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Tag: tortoise

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.  

Always be friendly with your neighbours

Long long ago in the forest of Swetharanya, there lived a two hawks. They had recently migrated to this forest from another forest as  humans had begun to inhabit that forest in which they lived earlier. Here, they had built their nest on a tall tree by the side of the river Swetha Pushkarini. There were a couple of eggs in their nest which were about to hatch any time.

The hawks were very happy in the new forest which was free of humans and in due course their eggs hatched into cute little chicks.

From the day they had come into Swetharanya, Shyeni, the female hawk was insisting that they should find out who their neighbours were and be friendly with them. The male hawk Shyena , on the other hand was not so particular and was also lazy and did not bother. However , due to the persistence of Shyeni, he finally went to seek his neighbours. In a burrow in another tree lived a Kingfisher by name Suchitraka. He was very happy when Shyena met him and they both became good friends.

Now, there was a lion by name Jatila in a cave near the river. Shyena met the lion and introduced himself and became good friends with him too. Finally he found that there was this tortoise by name Dadru living in a bush just below the tree where he had his nest. And so, because of the hawks’ efforts, Suchitraka, Jatila and Dadru became friends with Shyeni and Shyena.

They used to meet everyday and exchange courtesies. Life was going on smoothly until one day……

It was a new moon night and the forest was pitch dark. It posed no problem for the hawks and their friends as they could see well in the nights also. It was just after midnight, when Shyeni thought she heard some rustling near the tree. She peered out of the nest and was shocked to see two human figures groping their way through the dark. Shyeni and Shyena could fly away but what about their chicks? They were yet to grow wings fully and were very vulnerable. Shyeni was worried.

When the men came near the clearing under the tree, they stopped. “Hmm.. it seems we have lost our way.. All because of you “, grunted one fellow who was giant like. “Don’t blame me for everything . It was You who wanted to come with me?” retorted the other who was of a smaller built. “Ok Ok” said the bigger man, “I am feeling hungry. Get me something to eat. I was a fool to come fishing with you in the river. We didn’t catch even one fish and you let the net get washed away by the current. Now, go and get some food to eat.. Fast!” he ordered.

By now Shyena was also awake and was wondering what to do if the chicks woke up and started making noise. The very next moment, what he dreaded happened. The chicks were disturbed by the sound of the men and started making screeching noises. The men were first frightened but then knew that it was the sound of young birds. “Aha.. ” said the bigger fellow, “I can see the nest on the top most branch. Now, you fool, go and collect some twigs and we shall make a fire and eat roasted chicks…” he ordered the smaller fellow. The smaller fellow got up mumbling something and ambled into the bushes peering in the dark for twigs and slowly brought some. “Faster, you fool, now rub some stones and make fire, fast.. and go and get some more twigs….” said the bigger fellow and the other one obeyed him.

Soon, a fire had started to blaze and the bigger fellow now tried to climb up the tall tree. Shyeni was panicking and told Shyena to go and call their friends. Shyena also, not knowing what to do went straight  to Suchitraka and called out to him . “Suchitraka, Suchitraka, my friend, Please come and help me!” he cried out, “My chicks are in danger!”. Suchitraka woke up with a start and flew out fast to see the blazing fire and the man trying to climb the tree. The tree had its branches high up and so the man was struggling to get a foothold and go up.

Suchitraka thought for a moment and like a flash of lightning dived into the nearby river, came out like an arrow from the quiver and went over the fire and flapped his wings hard. The water droplets fell on the fire and the fire made a fizzling sound. The man who was trying to climb the tree, turned around, but Suchitraka had vanished for another round of water spraying. He did this act again and again. The fire was now struggling to burn  due to the continuous spraying of water and  was almost extinguished and the enraged men saw the bird  and came running at Suchitraka waving a cloth.

Suchitraka was terribly tired of this exercise and flew into his burrow and dropped down due to exertion. The bigger man then said, “Don’t worry, I shall climb the tree and kill the chicks and we can go home and have a good breakfast” and continued his efforts to climb the tree.

