Sudarsan was a Brahman from Banapur in present-day Odisha. He earned his living by conducting religious ceremonies in his small village. While people did contact him for the occasional thread ceremony or wedding, such opportunities were few and far between.

One day, Sudarsan went to his neighboring village to preside at the wedding of a rich man’s daughter. After the wedding, the rich man gifted him lots of money, clothes, rice, and coconuts. Sudarsan returned home happily.

Sudarsan was really fond of good food, and he absolutely loved eating pithas. At home, he asked his wife to make some pithas for him. His wife made a lot of pithas and served them to him.

When Sudarsan started eating the pithas, he heard a pitiful cry from outside. A beggar stood at their doorstep, asking for food. Familiar with what it felt like to sleep on a hungry stomach, he filled the beggar’s bowl with all the pithas from his own plate. Grateful, the beggar wolfed down the pithas and blessed Sudarsan. He also told Sudarsan that he had been from door to door, but no one had as much as a morsel to spare for him.

The beggar then asked Sudarsan to follow him. Both of them made their way to a dense forest. The beggar led Sudarsan into the woods. The tall trees resembled hungry ghosts. They seemed to be mocking Sudarsan. Feeling weary after the long walk, he fell to the ground. The beggar was nowhere to be seen. Sudarsan felt lost.

A little while later, the beggar reappeared with a pan in his hand. He handed it to Sudarsan and told him that the pan could provide him with whatever food he wanted. Happy to get the magic pan, Sudarsan expressed his desire to eat some delicious pithas. The pan immediately filled with pithas. After eating them to his heart’s content, he walked back home with the pan. He couldn’t wait to show that wonderful gift to his wife.

On his way back, Sudarsan felt thirsty and found a little brook of water. He placed the pan at the foot of a tall tree and asked some boys playing nearby to look after it. He also warned the boys to not ask the magic pan for any food. However, the mischievous boys wanted to test it for themselves, especially because of Sudarsan’s bizarre warning. As soon as he was gone, the boys asked the pan to present them with savory sweets. To their sheer surprise, the pan filled with delicious sweets. After making short work of the sweets, the boys decided to keep the magic pan for themselves. They cunningly replaced the pan with another one and carried the magic pan home.

Unaware of what happened behind his back, Sudarsan walked back home with the pan. When he got home, he shared the wonderful pan he had received as a present from the beggar. He said that they could now eat whatever they wanted. However, nothing happened when they asked the pan for food. Heartbroken, they went to bed without eating anything.

The next morning, Sudarsan went back into the woods to see the beggar. The beggar chided Sudarsan for losing the magic pan. He then gave Sudarsan a box that would give him rich, expensive clothes. He could make a fortune by selling those clothes. Before leaving, the beggar asked Sudarsan to be careful with the box.

Having learned nothing from his previous mistake, Sudarsan left the box under the same tree. He asked the same group of boys to look after it until he came back. He even asked the boys to not ask the box for any clothes. Figuring what this meat, the boys asked the box to give them some clothes. Once again, they replaced the magic box with an ordinary one. Sudarsan came back after drinking some water and took the box home.

When Sudarsan’s wife asked the box for clothes, nothing happened. Disappointed, she kicked the box away and called her husband a liar. She yelled at him, telling him that she would go back to her parents’ if he continued to treat her like that.

The next day, a disappointed Sudarsan went back to the woods in search of the beggar. The beggar scolded Sudarsan for his recklessness. However, he decided to give the poor man one last chance. This time, he gave Sudarsan a magic club and asked him to punish the boys for their mischief.

As usual, Sudarsan left the club under the tree and asked the boys to look after it. Before leaving, he warned the boys to not ask the club for anything. The suspicious boys asked the club to give them something. The magic club suddenly went up in the air and started dealing heavy blows on the boys’ heads. Screaming in pain, the boys ran home. However, the club followed them, hitting them hard all the way. The boys screamed at the top of their lungs, asking their parents to help them but to no avail. Ultimately, their parents fell at Sudarsan’s feet and pleaded with him to help their children.

At this, Sudarsan said that he could do nothing to help them until they returned his magic pan and box. The parents complied at once. Satisfied, Sudarsan asked the club to stop.

Sudarsan now owned the magic pan, the box, and the club. He went back home a happy man. From that day onward, he and his wife led a comfortable life. Not only were their lives luxurious, but also safe, all thanks to the magic club.

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Kalai Selvi, Folk Tale writer at Ameya
Kalai

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 Internet Archive.