Durbudhhi and Subuddhi
At Avanti lived two merchants, Durbuddhi and Subuddhi by name. These, two men went to a foreign country, amassed much wealth there, and returned, and buried unknown to anybody the whole of their riches under a huge tamarind tree very near the town and went to their respective houses. Not long after, Durbuddhi went clandestinely to the spot, purloined the whole treasure and carried it away to his house. A few days after the incident, both of them conjointly went to the tree and found to their sad disappointment that the treasure was gone. Upon this Durbuddhi accused the other of having secreted the treasure, dragged him before a court of justice, and carried a complaint against him, saying that Subuddhi alone had carried off, unknown to him, the treasure which they jointly buried under the tree, and requested that justice be done in the case. The judge looked at him, and called upon him to prove the truth of his accusation against Subuddhi. Durbuddhi said that he would prove it by the tree itself under which the treasure was buried. The judge replied that he would investigate the affair the next day.
Meanwhile, Durbuddhi took his father along with him, placed him in the hollow of the tree, and instructed him to answer favourably (to himself) the judge’s queries on the morrow. The next day, the judge, according to promise, came with his attendants near the tree and asked who had taken away the money. To the intense astonishment of the by-standers (the man inside) the tree accused Subuddhi of having secreted the money. But the judge was not a man to give in so easily. After a little reflection he caused some straw to be brought, stuffed the hollow with it, and set fire to it. The man inside was suffocated and fell out of the tree dead. The judge, perceiving the deceit that Durbuddhi had played, came to the conclusion that it was he who had walked away with the money. He caused, therefore, all the money to be brought and given over to Subuddhi. Durbuddhi having paid very dearly for the deceit he had played, in the loss of his riches and his father to boot, went home with a very sad heart.
Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, shows a banyan tree with Hindu temples (1796 CE). It is the work of the English painter Thomas Daniell (1749-1840). Banyan trees were associated with merchants who used them as stopover points.
- Folk-lore of the Telugus by GR Subramiah Pantulu (1919)