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The Elder and Younger Brothers


Once upon a time, there were two orphan boys, an elder and a younger, whose parents had died early. From the time the elder boy was small, he was a bloody-minded person, who took cognizance of nothing but wealth, but never his own brother. The younger was good-natured and compassionate. He always got up early and went to bed late, a respectable and honest man who endeavored only at farming. But there is a saying: ‘How good or bad a boy is, is in the hands of the boy; how good or bad a crop is, is in the hands of the weather’. Accordingly, there had been a drought for several years, and gradually the younger brother’s family became beggars.

One spring, the younger brother’s family had no seeds, and he went to borrow some from his elder brother. The elder brother said, “If you want to borrow seed, do my field first.” The younger brother said, “That’s appropriate.” When he went to plant his elder brother’s field, he found an old leather bag in the field. Holding the leather bag in his hand, he said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if this were full of dzamba!” Suddenly the bag was filled with dzamba. Amazed, the younger brother thought, “What is this bag?” He said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a small amount of butter!” Immediately there was a small amount of butter in the bag. Then the younger brother realized that the leather bag was a gem that granted all one needed and desired. He took it home and kept it.

One day the elder brother found out about the bag, and unexpectedly came running to the younger brother’s house. He said, “I want to own the precious thing that was in my field.” After he had taken the younger brother’s bag by force, he thought, “If I have this bag, there’s not a rich man in the world who can match me.” When he said, “I want grain—wheat, barley and pulses—piled high as a mountain,” suddenly there was a big mountain of grain. Since the mountain of grain was too high, a landslide came down, buried the brother under the grain, and he died.

—Chab 'gag Rdo rje tshe ring, Qinghai Folk Literature 1, 1991

Folk Story Amdo
The Elder and Younger Brothers
Collection Tibetan Children's Stories
Visibility Public - accessible to all site users (default)
Author Chab 'gag Rdo rje tshe ring
Translator Larry Epstein
Original year published 1991
UID shanti-texts-50276
Creative Commons Licence