February 04, 2021

#08-045: Tales of Nasruddin

cartoon of a happy bearded man in a huge turban, riding a donkey in a green landscape
Mullah Nasruddin

Note: From Turkey to Western China, he is called by many names: Nasreddin (with many spellings, including Nasr Eddin), Hodja, Khwaje, Djoha, Abunawas, and Afanti. But by whatever name, he is an example of what is found in many religions: the "wise fool," the embodiment of "crazy wisdom."

Get Ready: Is it possible to teach something "wise" by telling a funny story? Why or why not? Can you think of an example?

A real man born in Turkey in 13th century, Mullah Nasruddin has become the subject of thousands of humorous stories. In those repeated here, I will call him by the spelling under which I first met him.

I have added a "point" after each story, to help the reader explore its meaning.

Nasruddin lost his ring in his small house. After searching for a while, he began looking out in the courtyard. "You lost your ring in the house," his wife said. "Why are you searching for it out here?" "Because," he replied, "there's more light out here. I'll never find it in that dark house!"

[The easiest way is not always the best.]

Nasruddin informed his son that he suffered from double vision. "No, Father," his son said. "My vision is perfectly normal." "How can you be so sure, my son?" Nasruddin asked. "Because, Father," his son replied, "if I had double vision there would be four moons in the sky instead of just two!"

[We all see things differently.]

Nasruddin's untrustworthy neighbor asked to borrow his donkey. "Sorry," Nasruddin said, not wishing to be rude. "I have already lent it to somebody else." Just then the donkey began braying loudly. "What's this!" the neighbor cried. "I can hear your donkey behind the house! He's here!" "Who are you going to believe?" Nasruddin shouted indignantly, "Me or a donkey?"

[The truth will out, no matter our denials.]

Nasruddin told his friends, "The moon is more useful to us than the sun." One friend asked, "How can that be?" and Nasruddin answered, "It's obvious! We need the light much more in the nighttime than we do in the day."

[Don't confuse cause and effect.]

One day Nasruddin was resting on the bank of a river when a man on the other side called out to him, "How can I get to the other side of the river?" "You're already on the other side!" Nasruddin answered helpfully. 

[Perspective changes things.]


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nasreddin

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. braying
  2. courtyard
  3. denials
  4. double vision
  5. embodiment
  6. humorous
  7. indignantly
  8. perspective
  9. subject
  10. untrustworthy

  1. personification; representation
  2. point of view
  3. a sound like "hee-haw"
  4. funny
  5. the problem of seeing one thing as two
  6. in an offended manner
  7. the main focus of a story
  8. attempts to say something is untrue
  9. a walled area in front of a house
  10. dishonest

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for February 4, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. i; 3. h; 4. e; 5. a; 6. d; 7. f; 8. b; 9. g; 10. j