A collection of Indian tales of wit, wisdom, humour, bravery, devotion and lots more...

Category: Animal Tales Page 1 of 3

From the Panchatantra – Four Friends

Dear Readers, A very Happy New Year to all who are celebrating New Year today all over India!

Today, I am narrating a story from Panchatantra, from the chapter Mitralabha or ‘Gaining of friends’.

There are already a few stories from Panchatantra in this website which you can locate and read using the ‘Search’ tool on the right or down below if reading from mobile.

A small introduction to Panchatantra is available in the background guide for new readers.  Click here to see the background guide.

Long, long ago in the forests of Central India, there lived four friends, Hiranyaka the mouse, Mandaraka the tortoise, Laghupatanaka the crow and Chitranga the deer. The mouse, tortoise and crow were friends for a long time, while Chitranga had joined their group recently after escaping from a hunter. However, they enjoyed the company of each other and would meet regularly near a lake in the forest to share their thoughts.

One day, when the friends were meeting at the lakeside, Chitranga did not come. Hiranyaka, Laghupatanaka and Mandaraka waited and waited but there was no sign of the deer.

The friends got worried. They thought that Chitranga might have been trapped or killed by some hunter or would have fallen into a pit made by the hunters to catch elephants.

“What do we do now?” asked Hiranyaka, the mouse.

Mandaraka, the tortoise who was the oldest of them all looked at the crow and said, “Look here Laghupatanaka, neither Hiranyaka nor I can run fast in this jungle. You, on the other hand can fly high and see things which are far away. Why don’t you fly around and see if you can spot Chitranga?”

“You are right” said Laghupatanaka. “I will fly and see and tell you.”

Saying so, he flew over a short distance looking for Chitranga. Not very far away from the lakeside, there was a clearing and there he saw Chitranga lying down, trapped in a hunter’s net. The hunter who had laid the trap did not seem to be anywhere nearby. Laghupatanaka flew down to Chitranga. Chitranga was so relieved to see his friend but was feeling so helpless that tears were flowing from his eyes.

“Friend, what happened?” asked Laghupatanaka.

“What should I say?” sobbed the deer. “Death is chasing me and I am happy that I could at least see you before I die.”

“Don’t lose heart my friend” said the crow. “I will go immediately and bring Hiranyaka here. His sharp teeth will cut the net in no time.” He immediately flew fast to the lakeside and told Hiranyaka and Mandaraka of the plight of Chitranga.

“Come on Hiranyaka” he said to the mouse. Climb on to my back and I will take you there fast. The hunter will come any moment and we will have to free Chitranga soon”.

“You are correct” said the mouse as he climbed on to Laghupatanaka’s back. “We, as friends should do our best to free him. Otherwise what is the point of friendship?”

The moment they landed near Chitranga, the deer felt very happy. He was so glad that he had such good friends. He realized how important it was to have good friends, and how troubles could be easily overcome with the help of good friends.

Hiranyaka asked the deer, “How is it that a clever and swift being like you got caught like this?”

Chitranga said, “Friend let us not talk about it now. Cut the net fast so that I may get out. The hunter will be here any moment. Quick” There was fear in his eyes.

“Don’t you worry my dear”, said the mouse. “My sharp teeth will do the job in a jiffy. But do tell me how this happened.”

Chitranga said, “What to say, my friend, when luck forsakes you and when death comes for you, you lose your thinking ability and that is what happened to me.”

As they were talking, with the crow perched on a nearby tree, they noticed that Mandaraka was slowly sauntering and was reaching the clearing.

The crow said to Chitranga and Hiranyaka, “Look, who is coming. Who told Mandaraka to come here? It is such a foolish act. Now if the hunter comes, both of you can run away and I will fly away and it is he who will be caught. Hmm… Such stupidity! Now how do we save Mandaraka from the hunter?”

As they were debating on how to hide Mandaraka since there were no bushes around, the hunter appeared on the scene.

Hiranyaka was cutting the last string of the hunter’s net and in a flash, Chitranga got up and ran for his life. Hiranyaka scampered up the tree nearby. The hunter was stunned for a second but the next moment when he saw Mandaraka plodding his way to safety, there was a wicked smile on his face.

“Aha!” he exclaimed, “I will not go home empty handed after all haha…” he chuckled as he picked up Mandaraka and tied him to his bow and slung him on his back and started walking away.

Hiranyaka felt very bad for the tortoise.

“Everything in this world seems short-lived” he thought to himself. “And when troubles come, they keep coming in waves affecting the same persons again and again. The only solace during troubles is the sweet thing called friendship, but again now we are losing a good friend…” He was feeling very sad.

Meanwhile the deer and the crow came back and the crow said, “There is no way we can save Mandaraka if we sit here brooding. We have to act fast. Come on, let’s plan.”

He thought for a while and again spoke. “The hunter will have to cross the big pond which is a mile away from here. Chitranga, you run fast through the bushes and go near the pond and lie down as if dead. Hiranyaka, I will carry you and reach there. I will sit on Chitranga, cawing and pretending to peck his eyes while you hide in some bush. The hunter will surely prefer the deer over the tortoise and he will put down Mandaraka near the pond and come to lift Chitranga. Hiranyaka, you have to swiftly cut the strings from Mandaraka’s legs so that he can disappear into the pond. Then when I caw loudly once, Chitranga can get up and run away. Okay?”

“Right” said Hiranyaka and climbed on to Laghupatanaka’s back. Chitranga swiftly reached the farther end of the pond and lay down as if dead. The crow and the mouse soon reached the place and Laghupatanaka sat on the deer and pretended to peck his eyes cawing all the while.

In a short while the hunter reached the pond and was distracted by the cawing and saw that there was a dead deer at the farther end of the pond. He paused for a while and then put the tortoise down and approached the deer slowly.

Hiranyaka darted from the bush behind which he was hiding and started to gnaw at the bow string. Mandaraka’s legs were only tied and so in an instant, he was free. “Slide into the pond, quick” whispered Hiranyaka to the tortoise, and Mandaraka plodded as fast as he could and with a ‘whoosh’ went inside the water.

At the same time when the hunter came very near the crow gave a loud caw and flew away. The next moment, Chitranga got up and darted into the dark bushes and the hunter was so shocked that he had been cheated. Resigned to his fate he turned around to come back and take the tortoise but got another shock that the tortoise was nowhere to be seen. He was aghast and went home feeling betrayed and bitter.

After he had gone away far, the four friends reunited and celebrated.

“This is a lesson to mankind” said Hiranyaka, “that friends who are faithful to each other can never be defeated!”

The four lived a long life thereafter as the thickest of friends.  

From the Panchatantra – The King Elephant and the King of mice

This time, I am narrating a story from the Panchatantra under the section “Mitralabha” which translates to ‘gaining of friends’. In the background guide, I have given some idea about the origin and details of Panchatantra.

This story is about the friendship between the King Elephant and the King of mice.

Long long ago, in the forests of Central India, there lived a herd of elephants. They were a merry lot, and were led by a King Elephant. The forests were lush and green with lots of ponds and waterholes and there was no dearth of food and water and the elephants were living happily.

