Once upon a time, there lived a weaver by the name of Mantharaka. One day, while he was weaving, his handloom broke down. So he decided to go to a nearby forest to cut wood and bring it home to repair his handloom. The weaver, then took an axe and set out to the forest.
While he was walking on the seashore looking for a good tree, he come across a Shinvashapa tree. He decided to cut it down to repair his loom.
As soon as, the weaver started cutting down the tree with his axe, he heard a voice saying, “Stop! please don’t cut this tree. It’s my home.”
“So What!” the weaver said. “I’ve to repair my loom, otherwise, how will I weave the cloth and sell it in the market to feed my wife and children. Please find some other tree to live in.”
As soon as, the weaver raised his axe to strike again at the root of the tree, the voice requested yet again, “Please spare this tree. I am very pleased with your answer. Ask for a boon and I’ll grant it.”
“That’s fine, but let me consult my wife and friends and then I’ll let you know about my wish.”
“Well,” said the tree devta, “do it and come back to me.”
The weaver returned to his town. There he consulted his friend, a barber. After listening to the whole story the barber said, “It would be wise of you to ask for a kingdom. Once the boon is granted you will become a king and there will be no scarcity of any kind in your life. And then I hope you will make me your prime minister.”
“This is all right, but let me consult my wife also. She loves me very much.”
“Don’t do this. The shastras advise against consulting women, because of their lower level of intelligence.”
But the weaver went to his wife. He narrated the whole story to her. “Tell me,” the weaver asked his wife, “what boon should I ask for? My friend, the barber has advised me to ask for a kingdom.”
“Your barber friend is a fool,” said his wife.
“Kingdoms have always been a source of trouble. You’d have to fight battles to defend your kingdom. You’d have to look after the welfare of your people. Rama had to go into exile. Ravana was destroyed. It’s for the sake of kingdom that brothers, sons and other close relatives plot to kill each other.
So, its better that you ask for something, which’lI bring more benefits to us. You may ask for two more hands and one more head, so that you could weave more cloth and earn more money by selling more cloth in the market.”
The weaver then approached the tree devta and told him about his wish. The devta fulfilled his wish. The weaver got two extra hands and one extra head.
But while the weaver was returning home full of joy, the town people saw him and got frightened. They thought him to be some kind of a monster. They began pelting stones at the weaver and killed him.
When the barber came to know about the death of the weaver, he became very sad.