2Nasrudin lived in Anatolia, Turkey; he was born in Hortu Village in Sivrihisar, Eskisehir in the 13th century, then settled in Aksehir, and later in Konya, where he died. The tales deal with concepts that have a certain timelessness. They purvey a pithy folk wisdom that triumphs over all trials and tribulations. The oldest manuscript of Nasrudin was found in 1571.
3Today, Nasrudin stories are told in a wide variety of regions, and have been translated into many languages. Some regions independently developed a character similar to Nasrudin, and the stories have become part of a larger whole. In many regions, Nasrudin is a major part of the culture, and is quoted or alluded to frequently in daily life. He has been very popular in China for many years, and still appears in variety of movies, cartoons, and novels. Here are 10 pearls of wisdom from him :
4Pearl # 1 : Fate means assumptions “What is the meaning of fate?”Mullah replied, “Assumptions.”“In what way?” the man asked again.Mullah looked at him and said,“You assume things are going to go well and when they do not, you call that bad luck. You assume things are going to go badly and when they do not, you call that good luck. You assume certain things are going to happen or not happen a certain way, but you do not know what is going to actually happen. You assume the future is unknown. When you are caught out (things do not work out for you), you call that Fate.”
5Pearl # 2 : Know the right way “I am going to Herat. Is the road secure? Will I get there safely?”“You will not reach your destination,”“So there are robbers on the road?” “No”“Is the road difficult? I have good camels and my horses are strong!” continued the traveler.“The road is good, but you will never get there.”“Is there a lack or water and food on the path? I took many provisions in my luggage.” “No.”“Other hardships to expect? I have money to replace whatever is needed.”“No use. You better change your plan.”The traveler grew irritated: “But I must go to Herat and I am a determined man. And who are you to be so certain that I will not arrive?”Nasrudin replied, “let me make it plain for you: the better the camels and horses, the more provisions, money and resolve, the less you will get to Herat. Herat is South and you are heading North.”
6Pearl # 3 : Why are you here? Walking one evening along a deserted road, Nasrudin saw a troop of horsemen rapidly approaching. His imagination started to work; he saw himself captured or robbed or killed and frightened by this thought he bolted, climbed a wall into a graveyard, and lay down in an open grave to hide.“What are you doing in that grave? We saw you run away. Can we help you? Why are you here in this place?”Nasrudin said,“It all depends upon your viewpoint. If you must know, however, I am here because of you – and you are here because of me!”
7Pearl # 4 : The bet and the candle “If you can stand all night in the village square without warming yourself by any external means, each of us will treat you to a sumptuous meal. But if you fail to do so, you will treat us all to dinner.”“All right it’s a bet,” Nasrudin said.That very night, Mullah Nasrudin stood in the village square till morning despite the bitter cold. In the morning, he ran triumphantly to his friends and told them that they should be ready to fulfill their promise.“At about midnight, just before I went to sleep,I saw a candle burning a window about three hundred yards away from where you were standing. That certainly means that you warmed yourself by it.”All his protestations were to no avail, and it was decided that Nasrudin had lost the bet.
8Pearl # 4 : The bet and the candle (Continue) However Mullah Nasrudin invited all of them to a dinner that night at his home. A long time passed, and still no dinner was served. What they saw, they could not believe. Mullah Nasrudin was standing by a huge cauldron, suspended from the ceiling. There was a lighted candle under the cauldron.“Be patient my friends,” Mullah Nasrudin told them. “Dinner will be ready soon. You see it is cooking.”“Are you out of your mind, Mullah Nasrudin?”they shouted. How could you with such a tiny flame boil such a large pot?Mullah Nasruddin said. “If the flame of a candle behind a window three hundred yards away can warm a person, surely the same flame will boil this pot which is only three inches away.”
9Pearl # 5 : The big and small fish Mullah Nasrudin accompanied the scholar to a nearby restaurant. A few minutes later, the waiter brought out a large platter with two cooked fish on it, one of which was quite a bit smaller than the other. Without hesitating, Mullah Nasrudin took the larger of the fish and put it on his plate. The scholar, giving Mullah Nasrudin a look of intense disbelief, proceed to tell him that what he did was not only blatantly selfish, but that it violated the principles of almost every known moral, religious, and ethical system.Mullah Nasrudin said, “Well, Sir, what would you have done?”“I, being a conscientious human, would have taken the smaller fish for myself.”“And here you are,” Mullah Nasrudin said, and placed the smaller fish on the gentleman’s plate.