As we all know, all good things come to an end, and true to the saying, in the next year, there was no rain at all. The green forest withered and all the grass and trees dried up. The sun was blazing hot and the summer was terrible. The worst thing was that the waterholes started drying up quickly.  The elephants could survive eating dry leaves but they needed water to drink and bathe, and this had now become a problem. The King Elephant who was witnessing this was worried.

“This is becoming serious”, he thought to himself. “If we do not find an alternate source of water, we will all perish”.

Just then, a sparrow which was the King Elephant’s friend flew up to him.

“What are you worrying about, my dear friend?” she asked him.

“It is the water situation” said he. “My friends, family and I are finding it very difficult without water. If we do not get water to drink in the next few days, I dread to think what will happen to us”. He was sounding really concerned and anxious.

“Don’t worry friend” said the sparrow. “Go north from here till you reach the mountain and near the mountain there is a river which is full of water.  However, it is far off and will take a whole day for you to reach the place” said the sparrow and flew away.

The King Elephant trumpeted loudly. The members of his herd came running from all directions to find out what had happened.

“We will all march north” announced the King Elephant.

He then told his herd about the river in the north near the mountain. His words brought joy to the members. “We will start now so that we reach by tomorrow!”, said the King.

“Hooray, we will go!” they cried in joy and started walking. They walked and walked for a long time and by the late evening were crossing a clearing where a lot of mice had built their homes by burrowing in the mud.

Some of the young elephants who were leading the herd, walked with great speed over the burrows and a few of the mice were trampled to death. The other elephants were coming behind.

The other mice who were inside the burrows rushed out to see what was happening as the walking of the elephants had shook their homes like an earthquake.

Looking out, they were shocked to see some of their friends dead and could see the elephants going away at a distance. They understood what had happened.

Looking back, they could see a cloud of dust at a distance with sounds of trumpeting and they knew that a larger group of elephants were on their way.

The King of the mice looked around and took a quick decision. “I will go and speak to the leader of the elephants” he said angrily. “They cannot simply trample our houses and kill us like this”.

The other mice warned him “They are elephants and we are little mice. If we go and talk to them, they may be angered and it will be disastrous”

The King of mice was firm.  “I am not changing my decision” he said.  “There is a saying that, if you do not fight for what you want, you should not cry for what you lose”

He marched off in the direction from which the elephants were coming. A few mice joined him.

Luckily for him, the King Elephant was coming in the front and the King of mice went up and stood before him in his way.

Elephants being much stronger, the King Elephant could have just kicked the mice away and moved on, but as he was a noble soul, he stopped and looked at the mice.

“What do you want?” he asked.

The King of mice spoke. “We are all living a short distance away in burrows. Just a while ago some elephants of your herd carelessly trampled our burrows killing some of our friends in the process. I request you therefore to please take your herd in a different path to the river, to which I guess, you are heading”

The King elephant was amused at the fearless attitude of the little mouse. He thought for a while and said, “Alright, I will do as you say. Please tell us the alternate way”

The King of mice was very happy.

“Thank you O King!” he said. “We will never forget your help. I will show you the alternate way. Also please do not hesitate to call me if you need any help anytime”

The King elephant was even more amused now. “A small mouse offering help to us mighty elephants!” he thought to himself. Anyway, he told his herd to go by the alternative way as told by the King of mice.

The herd followed the instruction of their king and thereby all the other mice were saved.

After walking for some more distance, the herd could hear the gentle gurgling of the river and there it was!  A lush green spot with lot of trees was at the foot of the mountain by which the river was flowing with crystal clear water.

The joyous cry of the elephants on seeing the water, could be heard from afar as they rushed into the river to quench their thirst. They were so happy as they playfully sprayed water on each other, frolicking happily in the water.

They decided to live there till the monsoons came when the drought in their earlier abode would be over.

Now, near this place, there lived a group of poachers who would catch animals and birds and make a living by selling them or killing them.  One day, they saw this herd of elephants and reported it to their leader.

“Ahaa! What good news you have brought me!” he said. “A herd of elephants means so much money. Note the habits of the elephants for a few days and lay the trap, for we shall capture them and sell them to the King”

The poachers hid in the bushes and trees for a few days and noted when the elephants were going to the river and when they went back. After planning carefully, they brought in enough ropes to capture all the elephants and laid the trap inside the river.

The elephants along with their king, unaware of the trap laid in the river walked in and started to bathe when the poachers climbed down from the trees and pulled the ropes tight so that the elephants were caught. They then tied the ropes to the trees securely.

Suddenly the elephants realized that they had been trapped. They looked at each other in dismay and cried loudly in distress but nobody was there to help them. The elephants could not move from the water.

They could see the men at a distance and the leader was instructing them loudly. “Leave them in the water for a few days. Let them be hungry and tired so that they will not have the strength to resist and we can pull them easily” The other men nodded and they all left the place.

The King elephant was horrified. The very thought of staying tied up in the cold water for days together without food and without able to protect themselves was terrible.

“Who will help us?” thought he, in despair. As he looked around, he suddenly noticed that one of the members of his herd was missing. Confused, he looked around again but could not find the youngest member. Just then, he heard a loud trumpeting and the young elephant was coming from the clearing towards the river. Clearly, he had strayed away when they came to the river and luckily escaped from being trapped.

The King Elephant waved his trunk fast signalling the young one not to come into the water. The young elephant noticed and suddenly realized that the whole of his herd except him had been trapped.

As he neared the river, the members told him how they had been trapped and were not hopeful of being freed. They were all so much in grief and the young elephant felt very sad both because they would be taken away and he would be left alone. He was pondering as to what could be done.

Suddenly he had an idea. “Hey!” he said, “why not seek the help of the King of mice?”

The King Elephant looked up in admiration and gratitude at the young elephant. “What a brilliant idea!” he said. “Go immediately and tell the King of mice that we need his help urgently”

The young elephant ran as fast as he could to the place they had met the mice. The King of mice was there. He heard out the young elephant and was upset at what he heard.

“Do not worry. I will help you with all my subjects. It is the duty of a friend to help another who is in need”

Saying thus, he called his subjects. “Come on, every one. Our friend, the King elephant and his herd are in danger. We have to help them. Come quick”

As all the mice assembled, a tiny voice squeaked, “The river is so far away. When will we get there if we start walking now?”

The King of mice looked up. “Yes, he is right. Will it not be dark by the time we get there? Will we be able to render any help at all?” he asked.

“Do not worry” said the young elephant. “All of you climb on to my back and I will take you there fast”.

All the mice clambered on to the young elephant’s back and he rushed to the river as fast as he could. Meanwhile the elephants in the river were in a state of anxiety as the evening was fast approaching.

The moment the young elephant reached there, the mice climbed down, but how could they enter the river? The King elephant who was in the front, came and thrust his trunk out near the bank and the mice jumped on to that and climbed to his back. Quickly they tried and gnawed away the ropes with all their might and just in a few minutes, The King elephant was free.

With his might, the King elephant kept pulling at the ropes which were being gnawed by the mice with their sharp teeth and one by one all the elephants were freed.

