Gandhi Quiz


The Coconuts story

Many ages ago Myanmar was called Burma. It is till date famous for its gold dome pagodas and swaying 'gon-bin' trees. Gon-bin in English means the mischief-maker's tree.
There is a very interesting story behind this name. Centuries ago, an unknown raft carrying three people landed on the Burmese coast. The people in the raft were taken to the king of Burma. They refused to reveal their identities. After many days of rigorous punishment the people at last spoke. They had been banished from their own kingdom because of the crimes they had committed.
Each person began to speak about the crimes they had committed. The first man was a thief who stole from other people. He even stole from poor people and beggars. The second was a woman who was a witch and used to cast wicked spells and frightened the villagers. She would charge them for destroying others. The third man was a mischief-maker. He had never done anything good in his life. He only carried tales from one person to the other and tarnished people's character. Many families had broken up because of the mischief he had caused.
After hearing this, the king did something unusual. He ordered his minister to give a hundred pieces of gold to the thief and allow him to settle in his kingdom. For the witch too, he gave the same orders. But for the mischief-maker, he ordered him to be executed at once.
The king's ministers were astonished at the king's decision. The council felt it was an unjust punishment meted out by the king and appealed against it.
They explained to the king that the thief stole from others because he was poor and if he had enough to live on; he would have been a good human being. The witch too cast spells because she was poor and unhappy and found this a good method of earning a living. But for the third, the king spoke before anyone else could justify his deeds. "Once a mischief-maker, he will always be a mischief-maker," he said. "He caused mischief not because he was poor and needed anything but simply because he loved seeing other people distressed and in trouble."
So the mischief-maker was taken to the gallows and beheaded in front of everyone. The next day, when the king was passing the gallows in his royal chariot he was shocked to see the mischief-maker's head still with life in it. His mouth was open and he shouted out aloud. "The King of Burma come and bow down before me or else I shall knock off your head from your body just like you ordered mine to be knocked off."
The king first though it was some kind of prank being played but as he went closer to the head and touched it, he realised it was indeed the real head of the mischief-maker.
He rushed back to the palace and called all his security guards. He narrated the incident to them but most of them thought the king had gone mad. "You must have seen all this in your dream, my Lord," said the chief security guard. The king flared up at this comment. He ordered a guard to search the execution site.
When the guard reached the site he found the head lying there silently with no life in it. He tried to speak to it but it did not reply at all.
He went back and reported the same to the guard. This established the thought that the king had gone mad. This angered the king all the more. He ordered the guard's head to be cut off. The king then sent another guard to check the site he too came back and reported the same. The king ordered his head to be cut off.
When the two heads lay on the ground of the gallows, the mischief-maker's head laughed aloud saying, "Ha, ha! I can still make mischief even after I am dead."
The henchman who executed the first and second guard saw this and went rushing to the palace to report the incident to the king. The king realised what was happening. He felt very guilty for killing two of his loyal guards. The king called on his counsel of ministers and consulted them on the next step to be taken.
The council collectively decided that the dead should be buried or it will cause more trouble in the kingdom.
The head was buried with a lot of security. They dug such a deep pit that a whole man could fit in vertically. The head was lowered down and the pit filled up.
The very next day itself a tree began to grow on the same spot. The king ordered the tree to be uprooted and burnt. But the next day the same tree was seen. The king kept a watch. He ordered no one to water the tree but it still grew. It began to bear the most unusual fruit. The king realised that it resembled the head of the mischief maker. He sent his gardener to bring down one fruit. He shook it and heard a grumbling noise. This frightened him. The mischief maker was still trying to cause trouble. He threw it on a stone and it broke into two pieces. The gardener picked it up and tasted the water it was sweet and delicious. He broke a piece of the flesh and it was equally tasty.
People began to plant these trees everywhere. They began to use the flesh and drink the water. This was the coconut tree and the people called it 'gon-bin' tree. Over the years, it became "on-bin" tree.

Patricia Pandian Dsouza

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