Posted by: janya | February 7, 2008

“How much land does a man need?”

How much land do we need really?

I was reading Tolstoy’s “Stories and Legends”. It’s an excellent book. I got it from Amazon recently. All the stories in this book are very enlightening. I want to share one of them with you now as it seems relevant to each and every one of us who is running after something.

This is a story of a peasant – Pahom – who is struggling to meet his means. He comes to know that an inn keeper is selling off her land for less and that his neighbour bought 50 acres of land. He gets envious. He manages to scrape half money to buy 20 acres and gets into an agreement to pay the rest 2 years later. Now when he works on his land his heart is filled with joy and he is well-contented. But now he has new problems with fellow peasants trespassing. He had given warnings, fined them. That caused retaliation and someone discreetly destroyed his fields. He filed complaint against Simon (whom he suspected), but nothing was proven.

One day a peasant passing by told him he came from a place where the Commune was giving 25 acres of land for every new person. So he moved to this new place, but soon he realized that it wasn’t enough for him. He planned to buy some freehold land when some passer-by told him that there was lot of virgin-soil and all you have to do is please the Chiefs and you are given as much land as you want for pennies.

Now Pahom got greedy and he went to that place and gave expensive gifts and pleased the Chiefs. In return they promised to give him all the land “he can go around on his feet in a day” and the price is only one thousand rubles a day. The only conditions is he has to return to the spot he started before sun sets. So Pahom started off marking his way. But he was growing tired as the heat was getting intense. He saw Sun near the rim and this fear made him breathless and he started running. Sun was about to set and he rushed with all his remaining strength. He finally made it to the spot, fell forward and got hold off his hat from Chief’s hand. “Ah, that’s a fine fellow!”, exclaimed the Chief. “He has gained much land”. Pahom’s servant came running and tried to raise him, but he saw blood was flowing from his mouth. Pahom was dead!

His servant picked him up, dug a grave long enough for Pahom and buried him. “Six feet from his head to his heels was all he needed.”

Very nice story, isn’t it? For all of us who are running behind something all our lives.



  1. I read this earlier; wanted to share with many that i see around me running for more than what they need and wanting more than what they need in deed; then what stopped me – fear, yes fear that they run away even from me as is they are far in thoughts and will be more far even in material life; who wants spirituality and philosophy these days; when these people loved a full moon and missed a new moon…

    when a food drink was first introduced and so expensive, a man borrows some money to buy it, he loves it and borrows more and buys more. he is unable to repay, that ’some’ has become lump sum now. he pledges 2 acres of land, spends all that he then gets and finally he loses that land. It’s not an imaginary story but a true one as told by his grand daughter and I sadly happen to be the grand daughter to whom he pledged the land. quite unrelated but just came as a flash while on this…

  2. Hi Yasmine
    Couldn’t agree more. And thank you for sharing your experience with us.


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