The elephants were joyous. “Thank you dear friend!” said the King Elephant to the King of mice. “You saved us from grave danger. When you told me that you would help us in need, I was wondering how a little creature like you could help me, who I thought was invincible, but now I realise that I should never under estimate the power of any one.”

“It is our pleasure to have helped you, friend” said the King of mice.

“Yes” said the King elephant, “A friend in need is a friend indeed!”

The Lazy Donkey – A folk tale

This is a folk tale but I know not from which part of India.

Once upon a time, in ancient India, there lived a merchant Ramu, who had a donkey named Bhola. Ramu was a very kind fellow who took good care of Bhola. He fed him well with green grass everyday (which many donkey owners did not do), gave enough rest and saw that Bhola’s stable was neat and clean and always had a supply of fresh water. The work was also not much. Bhola had to make just two or three trips to and from the market every day, carrying the goods to market, sometimes bringing something back, but mostly with very light load.

Though Ramu was such a kind master, Bhola was a lazy donkey. Most of the time he would pretend to struggle with the weight, though it was much less than what he could actually carry, and he would pretend so well that Ramu would feel pity for him and feed him with some carrots.

During a particular season, it happened that Ramu was trading in salt and was continuously carrying sacks of salt to the market on Bhola’s back. On the way to the market, there was a rivulet and they had to cross it every day. There was a bridge, however Ramu chose to walk through the rivulet everyday as it saved time for him and the distance was shorter under the bridge. Moreover the water was a little above ankle level and it was not difficult to walk through.

This particular day, as usual, Ramu loaded a sackful of salt on Bhola’s back and was proceeding to the market. Bhola, as usual, with a grumpy face came trudging along pretending that the sack was too heavy.
Just a little while after they entered the rivulet and crossing it, there was a small rock on the river bed that Bhola tripped and “PACHAK” he fell sack and all in the water. It was a rude shock to him and Ramu, and by the time they stabilised themselves and Bhola got up on his four legs, and Ramu retrieved the sack from the water, lot of the salt had dissolved and the sack was lighter. Bhola was pleasantly surprised, but still pretended to be under pressure.

The next day, there was again salt to be carried and today, while crossing the rivulet, Bhola intentionally pretended tripping and fell down. Today also the weight became lesser.

“Aha” thought Bhola, “At last I have learnt to be smart and carry much less load than I can!! Master is foolish, he believes I am really not well and tripping and falling down!!” He smiled to himself in glee. He started doing it again and again for few days in a row.

But Ramu started thinking otherwise. “How can a donkey fall every day in the same place?” He also noticed the eagerness of Bhola to reach the rivulet fast. Finally, he understood that Bhola was doing this on purpose. He also realised that Bhola needed some punishment to get him rid of his attitude.

The next day, as usual, a sack was loaded on Bhola’s back and it was lighter than usual. Bhola was even happier. “As it is, it is light,” he thought. “After I fall down, it will be even lighter”. Chuckling to himself, he eagerly started his journey. When the ‘falling spot’ came, he fell down as usual. The sack did not sink quickly, like other days and sank slowly. Ramu was also not in a hurry to retrieve the sack. This puzzled Bhola.

Then, Ramu retrieved the sack and with great difficulty put it on Bhola’s back. The sack was not containing salt, but had been stuffed with cotton and cotton had absorbed lot of water.

To his horror, Bhola found the sack ten times heavier. Further, Ramu’s face was red with anger, something Bhola had never witnessed before. And to add to his woes, Ramu took out a stick which he had hidden on his back inside the shirt.

“Come on you donkey” he shouted as he gave a sharp beating with the stick. Bhola brayed in pain. Ramu had always addressed him by name and never had he wielded a stick. “Hmm.. move fast and if you still want to pretend, here is what you will get!” Saying so, he gave another blow with the stick.

Bhola was aghast at this rapid change but he learnt his lesson that laziness does not pay and one cannot deceive others for long…..

I need not say how Bhola behaved from the next day. Yes, he was one of the best donkeys.

From the Panchatantra – The Monkey and the Crocodile

This is the story from the chapter Loss of Gains of the Panchatantra. Readers may refer to the background guide for more info on this.

“One who remains cool in the face of adversity, like the monkey in the water (in this story) overcomes all his problems” – is the saying with which the story starts. The story is that of ‘The Monkey and the Crocodile’
On the banks of the Ganges was a rose apple tree (Rose apple is called Jambuphalam in Sanskrit and Naaval Pazham in Tamil). On the tree, lived a monkey by name Rakthamukha. True to his name Rakthamukha was a red faced monkey. The tree was full of rose apples which were as sweet as nectar and Rakthamukha was living happily on the tree since he got lots of juicy fruits to eat.

One day, a crocodile by name Karalamukha, who lived with his wife on the opposite bank, came swimming near the rose apple tree and seeing Rakthamukha, started conversing with him.

After mutual introduction, in the course of the conversation, Karalamukha asked Rakthamukha, “Do you find enough food here?”

Rakthamukha said “Why not? These juicy fruits are more than enough! Would you like to try some?”
Without waiting for an answer, Rakthamukha plucked a few fruits and threw them into Karalamukha’s open mouth.
The crocodile chewed them and found that they were sweet and nice. “Hmmm…” he said to the monkey, “they are quite nice, better than I thought, give me some more”.

This practice of Karalamukha meeting Rakthamukha continued every single day from then onwards, with Karalamukha resting on the bank and Rakthamukha safely on the branches of the tree. Everyday Rakthamukha gave fruits to his friend Karalamukha and they both chit chatted for a while on the happenings in the world. Their friendship grew stronger by the day.

One day, it occurred to Karalamukha to carry some fruits to his wife. So he took few extra fruits in his mouth and carried them to his place on the opposite bank.

Karalamukha’s wife was fascinated by the sweetness of the fruit.

“Oh husband, where did you get such fine fruit?” she asked.

Karalamukha told her of his friendship with Rakthamukha and his eating fruits daily with him.

Karalamukha’s wife, with a cunning smile said “Why don’t you bring him home one day huh?”

As Karalamukha was wondering when his wife had become so hospitable, she said, “I am dying to eat his heart.”

To a shocked Karalamukha who was thinking whether heard her right, she continued, “These fruits are so juicy and tasty and you say that your monkey friend eats them every day for all his meals. Did you not even imagine how sweet his heart would be … Ssssss…. How juicy and sweet his heart would be … I can’t wait to eat his heart. Bring him tomorrow, will you?”

Karalamukha was flabbergasted. Never once in all these days did he ever think of eating up Rakthamukha and in fact he liked his company and looked forward to meeting up with him every day and chatting and eating some fruits. And now, his dear wife wanted his friend for dinner, literally for dinner.

Karalamukha hesitantly looked at his wife. “It is true dear, that Rakthamukha’s heart would be sweet, but… but he is my friend and…”

“And what?” shouted Mrs.Karalamukha. “Your friendship is more important to you than your wife’s desire. That means you do not love me at all!”

“No, it’s not like that…” started Karalamukha.

