Once Shivaji, while going from one fort to another lost his way. He looked around from a hilltop but could not see any village nearby. The night was advancing fast. As he started coming down the hill, he saw at a distance a dim light twinkling. He went in that direction and soon reached a hut.

Inside the hut was an old woman who welcomed him, thinking that he was a Maratha soldier. Seeing that he was tired and hungry, she gave him warm water to wash his hands and face with and also spread a mat for him to relax upon. When he had sufficient rest, she brought a plateful of hot “kichdi” of “kodi” (a nourishing grain eaten by farmers) and placed it before him.

Shivaji was so hungry that he hastily thrust his hand into the “kichdi” to lift a big morsel of it to his mouth. The hot food burnt his fingers and, immediately, he wrung his hand, spilling some food on the floor.

The old woman saw what had happened and remarked “Oh, you too seem to be as impatient and hasty as your own master, Shivaji. That’s why you got your fingers burnt and lost some food too.”

Shivaji was both amused and surprised by these words. “Why do you think my master, Shivaji, is impatient and hasty?” he asked.

The old lady, in all her innocence, began to explain. “Look here, my dear son. Don’t you see Shivaji is ignoring the smaller forts of his enemy and trying to capture only the big forts? Just as your impatience to eat the food hurt your fingers and caused the spilling of some food on the floor, Shivaji’s impatience to put down the enemy is causing him both worry and loss of a number of men from his brave army. You should have eaten first the cool food thinly laid near the edge of the plate and then slowly come to the heap in the centre. So too, Shivaji should start taking the small forts first and consolidate his position. That will help him to conquer the bigger forts quickly and without much loss of his army.”

Shivaji was quick to grasp the wisdom in the old woman’s words. He realised that one should avoid haste in any undertaking. “Think well, plan well and then go forward step by step,”-this became his policy. And that is how Shivaji fully realised his dream of building a great Maratha kingdom.


  1. Why does haste lead to waste?
  2. Why did Shivaji not get angry when the old woman criticised him?
  3. Describe any experience of your own or someone else’s experience you have heard regarding ‘haste is waste.’
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