Now Shyena was worried. What could he do next? In the meanwhile, Dadru, hearing the commotion had come out of the bushes. In a flash he understood what was going on. He pulled himself up and walked as fast as he could near the smaller man and the man almost tripped on Dadru in the dark. But he found that it was a tortoise and shouted to his comrade , “Hey , don’t take the trouble of getting the chicks. Here is a tortoise. It’s a long time since we had tortoise meat. Lets’s take him home. Come on”

The bigger man sneered at him and said “You Budhdhoo, how do you propose to take a tortoise home? Lead it like a doggie Huh? We do not have any weapons . Go , Go and get some creepers from over there and we shall make a rope to tie and carry him    . Go fast,  you dud!, else the tortoise will go away !” The smaller man retorted with a grunt and went to bring some creepers. Dadru consciously moved very very slowly and the men thought they could catch it. The man returned with many creepers and they started making a rope.

Shyena and Shyeni were very worried now. They could not afford to lose Dadru for the sake of their chicks. Shyeni said to Shyena , “Go , go quickly and call Jatila!!” Shyena flew fast and called Jatila from his den. Jatila sprang up and came running . The men had caught Dadru and were about to tie him up when from their back they hear a roar “Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…….”  Terrified, they turned around and to their  horror found a big huge lion staring at them menacingly as he  roared again. The roar was deafening and the next moment, the men forgot Dadru, the chicks and all and started running for their lives.

They ran out of the forest never to be seen again. And the hawks thanked the three friends for saving them and their friendship bonds were further strengthened.

Shyena looked at Shyeni thankfully as it was at her insistence that he became friendly with their neighbours.

Moral: Always maintain a good relationship with your neighbours.

The talkative Tortoise

This is a tale from the Jatakas.

Once upon a time in northern India , there was a small pond near which lived a tortoise He  was a very talkative tortoise and would pick a conversation with anyone who came near the pond.

One day two beautiful young wild ducks named came to the pond. The tortoise befriended them as usual. The ducks started coming to the pond often and every time they would talk about the beautiful spot where they lived. “We live on the banks of Sweta Sarovar” one would say and the other would tease the tortoise, “Have you seen a lake like Sweta Sarovar? ha!”

As days went by, the tortoise got a strong desire to visit this famous “Sarovar”. But in his heart of hearts he knew that even if he walked at his fastest pace for years together, he would not be able to reach the place. So, the next day, when the ducks came for their usual visit, Mr. Tortoise slowly broached the subject . “Hmm.. I … I want…. Hmm.. to see ……Hmm. Swetha Sarovar” , he said to the ducks. The ducks were aghast . One said “Hey Brother, we know you cannot even walk fast. Where is the question of going to Swetha Sarovar which is miles away huh?”  The other one thought for a while and said ” But wait, there is a way. What if we do like this? We shall hold  a stick in our beaks and Torty  can hold on to the stick with his mouth” .

“Good idea” said the tortoise. “I can come with you and go to Swetha Sarovar and see the beautiful place and swim to my heart’s content and laze around and….” “Stop” said one of the ducks. “Do not go on and on. You are too talkative!. If you keep on talking like this how can you come with us? You have to shut up till the time we reach our place”.

“OK” said the tortoise. “I shall come with mouth shut however much I am tempted to talk. I promise.” The ducks took his word for it  and brought a sturdy stick which they could carry and which would bear the weight of the tortoise. They chose to fly the next day and the day had a fine weather. The ducks warned the tortoise once more “Brother Torty, Be careful and focus on holding the stick . Or else…..” ” I know, I know” , said the tortoise. “I will be careful”. And so, the journey started and the ducks lifted up into the air beautifully holding the stick with all their strength and focus. They flew over hills, rivers and lakes and the country side. Just as they were passing by the first village, there were many children playing outside their houses, and one of the kids cried out , “Hey, there is a tortoise flying!!” All the other kids joined in chorus “Flying tortoise, flying tortoise”. The elders came running out of the houses hearing the sound and they also started commenting, ” Is it not a wonder? A flying tortoise??” The tortoise who had kept mum all along could not keep his mouth shut any more. He totally forgot what would happen if he opened his mouth and started asking ,”Are they talking about me…..” Before he could complete his sentence, he crashed BAAAAM on the ground and was dead and gone. The villagers who were, a minute back wondering at the flying tortoise were scrambling to get tortoise meat!.

The ducks muttered to themselves, ” This is what happens when one is too talkative!” Poor tortoise. His dream of Swetha Sarovar was never fulfilled.

torty

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