The Lion, Camel, Jackal and Crow - Panchatantra Stories

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Some where, in a jungle, there lived a lion king, by the name of Madotkat. His retinue was comprised of a jackal, a crow and other animals.

One day as they were wandering through the jungle, they saw a camel. ‘This seems to be an extraordinary animal’ said the lion, ‘My dear crow go and ask him where he comes from.’

On this, the crow spoke up and said, ‘Master, this animal is a camel. He is good to eat, so kill him.’

‘I won’t kill a guest,’ replied the lion. ‘Assure him that his life will be spared and bring him to me. I can ask him why he is here?’

They all went to the camel and won his confidence, after assuring him that his life would be safe and thus brought him to Madotkat.

The camel bowed and stood before the lion. Madotkata asked him for his story and he told the lion how he had come there. The camel whose name was Krathanak told his story and said, he had been separated from his caravan! 

‘Don’t return to the village to be a beast of burden. Stay with me. You can live in this jungle without any anxiety and feast on the emerald-colored grass. The lion assured him.’

The camel agreed the began to live happily amongst them. One day, Madotkata had a fight with an elephant. He was wounded by the elephant s sharp tusks. His body became so weak, that he could not take even a few steps, and as a result, the crow and all the other animals, dependent on him for food, began to starve.

“Then the lion said, ‘go and find some animal that I can kill even in this condition, so that I can provide food for you all.”

All the animals wandered around everywhere, but could not find such an animal.

On this, the crow and the jackal put their heads together.

‘Crow!’ said jackal. ‘There is no use of wandering about when this camel could easily be killed to provide us with enough food.’

‘You’re right,’ replied crow, ‘but the master has assured him that his life will be spared. Perhaps he won’t agree to kill him.’

‘I’ll influence the master in such a way, that he will agree to kill him. You wait here until I come back!’

The jackal went to the lion and said, ‘Master! we have wandered all over the jungle, but have been unable to find any animal at all. What are we to do? We’re so starved that we can’t even walk probably. But if you were to kill this camel here, his flesh is quite enough and would satisfy all our hunger.’

When the lion heard these words, he cried out ‘Shame on you. How can I kill him, when I’ve assured him that his life will be safe here.’

‘Master!’ replied jackal. ‘It is certainly a sin to kill him after giving him this assurance but if he offers himself to you, of his own free will, then it is no sin to kill him. Otherwise, kill one of us, for you are desperately in need of food to stay alive. What is the good of our lives, if we cannot use them for our master’s service. As they say, “The head of the family must be protected in every way possible. If he dies, the whole family will come to grief.” If something unfortunate should happen to you, we all be ruined.

When the lion heard this, he said, ‘Then do what you think best.’

The jackal returned to the other animals and said, ‘Our master is very sick and who will protect us, if something happens to him? Now nothing is to be gained by wandering around, looking for food, so let us go and offer him ourselves. In this way, we shall also repay our debt to the master.’

Then they all went and stood before the lion with tears in their eyes and bowed before him.

When the lion saw them, he asked, ‘Well, have you found any animal?’

The crow, said, ‘Master, we have wandered everywhere but unfortunately we have not found any such animal. So eat me so that you can stay alive, and for this sacrifice, I shall go to heaven.’

“On this Jackal said to the crow, ‘Your body is too small. Even if the master eats you, it won’t keep him alive. Still, you have shown you devotion to him and freed yourself from your debts. You will be praised here on earth and also in heaven. Now I too shall offer myself.’

The jackal stood humbly before the lion and said, ‘Master, eat me so that you can stay alive, and for this sacrifice, I shall go to heaven.’

The lion shook his head sadly.

The camel was all this, he thought to himself, ‘These two have spoken beautifully, so I too shall take my turn.’

The camel said to the Jackal and to the crow, ‘You have both spoken well, but you are both carnivorous animals and belong to the same caste as the lion, so how can he eat you? Stand aside, I too shall offer myself to him!’

When the camel had said this, he went and stood before the lion.

He bowed low and said, ‘Master, you should not kill either of these animals, instead eat me, so that you can stay alive.

As soon as the camel had finished speaking, the lion sprang on him and tore him apart.

He was eaten by all the hungry animals.

Moral of The Story “And so,” continued Sanjivak “It is therefore I said, ‘Wicked people, although they may be insignificant, are mean-minded and live deceptively; One way or another, they will make you dead.

“My friend,” Sanjivak went on, “the lion is surrounded by despicable people. I have thoroughly understood that. And there is no doubt about it, someone has aroused his anger against me, that’s why he speaks thus Now tell me as a friend, what should I do?”

“Better leave this place and go somewhere else,” replied. Damanak. ‘You should never serve someone like that.’

Sanjivak, said “But even if I go somewhere else, I am not sure that I would escape, for the master is very angry with me and will pursue me wherever I go. I think that there is no other honorable alternative for me but to face him in order to save myself.”

Seeing him in this mood Damanak thought that this would be disastrous one. This bullock may use his horn to kill the lion.

“He said ‘Friend, what you say is true, but you must know the strength otherwise you may be defeated as the Sea was defeated by the tittibha.’ ”

“How was that?” asked Sanjivak. Damanak told this story. THE STORY OF THE TITTIBHA

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