The Heron and The Crab - Panchatantra Stories

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In a certain jungle, there was a lake, and there lived all kinds of water creatures. A heron also lived there. Heron had grown old and was not able to catch the fishes. Hence he was starving, and had become lean.

‘One day, He came to the edge of the pond and began to cry loudly, shedding his tears. A crab heard this and with many fishes, he came up to see him and asked sympathetically, “Uncle! Are you crying? Why these sighs?”

“Oh, my child,” replied heron, “I have decided to renounce the world. I have been a fish-eater from my birth but now I wouldn’t touch them even if they come near me, for I have undertaken a fast unto death.”

But uncle what is reason for this?” - the crab asked.

"Well,” said heron, “I was born in this pond and it is here that I’ve grown old. I have come know that there will be no rain here for the next twelve years.”

“Where have you heard?” asked the crab.

“From an astrologer,” said heron. “He said that it is written in an astrological book that, due to the planetary positions, there will be no rain here for twelve years. At present there is not much water in this pond now, it will get less and less day by day and in the end, it will dry up completely. Consequently, without water, will die. I cannot bear to be separated from them. That’s why I’ve taken on this fact unto death. The water creatures of the small ponds are being evacuated to larger ones by their relatives, while the tortoises, crocodiles and the bigger animals are going elsewhere on their own. I am crying because everything will be completely wiped out.”

On hearing this from the heron the crab went back into the deep water of the pond and told this to the other water creatures. All the fishes, tortoises, crabs, and everybody were in a state of panic.

They went to the heron and said, to him. “Is there any way? Can’t we protect ourselves against this disaster?”

“Well,” said the heron, “not far away from here there is a lake, full of water. Even if there was no rain for twenty, twenty-four years, this lake, which is covered with lotus flowers, will never dry up. If somebody rides on my back I can take him there.”

“By this way, he gained their confidence. They gathered round him, crying, “Uncle! Father! Brother! Please!” take me first.

The wicked heron took them one by one, on his back.

When he had flown a little away, he would smash them against a rock and eat them to his heart’s content. When he got back, he would deliver false messages to their relatives that they are safe in that lake.

One day the crab said to the heron, “Uncle, I was friends with you first and yet you take the others before me. Now save me also.”

When he heard this, the heron thought to himself, “I am tired of eating fish everyday. To change the taste of the food, I’ll eat this crab today.”

So he took the crab on his back and carried him to the rock where he had killed the fishes.

The crab recognized the heap of bones and the skeletons of the fishes and understood everything.

But calmly he said to the heron, “Uncle! say, how far is this pond? You must be tired of carrying me. I am very heavy.”

The heron thought to himself, “Now this dumb water creature is in my power, he cannot escape my clutches.” So, with a smile, he said to the crab, “Crab, where could there be another pond? This trip is for my food. I am going to smash you against this rock and eat you up.”

As soon as the heron has said this, the crab put his claws round the white, lotus-like neck of the heron and strangled him with his full strength to death.

The crab slowly dragged the neck and came back to the pond.

All the water dwellers gathered round him and began to ask, “Crab, why are you back? And why hasn’t uncle returned with you? Why is he wasting time? We are all impatient for a chance to be taken.”

The crab laughed and said, “You fools! That swindler was not taking the water creatures to any pond, he was smashing them against a rock, not far from here, and eating them all. I was destined to stay alive and understood what he was up to. I killed him and I’ve "brought back his neck. Now there’s no need to worry. We are now safe.”

That’s why I said, ‘Continued the jackal,’ a greedy heron, who was feeding on large medium and small-sized fishes, was killed by a mere crab.

After listening to this, the crow said, ‘Friend, tell us how we can kill a wicked cobra.’

‘Well,’ said the jackal, ‘got to a city that is the capital of a kingdom. Visit the house of some wealthy man, a minister or someone, and see if they have been careless enough to leave a gold chain or a necklace lying about. Pick it up, and making sure that the servants are watching you, fly off slowly with it and drop it in the hollow of the tree where the snake lives. When the servants run after you to get the necklace back they’ll see the snake and it’s certain they’ll kill him.’

The crows decided to take the jackal’s advice and flew off. As they were flying, the female noticed a lake, in which the women of the harem were swimming. They had left gold and pearl necklace with their clothes on the bank of the lake.

The female crow picked up a gold chain in her beak and started flying slowly to her nest.

When the King’s servants saw this, they picked up their sticks and started running after the female crow.

She let the gold chain fall near the hollow of the tree where the snake lived and seated herself on a tree near by.

The king’s servants arrived on the scene, they were confronted by a snake with swelling hood, before the hollow of the tree.

They killed him immediately with their sticks, recovered the gold chain and returned home.

Thus the crows lived happily ever after.

Moral of The Story “And so,” continued Damanak, “thats why, I said, ‘What cannot be achieved by force, can be achieved through deceit.’ “Nothing in this world is impossible for a cleaver man. A hare killed a mighty lion living in the jungle.”

“How was that?” - asked Karatak. On this Damanak told this story. THE LION AND THE HARE

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