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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!!

 

 

Krishna To The Rescue

In the Story of Mahabharatha, the five Pandava Princes along with their wife Draupadi were banished from the kingdom to live in exile in the forest, following their defeat in a game of dice with Duryodhana.

The Princes had no other go but to undergo this punishment and were living in the jungle. They were collecting roots and fruits available to meet their food requirements but felt very bad when any guest visited them. Being used to be generous and most hospitable, they found it extremely insulting not being able to provide food for their guests.

Yudishtira used to perform many penances while in exile and after one such penance to propitiate Surya, the Sun God, Surya, pleased with his penance appeared before him with his entire glorious splendor and gifted him an “akshaya patra”. In Sanskrit, “Kshaya” means waning or declining  and when an ‘a’ is added to it means the opposite that is inexhaustible, growing etc. So the ‘patra’  (vessel) which Surya gave was capable of giving food continuously. But Surya, very well knowing their living conditions gave the ‘patra’ with another boon that the vessel would be full of food from the time the brothers or Draupadi wanted it to be, till such time Draupadi had her food and once Draupadi had her food, the vessel would be empty and after being kept away after washing would resume its duty the next day.

The Pandavas and Draupadi were extremely happy that by this boon, they could provide tasty food to their visitors who were sages, kings, noblemen and sometimes some strangers too. Such was the spirit of hospitality and the value this virtue carried. Every day the brothers would feed their guests , eat themselves and Draupadi ate last of all, almost in the evening. The vessel was washed and put away for the next day.

Things went on smoothly and the news of this reached Duryodhana the envious and wicked cousin of the Pandavas. Duryodhana had his spies planted everywhere and all the news of his five cousins was reported to him immediately. He was very much enraged, at the thought that not only the cousins were no more troubled for food, but were able to get the wholehearted blessings of all those they fed. His mind started to think of what impediment could be created to thwart this.

Much to his joy, one day the sage Durvasa came to visit him with one hundred of his disciples. Durvasa was well known for his anger and the number of curses he hurled upon the ones who had angered him. Duryodhana, who was very much aware of this trait of Durvasa, welcomed him and offered him the best hospitality ever and  after enjoying few days of this hospitality, Durvasa wanted to leave to his ashrama. He called Duryodhana and said, “Son, you have taken care of me and my disciples very well. I wish to leave  for my ashram now. But I would like to give you a boon for the excellent treatment you have given to me. Tell me, what is it that you seek?”

Duryodhana, who was waiting for this very moment, said in a very humble tone, “Sire, it is indeed my greatest fortune to have had an opportunity to serve you and your disciples and get your blessings. I wish that my Pandava cousins who are living in the jungle also get your blessings. Just as you have visited me with your disciples, please visit them also and shower your blessings. But take care to go in the late afternoon since they might have gone out in the mornings for collecting wood or hunting. This is the boon I want”

Durvasa was a bit surprised, but happy at this ‘good intention’ of Duryodhana, granted the boon. “Done” he said, and  went the next day with the same hundred disciples  to the jungle where the Pandavas where. It was late afternoon and just a while back, Draupadi had had her food and washed and kept away the ‘akshaya patra’.

The brothers, not aware of this, wholeheartedly welcomed the sage and washed his feet and  Yudishtira said, “O Holy one, you have blessed our abode with your coming. You should partake food here and give your blessings!”

“Why not?” said Durvasa, “I will certainly take food with my disciples, but I need to have a bath first. I shall go to the river nearby and have a bath and come back.” So saying, he along with his disciples, went towards the river which was nearby.

Draupadi was aghast. “What shall we do now?” she asked the brothers. “Just a while back, I had my food and washed the vessel. Now, how do we feed the sage and his disciples? If we now tell him that,  he will surely curse us out of his anger. As it is we are suffering in the  jungle and do we need the sage’s curse now?”  She was in tears and started sobbing. The brothers also realized the gravity of the situation and were in a fix, not knowing what to do. To feed one person would be possible, but to feed a hundred and one?

All of them knew that their cousin Krishna, the Lord of this Universe could alone save them from this embarrassment. They all prayed with folded hands inviting him from the bottom of their hearts and there he came, the ever delightful Krishna, with his mischievous smile.

“Draupadi” said he as soon as he came . “I am terribly hungry. I want some food immediately. Bring some, my dear sister!” The Pandavas and Draupadi were even more puzzled. What was this, the omniscient Lord was asking. They never had to spell out their difficulties to Him. He knew it all and now, he was asking them food?  The Pandavas said, “Krishna, we are in great difficulty….” He cut them short and said, “Draupadi, can you not feed a hungry being at your doorstep. You have the great ‘akshaya patra’ and yet, when I ask for food, there is so much delay… Go, bring the vessel!”

