The War of Crows and The Owls - Panchatantra Stories

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In the south of India, there was a city known as Mahilaropyam. Not far from the city stood a huge tree, with innumerable branches and leaves. On this tree, lived Meghavaran, king of the crows, and with him, his vast retinue. Some way off, in a cave, there lived Arimaradan, king of the owls, and his court. The king of the owls regarded the crows as deadly enemies.

Every night, the owls would fly round the vicinity of the tree and kill any crow they could catch hold of. As a result, the crow’s numbers began to reduce rapidly.

One day, Meghavaran the crow-king, called a council of his ministers and addressed them thus.

“Gentlemen, our enemy is dangerous and untiring. As he knows how to take advantage of a situation, that’s why he always attacks at night only. He succeeds in killing us in great numbers for, how can we possibly fight him off in the dark, when we are unable to see. In daytime, we can’t possibly attack him, because we don’t know where the owl’s stronghold is.

So now, we must choose between the six Diplomatic ways i.e. Peace, war, retreat, entrenchment. Seeking the help of allies or intrigue. “Which one do we prefer? Think it over and let me know.”

“Your Majesty,” they all replied, “it’s a good thing you have asked us to express our opinions. “Your Majesty,” they went on, “we should all discuss this problem in secret and come to a decision.”

The crow king had five ministers-Ujjeevi, Sanjeevi, Anujeevi, Prajeevi and Chiranjeevi. First of all he turned to Ujjeevi and said to him, “Ujjeevi, my friend, what would you suggest to do, as things stand?”

“Your Majesty,” he replied, “Arimaradan, the owl king, is strong and attacks us at the right time. And so we should not fight him, Brihaspati has said, Make peace with an enemy who is as strong as you are, For, in a battle between equals, The victory hangs in the balance, Never fight, unless you are sure of success.”

Ujjeevi advised the king to make peace.

After the king turned to Sanjeevi and said to him, “Sanjeevi, I should like to hear your opinion.”

“Your Majesty,” he replied, “Arimaradan, the owl king, is very cruel and he has no ethics. Peace with someone like that cannot last long. I suggest that we do fight him. It’s said ‘If a weak man is full of fire, he can destroy an enemy who is stronger, Just as a lion kills an elephant And rules over his domain’.”

Sanjeevi advised the king to go to war. Then the king turned to Anujeevi and said to him, “Anujeevi, you too express your point.”

“Your Majesty,” he replied, “Arimaradan, the owl king, is stronger than we are, so we cannot fight him. He is also cruel, so we cannot make peace with him, for such peace won’t last long. So, I suggest that we retreat.

Anujeevi advised the king to retreat. Now the king turned to Prajeevi and said to him, “Prajeevi, what do you think my friend?”

“Your Majesty,” he replied, “in my opinion, these three suggestions, peace, war and retreat, are useless. I think entrenchment is the right course of action. For they say, ‘A crocodile in water can drag an elephant, but outside, on land. He is harassed by a mere dog.’ But, he who, in the face of a strong enemy instead of entrenching himself. Deserts his post, shall never see it again. “And so, entrenchment is the right course of action.”

Prajeevi told the king for entrenchment. Then Mewghavaran turned to Chiranjeevi and said to him, “Chiranjeevi, what is your view.”

“Your Majesty,” he replied, “in my opinion seeking the help of the allies is the only answer. For they say, ‘Blazing fire, without the help of the wind, Will go out.’ “So we should seek assistance, preferably from someone very strong, but even a group of lesser people would do.”

Chiranjeevi advised the king to seek the help of allies. Finally, the crow king turned to Sthirajeevi, his father’s old minister, and said to him, “Tata, I have asked all these ministers for their opinions in your presence, merely for the sake of putting them to the test. Now that you have heard them all, kindly tell me the right course for us to adopt.”

“Your Majesty,” he replied, “all these ministers have expressed their views in according to their knowledge. The courses of action they recommend, will indeed give good results, but under different circumstances. However, in the present case, we should use intrigue, for they say, ‘Only intrigue is effectual, when your enemy is powerful.’ And, ‘Just as guda first increases the mucous and afterward suppresses it, so the wise first puff up the enemy and afterward destroy them.’

“Now, what you must do, is find out your enemy’s weak points and then take advantage of them at the opportune time.”

“How can I know his weak points,” Asked the king, “when I am not even aware of where he lives and have no contact whatsoever with him?”

“Though spies!” replied Sthirajeevi. “They say, Animals are guided by their sense of smell, Brahmins through the Vedas, Kings through spies and other men by their two eyes.”

When Meghavaran had heard this advice, he said to Sthirajeevi, “But tell me, Tata, why this deadly enmity between crows and owls? There must be some good reason for it.” Ans, in reply, Sthirajeevi told this story. ENMITY BETWEEN CROWS AND OWLS

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