STORIES FROM HITOPADESA
1. THE TIGER AND THE TRAVELLER
Once upon a time there was an old tiger in a forest. Every day, after his bath in the river, he used to talk to the passers-by, saying:- "Ho! ho! travellers, take this gold bracelet." One day among the travellers there was a greedy man. He said to the tiger: "Where is your bracelet? Please let me look at it carefully." The tiger stretched out his paw and showed it to him. The traveller said: "How can I trust a cruel animal like you?" The tiger said: "Listen oh traveller. In my younger days I was indeed wicked; but now, I am all alone in the world, and so an old Sanyasin advised me to be kind to all men, women and animals, and to give them food everyday. Besides, consider my age. I have no teeth, and my claws are blunt. Trust me therefore, bathe in the river and take this gold bracelet."
The greedy man trusted the wicked tiger. He ran to bathe in the river, but on his way there was much mud. What happened? He struck in the mud. He tried to come out of it, but he could not. Then he said to the tiger: "Please come and help me." The tiger ran to him, seized him and ate him.
Greed never goes unpunished.
2. THE DEER, THE CROW AND THE JACKAL.
In a big forest there once lived a deer and a crow. They were good friends. One day a jackal happened to see the deer and said to himself: "Deer flesh must very tasteful; let me first make friends with him."
So, he went up to the deer and said: "Friend, how do you do?" The deer asked: "Who are you?" He replied: "I am a jackal. I live here all alone, and I have lost all my relations. Now, I have found a friend in you." The deer said: "Be it so." At sun-set the deer took his new friend to his home.
The crow, an old friend of the deer, lived on a tree near his home. Seeing the two together, the crow said: "Friend, who is this?" The deer replied: "This is a jackal; he desires our friendship." The crow said: "Look before you leap." At this, the jackal became friends.
One day, the jackal said to the deer: "Mr. Deer, in a corner of this wood, there is a field full of corn. I shall take you there and show it to you." The deer was very glad. He went there everyday and ate the corn. One day, the master of the field saw this and was angry. So, the next day he set a snare to catch the thief, and he caught the poor deer.
Just at that time the jackal came up and saw his friend. Then he thought, now, the master will kill this deer and I will have plenty of food for some days. The deer called to his jackal friend for help, but the cunning jackal said: "I am very weak, and the net is very strong; however, I shall try." He then ran away and hid himself near the field.
In the evening, the crow returned to his tree, but, under the tree he did not see his friend, the deer. He searched for him, and at last found him in the field. He felt very sorry for the deer. The deer saw the crow and said: "My friend, Mr. Crow, I disregarded your advice at first and now I suffer." The crow then said: "Mr. Deer, listen to what I say. In the morning, the owner of this field will come here. When he comes, lie down quietly; make your legs stiff and pretend to be dead. After some time I shall make a noise. Immediately, stand up and run away quickly."
The owner of the field came the next morning and saw the deer seemingly dead. So he released him from the net. The crow who saw what was being done began to caw loudly. In a moment, the deer took to his heels and ran away. The owner got very angry and threw a stick at the deer. The deer escaped, but the stick hit the jackal and killed it.
Deceit is always punished.
3. THE GREEDY JACKAL
Once upon a time there lived a hunter in a village. One day, he chanced to kill a deer. With the precious load on his shoulders, he went on his way. On the way he saw a boar and struck it with an arrow. The boar rushed at him, killed him. and then, fell down dead. At that time a serpent was crawling along the ground. The boar in falling crushed the serpent and killed it. The hunter, the deer, the boar, the serpent-- all these four were dead on the ground.
A jackal passed that way and saw all these dead. He was very glad, thinking here is a grand feast for me, the food will last me for quite three months. The hunter will be enough for one month, the deer and boar will last me for more than two months, and the serpent for a day. But first, let me taste the bow-string. So, he begun to bite the string. The bow flew back as soon as the string was cut. It pierced the jackal and he fell down dead.
The Greedy lose everything.
4. THE JACKAL AND THE ELEPHANT KING.
There was once an elephant in a forest. One day all the jackals in the forest happened to see him. The jackals met in an assembly that evening. One of them said: "This elephant's flesh will last us for four months. Who will kill the mighty creature and give us a feast?" Another said: "I shall do it my own skill".
The jackal at once went to the elephant, bowed respectfully before him and said: "My lord! favour me with a glance." The elephant looked at him and said in a loud voice: "Who are you, what is the matter with you?" The jackal replied: "Oh! my lord, all the jackals met in an assembly and chose your lordship as their sovereign. Be pleased to accept this honour. They have sent me here with this message and this is the auspicious moment for your lordship's coronation."
The elephant was very pleased at the news. He followed the jackal, but got struck in the deep mud. The elephant called the jackal to help him, but the jackal smiled and said: "Because you believed what I told you, take hold of my tail rise up." The elephant met his death in the deep mud.
Listen not to flattery.
5. THE DONKEY AND THE DOG.
There was once a washerman in a village. He had a donkey and a dog. The donkey used to carry the clothes to and from the river. The dog would keep watch at night. Both of them slept in the yard.
One night a thief got into the house. The dog did not bark. The donkey called the dog and said: "Friend, why don't you bark and awaken our master?" The dog replied: "Mind your own business. I know how to take care of my master; besides there have been no thieves before this, and he does not feed me properly, and he does not know of what use I am to him.
