A partial list of Nasruddin's favorite tales

A selection from Nasruddin's repertoire, with synopses

The Sweetest Strawberry the World Has Ever Known

Stupid Oaf

Two Questions/Dandelions

God's Will

Humble

Banquet No. 1: Soup

Banquet No. 2: Where Is He?

Banquet No. 3: The Prince's Boots

Alone in the Desert

The Smell of the Food

The Goats Have Left the Building

You Can't Please Everyone

Heaven and Hell

Where is God Not?

The Lamp and the Key

The Sweetest Strawberry the World Has Ever Known

This tale begins with Nasruddin's desire to see his friend Tekka. Tekka lives beyond the great jungle, so Nasruddin rallies his courage and takes the plunge into the dark interior.

There he meets a health-conscious tiger, and has adventures involving a cliff upon which he finds a strawberry and learns a great truth. Read the full story

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Stupid Oaf

When Nasruddin reaches Tekka's village, he inquires about customs and regulations in order to be a good citizen. His encounter with the village headperson is illuminating. Read the full story

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Two Questions/Dandelions

Mulla Nasruddin is perceived as a wise man, which perplexes him greatly. He is deluged with questions from the villagers until he finds a way to stop the questions.

As a result of his solution, he takes on the problem of dandelions where roses should be growing. His answer to this one confirms two things: one, that he is a truly wise man; two, that wisdom isn't always appreciated. Read the full story, in two parts

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God's Will

This story begins with a number of mysterious disasters. The village mistrusts Nasruddin, yet they seek his advice as a man of wisdom. This is a common feeling about wise folk. Those who most need their help are wary of them.

The villagers don't like his wisdom when it's dispensed, but we who hear the story know the value of Nasruddin's wisdom. Read the full story

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Humble

In the mosque at night, Nasruddin has a sudden sense of his own insignificance in the grand scheme of the universe. The old man who sweeps the floor responds, and a wealthy worshipper shows us the essence of false humility. Read the full story

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Banquet No. 1: Soup

Nasruddin is invited to a banquet, but the unwitting guards turn him away because of his old, dusty robes and road-worn appearance. Nasruddin returns in splendor, and in his pungent way, unmasks the hypocrisy of the organizers of the banquet. Read the full story

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Banquet No. 2: Where Is He?

Another invitation to a banquet, this time as the guest of honor! Nasruddin would rather not attend, and the coachman is good company. Nasruddin's solution to the situation is an ingenious display of misdirection. Read the full story

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Banquet No. 3: The Prince's Boots

Nasruddin's friend Tekka contrasts the bowl of lentils Nasruddin is eating (his favorite food!) with the splendid delicacies at the Prince's banquet. Nasruddin's interest is dampened when he learns the conditions of receiving an invitation from the Prince.

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Alone in the Desert

Ah! The peace and quiet of the open desert after the hustle and bustle of the city! Nasruddin revels in the silence and sleeps peacefully until he is awakened by a bold thief with a decided lack of follow-through. Nasruddin upbraids him for his sloppiness, and makes a most unusual declaration. Thus begins a strong friendship. Read the full story

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The Smell of the Food

One of Mulla Nasruddin's most important criminal cases involves an unusual form of payment and a very interesting lesson in justice.

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The Goats Have Left the Building

A dire challenge for a neighbor, involving too much family and too little room, turns into a noisy lesson in being grateful for what we have. Nasruddin usually invites audience participation in the telling of this family favorite.

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You Can't Please Everyone

Here, Nasruddin observes and comments on the classic problem of the father and son who are walking, no-- riding, no-- carrying their donkey to market.

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Heaven and Hell

A mighty samurai asks Nasruddin for knowledge of Heaven and Hell. Nasruddin's response brings the lesson home in Nasruddin's version of a Zen Buddhist story.

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Where is God Not?

Nasruddin's friendship with the now devout Tekka is strained when Nasruddin can't seem to sleep the night with his head toward Mecca. His reasonable question is the punchline in this classic tale.

The incident is an ancient Persian Sufi tale (Sufism is a spiritual practice within Islam) which has been attributed to many notable spiritual masters, including Guru Nanak of the Sikh tradition of the Punjab Province of India. The context is the faith of Islam, but the lesson applies to all who look for spiritual knowledge. Read the full story

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The Lamp and the Key

Nasruddin's famous story of looking for the lost key in the most convenient place instead of where he lost it is an ancient Sufi story that subtly speaks to the folly of looking for spiritual truths outside ourselves.


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