10Pearl # 6 : Since you already know Once, the people of The City invited Mulla Nasrudin to deliver a khutba, he found the audience was not very enthusiastic, so he asked,“Do you know what I am going to say?” The audience replied “NO”“I have no desire to speak to people who don’t even know what I will be talking about” and he left.The next day he was invited again, so he asked,“Do you know what I am going to say?” The audience replied “YES”“Well, since you already know what I am going to say, I won’t waste any more of your time” and he left.The following week he was invited again, so he asked,“Do you know what I am going to say?” Half of them answered “YES” while the other half replied “NO”. So Mullah Nasrudin said “The half who know what I am going to say, tell it to the other half” and he left!
11Pearl # 7 : Looking for the perfect woman “How come you never married?”“Well,” said Nasruddin, “to tell you the truth, I spent my youth looking for the perfect woman. In Cairo I met a beautiful and intelligent woman, but she was unkind. Then in Baghdad,I met a woman who was a wonderful and generous soul, but we had no common interests. One woman after another would seem just right, but there would always be something missing. Then, one day, I met her. Beautiful, intelligent, generous and kind. We had very much in common. In fact, she was perfect!”“What happened?” asked Nasrudin’s friend, “Why didn’t you marry her?”Nasrudin sipped his tea reflectively. “Well, it’s really the sad story of my life…. It seemed she was looking for the perfect man…”
12Pearl # 8 : The secret of honest smuggler Every first of the month Mullah Nasrudin used to cross the border with thirty donkeys, with two bails of straw on each. Each time the custom person stopped him to ask about his profession and Nasrudin would reply, “I am an honest smuggler.” So each time, Nasrudin, his donkeys and the bailsof straw were searched from top to toe. Each time the custom folk could not find anything. Next week, Nasrudin would return without his donkeys or bails of straw.One day the two met each other and the custom person asked the question which had been bugging him over the years,“Mullah, please let me know what were you smuggling all those years ago?”Nasrudin thought for a few seconds and finally revealed his open secret, “Donkeys.”
13Pearl # 9 : Turkish bathNasrudin went to a Turkish bath. As he was poorly dressed the attendants treated him in a casual manner, gave him only a scrap of soap and an old towel. When he left, Nasrudin gave the two men a gold coin each. He had not complained, and they could not understand it. Could it be, they wondered, that if he had been better treated he would have given an even larger tip?The following week Nasrudin appeared again. This time, of course, he was looked after like a king. After being massaged, perfumed and treated with the utmost deference, he left the bath, handing each attendant the smallest possible copper coin.“This,” said Nasrudin, “is for last time. The gold coins were for this week.”
14Pearl # 10 : The old wifeMulla Nasrudin had two wives, one much older than the other.“Which of us do you love the most?” asked the older wife one day.“I love you both the same,” answered Nasrudin, wisely.Not satisfied with this answer, the older wife continued, “If the two of us wives fell out of a boat, which one of us would you rescue first?”“Well,” replied Nasrudin, “you can swim a little, can’t you?”
15Pearl # 11 : Patience Please “What else do I need to remember as a great ruler?”“You have all the gifts in the universe but only needa little more patience.“I see,” said the Emir, “and what else do I need?”“To always keep your calm and composure, Serene master,” continued Nasrudin. “Never to grow tired to listen, O, ear of the one God!”“Is that all you can say?”“More than everything, you need to be patient, my King. Patience and an even temper will lay the world at your feet, Incomparable one!”The Emir grew red in the face and shouted:“You mock me, worm? How many times will you repeat the same plain thing? Do you think I am too dumb to understand? Guards! Seize him! Let’s see what else he has in his head!”“Do you see what I mean?” Nasrudin said, “I only repeated a simple piece of good advice a coupleof times and already you lost patience.”
16Pearl # 12 : Learn to smile“Nasrudin” said the king, “let us stroll incognito in the city and see how it is like.”Nasrudin readily agreed and they went. People did not recognize the King in his disguise, and paid him no attention but many smiled at Nasrudin.When they returned, the King said: “Nasrudin, you told me you have never been here before, but seems you know a lot of local people!”“Why, your majesty?”“Well, I’ve seen a lot of passers-by smile at you!”“Oh, that’s simple, Majesty. You see, I smiled at them!”
17Pearl # 13 : The soupThe farmer brought a goose as a gift for the Mullah. That night Mullah Nasrudin’s wife cooked the goose and served it in a feast with many other delicacies to the Mullah and others with the farmer sitting in the place of honor among the guests.Hardly a week had gone by when many strangers came claiming to be the friend of the friend of the guy who had brought the goose.Nasrudin’s wife told him that they had only one chicken left.When the next friend of the guy who had brought the goose arrived the Mullah told his wife to boil some water and serve it in a soup bowl. The guest tasted the water and asked what kind of a soup was this. The Mullah replied,“Sir you have before you the soup of the soup of the soup of the soup of the goose that the friend of your friend of your friend of your friend brought.” No more stranger’s visited Mullah after that.
