TALES OF PANCHATANTRA




 

11. THE STORY OF THE LION, THE CAMEL, THE JACKAL AND THE CROW

In a certain part of the jungle, there lived a lion king, by the name of Madotkata.

His retinue comprised of a jackal, a crow and other animals.

One day as they were wandering through the jungle, they saw a camel which had been separated from its caravan.

'This seems to be an extraordinary animal', said the lion, 'go and ask him where he comes from .'

The crow spoke up and said, 'Master, this animal is a camel and lives in a village. He is good to eat, so kill him.'

'I will not kill a guest.'replied the lion. 'Assure him that his life will be spared and bring him to me. Then I can ask him why he is here.'

They all went to the camel and won his confidence, after assuring him that his life would be safe and brought him to the lion.

The camel bowed and stood before the lion, who asked him for his story.

The camel told the lion how he had come to be separated from his caravan.

When he had finished, the lion said, ' Oh you camel! ! Don't return to the village to be a beast of burden.

Instead stay with me.

You can live in this jungle on the emerald colour grass without any anxiety and fear.'

The camel agreed and began to live happily amongst them.

One day, the lion had a fight with a mad elephant and he was wounded by the elephant's sharp tusks, but despite his serious injuries, he did not die.

However, his body became so weak, that he could not take so much as a few steps, and as a result, the crow and all the other animals, dependent on him for food began to starve.

Then the lion said, 'Go and find some animal that I can kill even in this condition, so that I can provide food for you.'

All the animals, wandered around everywhere, but could not find such an animal.

Then the crow and the jackal put their heads together.

'Crow!' said the jackal. 'What's the point of wandering about when this camel could easily be killed to provide us with food?'

'You' re right,' replied the crow, 'but the master has assured him that his life will be spared so perhaps he won't agree to kill him.'

Said the jackal, 'I'll influence the master in such a way, that he will agree to kill the camel. Now it's better if you wait here until I come back.'

With this, the jackal went to the lion and said, 'Master! We have wandered all over the jungle, but have been unable to find, any animal at all.

What are we to do? We're so starved that we can't even walk properly.

But if you were to kill this camel here, his flesh would satisfy all our hunger.'

When the lion heard his wicked words, he cried out furiously, 'Shame on you, you rascal! Say that again and I will kill you on the spot! How can I kill him when I've assured him that his life will be safe!'

'Master!' said the jackal. 'It is certainly a sin to kill him after giving him this guarantee, but if he offers himself to you, of his own free will, then it is no sin to kill him.

Otherwise, kill one of us, for you are desperately in need of food to stay alive.

What is the good of our lives, if we cannot use them in our master's service.'

When the lion heard this, he said, 'Then do what you think best.'

So, the jackal returned to the other animals and said, 'Our master is very sick and who will protect us, if something happens to him?

Now nothing is to be gained by wandering around looking for food so let us go and offer him our own bodies.

In this way, we shall repay our debt to the master.'

Then they all went and stood before the lion with tears in their eyes and bowed before him.

When the lion saw them, he asked, 'Well, have you found any animal?'

One of them the crow said, 'Master, we have wandered everywhere but unfortunately we have not found any such animal.

So eat me so that you can stay alive, and for this sacrifice, I shall go to heaven.'

When the jackal heard this, he said to the crow, 'Your body is too small.

Even if the master eats you, it won 't keep him alive.

Still, you have shown your devotion to him and freed yourself from your debts.

You will be praised here on earth and also in heaven. Now I too shall offer myself.'

Then the jackal stood humbly before the lion and said 'Master, eat me so that you can stay alive, and for this sacrifice, I shall go to heaven.'

But the lion shook his head sadly.

When the camel saw all this, he thought to himself, 'These two have spoken beautifully, but the master has eaten neither of them, so I too shall take my turn.'

So the camel said to the jackal and to the crow, 'You have both spoken well, but you are both carnivorous animals and belong to the same caste as the lion, so how can he eat you?

Stand aside, I too shall offer myself to him!'

When the camel had said this, he went and stood before the lion.

He bowed low and said, 'Master, you should not kill either of these animals, instead eat me, so that you can stay alive, and for this sacrifice, I shall go to heaven.'

As soon as the camel had finished speaking, the lion fell on him and tore him apart.

And he was eaten by the hungry animals.

The wise indeed say: Always be on guard when you in the company of wicked people.Don't be taken in by their sweet words.





12. THE STORY OF THE TITTIBHA BIRDS AND THE SEA

Somewhere in the world, on a seashore, there lived a pair of Tittibha birds, husband and wife.

In the course of time, the female Tittibha bird was expecting a family.

As the time to lay eggs came near, she said to her husband, 'My dear, it's almost time for me to lay my eggs.

Look for some good safe place, where I can lay them.'

