Parable: Three Hodja Stories, Put to the Test Twice and Tipping the Right Way

1. Three Questions for Hodja

Some clever and educated men were in search of an intelligent man, who could answer their three questions. They travelled all around the world and finally arrived where Hodja lived.

They asked: “Who is the most intelligent man in this town?”

Of course, the people of the town brought Mulla Nasruddin Hodja to the three men.

“Where is the central point of the world?” was their first question to the Mulla.

The Hodja, who had brought his donkey, pointed at the animal and answered: “Where the front legs of my donkey are, there is the middle point of the world.”

Asked one of the men: “How can you prove that?”

“If you don’t believe, you can measure it”, the Hodja said.

Since measuring was impossible, they proceeded to their second question.

“How many stars are in the sky?”, asked the second person.

The Hodja without any hesitation replied, “As many as the hair on my donkey’s mane.”

The three men began laughing.

“If you don’t believe it” said the Hodja, “you can count them.”

The foreigners  by now sensed that they wouldn’t get the reply they were looking for, and the third person in the group asked:

“Can you say how many hair are in your donkey’s mane?”

Again without any hesitation the Hodja replied:

“Oh, yes. There are exactly the same number of hair on my donkey as you have in your beard.”

The Hodja continued:

“Now don’t tell me, that you don’t believe that because I can prove it by pulling one hair from your beard and one from the donkey’s mane. When we pull each hair out one after the other, you can see at the end that there are the same number of hair.”

The three men agreed that they had been outwitted by Hodja.


2. Intelligence Beyond Reason

A learned foreign scientist came to Hodja’s town and said he wanted to challenge the wits of the most knowledgeable person in the city. And of course, the townsfolk called for the Hodja.

When Hodja arrived at the scene, the two men realized neither of them spoke each other’s language. They decided to use the sign language for their purpose.

The  scientist drew a circle in the sand with a stick. Hodja frowned, took the stick, and divided the circle in two.

The scientist then drew another line through the circle that divided it into four equal parts. Hodja pretended to gather three parts toward himself and to push the remaining part toward the scientist.

The scientist then raised his arm above his head, and wiggling his extended fingers, he slowly lowered his hand to the ground. Hodja did exactly the same thing but in the opposite direction, moving his hand from the ground to a height above his head.

Hodja and the Scientist

And, that completed the scientist’s tests.

He said in private to the authorities of the town: “Your Hodja is indeed a very clever man.”

He went on to explain the silent  discussion he had had with Hodja.

“I showed him that the world is round and he confirmed it, but indicated that it also has an equator. And when I divided the world into four parts, he indicated that it is three parts water and one part land, which I can’t deny. Finally, I asked what is the origin of rain? He answered quite rightly that water rises as steam to the sky, makes cloud, and later returns to earth as rain.”

When they got him alone, the ordinary townsfolk asked the Hodja what the challenge was all about. Hodja said:

Well, that other fellow first asked:

‘Suppose we have this round tray of baklava?’

So, I said:

‘You can’t eat it all by yourself, you know. So, I’ll take half.’

Then he got a little rude, saying:

‘What will you do if I cut it into four parts?’

That upset me, so I said,

‘In that case, I’ll take three of the parts and only leave you one!’

That softened him up, I think, because then, with the motion of his hand, he said:

‘Well, I suppose I could add some pistachio nuts on top of the baklava.’

I cooled down too and said:

‘That’s fine with me, but you’ll need to cook it under full flame, because an ash fire just won’t be hot enough’.

When I said that, he knew I was right, and gave up the game.”


3. Tipping the Right Way?

One day, Hodja went to a Turkish bath but nobody paid him much attention. They gave him an old bath robe and a towel. Hodja said nothing, but on his way out he left a surprisingly big tip.

A week later, when he went back to the same bath, he was very well received. Everybody tried to help him and offered him extra services. But on his way out, he left a very small tip.

“But, Hodja is it fair to leave such a small tip for all the attention and extra services you received?”

The Hodja answered:

“Today’s tip is for last week’s services and last week’s tip was for today’s services. Now we are even.”


For a brief background on Hodja please click Parable: Watermelons and Walnuts

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s