Once upon a time, in a town in central India, there was a rich merchant. Once, he found that he had acquired lot of camels and therefore wanted to sell some of them. The animal market was in a village at a distance from the town an one had to pass through a thick jungle to reach the village. The merchant started with his retinue of about four or five men and five camels which he wanted to sell.
The journey through the jungle was about four to five hours and on the way, one of the camels hit its foreleg on a boulder very badly. It could not walk. It sat on the grass. The merchant tried to make it get up but of no avail. It was getting dark and the merchant decided to leave the camel there as he could not risk his own life and therefore left the camel to fend for itself and went away with his team.
The poor camel was frightened of the dark but nevertheless had enough grass to feed on and also found some other plants which were actually medicinal plants. After eating the plants for two days, the camel to its surprise, found that his leg had healed. But he did not know where to go and started roaming aimlessly.
In the same jungle, there lived a jackal-crow duo who were both equally cunning and depended on an lion for their food. They used to flatter the lion all day and feed on the remains of the lion’s hunt. But slowly, the lion became weak with age and could not hunt as swiftly as he did earlier. The jackal-crow duo were wondering about the fate of their food at this rate. Just then, they sighted the camel and thought that it could be of some use to them. So they went and slowly befriended the camel with their sweet words and asked the camel to join their group.
The camel unwittingly joined the group as it was a town-bred camel and did not know the ways of the jungle. He also felt safe in their company as he knew that no other animal dare attack an animal in the company of a lion. Days passed and the lion was hunting prey once in 2 days and once in 3 days and sometimes only once a week. It was hard for the jackal and the crow to be without food for long periods. But the camel simply fed off the grass and was growing fatter by the day. He was happy that he had good friends and a carefree life.
It so happened that the lion could not hunt for the next 10 days. The jackal and crow were very hungry and did not know what to do. It was then that they plotted against the camel. With a plan in their mind, they called the camel along and went to see the lion. They talked to the lion about the dwindling food and their ‘concern’ about the lion’s health, which would deteriorate if there was no food.
Suddenly, the crow fell at the feet of the lion and said, “O King, I offer myself to thee. I pray that you eat this small body of mine and satisfy your hunger.” The jackal immediately followed. He pushed the crow aside with his paw and a disgusted look on his face. “What do you think you brat?!! Do you think the king can even satisfy his hunger for a day by eating your puny body??? Eat me, O king. I offer thee my flesh, bone and skin.” The lion was wondering as to what was happening. The camel too, thought that when both the jackal and crow were offering sacrifices, he should also do so to show his loyalty. Moreover, the lion would not eat his friends.
So he fell flat in front of the lion and said, “O king, you have given me asylum in this hostile jungle and what more is there to offer to you than my body?? How will your hunger be satiated by eating a skinny jackal? Therefore, please eat me, O king” and he closed his eyes. Little did he know that it would be the last time he would do so.
“Grrrrrrrrrrrraaaar.” There was a deafening roar and the next second, the camel’s neck had been torn apart. The lion and the cunning duo feasted on the camel till all that remained were the bones.
Thus, the camel learnt the hard way that friends must always be chosen with care.