The Sage (Sadhu) and The Mouse - Panchatantra Stories

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In the southern part of the country, there is a city called Mahilaropyam. There was a temple dedicated to Shiva. A Sadhu named Tamrachud, used to live in this temple.

Every day he would go into the city for alms and in this way, he supported himself.

When the Sadhu had finished his evening meals, he would put what was left over in a begging bowl and hang it up. Then he would go to sleep. In the morning he gave this food to the workers, who in return cleaned and swept the living place.

One day, the other mice said to me, ‘Hiranyak! The Sadhu is afraid that we will take his cooked food, so he puts it in a begging bowl and hangs it up on a peg, so that we cannot reach it. But you are so good at jumping that you can reach the bowl very easily. Why should we have to go to the bother of searching for food elsewhere when, with your help, we can enjoy what is good here.’

I agreed to the plan and we all crept to the place together and found the begging bowl hanging there.

I reached it without any difficulty and threw some food down to my friends, standing below. Then I had my share. Afterward we all crept back to our homes. In this way, we enjoyed the food every night.

When the Sadhu noticed that his food was being stolen, he hung his begging bowl still higher. However, the minute he went to sleep, somehow or other, I reached the begging bowl and we did as usual.

Finally, he thought of a plan to put a stop to my mischief. When he was wide awake, he would beat the begging bowl with a split bamboo stick to frighten me off. The minute he went to sleep, I would try to reach the food as usual but somehow or other he would wake up and hit the begging bowl again. I would run away as fast as I could but come back again after some time. In this way, we would spend the entire night.

“One day, a Sanyasi, by the name of Brihatsphing, who was on a pilgrimage, came to the temple to see his friends Tamrachud. The Sadhu welcomed him with open arms and was very hospitable towards him.

Before they finally went to bed, they talked about religion. But as the Sadhu was thinking of us, mice, he kept hitting out at the begging bowl with the split bamboo stick. He was not attentive to the Sanyasi and so he gave only abstract and absent-minded replies.

Suddenly the Sanyasi said angrily, ‘Tamrachud! It is now clear to me that you are no true friend of mine. You are giving me vague and abstract replies. Now that you have a temple of your own, you have become proud. You have forgotten our old friendship and the love you had for me. For such behavior you deserve to go to hell.

‘Indeed, I can’t put up with such behavior! I shall leave this very minute and go somewhere else.’

Tamrachud was shocked to hear the Sanyasi talking like this and he said to him humbly, please don’t talk like that. You are my dearest friend. Please listen and I shall tell you the reason for my inattention. Every day, whatever is left over from my food, I put in a begging bowl and hang it high on a peg. But there’s a mouse that, somehow or other, manages to reach it. He eats something from it himself, then throws the rest down to the other mice. As a result, in the morning there is no food for the workers and they refuse to clean the place. That’s why I have been hitting this begging bowl, to frighten the mice off. This is the only reason for my lack of attention to you.

‘Do you know where the mouse lives?’ asked the Sanyasi.

‘No, I do not?

‘Well,’ went on the Sanyasi, ‘this mouse, wherever he may be living, must certainly have accumulated quite a lot of food, and this gives him a feeling of exaltation and consequently the energy to jump so high. “Mother Shandili had a reason, when she tried to change the husked sesame seeds for unhusked ones.”

‘How was that?’ enquired the Sadhu.

Then the Sanyasi told this story of his own. MOTHER SHANDILI

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