A long time ago, there lived a prosperous landlord. He owned several hectares of land stretching across various villages. However, given his stingy personality, no one came forward to cultivate his farms. Besides, he was anything but kind to his tenants.

His miserliness left his lands barren and uncultivated. All irrigation channels and water tanks went dry, too. Yet he remained unwilling to spend a penny from all the money he had hoarded.

One day, a sanyasi, or an ascetic, paid him a visit. The miserly landlord related all his problems to the sanyasi, seeking a solution to them. At this, the sanyasi blessed the landlord with a powerful mantra, which he was to recite day and night for three months. If he did this, a Brahmarakshas would appear on the first day of the fourth month. This Brahmarakshas would be a servant to the landlord’s wishes. And that wasn’t all. The Brahmarakshas could single-handedly work as much as a hundred servants.

Elated at such an unbelievable prospect, the landlord chanted the mantra for three months without fail. As expected, the Brahmarakshas showed up on the first day of the fourth month. He humbly stood before the landlord.

The Brahmarakshas readily accepted the landlord as his master. However, there was a catch – if the landlord failed to give him continuous work, the Brahmarakshas wouldn’t hesitate to devour his master. Agreeing to this condition, the landlord ordered the Brahmarakshas to repair the big tank that had been dry for a long time. The Brahmarakshas then had to dig it as deep as two Palmyra trees.

The landlord was pretty sure that it would take months to complete a tank that was four miles long and two miles wide. Satisfied, he decided to head back home for dinner. However, even before he could get back home, the Brahmarakshas returned and told him that the job was done. The landlord was shocked. He now started harboring doubts if it was at all possible to keep his new servant occupied for long.

Afraid of becoming someone’s dinner himself, the landlord burst into tears. His wife asked him to send the Brahmarakshas on random errands and let her know how it turned out. Meanwhile, she promised to assign the Brahmarakshas a job that would keep him busy for a long, long time.

Unable to bring himself to believe her, the landlord ordered his servant to plow all his land. It took just two ghatikas – one ghatika equaling twenty-four minutes – to complete this task. Next, the landlord asked his servant to get his garden lands ready for cultivation. The Brahmarakshas did this in the blink of an eye.

The Brahmarakshas kept asking for more work. The landlord now revealed that his wife wanted the Brahmarakshas to do a small job for them. The landlord’s wife gave the Brahmarakshas a strand of long hair and asked him to straighten it. Surprised at being handed such an easy task, the Brahmarakshas started off. However, no matter how hard or how long he tried, the hair would curl back in the end.

The Brahmarakshas recalled how goldsmiths used fire to set metal wires straight. So, he took the strand of hair and placed it over the fire. To his utter dismay, the hair just burned away with a pungent smell.

Scared out of his wits, the Brahmarakshas absconded. This put an end to the landlord’s predicament.

…now that you’re here

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Kalai Selvi, Folk Tale writer at Ameya

Kalai is passionate about reading and reinterpreting folk tales from all over the country. Write to her at kalai.muse@gmail.com to know more about her.

Folk tale adopted and abridged from Fairytalez.