The donkey got angry and said: "Oh! evil minded one, this is the gratitude you show your master. I will awaken my master and save him." So he brayed aloud and the thief ran away.
But, the master awoke angrily and thrashed and donkey with a stick. Do you know why? It was not the donkey's business to awaken the master, and it brayed too loud and disturbed the master's sleep.
Mind your own business.
6. THE MONKEY AND THE BELL.
Once upon a time a thief stole a bell from a village. While he was running away a tiger attacked him and killed him. After some time a monkey passed that way. It found the bell and carried it home. Every night it would sit on the top of a hill in the forest and ring the bell.
The people of the village were afraid of the noise. They thought that a giant was haunting their village.
There was an old woman in that village. She knew the whole secret. So she went to the king and said: "Please give me some money and I shall kill the giant and bring gladness to your Majesty and the people. The king granted her request.
The old woman received the money and bought some peas, groundnuts and plantains, and pretended to use them for worship. After this, she went to the forest and scattered these things on all sides. The monkey seeing this left the bell and ran to pick up the eatables. The old woman carried away the bell and hid it in a pot in her house.
That night there was no noise. The people slept soundly and were happy. The king hearing the news sent for the old woman. The old woman came and received the thanks of all. The king gave her valuable presents.
Do not be afraid of trifles.
7. THE CROWS AND THE SERPENT.
Once upon a time father-crow, a mother-crow and their young ones were living on a tree. Under the tree there lived a serpent in its hole. One day the serpent crawled up the tree and ate the young crows. The mother-crow said to the father-crow: "Let us fly away from this tree; to-morrow the serpent may come and eat us." But the father-crow said: "Do not be afraid dear; do as I tell you. The prince will come here to-morrow to bathe in the river. Then he will leave his necklace on the bank. When he bathes, take hold of the necklace and put it into the serpent's hole."
The mother-crow did what was told her. The servants saw the mother-crow with the necklace and followed it; but the mother-crow threw the necklace into the serpent's hole. The servants dug up the hole, killed the serpent and took hold of the necklace.
Afterwards the father-crow and the mother-crow lived happily on the same tree.
8. THE HARE AND THE LION
Once there lived a lion on a mountain. Everyday he used to kill many beasts. One day all the beasts met in an assembly to discuss the killing of so many animals at one time. They went to the lion and said: "Great Sir, if it pleases your lordship, we ourselves shall send you one animal everyday." To this the lion agreed.
It was a hare's turn one day to go to the lion. It was an aged one. On its way it thought, why not I go slowly. He is going to eat me any how. Let me make his dinner late. And so, it went very late to the lion.
The lion was angry and he roared: "Why are you so late you silly creature?" At once the hare bowed to the lion and said very politely: "Pardon me, Oh my lord! While I was on my way to you I met another lion. He caught hold of me; but, with great difficulty I escaped him and now come to you. Pardon me, oh my lord!"
The lion said in a great rage: "Take me at once to that lion." The hare took him to a deep well and asked him to look into the well. There, the lion saw his own shadow; but, he thought it was another lion, and being angry, he sprang into the well. But what happened?--- He was drowned.
Wisdom is greater than strength.
9. THE HERMIT AND THE MOUSE.
There was once a hermit who lived in a hut in a grove. One day a crow dropped a mouse near him. The hermit took great care of it. A few days after, a cat came into the grove, saw the mouse and chased it. The mouse ran to the hermit for help. He turned the mouse into a cat.
After a few days, a dog came and chased the cat. The cat again went to the hermit for help. He now turned the cat into a dog.
Some days after, a tiger came and sprang on the dog. The dog was afraid of the tiger. He ran to his master for help, and the master turned him into a tiger.
But the hermit was not afraid of this tiger. He knew it to be only a mouse. All the people said: "The sage has turned a mouse into a tiger." But, the mouse tiger did not like this. He thought, all the people say I am only a mouse; the sage is not afraid of me; no one is afraid of me. Because the sage lives, all the people think me only a mouse. Now, I shall spring on the hermit and kill him. So, it sprang on its kind master. But, the hermit knew what was in its mind and immediately turned the tiger into a mouse again.
Ingratitude gets no reward.
10. THE CAMEL, THE LION AND HIS SERVANTS.
In a certain part of a forest there lived a lion and his servants. They were a crow, a jackal and a tiger. The servants one day met a camel and asked him: "Where do you come from?" The camel replied: "I lost my way and so I am roaming about." The servants then took the camel to their master. The lion said: "You may stay here safely."
One day the lion and his servants did not get any food. The servants thought, we must find a way to kill the camel and eat its flesh. So they went to their master. The lion asked them: "Have you brought anything for my dinner?" The servants replied: " There is enough food at your door for you and for us too. We also are starving." "What food" asked the lion. "There is the camel" said the crow very softly. "Your lordship need not fear. You can accept the food if the offer comes of his own free will." The lion remained silent and the servants went away.
After some time they returned with the camel. The crow came forward and said: "Our master has no food. He is starving and he looks very weak. Let him eat my flesh." But the lion said: "It is a great sin to kill a friend and eat him." The jackal and the tiger said the same thing and the lion replied in the same way. Then it was the camel's turn. He came forward and said: "Let the master eat my flesh."
At once, the lion sprang on him killed him. Then all of them sat at a grand feast. Beware of false friends.