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!!
Ram Mohan Narasimhan
Nice story. The belief that ‘Enemy’s enemy is my friend’ is followed even now in both corporate world and in politics. They then learn their lessons the hard way.
Lovely! Enjoyed reading it.
Awesome story. Loved reading it. Made me remember of the childhood days when I used to listen to these stories from grandmom…Thank u for the share.