“Now, if you do not bring that monkey for me, I shall stop eating and starve myself to death” she said.
Karalamukha was worried. Neither could he deceive his friend nor could he displease his wife. He thought for a long time and finally decided that he would obey his wife.

Off he went the next day to the tree but he did not chat as usual with Rakthamukha and was looking downcast.

“What happened dear friend?” asked Rakthamukha. “You seem to be upset about something. What is it?”

“Hmmm… well, my wife was very angry with me” said Karalamukha. “She ate the fruit I took for her yesterday and scolded me for not having taken you home even once when every day you are giving me such delicious fruits. She scolded me for being so selfish and told me not to come home without taking you with me” He put up a sad tone in his voice.

“How nice of her to think that way” said Rakthamukha. “But you could have told her that I cannot swim and therefore cannot go under water to you home”

“Well, actually, my house in on the opposite bank near some rocks and you will not need to go under the water. I thought that you could sit on my back and I could swim across and take you home, you see? And if I do not take you home today, I will not be allowed and also she will starve” he said in the same sad tone.

“Oh, okay then” said Rakthamukha. “I can come with you right now. Let there be no misunderstanding between you two on account of me. Are you ready to take me?”

“Yes” said a happy Karalamukha for he thought he was achieving his evil goal. “Jump on to my back.”

Rakthamukha jumped on to Karalamukha’s back and the crocodile started swimming. Ganges is a huge river with lot of currents and Karalamukha started going slowly.

After Karalamukha had completed half the distance, he thought Rakthamukha would not be able to escape even if he wanted to and started swimming faster and faster and the water splashed on Rakthamukha who found it very difficult to keep his balance on the crocodile’s back.

“Slow down my friend” shouted Rakthamukha. “Do not be in such a hurry. I am not so hungry”

With and evil grin, Karalamukha replied, “You are not hungry, but my wife is.” He then went on to tell the monkey the plan of his wife and how he was going to be killed and his heart to be devoured by her. Rakthamukha was shell shocked, but remained calm. He thought very quickly and pretending to be angry, he said, “Oh Karalamukha! What a fool you have been! Why did you not tell me this before I jumped on to your back huh? Had I known that your wife wanted my heart, I would have gladly brought it along!”

It was the crocodile’s turn to be shocked now. He was very confused. What was the use of the monkey without its heart?

As Karalamukha was thinking, Rakthamukha went on. “I usually store my heart in the hollow of the tree only since it is very sweet and precious. I can take it if you go back to the tree and we can come again” He sounded very convincing that Karalamukha believed every word of his. Rakthamukha also kept his calm while the crocodile made a ‘U’ turn and headed back to the tree.

The moment they neared the tree, Rakthamukha, with a giant leap got on to the highest branch of the tree. Karalamukha waited and waited. After a few minutes, he shouted, “Are you ready yet? Take your heart and come. My dear wife will be hungry and waiting”

“Humph” Rakthamukha gave a snort of disgust. “You fool of a crocodile, did you not know that one cannot survive without a heart and no one has two hearts? Would I be foolish enough to come with you again? Go away from here. I do not want to see your face again!”

Saying thus, Rakthamukha disappeared into the bushy branches of the tree which had been his saviour.

Mind Your Business!!

This is a story from Hitopadesha.

In ancient India, there lived a washerman, in a village. In those times, people used to give their clothes to  washermen, who used to take the clothes to the river, wash and dry them and give it back to their customers and earn their livelihood. This washerman, had a nice sturdy donkey to carry his load of clothes to the river and back and he loved his donkey very much. He also had a dog in his house to guard his house.

The dog also did his duty well by escorting his master whenever he went to the river and also keeping an eye for any thief during night. Somehow, the washerman loved the donkey more than the dog. After some time, the dog realised that his master was partial to the donkey. The donkey was being fed well and on some days the dog starved. The dog was very dejected.

One night, a thief came in the dark of the night and was trying to enter the house of the washerman. He was trying to remove the bars from the window of the front room of the washerman’s house. The dog saw this, but kept quiet and did not bark. The donkey, who was also in the stable saw this and was surprised that the dog did not bark.

“My friend,” he said. “Can you not see the thief trying to enter our master’s house? Why are you pretending not to see? Is it not your duty to bark and alert the master? Is it not your duty to protect the master’s house? Get up and go!”

The dog gave a stare at the donkey and said, “Look, the master has not been treating me properly lately. What to talk of a loving glance, he does not even feed me properly and I go hungry often. Let the thief come and rob the house. Only will he realise the importance of treating me well.”

The donkey, still not believing the dog’s words said “But… but.. is it not your duty eh? Atleast frighten the thief, go!”

“Mind your business” said the dog. “Do not talk to me about my duty. I know what to do when”.

The donkey was upset and angry at the dog’s attitude. “Well”, he said, “if you are not going to bark and alert the master, I shall bray and alert him” So saying he started braying in a loud voice, “hee haw…hee haw… hee haw….” he went on and on.

The thief was startled by the unexpected braying of the donkey and fled the scene. The washerman got irritated as his sleep was disturbed and thought that somebody might have harmed the donkey and ran out to the stable but he saw that the donkey was braying away merrily with no one in sight. He got really angry with the donkey for disturbing his sleep. He took a stick lying nearby and thrashed the poor donkey black and blue.

The donkey took a long time to recover from the pain but very quickly understood that it is always good to mind one’s business and never give advice unless sought!!

 

 

 

 

From The Panchatantra – The Frog And The Cobra

This is a story from the Panchatantra from the chapter Labdhapranasam or Loss of Gains – where one loses due to improper planning.

Once there lived the King of frogs in a huge well in a forest. His name was Gangadutta. He had a host of relatives in the well and more often than not he was being harassed by them. At a point of time, he got so fed up that he decided that he should get rid of them. But he did not know how to go about it.

Constantly thinking of what could be done to get rid of his relatives, he came out of the well one day and went into the jungle. There, he saw a huge anthill and suddenly noticed a snake sliding very slowly into it.

“Aha” he thought to himself, “here is my born enemy, a snake. I think it is best to set up an enemy to crush other enemies which will bring happiness at the end.”

Quickly, hopping over to the snake, he called out, “Hello Sir, please look here, I am Gangadutta, the King of frogs. I have come to seek your help”

The snake noticed him and said, “Oh is it so? Do you not know that we are born enemies? Thank your stars that I have just finished my meal and am not hungry now. Go away from here!”

Gangadutta said, “Please do not say that O Sir! If we join together for this cause both will be benefited. Just listen to my plan Sir, and…May I know your name?”

“Priyadarsana.  That is my name. Now, tell me what you want me to do and I will tell you whether I can or cannot do it.”

Gangadutta, relieved that Priyadarsana was at least ready to listen to his plan continued. He told Priyadarsana about how his relatives were harassing him continuously in the well and how he needed help to  get rid of them. “You can only help me”, he said. “I will take you to the well and you will not need to hunt for food daily, you see, and I will get rid of them who harass me and both of us will be happy”

Priyadarsana thought for a while. He was also becoming older by the day and hunting for food was not as easy as it used to be some years back. The thought of abundant food and ensured continuous supply was enticing enough. But how would he reach the well? He asked the same to Gangadutta.

