Monday, December 5, 2011



Teaching stories may relate events that are funny, foolish, bemusing, sometimes even apparently stupid, but they usually have deeper meanings.

A good teaching story has several levels of meaning and interpretation and offers us opportunities to think in new ways. 

At first you may just have a good laugh but as you reflect on the story, the significance becomes more and more profound.

A teaching story veils its knowledge and as you ruminate, the walls of its outer meanings crumble away and the beauty of the previously invisible inner wisdom is revealed, and you begin to identify yourself in the story, and to acknowledge that you too could be as foolish or as lacking in discernment as the characters in these classic tales.

An example of the concept of teaching stories is embodied in the “wisdom” tales of the inimitable Mulla Nasrudin narrated by Sufis to illustrate finer aspects of human behaviour which are relevant to both our personal and professional lives.

You can reflect, introspect or take them with a pinch of salt – the choice is yours! 

After reading this you may ask me: “You relate stories, but you do not tell us how to understand them.” 

To this comment I will reply: How would you like it if the shopkeeper from whom you bought a banana peeled it, ate the deliciously nourishing fruit before your eyes, and gave you only the skin of the banana?”

One of the great bonuses in learning through humour is that even as you have a good time and doubt that you have learned anything, the lessons penetrate subtly, permeate within and stay with you, to come alive when the need arises.

If you are a serious type, devoid of a sense of humour, please skip this and move on to more profound and sombre reading. 

This is fun. Enjoy yourself, dear reader, and try to identify yourself in the apocryphal stories.

PUNISHMENT AND REWARD - A Mulla Nasrudin Teaching Story

Rushing to work on his motorcycle Nasrudin jumped a red light.  

He was promptly stopped by a Traffic Policeman. The traffic policeman asked Nasrudin to pay Rs.100. 

“What for? Why should I pay Rs.100?”  Nasrudin asked. 

“It’s a fine for breaking the traffic rules.  You jumped the red light,” said the cop. 

“Okay,” Nasrudin said, “You owe me five hundred rupees.  Give me Rs.500.” 

“What nonsense?” shouted the infuriated cop. “Why should I pay you Rs.500?” 

“For the six times I correctly crossed the green lights, you owe me Rs.600.  From that you deduct your fine of Rs.100 for the one time I wrongly crossed the red light. That means you owe me Rs.500,” said a nonchalant Nasrudin, “If you punish me for doing the wrong thing, then you must also reward me for doing the right thing.”

Moral of the Story: Before you punish someone for bad behaviour remember to reward them for good behaviour.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011

Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like this article?
I am sure you will like the stories in my recently published book COCKTAIL comprising twenty seven short stories about relationships. To order the book please click the links below:

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and he is currently working on his novel. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and creative non-fiction articles in magazines and journals for many years before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. 

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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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