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The Legend of the Rice

A Tale From Ancient India

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In the days when the earth was young and all things were better than they now are, when men and women were stronger and of greater beauty, and the fruit of the trees was larger and sweeter than that which we now eat, rice, the food of the people, was of larger grain.

One grain was all a man could eat; and in those early days, such, too, was the merit of the people, they never had to toil gathering the rice, for, when ripe, it fell from the stalks and rolled into the villages, even unto the granaries. And upon a year when the rice was larger and more plentiful than ever before, a widow said to her daughter "Our granaries are too small. We will pull them down and build larger."

When the old granaries were pulled down and the new one not yet ready for use, the rice was ripe in the fields. Great haste was made, but the rice came rolling in where the work was going on, and the widow, angered, struck a grain and cried, "Could you not wait in the fields until we were ready? You should not bother us now when you are not wanted."

The rice broke into thousands of pieces and said "From this time forth, we will wait in the fields until we are wanted," and from that time the rice has been of small grain, and the people of the earth must gather it into the granary from the fields.

Next Tale: Lord Krishna and the Lapwing's Nest

Source: Eva March Tappan, ed., The World's Story: A History of the World in Story, Song and Art, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1914), Vol. II: India, Persia, Mesopotamia, and Palestine, pp. 67-79. From Internet Indian History Sourcebook

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