Unable to disobey his command, Draupadi brought the vessel muttering to herself, “The vessel has been washed for the day…” Krishna heard it and said, “Do not worry Draupadi, show it to me” and snatched the vessel from her. Looking inside and near the inner rim, he suddenly exclaimed, “Aha, here is a morsel of rice, and here, what is this, a bit of greens?” Draupadi  peered in to see a small morsel of rice and a wee bit of greens sticking to the rim. The vessel had not been washed completely clean. And to the surprise of the Pandavas and Draupadi, Krishna took out the morsel of rice and greens carefully and popped it into his mouth and chewed it as if he were having a mouthful. Swallowing it he said, “Hmmm.. my hunger is satiated. Bhima, I think Durvasa and his disciples are getting ready to come here. Go to the riverfront  and welcome them”. A puzzled Bhima hesitated to which Krishna said, “Go my dear Bhima, go fast!” Bhima, still puzzled rushed to the riverfront.

At the riverfront  Sage Durvasa and his disciples suddenly experienced a strange phenomenon. Their stomachs became suddenly full, as if they had eaten two full meals. Their bellies were bulging  and some of them were literally dragging themselves out of the water! “I cannot eat even one morsel of rice now !” exclaimed one . “Yes, same here!” chorused many others. They all looked pathetically at Sage Durvasa, who was also no different from them , feeling  full and satiated. All they needed was a good nap. As Durvasa said, “Let’s go away”, he saw Bhima approaching. “Hurry, hurry”, he told his disciples, “Let’s move fast!” And seeing Bhima at a distance he waved and said in a loud voice, “Thank you Bhima for your hospitality, but we are in some urgency, we shall come later some day” And raising his hands he said “My blessings are always with you” And all of them hurried away into the thick jungle.

Bhima could not understand what had happened for the sages to go away, but he and his brothers and Draupadi understood one thing clearly, that Krishna had come to their rescue!!.

The Blue Jackal

This is a story from the Panchatantra.

Long ago, there lived in the jungles of central India, a jackal by name Chandaraka. One day, Chandaraka did not get any prey in the jungle. Hunger drove him to the outskirts of the jungle and he entered the town.

Being new to the town, he was wandering aimlessly in search of some food, when a pack of dogs spotted him. They had not seen a jackal and so started chasing him. He ran and ran all over the town panting for breath and finally managed to enter the compound of a dyer. The dyer had kept a vat of indigo dye for his next batch of clothes and Chandaraka, in his hurry, tripped and fell over into the vat.

Startled and shaken to the core, Chandaraka managed to get out of the vat spluttering and spitting the blue dye. The dogs that had come chasing him saw this dreadful figure in blue and started running fast with their tails between their legs. “What is this? Why are the dogs running away from me?” thought Chandaraka to himself.

He looked at himself. He was totally blue from head to tail! He was ashamed and did not know what to do next. Slinking by the bushes, he slowly went back into the jungle. Another shock awaited him there. All the big animals like the lion, tiger and elephant stared at him at awe and started running away from him.

Just then Chandaraka got an excellent idea.

He called out to the animals, “Hey lion, tiger, elephant and all others! Here, I have come from the heavens to rule over you! Do not be afraid, I am your king”. The animals cautiously and curiously looked at him as he continued, “I am Kakadruma, your guardian and king, sent by the heavenly beings. I will take care of all of you as long as you all serve me faithfully”

The animals were confused and decided to submit themselves to this mysterious blue creature. Kakadruma said in a stern voice, “The lion will be my bodyguard, the tiger will be my Prime Minister and the elephant will be my door keeper! But all the jackals of this forest are banished from this moment. All jackals should get out of the jungle by tomorrow or all of you will earn my wrath!”

He was banishing the jackals as he feared they would find him out. Once the jackals were gone, it was totally a royal treatment for Chandaraka aka Kakadruma. The lion brought him food everyday and after he had his fill, he distributed the rest to the others. The elephant accompanied him, everywhere he went, clearing the way for him and he really enjoyed life.

As they say, ‘All Good Things Come to an End’, one fine day, a new pack of jackals came into this forest from the neighbouring forest. They were blissfully unaware of the ‘King’ and his orders and had had a good meal and while passing the King’s resting place, were howling away with joy.

Our ‘King’, who had, all these days controlled his instinct, could control it no more. He started to howl away in a high pitch and that was it! The giveaway startled all the animals as they realised how they had been fooled into believing that this blue creature was from the Heavens whereas he was no more than a jackal. The next minute, all of them pounced on him and that was the end of Chandaraka.

Morals:

  • You can never hide your true colours for long.
  • Truth always comes out in the end.

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