Once upon a time, there lived a very knowledgeable pundit in a small town. He had spent his entire life studying, and he was extremely well versed in all the scriptures. He had many disciples from all over the country. Amongst these disciples, Shyam was his favorite. The pundit greatly admired Shyam. Shyam also held his guru in high regard.

One day, the pundit called Shyam into his ashram. The pundit had had a vision recently, and he wanted to share it with Shyam. He said that he was destined to die that night, adding that he would be reborn the following morning. Shyam was stupefied to hear this. Shocked out of his wits, he asked his guru whether he knew what he would be reborn as. The pundit calmly replied that he would take birth as the seventh piglet of the expecting pig that resided in the village swamp. He then solemnly looked into his disciple’s eyes and asked him for one last favor.

“Kill the piglet as soon as it’s born,” he said.

Shyam was devastated. He asked how he could possibly kill the very guru who had given him the priceless gift of education. Listening to this, the pundit grabbed Shyam by the shoulder and told that he must not think that way. The guru added that this was to be seen as an act of liberating him from an undesirable form of life. The pundit believed that it was better to die than to spend a lifetime as a pig, so he made Shyam promise that he would fulfill his guru’s last wish.

That night, the pundit passed away. Shyam grieved the entire night. The next morning, as instructed by his guru, he went over to the village swamp and found a pig suckling exactly seven piglets. No sooner had Shyam made it to the swamp shore than the youngest of the seven piglets came trotting toward him. One look at the piglet’s face was enough to tell Shyam that it was his guru.

Feeling nostalgic, he asked his guru how he felt and if he was ready to die. The pundit hurriedly stopped his disciple and asked him how he could even think of killing his guru. Baffled by this question, Shyam innocently answered that he was simply fulfilling the promise he had made to him. The pundit kept silent for a while. He then told Shyam that, in the few hours that had elapsed between his death and rebirth, he had realized just how precious the gift of life was. He explained how he felt blessed to have been reborn as soon as he died. The pundit added that he wished to live, no matter what form he was supposed to continue living in.

An emotional Shyam bowed down to his guru. He praised his guru for his insight and thanked him for teaching him the value of life. From that day, Shyam would fondly look at his guru playing in the swamp and a smile would crawl its way up his face.

…now that you’re here

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Ananya Susarla, Folk Tale writer at Ameya

Ananya loves to both read and reinterpret folk tales from different parts of the country. Shoot her an email at ananyasusarla2915@gmail.com if you would like to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from The Story Circus.