There was a village Kusumpur near patliputra. There lived a farmer named Shankar along with his wife Maya. They had some agricultural land which was enough for their subsistence.
There were no means of irrigation. All the villagers had to depend on rain for agriculture. Every year they waited for the rain even though they had arranged other things in advance.
Shankar had two oxen for ploughing the field. Like others Shankar also waited for the rain. The rain at the right time was very important for the farmers of the village. Once, just before the mansoon, one of the oxen died. It was difficult to plough the field with one ox. Shankar tried his best to get a loan to purchase another ox but could not succeed.
Soon the rainy season came. All the farmers started ploughing their fields. But Shankar stayed within the four walls of his house. He was very depressed.
Seeing him sad, his wife said, “Why do you worry? We have one ox and I will do the work of the other ox. This way, we will be able to plough the field. It is not good to sit idle at home."
But Shankar did not agree to the proposal. Maya continued to press Shankar to accept but in vain. At last, she proceeded to the field along with their only ox. When Shankar saw his wife going to the field, he followed her. On reaching the field, Maya tied the plough with the ox and started pulling it. People talked about the way the couple was ploughing the field. But nobody tried to understand their helplessness or came to help.
Meanwhile, the king of patliputra, Sheeshpal, happened to pass through that route. The king was generous and often roamed to assess the condition of his people in disguise. When he saw that a man was using a woman in place of an ox, he was surprised. He went to him and said, “O man! What are you doing? It is a sin to use a woman for ploughing. Stop it and free the woman."
Shankar said, “You seem to be a king or a seth. You certainly do not know what agriculture is. It needs timely action. It will take time to bring an ox and I cannot wait for so long. If you really have sympathy for the woman, you can work in her place."It was like a challenge to the king. He thought for a while and then offered himself to replace the woman. It was not an easy task. The king began sweating badly. Soon the ox was brought and the king got released from the tiresome work.
Shankar ploughed the field well and sowed the seeds of jowar crop. After a few days, when the seeds germinated, he found that some space was left blank. It was the part ploughed by the king. Shankar dug the area with a spade. To his surprise, he saw pearls there. He collected and brought them home.
Seeing the pearls, Maya jumped out of happiness. Both of them thought deeply about the pearls found in the field. They concluded that pearls were found only in that portion of the field which had been ploughed by the stronger. It meant that the stronger had changed to pearls. They decided to handover the pearls to the stranger, the rightful owner. So they made a search for him and identified the person as the king of patliputra Sheeshpal who was known for his generosity.
Next day, Shankar reached the court and handed over the bag to the king. He said, “Oh king! Had I known that the drops of your sweet are so valuable, I would have asked you to plough the whole field."Shankar narrated the whole incident right from the death of one of his oxen till the finding of the pearls in the field. Then he requested the king, “Please keep these pearls which are the fruit of your hard labour."Seeing the humbleness of the farmer, the king said, “No, I cannot take them. The crop belongs to the owner of the field, and from now onwards, do not let your wife work in the field."They lived happily ever after.