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The Nambudiri Funda

One of my favourite stories is the Nambudiri Funda. What does that title mean?!!? Funda is short for "Fundamental", that means it is a fundamental truth. Nambudiri are Brahmin priests from Kerala in South India.

A Nambudiri was walking along the riverbank when he saw a Mahout giving his elephant a bath. He went up to the Mahout and said "I have always wanted an elephant, can you give me yours." The Mahout said "Nambudiri, the elephant is my only source of income and I use the income to feed my wife and many children, I am sorry but I cannot give you this elephant". The Nambudiri patiently listened to the Mahout and calmly proceeded along the river.

A man was walking behind the Nambudiri and observed the whole incident, he came up to the Nambudiri and asked him "Nambudiri, How can you just ask for an elephant, did you really expect the Mahout to agree." The Nambudiri smiled and said "I did not own an elephant and the Mahout said No, so I still don't own an elephant. But if he had said Yes, I would own an elephant."

This story has many important lessons.

1. If you don't ask, you don't get.
2. Don't let the fear of rejection stop you from asking for what you want.
3. Reject without anger.
4. Accept rejection calmly.

My friend Rajesh told me this story and since then it helped me to achieve something important - giving Vandana space.

In Accepting your wife in marriage, I mentioned the importance of giving your spouse "space". When families were larger you could find yourself space, but it is very hard in today's nuclear family.

Here are some variations on the story to see how things could have proceeded.

First some positive variations

The Mahout says "In fact I have too many elephants and was wondering how to feed them, I will be overjoyed if you accept this elephant as a gift"

When the Mahout says no, the Nambudiri says, "I am conducting an important ritual for the next 30 days, and the ritual needs an elephant." The Mahout says, "Nambudiri, I am unable to gift you the elephant but willingly loan you the elephant for 30 days."

Then some negative variations

The Mahout starts shouting and abusing the  Nambudiri. The  Nambudiri starts a ritual fire to set a curse on the Mahout. The Mahout gets frightened and makes the elephant throw the Nambudiri into the river.

The Mahout is frightened that the Nambudiri will curse him and as soon as he asks for the elephant agrees to gift it to him, even though it means that his entire family will starve to death.

The Nambudiri says, "That is a beautiful elephant, How much space do you need to keep such an elephant." The Mahout says,"You need at least half an acre of open space." The Nambudiri says, "Oh there is an half acre just behind my house which is going waste." The Mahout does not say anything. The Nambudiri is upset the Mahout did not understand his hints and later in the night places a curse on the Mahout.

In a marriage, we suffocate our spouse by making each request an emotional dead-weight. We make it worse by burdening ourselves with emotional baggage if there is a no.

Ask lightly, Answer lightly, Accept lightly.

Suddenly life together becomes a joy.

This is simplistic and just the starting point. It does becomes easier if you have sensitized your mind with positive perceptions about your spouse.


Extending this simple yet beautiful funda to kids, if you don't tell, they don't get! Hey, I just. Created an 'object' from your 'class' krishna!
Krishna (GK) said…
:-) Yeah but tell lightly