'Dearest', said the male Tittibha bird , 'this coast is very nice. You can lay the eggs here.'

'But', said she, 'on nights when the moon is full, the Sea here sends its waves so high that they can drag off even a wild elephant.

No, find some better place, away from here.'

When the male Tittibha bird heard this, he laughed and said, 'What a thing to say! The Sea wouldn't dare harm my children! Lay your eggs here and stop worrying!'

Now the Sea heard this and thought to himself, 'What kind of impudence is this, from a bird, the size of a worm! For fun, I'll take away his eggs and see what he does.'

In the course of time, the female Tittibha laid her eggs.

One day shortly afterwards, when the two birds had flown off in search of food, the waves of the Sea came higher and higher and swallowed up the eggs.

When the birds returned, the female went to her nest and found it empty.

She wept bitterly and said to her husband, 'You fool! The waves of the Sea have swallowed my eggs.

I asked you to find some other place for me to lay them, but you; stupid thing that you are, wouldn't listen to me.'

'But my dear', said the male Tittibha bird, 'do you think I'm stupid! You'll see how brilliant I am when I dry up the Sea.'

'How can you dry up the Sea?' retorted the female Tittibha bird.

'But my dear', said the male Tittibha bird,'don't talk like that! Even when you are small, but if you are zealous, you can overcome even the strongest opponents.'

'And so', continued the male Tittibha bird 'I shall dry up the whole Sea, by sucking it up in my beak.'

'My dear fellow', said his wife, 'how could you suck up the Sea when the rivers like Indus and the Ganges along with hundreds of other rivers flow into it. What's the good of babbling?'

'My dear', said the male Tittibha bird, 'my beak is as solid as iron. Why can't I suck up the Sea, if I work day and night at it? And until a man puts some effort into what he is doing, he does not succeed.'

'My dear', said the female Tittibha bied, 'if you really want to quarrel with the Sea ,then send a message to some of the other birds and do this with their help.'

'All right then', said the male Tittibha bird, 'I'll dry up the Sea with the help of my friends.'

And so, the male Tittibha bird a sent a call to the crane, the swan, the peacock and the rest of them, and said, 'The Sea has insulted us by stealing our eggs.

Think of a way to dry him up completely.'

The birds replied, 'We can't suck up the Sea in our beaks, so what's the good of babbling?

Instead we should go and tell everything to out king Garuda, ( In Hindu mythology, Garuda is the king of the birds and Lord Vishnu, the Preserver of the world uses him as a vehicle ). If he gets angry that his people have been insulted, then he will take revenge.

But, even supposing, that out of pride, he refuses to help us, all the same, we shall feel relieved. So we'll all go to our king Garuda,'

The birds, went to him, with glum faces and tears in their eyes, and began to sigh piteously,

'Oh King, what a catastrophe! You are our protector and yet the Sea has robbed the good Tittibhas birds of their eggs.

If this sort of things continue, one day our whole race will be destroyed.'

When king of the birds Garuda heard the bird's wailing, he thought to himself, 'These birds are right! I will go and dry up the Sea.'

Just then, a messenger arrived from Lord Vishnu, and said, 'Noble Garuda! I have been sent by Lord Vishnu.

He wants you for some divine work. You had better come quickly with me.'

When Garuda heard this, he said petulantly, 'Messenger! What could Lord Vishnu want with such a common place servant as I am! Please give him my regards and ask him to find another servant instead of me!'

'Garuda!' said the messenger, 'You've never talked like that before.

Tell me, how has our master offended you?'

'Well', said Garuda, 'the Sea, Lord Vishnu's resting-place, has swallowed up the Tittibha bird's eggs.

If my Lord Vishnu does not force the sea to return them, I refuse to serve him any more.

This is my firm resolution. Go and report all this to our Master.'

When Lord Vishnu heard from the messenger that Garuda was sulking, he thought to himself, 'I understand why he is sulking.

I'll go and see him myself and pacify him.'

With these thoughts in his mind, Lord Vishnu went quickly to the place, where Garuda was.

When Garuda saw Lord Vishnu coming to his house, he bowed his head with embarrassment and said, 'Master! The Sea, your resting-place, by swallowing up the eggs of my servant,the Tittibha birds has insulted me.

But I have restrained myself from punishing him, because of my respect for you.'

When Lord Vishnu heard this, he said, 'You're quite right, Garuda. Come with me and we shall take the eggs from the Sea and hand them over to the Tittibha birds.

Then we'll go elsewhere,' When Lord Vishnu had finished speaking, he reprimanded the Sea and taking a thunderbolt in his hand, he said 'Wicked Sea! Return the Tittibha bird's eggs at once or I will dry you up.'

At this Sea was terrified and handed over the eggs to the male Tittibha bird who gave them to his wife.

