Vishwadutt was a farmer who lived in the village Ashokapura. He was a rich man who owned many acres of farmland. Vishwadutt lived in a palatial house in the centre of the village. He lived with his wife and three children. He was a man of importance in the village and held a prominent role in the village council, the Panchayat.
Though he had money and stature in society, Vishwadutt was a selfish and greedy man. He always wanted to have more.
Whenever Vishwadutt saw a field that he liked. He would summon the farmer who owned it. Being a person of wealth and power, Vishwadutt was feared by the village folk. The farmer would hasten to Vishwadutt’s house. There, Vishwadutt would offer to buy the field for a sum of money. Some farmers would agree to his demands. If a farmer refused, Vishwadutt would threaten him with dire consequences. Most of the farmers would give in and surrender their fields.
Thus, as time passed, most of the fields in the village belonged to Vishwadutt.
Just near the sprawling fields which belonged to Vishwadutt was a small parcel of land. The field belonged to a small farmer called Ranjitdas. Ranjitdas took good care of the field. He lived in a small house at the edge of the field with his wife and two small children. During the harvest, he kept some of the grains for food. He sold the remainder of the yield. The money was not much. But it was enough to keep Ranjitdas and his small family fed and clothed for the rest of the year.
Vishwadutt had long had his eyes on the field. He decided that he should the make the field his. This small field, alone, did not belong to him. He owned the larger field beside it. This field lay between his field and the small river which flowed through the village. Its advantageous location near the river and the bountiful crops which grew on it had captured his attention.
The next day, Vishwadutt summoned Ranjitdas to his home. When Ranjitdas came, he offered to buy the field. But Ranjitdas refused saying that it was the only field he had. Vishwadutt argued, cajoled and threatened him. But to no avail. Ranjit would not agree.
Vishwadutt was unhappy. No had been so forthright to him so far. Till now, he had been able to buy whatever field he desired. He was angered by the stubbornness of Ranjitdas.
Vishwadutt felt insulted. Here he was, a leading person in the village and a small farmer with a tiny piece of land hand declined a generous offer which he had made. He would not let this insolence go without a response. If he did, the matter would be known that a small farmer had stood up to Vishwadutt and soon he would lose the respect and fear he commanded among the village folk.
He could not sleep that night. He tossed and turned in his bed thinking of how he could take the field from Ranjitdas. While he thus thinking, an evil scheme came to his mind. He waited for a few days. He went about as if nothing had happened.
Then, he put his evil plan into action. One dark moonless night, he had his servants catch a donkey. The servants tied a lighted torch to the tail of the unfortunate animal. They, then, sent the donkey in the direction of Ranjitdas’ field. Soon Ranjitdas’ field would be alight. It was harvest time and the standing crops would be burned to ashes. Ranjitdas would suffer heavy losses. He would have to sell his field. Thus, went Vishwadutt’s evil plan.
The donkey approached Ranjitdas’ field. Ranjitdas had kept a dog in the field. He had found the dog as a helpless pup on the streets. He had raised it as a pet for his family. As soon as the donkey came near, the dog ran towards the intruder and barked. The donkey panicked and ran in the opposite direction where Vishwadutt’s fields lay.
The servants tried to chase the donkey away. But the frightened animal ran into the fields. Soon, Vishwadutt’s fields were on fire. The servants tried everything they could to put it out. The fire, however, continued to spread as the wind blew towards Vishwadutt’s fields and soon the fields were reduced to ashes. In the morning, Vishwadutt was shocked to see the devastation in his fields. He had learnt his lesson. No longer did he try to harass Ranjitdas.
Children, this story teaches us to be humble. We should respect people who are poorer than we and come from less privileged backgrounds. This story also teaches us not to be greedy. Every evil scheme will eventually backfire on the person who designed it.