“No problem” said Gangadutta, happy that Priyadarsana was coming around. “There is a long crevice adjacent to the well and it leads to a landing inside the well. I will show you the way. But you have to promise me that you will eat only those whom I show you okay?”

“Okay, done” said Priyadarsana, ready to follow Gangadutta. Gangadutta led Priyadarsana into the well through the crevice. Priyadarsana was overjoyed to see so many frogs. The frogs on the other hand became panicky.

Every day, Gangadutta would show Priyadarsana whom to devour  and Priyadarsana would do his bidding and when Gangadutta was not looking, he would gobble up a few more!

Gangadutta was happy at last. His enemies were diminishing  day by day and all the frogs were afraid of him now. They were ready to do his bidding. Gangadutta started to relax. But his happiness was short-lived.

One fine day there were no more frogs left other than his wife and son Jamnadutta.

“Where is my food?” asked Priyadarsana lunging forward to grab Jamnadutta who dived in the water to escape.

When the reality struck on Gangadutta, he was aghast. “My enemies have all been destroyed Priyadarsana, thanks to you. You may now go up the same way you came in as my task is over” said he.

“Where will I go?” asked the angry Priyadarsana. “I cannot go to the same anthill as some other snake  would have occupied it. Besides , you never talked of my going back after few days, did you? I  am very hungry now and cannot wait” So saying, he went under the water and had Jamnadutta in a mouthful much to the grief of Gangadutta and his wife.

Gangadutta  repented a lot that he had made friends with a natural enemy and remembered the old saying that “He who befriends a stronger enemy invites certain death!”. He thought and thought but could not find any solution and before he could realise what was happening, the Queen of frogs became the prey of Priyadarsana, the next day.

Gangadutta  realised that the next day he would not be alive if he continued staying here. He said to Priyadarsana, “Friend, I am very unhappy that I brought you here as a guest but not have been able to provide enough for you!. What a disgrace! I will just now go and bring my friends from another well around here so that you do not starve!”

Gangadutta sounded so sincere that Priyadarsana was fooled. “Okay”, said he. “ I cannot kill you as you are like a brother to me. But if you will bring me food  I will respect you as my father. But come back soon”.

The next moment Gangadutta was up through the crevice to the ground. “Thank god, that Priyadarsana  believed my story”, he thought to himself. He felt extremely sad that his plan had boomeranged and went about to seek another living place.

Meanwhile Priyadarsana, who truly believed that Gangadutta would come back waited and waited in vain. One day, he saw a chameleon on the side of the wall of the well and called out to him. “Hey, he said, when you go out please tell Gangadutta that I am waiting for food”.

The chameleon went out of the well and saw Gangadutta at a distance. Rushing to him, the chameleon called out, “Hey Gangadutta, your friend is waiting with hunger inside the well. Come back soon.” Gangadutta , hurrying away said, “Who can trust a hungry man? I am off “ and he sped away into the wilderness of the jungle, full of remorse at his act of befriending a born enemy!!

 

 

A Tale From The Jatakas – The Tale Of The Banyan Deer

The Jataka tales talk about the various lives of the Buddha when he was born as animal or bird and how he showed mercy and virtuousness in whichever form he was.

This is one such story where the Buddha (Bodhisattva) was born as a deer in a herd of Banyan Deer in the forests adjoining Kashi. He was a beautiful one with a golden coat and spots like shining stars. He had a crimson mouth and his hoofs were jet black. His antlers were majestic. He was charming and so the herd made him their king. He was very kind and compassionate and just, which were the qualities needed for a king.

In the same forest there was another herd of Branch Deer whose king was also a very impressive Branch Deer. The herd was also a big herd.

Now, the King of Kashi, Brahmadatta had developed a fondness for deer meat. He wanted to eat deer meat everyday and therefore went to hunt for deer every day. Not only did he go, but wanted the villagers to come with him into the jungle to scare the animals so that he could hunt easily.

This went on for quite some time and the villagers started getting fed up with this directive of the King. They felt it was a huge waste of their time to go with the king and their daily routine and businesses were suffering due to this and therefore decided among themselves that they would make a park near the jungle and drive all the deer into it.

Accordingly, they made a park and built a high fence around it. The area they fenced had lot of trees and shrubs and the people made some ponds for water and managed to drive all the deer into the park. The park had strong gates too.

The next day, the Headman of the village met the King and said with great humility “Your Majesty, we all want to very much help you in your hunting trips, but our vocations suffer if we do not devote time for it. Hence we have built a huge park and all the deer are in there making it easy for you to hunt. Pardon us your majesty!”

The King understood their problem and agreed to hunt in the park every day. The people were happy that they could do their jobs without being disturbed. But, the deer were greatly disturbed. Now they had limited space and it was sure that one of them would die every day. But they could do nothing about it.

The King went to the park and he first spotted the two king deer, the King Banyan Deer and the King Branch Deer.  The King Banyan deer was so charming and attractive and so was the King Branch deer that the King told his men who had come with him including the Royal Cook and these two deer should not be touched come what may.

Every day, the King or his cook went to the park, hunted a deer and brought the meat with great ease.  Whenever the deer knew that the King or the cook had come, they ran hither and thither and dashed against trees and each other and their large antlers got entangled in tree branches and broke and everyday many were injured in this process. The King Banyan deer was extremely sad for what was happening.

He called a meeting with the King Branch Deer and discussed how the damage could be minimised.

“We are destined to be killed one day or the other” said he, “but we can certainly reduce the damage and injuries to the members of our herd. It is really painful that our herd has to endure a lot of pain everyday”

“Yes” agreed the King of Branch Deer.” I am also thinking on what could be done to minimise the damage. But what can be done, I wonder?”

“Well”, said The King of Banyan Deer, “If I may suggest something, maybe one from our herds could go and lie at the gate everyday taking turns. First day it will be from my herd and next day it can be from your herd and so on. At least the King or his cook will not come in and hunt and thereby the damage to the herd will be avoided”

“I agree to your suggestion” said the King of Branch Deer. They then called their herds and told them of the suggestion and all the deer agreed.

So from the next day onwards, one of the deer went and lay down near the gate and the King or Cook came and killed it and took it away. This went on for a while.

One day, it was the turn of a pregnant doe to go and lie at the gate to be killed. She was a branch deer and she felt terrible to go and sacrifice her fawn in the process of killing herself. She hesitated to go and ask her king but the motherly instinct in her would not let her fawn to be killed before he was born. So, slowly, she walked to the King Branch Deer with faltering steps and said “O King, I am pregnant with a fawn and it has been decided that it is my turn to sacrifice myself tomorrow….” She paused. Tears were flowing from her eyes.

The king looked at her questioningly. She continued. “I do not mind giving up my life for the herd your majesty!  But… but…”  The doe could not continue.

The King was not happy. “Look here doe” he said. “I cannot show any preference to you. All the deer are same to me. Do not expect any relaxation” he said in a stern voice.

