Posted in Life Gyan

17 Camels & The Wise Man

Long ago in a village in Rajasthan, a farmer left a strange will for his three sons. The will stated that,
“The eldest son should get half of his Camels,
The middle Son should be given 1/3rd of the Camels, and
the youngest Son should be given 1/9th of the Camels

The problem was that the farmer had 17 camels. The sons realised that it is not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by a third or 17 by a ninth. And neither of them were interested to give the other two more than the share mentioned in the Will.

Unable to resolve the issue amicably, they decided to go to a wise man for help. The wise man listened to the issue patiently and they showed him the Will and told him about the problem of dividing the 17 camels as per the Will of their father.

The wise man, after giving the problem a careful thought, smiled, got up and brought one of his own camel & added the same to the 17. That increased the total to 18 camels. “Now”, he said, “let’s read the Will one more time.”

The eldest son should get half of the Camels – 18/2 = 9.
So he gave 9 camels to the eldest son.

The middle Son should be given 1/3rd of Camels, 18/3 = 6
So he gave 6 camels to the middle son.

Youngest Son should be given 1/9th of the Camels, 18/9 =2
So he gave 2 camels to the youngest son

Now adding : 9 + 6 + 2 = 17 & this leaves 1 camel, which the wise man took back.

MORAL: The art of negotiation & problem solving is to find the 18th camel i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the common ground, the issue can be resolved. Though it can be difficult at times. However, to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there IS a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any!


I am a software consultant by profession and reside in Hyderabad, India. I love to travel, listen to music, cook and make friends.

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