18Pearl # 14 : Tell the truth The Judge asked the defendant, “Mullah Nasrudin, do you understand that you have sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”“I do,” nodded the Mullah.“Now what do you have to say to defend yourself?”Nasrudin replied, “Your Honor, under those limitations … I have nothing to say.”
19Pearl # 15 : The judge position Nasruddin heard that a position for Judge was open in his town. He took to walking about with a fishing net over his shoulder.People asked him, what’s up with the fishing net?“I started out as a fisherman. I keep this net to remind me of my simple origins.”, replied NasruddinEveryone was impressed and chose him to be their new judge. After that he quit carrying the fishing net around.People asked him, what happened with the net?“Surely, once the fish are caught there is no longer any need for the net!” he replied.
20Pearl # 16 : What is bread?The philosophers, logicians and doctors of law were drawn up at court to examine Mullah Nasrudin. This was a serious case, because he had admitted going from village to village saying: “The so-called wise men are ignorant, irresolute and confused.” He was charged with undermining the security of the state.“You may speak first,” said the King. “Have paper and pens brought,” said the Mullah.Paper and pens were brought.“Give some to each of the first seven savants.”They were distributed.“Have them write separately an answer to this question :What is bread?”This was done. The papers were handed to the King, who read them out:The first said: “Bread is a food.”The second: “It is flour and water.”The third: “A gift of God.”The fourth: “Baked dough.”The fifth: “Changeable, according to how you mean ‘bread’.”The sixth: ”A nutritious substance.”The seventh: ”Nobody really knows.”“When they decide what bread is,” said Nasruddin, “It will be possible for them to decide other things.
21Pearl # 17 : A replacement“When you face things alone, you may have lost your donkey, Mullah Nasrudin, but you don't have to grieve over it more than you did about the loss of your first wife.” “Ah, but if you remember, when I lost my wife, all you villagers said: We'll find you someone else. So far, nobody has offered to replace my donkey."
22Pearl # 18 : Less is betterMullah Nasrudin used to stand in the street on market-days, to be pointed out as an idiot. No matter how often people offered him a large and a small coin, he always chose the smaller piece. One day a kindly man said to him:“Nasrudin, you should take the bigger coin. Then you will have more money and people will no longer be able to make a laughing stock of you. ” Nasrudin replied,“That may be true but if I always take the larger, people will stop offering me moneyto prove that I am more idiotic than they are. Then I would have no money at all.
23Pearl # 19 : Up the ladder for an answer One day Mullah Nasrudin repaired tiles on the roof of his house. While Nasrudin was working on the roof, a stranger knocked the door.“What do you want?” Nasrudin shouted out. “Come down”, replied stranger “So I can tell it.”Nasrudin unwilling and slowly climbed down the ladder. “Well!” replied Nasrudin, “what was the important thing?” “Could you give little money to this poor old man?” begged stranger.Tired Nasrudin started to climb up the ladder and said, “Follow me up to the roof.”When both Nasrudin and beggar were upside, on the roof, Nasrudin said, “The answer is no!”
24Pearl # 20 : More useful“The moon is more useful than the sun.” , Nasrudin said to an old man An old man asked, “Why Mulla?” Nasrudin replied, “We need the light more during the night than during the day.”
25Pearl # 21 : Wasted lifeMullah Nasrudin, ferrying a scholarly man across a piece of rough water, said something ungrammatical to him. "Have you never studied grammar?" asked the scholar. "No.“ "Then half your life is wasted.“ A few minutes later Nasrudin turned to the passenger. "Have you ever learned how to swim?” "No. Why?“ "Then all your life is wasted-we are sinking!"
26Pearl # 22 : Which girl should be married with? A college freshman was talking about girls with Mulla Nasrudin. "Which would you advise me to do? Marry a sensible girl or a beautiful girl, Mulla?" he asked. "I don't think you will be able to marry either," said the Mulla."Why not?" asked the freshman. "It's logical," said Nasrudin. "A beautiful girl could do better and a sensible girl would know better."
27Pearl # 23 : Law of compensation Mulla Nasrudin's son, home from college, was talking to his father about the "Law of Compensation," which he had studied. "If a person loses one eye," he explained, "the sight in the other becomes stronger.If he loses the hearing in one ear, the hearing in the other becomes more acute. If he loses one hand, he becomes more agile with the other." "I guess that's right," said Nasrudin. "I have always noticed that when a man has one short leg the other is longer."
28Pearl # 24 : Growing oldMulla Nasrudin, celebrating his 95th birthday was asked by a friend: "Don't you hate growing old, Mulla?" "Heck, no,” said Nasrudin. “If I wasn’t growing old, I'd be dead.”