The wise indeed say: Do not underestimate the power of the timid.





13. THE STORY OF THE TURTLE WHO FELL OFF THE STICK

In a certain lake, there lived a turtle by the name of Kambugriva.

Two swans were her friends.

Every day the three of them would go to the bank of the lake and tell each other stories about saints and hermits, and then go home at sunset.

After a few years that part of the country had no rain at all and bit by bit the lake began to dry up.

The two swans were worried about it and said to the turtle, "This lake is becoming nothing but mud. We are worried as to how we will be able to survive here without water."

"My friends,"answered the turtle,".it is indeed difficult to stay on here.

So first look for a lake full of water. Then find a strong stick from somewhere.

I shall hold on tight with my mouth to the middle of the stick while you can hold the ends and carry me like this to some other lake."

"Friends", replied the swans "we'll do what you suggest, but while we're flying, you mustn't open your mouth to speak, or you will fall off the stick."

They carried out this plan.

When they had flown some distance, the turtle saw below, a town.

The town people looked up and saw something being carried in the sky.

They said to each other, full of admiration, "Look at that! Those birds are carrying a round thing."

When the turtle heard the commotion, she opened her mouth to ask, "What's all that noise about?"

But of course the minute she opened her mouth to speak, she went hurtling down to the earth.

And the people hacked her to pieces and ate her up.

The wise indeed say: Never fail to listen to the advice of your friends.





14. THE STORY OF THE THREE FISHES

In a certain pond, there lived three fishes.

One day some fishermen were passing by They saw this pond and said to each other, "We have never investigated this particular pond.

It's full of fishes! But since we already have a good catch today, and it's evening, so let's go home and come back here tomorrow."

So the fishermen left. For homr Now when the first fish heard this, he was dumbfounded as if struck by a thunderbolt, and he called all the fishes together and said to them, "Did you hear what the fishermen said just now? Let's leave immediately for some other pond.

I think the fishermen will return tomorrow morning and then they will start killing all of us.

So it's not wise to stay here a moment longer."

When the secound fish heard this, he said, "You're right! Let's us go somewhere else!"

But the third fish laughed loudly and said, "Oh, I don't agree with you! Would it be right to give up this pond, that belonged to our forefathers, just because of the talk of fishermen!

And in any case, if it's time for us to die, death will certainly not spare us, wherever we are. So, I won't come with you. Do as you think best."

When the first fish heard his decision, he left the lake immediately with his family.

Early next morning the secound fish saw the fishermen coming in the distance and he too left the lake with his family.

The fishermen arrived at the lake, threw their nets and caught all the fishes, including the third and they all died.

The wise indeed say: When you see the danger coming, act immediately.





15. THE STORY OF THE ELEPHANT AND THE SPARROW

Somewhere in the jungle, a pair of sparrows had made their nest in a huge tree.

In due course the female sparrow laid her eggs there.

One day because of the tremendous heat, an agitated elephant came and stood under the shade of the tree.

With his trunk, he caught hold of the branches supporting the sparrow's nest and pulled them down.

The nest fell to the ground and the eggs were smashed.

Luckily the sparrows managed to escape but, because she had lost her eggs, the female sparrow was heartbroken and began to cry loudly.

A woodpecker listening to her sobs felt touched.

He went over to her and said, "My good sparrow, what's the point of crying, for what is to happen, will surely happen?"

"That's true", said the female sparrow, "but this wicked elephant has killed my children.

If you are my friend, please find some way of destroying him, so that I can forget the loss of my eggs."

"I will.'said the woodpecker, "Now I too have a friend, a fly.

Lets go and ask her to help us, destroy this cruel elephant."

And so, the woodpecker went with the female sparrow to the fly and said to her, "My friend, this sparrow is a dear friend of mine.

A wicked elephant has destroyed her eggs. Please help us find a way to kill him."

"Certainly I'll help you, my good friend", replied the fly, "otherwise, what is a friend for? Now I too have a friend a frog Lets go and ask him to help us destroy this cruel elephant."

And so they all went together to the frog and told him what had happened.

Then the frog said, " What can this elephant do against us, if we work together? Listen, I have a plan. Fly! When the sun is at the highest point, you go and buzz in his ears, so that in sheer ecstasy, he closes his eyes.

Then, woodpecker! You peck his eyes, and blind him. Then I will sit at the edge of the pit that's nearby and croak.

When the elephant is thirsty, hearing me croak, he will come to the pit, thinking it is a lake of water.

He will fall right in and, being unable to get out again, he'll die.

Now, if we follow this plan, we'll have our revenge."

The others agreed and they carried out the plan successfully.

The elephant groped his way to the muddy pit, fell in and died

The wise indeed say: Even the low and humble achieve results when they work together.





 
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