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Word Problem: Oil Merchant


In a village, there lived an oil merchant, who used to crush oil seeds, extract oil and sell it. After several days of hard work, he got ready to take the extracted oil to the market. On his way to the market he came across a Vinayaka temple. He entered the temple and prayed " Today, if my business goes well, on my way back, I will light the lamps in the temple using one measure of oil."

He moved on. As he crossed some more distance, he saw a temple of the Goddess. He went in and again prayed the same way he prayed to Vinayaka. He continued his journey and reached the Ayyanar temple at the village limits. He again prayed the same way.

He went to the market. He had good business that day. In the evening as he was returning, he took sufficient quantity of oil in a pot to fulfil his vow in the three temples. He reached the Ayyanar temple. He saw a small tank of water near the temple. He kept the pot on the tank-bund and he got into the tank in order to wash his feet, hands and face. At that time a crow came and sat on the pot and tilted it. The oil flowed out on the ground. The merchant came running and straightened the pot. A small quantity of oil remained in the pot. A good quantity of oil was spilt on the ground.

With the quantity of oil left in the pot, the merchant went to the Ayyanar temple. He expressed his feelings of not being able to fulfil his promise. Ayyanar sympathised with him and blessed him saying "May the quantity of oil in the pot be doubled." And so it happened. The oil trader fulfilled his vow of lighting lamps in the temple using one measure of oil.

He covered some distance. He reached the temple of the Goddess with the pot containing little quantity of oil. Here again he narrated the happenings and expressed that he felt sorry that he was unable to do what he vowed. The Goddess blessed him by doubling the quantity of oil in the pot the merchant took out one measure of oil and lighted the lamps and fulfilled his vow. Little quantity of oil was left in the pot.

The merchant walked further and reached the Vinayaka temple. With all devotion he narrated all that happened and expressed with sadness his inability to fulfil his vow. Vinayaka also blessed him with double the quantity of oil. The merchant took out one measure and lighted the lamps. The pot was empty now.

What was the quantity of oil in the pot when the merchant straightened the pot after driving the crow away?


7/8 measure

Source: Numeracy Counts !, Anita Rampal, R Ramanujam and L S Saraswati, N L R C, LBS National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie.

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