The doe broke down. “O King, it is not for my sake I am speaking. What is the fault of the fawn that is unborn? Does he not have the right to be born, or the right to enjoy the fresh grass with fresh dew drops? Does he not have the right to jump and play with other fawns…?  It is not that I will not go O King. Let my fawn be born and as soon as he is a few months old and is independent of me, I shall go”

The King Branch Deer was unperturbed by her emotional outburst. With a stone like expression he said, “I cannot make any exceptions for any one O doe! Go away from here and prepare yourself”

The doe felt miserable and was walking towards the gate with tears gushing from her eyes. The King Banyan Deer happened to sight her. He was feeling bad to see the doe shedding tears and asked her what the matter was.

Reluctantly, the doe told her request and what had happened when she requested her king.

“Do not worry” said the King Banyan Deer. “Go and take rest and be happy. I will take care of the situation” The doe was reluctant to go and he again said, “Go, my dear, go and eat fresh grass and keep your mind calm. You need not go to be sacrificed today I will take care”

The doe went away, thanking him but wondered who would take her place.

It was time for the King’s hunt. That day, the King himself came to pick up the prey. He was surprised to see the King Banyan Deer lying at the gate, with his skin glistening in the morning sun. He was shocked.

“Get up O Deer”, he said, “I have granted immunity to you as you are so charming and noble looking. Are there no deer in your herd to give up their life? Get up O deer and send another deer”

“No” said the King Banyan Deer. “It was the turn of a pregnant doe to come today. Well, being a member of this herd, she had to come but what is the fault of the fawn that is unborn? Is he not destined to be born, or to enjoy the fresh grass and the nature and his mother’s love? Should he not enjoy jumping and playing with other fawns… Therefore I decided I will give up my life in her place today. Take me O King. Kill me now!”

The King was deeply touched. He felt very very ashamed of his greed for deer meat and the manner in which he was mercilessly slaughtering the herds of deer day by day.

“Get up, O King of Deer! You have enlightened me. Please get up. I am feeling terribly ashamed of my actions all these days. Even though I am endowed with the sixth sense, I have behaved like an animal whereas, your action has made you superior to me. I… I..am terribly ashamed” His eyes were full of tears and he covered his face crying.

After a while he regained his composure and said. “OK  King Banyan Deer, I will not  kill any of your herd any more. Please go to the jungle and be free”

The King Banyan Deer said, “ O King, I do not want my herd alone to enjoy this gesture of yours…” The King said hurriedly, “ Oh no, all the deer can go. I will not harm even one of them”, to which the King Banyan Deer said, “ Not only deer, O King, all the animals , birds and fishes deserve to live”

“Yes”, said King Brahmadatta, from now onwards, I will see that no harm befalls you all in my kingdom!”

So saying, he threw open the gates of the park and all the deer ran out joyfully into the wilderness and the King stood seeing the sight with tears of joy!

The Talking Cave

This is again, a story from the Panchatantra. This is one of the stories told by the character Rakthaksha to his friends in the story Crows and owls.

Long long ago in the forests of Central India there lived a lion by name Kharanakara. He was very old and lately had not been able to hunt swiftly due to his old age and therefore remained hungry often. One day, as usual, he did not get any prey and he was angrily prowling about in the forests when he saw a cave.

“Ha, there is a cave. There should certainly be some animal in it. I shall go in and kill and eat the animal” Kharanakara thought to himself as he went into the cave.

Alas! There was no animal inside. It disappointed Kharanakara that there was no prey inside. However, he said to himself, “This cave must be the resting place of some animal and that animal will certainly come back at sunset. So, I shall wait here and kill it when it comes!” So thinking, he went to a dark corner and sat there waiting for the owner of the cave to return.

The cave was actually being occupied by a jackal by name Dadhipuchcha. Dadipuchcha had gone out in the day time and usually returned during sunset. That day also he was returning home by sunset when he suddenly noticed the pug marks of a lion leading to his cave. “Wait wait! What are these marks? Surely they are the marks made by the huge paws of a lion” he muttered to himself and walked towards the cave. Suddenly, he noticed that the marks were leading into the cave and no marks were coming out of the cave. He realised then, that the lion should be waiting inside and that he would be minced to pieces once he went in. He was in a fix and did not know what to do.

Suddenly, a brilliant idea struck him. He called out to the cave in a loud voice. “Hello Cave! Hope your day was fine. Can I come in please?”

Kharanakara who was inside was hearing the voice of Dadhipuchcha and was puzzled. “Strange! How can a cave talk?” he thought to himself.

Dadhipuchcha called out again, “Are you angry with me, cave? Why are you not replying to me?”

Kharanakara now started believing that the cave would answer. He waited. Dadhipuchcha again called out “O Cave! Do you not remember our agreement made on the day I moved in? Did I not tell you that the day you did not talk to me, I will move to another cave. Every day you have been answering me endearingly. What happened today my dear cave? Okay, if you will not answer now also, I will go away in search of another cave, Bye bye”

Kharanakara believed earnestly that the cave was not answering because he was inside and he being the King of the forest, the cave was also naturally frightened. Unwilling to let off his prey, Kharanakara decided to answer on behalf of the cave. “Come in dear!” he said in the sweetest voice he could put on. “Come in. I am waiting for you! How can I be angry with such a sweet being like you? Come in fast!”

The moment Dadhipuchcha heard the voice, his fears were confirmed that the lion was indeed inside waiting for him to go in and get killed. He took a last look at the cave and ran away as fast as he could and thus saved himself.

Therefore, one who anticipates a danger and acts to avert it survives and one who does not comes to grief.

 

Blind Luck

This is a folk tale from the North of India.

Long long ago, there lived an old man near the city of Varanasi. His wife had died young and he had two sons. The elder one, Sonu, was blind at birth and the younger one Monu was a happy go lucky fellow hardly caring to educate himself or do any work.  Sonu, though blind had been bestowed with a rare power and that was to understand the language of the birds and animals. He would listen to their language and come to know of the happenings around him.

The old man had some wealth and so they were living peacefully. However, the man fell ill after some time and was lying in his death bed.

He called both his sons near him and said to Monu, “Monu, please do not leave the side of your elder brother ever. Even if you have to beg and eat, please take your brother with you and share the food. Please promise me this…” Monu kept his palm on his father’s palm and promised and the old man fell dead. After the rituals for the man had been performed, both the brothers sustained on the little wealth that had been saved by their father. After some time, the wealth was over and Monu started selling the assets one by one and finally sold the house also and spent the money.

Finally, they had to resort to begging. As his father had told him, he did not leave his blind brother and took him along wherever he went. The people of the city pitied the brothers in the beginning but slowly started to think that Monu being a healthy fellow could go for a job but had resorted to begging and they refused to give them food. Monu started feeling that his brother was a burden as he could not find food for himself and kept on thinking on why he should stick to the promise made by him to his father. So, one day, he decided that he would leave his blind brother in the forest. He told his brother that they were going for a walk and took him deep inside the forest and told him to stay there till he brought him fruits. He also bound one hand of his brother to a tree saying that since it was a new place, it would be difficult to locate him when he came back with fruits, if he went astray.

