Under the Banyan Tree

by R. K. Narayan

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What is the moral of the story "Under the Banyan Tree"?

The moral of the story "Under the Banyan Tree" is that artistic creativity is a gift to be used for the benefit of other people. That's certainly how the story's protagonist, Nambi, uses his gifts as a storyteller.

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Nambi is an expert storyteller. The local villagers love his stories and eagerly gather around him at night to listen to his tales.

The inspiration for Nambi's stories comes from the Hindu goddess Shakti, whom the old man worships in the temple before which the banyan tree stands. It is here, beneath the tree's branches on a moonlit night, that Nambi tells his stories.

However Nambi came by his gift, there's no doubt that he really does have a gift for storytelling. And Nambi is determined to use that gift to bring pleasure, instruction, and wisdom to the people who come to listen to his stories. Far from hiding his talent, Nambi realizes that he should use it to good effect, for the benefit of other people.

Because Nambi's gift comes from the gods, he immediately discontinues the practice of storytelling when that gift is taken away from him. He didn't make the stories up himself; they were told to him by the gods, and so he is unable to keep telling them to the villagers.

Just as he had a responsibility to share his gift with others, so he now has a responsibility to be honest with the villagers and tell them that his gift for storytelling has been taken away from him. In both cases, Nambi realizes the enormous responsibilities that come with whatever talents we may possess.

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