The Elephant and The Sparrow - Panchatantra Stories

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In a jungle, there lived a pair of sparrows and they had made their nest in a tree. In due course, the female sparrow laid her eggs there.

One day, an agitated elephant come and stood under the shade of the tree. With his trunk, he caught hold of the branches supporting the sparrows’ nest and pulled them down.

The nest fell to the ground and the eggs were smashed.

Luckily the sparrows managed to escape but, because she had lost her eggs, the female sparrow was heartbroken and she began to cry loudly.

‘A woodpecker, listening to her sobs, felt touched. He came near to her and said, “My good sparrow, what’s the point of crying about it, wise men don’t grieve over lost things, the dead and what belongs to the past - But a fool weeps over things not worth his tears. He adds sorrow to the sorrow already existing, so his suffering is doubled. That’s the difference between wise men and fools.”

“That’s true,” replied the sparrow, “but this elephant has killed my children. If you are my friend, please find some way of destroying him.

“I will,” said the woodpecker, ‘A friend is a friend in need, a son is a son when he obeys his parents, a servant is a servant when he performs his duties, a wife is a wife when she makes her husband happy.’ ‘In affluent times, all men are your friends, but the person who helps you, when times are bad, Regard him as your true friend, even when he belongs to a different caste.’ “Now I too have a friend, a fly called Veenarav Let’s go and ask her to help us, to destroy this cruel elephant.”

The woodpecker, and the female sparrow went to Veenarav, and said to her, “My friend, this sparrow is a dear friend of mine. An elephant has destroyed her eggs, please help us find a way to kill him.”

“Certainly I’ll help you, my good friend,” replied the fly, “otherwise, what is a friend for? Now I too have a friend, a frog by the name of Meghanad. Let’s go and ask him to help us.

They all went together to the frog and told him what had happened.

The frog said, “What can this elephant do against us, if we work together? Listen, I have a plan. Fly! When the sun is at the highest point, you go and buzz in his ears, so that in sheer ecstasy, he closes his eyes. Then, woodpecker! You peck his eyes, and blind him. Then I will sit at the edge of the pit that’s near by and croak. When the elephant becomes thirsty, hearing me croak, he will come to the pit, thinking it is a lake full of water. He will fall right in and, being unable to get out again, he’ll die.

“They agreed and carried out the plan successfully - the elephant groped his way to the muddy pit, fell in and died, there. And so, continued the female tittibha, That’s why I said, “Working together. The sparrow, the woodpecker, the fly and the frog, killed an elephant.”

‘All right them,’ said the male tittibha, I’ll dry up the Sea with the help of my friends!’

The male tittibha sent a message to the crane, the swan, the peacock and the rest of them, and said, ‘The Sea has insulted us by stealing our eggs. Think of a way to dry him up completely.’

At this, all the birds came together to discuss the situation. 'We can’t suck up the Sea in our beaks,’ they said, ‘so what’s the good of trying? “When a weak man, blown up with self-importance, attacks a strong enemy, he has to retreat, like an elephant with a broken tusk.” Instead, we should go and tell everything to Garuda, our king. If he is angry that his people have been insulted, then he himself will take revenge. But, even supposing, that out of pride, he refuses to help us, all the same, we shall feel relieved. ‘So, we’ll all go to Garuda.

The birds went to Garuda, with glum faces and tears in their eyes, and told him, ‘Oh Master!’ You are our protector and yet the Sea has robbed the good tittibhas of their eggs. If this sort of thing continues, one day our whole race will be destroyed.

Garuda heard the birds wailing he thought to himself, “These birds are right! I will go and dry up the Sea!’ But just as he was thinking this, a messenger arrived from Lord Vishnu, and said, my dear Garuda! I have been sent by Lord Vishnu. You had better come quickly with me.’

“When Garuda heard this, he said petulantly, What could Lord Vishnu want with such a ordinary servant as I am! Please give him my regards and ask him to find another servant instead of me!’

‘Garuda!’ said the messenger, ‘You’ve never talked like that before! Tell me, What is the reason?

‘Well,’ said Garuda, ‘the Sea, Lord Vishnu’s resting place, has swallowed up the tittibha birds’ eggs. They are or my race. If Lord Vishnu does not force the Sea to return them, I refuse to serve him any more. This is my firm resolution. Go and tell all this to your Master.’

“When Lord Vishnu heard this all that Garuda was sulking, he thought to himself, I understand why he is sulking. I’ll go and see him myself and pacify him.

Lord Vishnu went quickly to Garuda.

When Garuda saw his master coming to his house, he bowed his head and said! Oh! Lord, The Sea, your resting place, by swallowing up the eggs of my subjects, has insulted me, but I have restrained myself from punishing him, because of my respect for you.

“When Lord Vishnu heard this, he said, ‘You’re quite right, Garuda. Come with me and we shall take the eggs from the Sea and hand them over to the tittibha thirds.

Lord Vishnu reprimanded the Sea and, taking a thunderbolt in his hand, he said, ‘Wicked Sea! Return the tittibha birds’ eggs at once or I shall dry you up!

At this, the Sea was terrified and handed over the eggs to the male tittibha who gave them to his wife.

Moral of The Story “And so,” continued Damanak, “that’s why I said, ‘He who attacks an enemy without knowing his strength, will be defeated. As the Sea was defeated by the tittibha birds.” Sanjivak heard this, but he asked Damanak once again, “Friend, how can I know for certain that Pingalak has evil designs against me, when until now he has always looked on me with favour and I have never seen any change in his attitude?”

Damanak said. “Here is proof. When you next visit Pingalak, you will see him with red eyes and vicious looks, rolling his tongue backwards and forward across his lips. Then you will know for sure that he has wicked thoughts. Otherwise, if you see him relaxed and quiet, you will know that he is pleased with you. Now, excuse me, I am going home.

Damanak left Sanjivak. He went to Karatak.

When he saw him, he said, “Damanak, what have you been up to?”

“I have been working hard, sowing the seed of discord between those two,” said Damanak. “Whatever happens now is the will of Fate-because ‘Lakshmi bestows her favors, on the zealous man. She scorns the idle, who depend entirely on luck. So, brush destiny aside and try with all you might. If you still fail, find out what went wrong.”

“How have you sown the seed of discord?” asked Karatak.

“I have made them quarrel by telling each of them contradictory lies,” said Damanak. “You will never again see them sitting together, discussing things.”

“It was wrong of you to have separated the two friends,” said Karatak, “for it is far easier to destroy something than to build it up - The wind has the strength to pull down a tree but not to raise it again. So also, a small-minded man can destroy others’ work, but he cannot reconstruct it.”

“You don’t know anything about the ethics” said Damanak, “or you would never talk like this. "Suppress your enemy and diseases at the very beginning, or they will become strong and destroy you.’ “Sanjivaka has becomes our enemy. It is because of him that we have ceased to function as ministers. I have secretly planned his death. But even if he is not killed he will certainly run away. You are the only person to know about this. It’s very essential for us to carry out this plan, to serve our own ends, “With Sanjivaka’s death, we derive three benefits. Our revenge; fulfilled we get back our positions as ministers; and we shall get his flesh for food. So how can you find fault with me when his death is so beneficial to us? ‘A cunning man, even at the cost of tormenting others, artfully looks after his own interests and keeps his plans a secret, as Chaturak the jackal did in the jungle.’

“How was that?” asked Karatak with a pleasant smile and Damanak told this story. THE JACKAL CHATURAK

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