Sonu, being a simpleton, believed in what his brother said and waited under the tree, his one hand bound to the trunk of the tree. He kept on expecting his brother to come and he was feeling very hungry. Time passed but there was no sign of Monu. Slowly, it dawned on Sonu that his brother had betrayed him. He could sense that it was nearing evening. He could hear the shrill calls of the birds returning to their nests and could also hear the far off growls of the wild animals.

As he thought of his fate in the dark unknown forest, he was terrified. Further, he could not even run away because his hand was bound to the tree. After a few moments, he remembered that he had a small knife in his cummerbund. With the free hand, he pulled out the knife and cut off the ropes. Suddenly, he could hear the growls of the animals nearer and in sheer desperation, climbed up the tree to a safe height and sat on a branch.

As the sun set, many animals converged under the tree on which he was sitting. Amongst them were a lion, a cheetah and a bear. Though Sonu could not see them, being able to understand the language of the animals and birds, it was interesting for him to hear their conversation. Soon it was pitch dark.

“Hey cheetah!” said the lion, “Tell us some new secret you know!”

“Hmmm…… Well, do you know that this very tree under which we are standing is a magical tree?”

Sonu now pricked up his ears as the conversation continued.

The cheetah continued, “Do any one of you know that the pulp from the bark of this tree, if put into the eyes, can cure a blind man?” “Oh, is it?” asked the lion. Sonu, astonished at what he had heard just then, scratched the bark of the branch on which he was sitting with the knife he had and found that a pulpy substance oozed out. He applied the substance in his eyes and lo and behold! He could see even in the pitch dark of the night. He looked down to see a cheetah, a bear, a lion and various other animals and was amazed at his newfound sense.

The bear now spoke, “Hey, I know a secret too!” “What?” asked the others. “Did you know that the princess of this kingdom is always ill? And nobody knows why. But I know…” The animals looked amused as the bear continued. “There is a small black cat curled up underneath the princess’s bed and not even the princess or her maids or security guards know about it. The cat carries the evil spell of a witch. If the cat is removed from underneath her bed, the princess will be okay immediately. But the poor king not knowing this is asking doctors from all over the country to treat her…Ha ha ha…., now Lion, you tell us the secret you know”. Sonu listened with awe.

The Lion gave a growl and started his secret. “Hey buddies, do you know, there is a village by name Soonapur at the end of this forest and true to its name, the village has become very scarcely populated due to a strange happening there” Sonu and the animals listened with great interest. The lion continued, lowering his voice. Sonu had to strain to listen to what the lion was saying. “All the children in Soonapur die as soon as they are born and all the elders in the city are suffering from a strange illness for the past two months. Their spinal cords have become twisted all of a sudden and they are becoming hunchbacks. None of them know why this is happening and they are at a loss to know what to do to stop this happening.” The lion stopped and all the animals stared at him, expecting him to continue. The Lion continued, “There is an old Peepul tree near an abandoned temple in the village and there lives a black cobra in a hole in the tree. If anyone feeds milk to the cobra in a black pot early exactly at mid day, it will drink it and leave the tree. Then the spell of the village will be lifted”

Sonu had listened with total concentration and was extremely excited. Soon the voices were lowered and the animals slept under the tree. At day break, the animals got up and went their ways. Sonu enjoyed the brightness of the light which he was seeing for the first time in his life. He savoured the beauty of the forest, its trees, waterholes and all and slowly walked in some direction. Luckily he spotted the village Soonapur soon. He was surprised that what the lion had said was true. He enquired with the people about the tragedy and was pained to hear their story. He consoled them and promised that he would put an end to their tragedy by that evening. He got a black pot from one of the villagers and some milk and went in search of the abandoned temple. He found the tree and the hole before midday and placed the pot with milk in front and prayed with folded hands. After a while, a black cobra slid down from the hole and drank the milk and glided into the thick vegetation swiftly.

The next minute the people of Soonapur felt a tingle in their spines and were surprised to find their backs becoming straight. Sonu was returning from the temple, when all the people rushed out and showered him with lot of money and gifts. Sonu told them to wait until he went on another mission and promised that he would be back soon.

He walked on and on and by the night, reached the capital city. Though it was very late, he reached the palace and asked for an audience with the king. The gatekeepers refused but seeing his insistence, they went and reported the matter to the king. The king called and asked Sonu about his mission and Sonu claimed that he could cure the illness of the Princess. The King was furious as he thought Sonu was a joker and said, “Look here, I have tried the services of the best doctors in this country and it has been of no avail. If you have come here to play any kind of joke, beware! This sword of mine is very sharp and can chop your head in a second”. Sonu was least flustered by the king’s words. “Your Highness, said he, I am confident that your daughter will be up by tomorrow noon, and when I cure her, will you give what I want?

“Yes” said the king totally sure that the boy would be the prey to his sword the next day.

The next day, Sonu went to the chamber where the princess lay. The chamber was the highest room in the king’s fort and out of the window in the chamber; one could see the deep river gushing with fury miles and miles below. He asked all the security men and maids to leave and they all obeyed as it was the king’s order that Sonu should be given what he wanted, to cure the princess. Sonu went in and closed the doors. He opened the window and peered underneath the bed of the princess. The princess was in deep sleep. There was a tiny black cat curled up under the bed. In a moment, he picked it and flung it down into the river through the window.

After a while, the princess jumped up from bed. “Why was I sleeping so long? I am hungry” she said as Sonu opened the door to the curious onlookers which included the king. The princess ran up to the king and hugged him. “Papa, why did I sleep so long?” she asked in her sweet voice. The king saw that she was perfectly okay and was overwhelmed with joy. Even without Sonu asking for it, he offered the princess hand in wedding to him and overnight Sonu became a Prince, the son in law of the king.

He spent happy days and went back to Soonapur and met the people, who were very happy and showered him with gifts. As he was going back to the palace, he saw a beggar in tattered robes and the beggar was sobbing. Sonu recognised that it was Monu and went up to him and talked to him. Monu was extremely surprised at the blind luck which had befallen his brother. He was ashamed when Sonu was still affectionate to him even as he had ditched him in the jungle. He asked for forgiveness and Sonu, a good person he was forgave him readily and gave him money to start a new business and Monu turned a new leaf and they all lived happily ever after.

 

Crows and Owls

This is a story from the Panchatantra about the Crows and Owls.

Long long ago in the forests of Central India there was a huge banyan tree in a place called Mahilaropya, on which a whole colony of crows lived. Their king’s name was Meghavarna. The crows had only one grievance that a pack of owls that lived in a cave on a mountain nearby had made it their habit to come in the nights and attack any crow that was sighted outside the tree. The king of the owls was Arimardana and he with his cunning army derived sadistic pleasure in simply attacking the crows which were sighted out of the tree every night.

Meghavarna was sad at losing his flock slowly like this. As a wise saying goes, anyone who neglects an enemy or disease perishes and knowing this, Meghavarna called a meeting of his senior counsel of six crows one day and asked them what should be done. “This menace is growing day by day” said he. “Tell me O wise ministers of mine, what should I do?”

