your thinking is faulty. Did you not hear the words, ''Have you not heard of the proverb: A helper need not be your sibling."

Mānikka Chetty: "Of course, I know. Both are bothersome. Is it sensible to give money management in the hands of an idiot? Would we desire to lose because of a relative or an outsider?" 

Māni: "Do we enter the business to lose? But to make a living. If you don't get a competent hire from within the family, get one from outside. Bookkeeping should be good. Every problem has a solution."

Mānikka Chetty reflected on what Māni said. 

Chetty thinks:

The Brahmin boy is clever. I should keep him as a help. But he should not know my intention. Let me follow the path shown by God.

Mānikka Chetty said, "Let me appoint you on probation for three months. If I am happy with your work, the job is yours. If not, you must leave. No salary for you for the probationary period of three months. Do you agree with it?"

 The Brahmin boy thinks, "Hey bloody miser!" He tells the merchant, "Chettiyare! I will do three months of work. If satisfied, the job is secure. If not, it does not matter. That is your desire. You must pay me for the days I put in work. Are you willing?"

Chetty: Are you not uptight? 

The Brahmin boy: "Nothing of that sort."

Chetty: "Ayare! Come back a week later. I will tell you if I need you."

The Brahmin boy: "If you need me, send a messenger. I cannot report without you making the call. The Chetty laughed loud and said, "Ayare! Take it easy. I have no difficulty getting a Brahmin boy. But for you, getting a Chetty is difficult."

Chetty: Goodbye, Ayare. The boy returned home. 

Two days are gone. A great problem came to Chetty. He had a brother-in-law, named Swindler Chetty. Manikka Chetty kept him as the manager of his shop and lending business. 

Swindler Chetty is an expert to cook up a loss. He concealed earnings and showed the cooked-up account. The loss report came to Mānikka Chetty. He read the financial statement and had the shock of his life. 

Chetty: "Sinner, he ruined me. Chetty was in the doldrums. What am I going to do?" 

But he rallied himself later and wanted to send a man to Tanjore to straighten out his finances. Who to send?

Chetty thought of Māni Aiyar and sent a messenger. Aiyar came back. 

Chetty: "Welcome back Aiyare!"

Aiyar respectfully said, "I am waiting for your assignment."

Chetty thought of Aiyar as a competent person. 



12. Rasika Sirōnmani, the donkey, continued with the story.

The donkey: "You will realize you laugh at me as the Chetty laughed at the Brahmin boy. You laugh now, but later, you will admire me."

The peacock: "Rasika Uncle! You can never sing. You can't even tell a story."

The donkey became angry. "I can't sing! Are you talking about me"

The peacock: "Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes."

The donkey: "Such extraordinary arrogance on your part."

Peacock: "Can't even tell the truth?"

The donkey: 'Neve say it." Peacock: "Yes, I can tell."

The donkey: "Hey peacock! Why don't you come down from the tree?"

The peacock laughingly said, "Why don't you climb up the branch and come to me?"

The donkey, in an angrier mood, moved away. 

Peacock: "Uncle, Uncle! Never leave angry. Listen .''

The donkey came back. 

Peacock: You did not complete Chetty's story. Will you complete it?"

Donkey: "I told you enough, and the rest, you don't have to know."

Peacock: "If you stop at half the story, you will be born a demoness in the next birth. It is more difficult to learn singing songs."

The donkey, struck with fear of rebirth as an ogress, said, "Is it true?" The donkey is a firm believer in rebirth.

The peacock replied," It is true. My grandpa told me that ."

The donkey thought it must be true if the peacock's grandfather told such a thing. 

Donkey: "If that is so, could I tell the whole story?"

The peacock: "Yes, tell me the whole story. Meanwhile, I will tell you a short story."

The donkey: "What is the title of your story?"

The peacock: "Rose Flower."

The donkey: "Tell me."

The peacock told the story. 


1. Madhukandikai, the peacock, tells the story.
2. In ancient times, in the town of Vanchi, a snake with its baby girl lived on the hedge of a garden. Since the girl snake was beautiful, it carried the name of Rojappu (Rose flower).
3. One night, the snake and its baby crawled out of the bush and enjoyed the breeze. The baby asked the mom.
4. "Amma (Mother), why do all show enmity to us? Men throw stones at us on the street. What is the reason?"
5. The mother tells the baby, "My child! |We have a poisonous tooth. Whenever we bite anyone, the death of the victim is a certainty. So, they fear us. From fear, enmity rises." That is the reason for their hatred."
6. As the mother and daughter were conversing, a Muni passed by and was not afraid of the snakes. He did not bypass them and did not even take another look over his shoulder. He just continued. Rojappu was surprised and asked the mother.
7. "Amma! This man only goes with no fear. Why so?"
8. The mother explains, "He is a Siddhar. He will not die if we bite him. Therefore, he does not fear. He is a great Jñāni. His boon and curse will materialize and give good or bad results."
9. Hearing the mother, the baby thought for a while and asked, "Amma, do you know where he lives?"
10. Mother: "Look there, further out. There is a village. To its south, a stream and a grove exist. He lives in the grove."
11. A few days later, the baby snake went to the grove all by itself and found the Muni sitting under the tree. The baby snake fell at his feet. The Muni asked the baby snake, "What do you want?"
12. The baby snake: ''A boon.''
13. .Muni: "What boon?"
14. The baby snake: "Whenever I wish, I must become a beautiful human girl."
15. Muni: "On what account."
16. The baby snake: "My being, everyone extends hostility. If Rajakumar (prince) sees me, I must assume a likable appearance."
17. Knowing the desire of the baby snake, the Muni said, "You will have a human appearance whenever you desire. Whenever you develop fear when speaking to a person, you should not remain with him too long. You must depart immediately; otherwise, you will sustain death in his hands."
18. One day, she donned in girl's clothes, went into the royal gardens, and stood where the prince was sporting in the Moon courtyard. Astonished by her beauty, the prince asked her who she was.
19. The baby snake impersonating a princess: "Sinhala Raja's daughter." Taken aback, the prince said to her," What, Sinhala Rajyam. At this time of the night. Who did accompany you? You are alone by yourself."
20. Rojappu replied, "A Muni taught me a Mantra. Helped by the Mantra, I was flying as usual and saw the courtyard under the moonlight. I came here to take in the sights."
21. Enchanted by her beauty, the prince said, "You look like a celestial beauty or Snake Kannikai." When she heard those words, she started to shiver.
22. The prince: "Why are you so afraid?"
23. Roja remembered Muni's words of caution. Thinking of the lurking danger, the baby snake hurried out in a trice.
24. Once, in the evening in a treeless wasteland, Rojappu stood near a deep well beside the forest path. A foreigner and a handsome purohit were walking along. As soon as she saw the Purohit far away, the snake changed its appearance to a beautiful girl. The Brahmin stopped and noticed the unique beauty alone by the forest. He wondered who she could be.
25. Rojappu called him and said, "Ayare! I am thirsty. I am afraid to go down the well. Will you please fetch me water from the well? You will earn a lot of merits."
26. The Brahmin youth noticed a water snake in the well. He turned to Rojappu and said, "Have you seen the snake in the well? Rojappu was shaking all over the body and perspired.
27. The Brahmin asked her, "Why are you shaking like this?" Rojappu hurried out of there quickly. Whoever she tried to entice, there was an imminent danger. At last, Sanyasi Karththapa Swamigal came under her influence.
28. As Madhukandikai the peacock narrated the story, Rasika Sironmani asked, "Who was that Sannyasi?"