The Talking Cave - Panchatantra Stories

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In a certain jungle, there lived a lion, by the name of Kharanakhar. One day, he felt hungry and wandered everywhere looking for food, but he could not get anything.

“At sunset, the lion went into a big cave, thinking to himself, ‘Some animal is bound to be living here and will certainly return during the evening. I shall hide in the cave and wait for him.’ As soon as he will come I will kill him and eat him up belly full.”

“After a short time, a jackal, Dadhiputch, arrived on the scene.”

He noticed that a lion’s footprints were leading into the cave but not coming out.

He thought to himself, ‘Now I am dead! It is almost certain that there is a lion inside. But how can I know for sure? What can I do to find out?’

Suddenly an idea struck him. He stood at the entrance of the cave and began to shout, "Hello, Cave! Cave!’ He waited in silence for some time. Then he cried, ‘Ho, Cavel!’ Don’t you remember the agreement we came to, that when I arrive here, I shall first call you and you will reply, and only then will I come in?

Now, as you are not replying, ‘I shall go to some other cave.’

When the lion heard this, he thought to himself, ‘The cave really replies to the jackal when he returns, but today, for fear of me, it is keeping quiet.’ As they say, ‘When fear takes a hold on you, You are paralyzed, Not a word will come out of your mouth? ‘So, I shall invite him in myself and when he enters, I’ll make a meal of him.’

With this idea in mind, the lion replied to the jackal, ‘Hello, Jackal! It’s all right for you to come in.’

The cave echoed with his roar so loud that even animals far away were frightened. The Jackal too bolted, saying to himself, ‘He who anticipates the coming of a disaster, And acts accordingly, is spared, But he who fails to anticipate it, Comes to grief - I have grown old living in this jungle, But I have never yet heard a cave talking!’

“Similarly,” continued Raktaksh, “I too anticipate a disaster. Think over what I have said and leave with me.”

Raktaksh’s followers listened to his advice and flew off with him to a faraway country.

Sthirajeevi was very pleased when he heard of Haktaksh’s departure, thinking to himself, “His leaving is extremely beneficial to me, for he was far-sighted, but these here are stupid and I can easily destroy them, for they say, ‘When the king’s ministers lack foresight, The king does not rule for long’.”

And then pretending that he wanted to make a nest for himself, the crow began to bring small twigs and make a pile of them at the entrance of the cave.

The foolish owls did not realize that the crow was doing all this to roast them alive later on. It’s true what they say, “An ill-fated man considers his enemies his friends and destroys his real friends he mistakes good for evil for good.”

When the crow had piled up enough twigs at the entrance of the cave, he waited until noon and then flew off to Meghavaran, the king of the crows.

When he arrived at the king’s court, he said to him, “My Lord, I have prepared the enemy’s stronghold in such a way that it can easily be burnt. So, come with all your followers, every one of you, carrying pieces of burning wood in your beaks, and throw them at the entrance of the cave. Then all our enemies will be burnt to death!”

“But,” said the king, “stop a minute. First tell me the news! It’s so long since I saw you!”

“This is not the proper time to talk,” said Sthirajeevi, “For it’s possible that some enemy spy may see me and report to the owl king. And if that happens, they will all escape, for they say, ‘He who delays work - That should be finished quickly; Enrages the gods. Who put obstacles in his way. “So, I shall tell everything after we have completely wiped out the enemy and returned home.”

Meghavarana and his followers, each took a piece of burning wood in their beaks and followed Sthirajeevi to the owl’s cave.

Then they threw their burning brands on to the pile of twigs, collected by Sthirajeevi, and soon a huge fire began to blaze.

The owls now realized what was happening and remembered Raktaksh’s advice, but as they were blind by day, they could not find their way out and they all perished in the fire.

Their enemy completely wiped out, Meghavaran and the other crows returned to the old tree. Their king seated himself on the throne and said happily to Sthirajeevi, “Now tell us how you spent your days amongst the enemy. I believe, living amongst the enemy is like sitting on the sharp edge of a sword.”

“I do agree with you,” said Sthirajeevi, “but I had to put up with this ordeal, in order to destroy the owls. And, surprisingly enough, they had only one clever and intelligent minister amongst them, an owl by the name of Raktaksh. He guessed that something of the kind way in my mind and escaped with a few of his followers. The others were complete fools and had no understanding of diplomacy. They did not even know that, Someone who has left the service of the enemy, and come over to the other side, should never be trusted; He should always be avoided.”

“Yes, your Majesty, it true that living amongst the enemy is like sitting on the sharp edge of a sword. I know from experience. A fellow who is cunning, puts up with his enemy even under demanding conditions. Unperturbed, both by honor and insult, He bides his time, in order, ultimately, to achieve his objective. Thus, a black snake allowed frogs to ride on his back and eventually he ate them all up.”

“How was that?” asked Meghavaran and Sthirajeevi told this story. THE FROG AND THE SERPENT

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