The first minister suggested that compromise with the enemy was the best policy. It would allow them time to build up their resources and thereafter attack the enemy. “Bend to the enemy when he is strong; attack him when he is vulnerable. Don’t wage a war if it doesn’t bring Power, or wealth or friendship,” said he.

The second minister completely disagreed with the first and suggested that trickery would be the wisest thing to do.“Never accept peace with an enemy who is not just, for, he will break his word and stab you in the back” said he. He went on to quote the story of How Bheema killed Keechaka through trickery in the Mahabharata. He went on to say that enemies like the owls who were blinded by anger would refuse to see peace.

Meghavarna looked at his third minister who said, “My Lord, both compromise and trickery will not work out with the owls, our enemies as they are strong and wicked. The best way I feel is to go away from here on exile and wait for a long time and strike back.” He went on, “Neither peace nor bravado can subdue a strong enemy, where these two do not work flight is the best alternative.”

The fourth minister opposed all these ideas and said they should all stay in their own place and mobilize support and then attack the enemy.“A king who flees is like a cobra without fangs. A crocodile in water can haul an elephant.” He quoted this advice and said that when a crocodile goes to the land it loses all its strength and can be even chased by a dog whereas if it stayed in water it could pull in even an elephant. “So it is best to stay where we are and mobilize support instead of going on exile”.

The fifth minister agreed fully with the fourth minister and said that this was the best strategy.

Meghavarna looked at his sixth minister Sthirajeevi by name and Sthirajeevi said, “You have to practice duplicity my Lord!” Meghavarna looked puzzled as Sthirajeevi continued, “The best thing would be to gather information about our enemies, somehow befriend them and divide their clan and gradually finish them off!”

“But who will do this?” asked a startled Meghavarna. “I Will” said Sthirajeevi, and as he suddenly caught sight of a lone owl on a distant tree, whispered, “Now, in front of everyone, abuse me and peck me as if pecking me to death. The friend sitting on a tree far away will tell his king that we have fallen out with each other and I will remain here till they come in the night. I will earn their sympathy and find out about them. All of you exile to the Rishyamuka Hills and I shall meet you there later on. Come on, pounce on me, quick”

Meghavarna pounced at Sthirajeevi hurling abuses at him and started pecking him hard. All the other crows thought it was a real fight and they also started to attack Sthirajeevi when Meghavarna said aloud, “Enough my friends, Let him learn a lesson, I shall come in the morning and finish him” and they all flew away.

It was already late evening and the owls had started to come out when the lone owl went and reported what he saw, to Arimardana. Arimardana was delighted that there was a divide amongst the crows and he gave a blood curling hoot “Whoooooooa”   and flew with his ministers hoping to attack all the crows. But to their utter surprise there were no crows on the banyan tree. All they could hear was a moaning “Caw.. Caw…” from somewhere on the ground. They looked around and found Sthirajeevi. “Attack him,” cried one of the ministers of Arimardana. He was Rakthaksha, the most shrewd and cunning minister of Arimardana.

“I want to convey something to your king before you kill me,” moaned Sthirajeevi in a feeble voice. “Take me to your king.”

Arimardana came in front. “I am the king,” said he. “Who are you?”

“I am Sthirajeevi, Meghavarna’s minister. I am reduced to this state as I fought for your sake with my king.” Arimardana looked at Sthirajeevi puzzled as he continued, “I advised my king to surrender to you as I know that you owls are very powerful. But my king not only ignored my advice but attacked me left and right, leaving me here to die. Please give succour and I shall show you where the crows are once I recover.”

“Finish him my lord, with no second thought,” said Rakthaksha, “There can be nothing more foolish than pampering your enemy. Kill him in one stroke.” Arimardana looked at his second minister, Deepaksha. “I don’t agree with what Rakthaksha said. If anybody seeks a truce, he should be honoured.” said Deepaksha.

The third minister Kruraksha also agreed with Deepaksha. “Anybody seeking asylum, even if an enemy should be given succour.”

Arimardana looked at his two other ministers, Vakranasa and Prakarakarna.

Both of them said in unison, “It is indeed wise to grant asylum to this enemy of ours as he will help us in finishing their clan. We agree with Kruraksha and Deepaksha.

“So be it” said Arimardana, “take him to our fortress”, and he flew leading the group. Rakthaksha was fuming with anger at his king’s foolishness and Sthirajeevi was very happy that his plan was working well, but he pretended to be writhing in pain due to the injuries ‘inflicted’ by his flock. He also flew behind the owls. When they reached the mountain where the cave was, Arimardana said to Sthirajeevi, “ Respected Sir, Please honour me by accepting this as your home. Please stay with us inside the cave and make yourself comfortable.” Sthirajeevi replied, “O King! Thank you for your grace. I shall stay outside the cave as I am a humble servant of yours from today and I shall discharge my duties faithfully.” Seeing this fake act of Sthirajeevi, Rakthaksha was seething with anger.

True to his words, Sthirajeevi stayed outside the cave, moaning and groaning as if in great pain. Arimardana believed that Sthirajeevi was recovering very slowly and arranged to feed him with whatever they hunted at night. Sthirajeevi happily ate the food while Rakthaksha was more and more incensed day by day at this drama being enacted by Sthirajeevi.

Finally Rakthaksha could take it no more and one day, he with some of his faithful friends, told the king Arimardana that he was not willing to stay at a place where his advice was not heeded. He told him the story of the Talking Cave wherein one survives if he anticipates and averts danger. He also told the king that encouraging Sthirajeevi, would lead to the end of the owl clan and quoted the saying, “Vinaasha kale vipareetha buddhi” which meant that as one’s destruction time comes, one thinks unintelligently or the thinking becomes warped. Saying thus, Rakthaksha and his friends flew away without looking back.

Sthirajeevi was extremely happy as the one impediment in his plan had also been removed without much effort. After a few days, Sthirajeevi started bringing twigs of all sizes and putting it near the narrow entrance of the cave. To the puzzled look of the owls he gave a reply that he was building a nest for himself. The collection of twigs grew by the day and the owls were so foolish not to even notice or think that a crow would need so many twigs for a small nest.

When there were enough twigs to make a fire, Sthirajeevi, at dawn one day, flew to the Rishyamuka hills where his friends were and told them, “Come on friends, each of you pick a burning twig and fly fast with me” Accordingly, each of them picked a burning twig from the brick kilns which were being fired in the country side and flew fast with Sthirajeevi.

The owls had just returned from their night hunt and were in deep slumber. Sthirajeevi flew near the cave and dropped the burning twig on the mound of twigs collected by him. “All of you do the same,” he ordered. All the crows dropped the burning twigs as Sthirajeevi said and the mound of twigs caught fire rapidly and before the owls could realise it, they were done to death by the choking smoke.

Sthirajeevi and his friends with King Meghavarna, returned to their old Banyan tree where Meghavarna praised Sthirajeevi for being persistent in his efforts of decimating the enemy, even in the face of difficulties. He quoted the scriptures which said “It is dangerous to leave a fire unextinguished, a debt unredeemed, an enemy uncrushed and a disease untreated.”

Sthirajeevi blessed Meghavarna to rule for a long time with all virtue and gain the blessings of God. And then, the crows started living peacefully.

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.