Buddhist Tales for Young and Old

Volume 2 - King Fruitful

A Wife and Mother Who Was a Sister First [An Intelligent Woman]

Once upon a time some bandits robbed a village. Then they escaped into a thick forest. Some men from the village chased them. They surrounded the forest and searched it for the robbers, but they could not find them.

When they came out of the forest they saw three farmers plowing in their field. They immediately captured them and said, “Aha! You bandits are pretending to be innocent farmers interested only in plowing! Come with us to the king, you thieves!” They tied them up and took them as prisoners to the king. He locked them in the palace dungeon.

Then a woman began coming to the palace courtyard. For several days she came and cried, as if in mourning.

One day the king heard her cries and asked her to come inside. He asked why she was crying. She said, “I have heard that my husband, son and brother are all your prisoners, my lord.”

The king had the three men brought up from the dungeon. Being a generous ruler, he said to the woman, “I will give you one of these three. Which one do you choose?”

The woman asked, “Can’t you give me all three, my lord?” The king replied, “No, I cannot.”

After carefully considering, she said, “If you will not give me all three, then give me my brother, oh lord king.”

The king was surprised by her choice. He said, “You should choose your husband or son. Why would you want your brother instead?”

The smart woman replied, “Oh my lord, when I go out onto the roadway, a new husband would be easy to find. And then I could easily have another son. A husband or a son is easy to come by in this world. But since my parents are dead, I could never get another brother!”

The king was impressed by the intelligence and thinking ability shown by this simple woman. Some of his own ministers were not nearly as smart! So he decided to reward her. He said, “I return all three to you – your brother, husband and son.”

The moral is: It's a fortunate brother who has an intelligent sister.