The Panchatantra – Mitrabheda

[This is the beginning of Part-1 of Panchatantra, also called ‘Mitrabheda’ or ‘The Separation of Friends’.]

“A lion and a bull became great and inseparable friends. A cunning Jackal estranged them for his greedy and malicious ends. This is how it happened,” said Vishnu Sarman. In the south country there is a city called Mahilaroopya, abounding in parks, palaces and temples and in. every urban amenity. In this city lived a merchant named Vardhamana. He was immensely rich, but was also extremely virtuous and generous. He knew to spend money wisely as much as he knew to earn it easily. He never kept money un-invested for even a moment. He used to say: “Earn well and spend well. A good tank, should have plenty of water coming into it and going out of it. So too, the life of a businessman should never stagnate but should be always flowing. He should acquire new wealth with his existing wealth, like a man catching wild elephants with his tame elephants. Wealth not used serves only as a burden, like a donkey carrying gold, and the fool who does so simply keeps it for his betters.” 

One day, he started for the city of Mathura, on the Jamuna (the Yamuna river), with costly merchandise carried in double-bullock carts. One of these carts was drawn by two fine bullocks called Nandika and Sanjivaka. These two bulls were well-fed and looked like white clouds and they had golden bells attached to their necks which kept tinkling as they marched on. The caravan eventually reached a forest on the banks of the Jamuna, lovely with trees of all kinds and full of wild animals too. Here, the bull Sanjivaka slipped on the read, miry with rains, and fractured his ankle and lay down, helpless. The cart-man went and told Vardhamana about this mishap. The kindhearted merchant was grieved. He halted the caravan there for five nights and got Sanjivaka treated but to no effect. As he had to be at Mathura, urgently, to keep his engagements there, he left the poor bullock in charge of the cart-man and another servant with a good supply of fodder and cash and said to these men: “Look after him well and restore him to health and bring him back to me. But if he should unfortunately die, burn him decently and perform his last rites and return.” Then he left for Mathura with the remaining carts and goods. The very next day after he left, the two men got frightened at their being in that forest alone, and leaving the bull behind went and reported to their master that it had died and that they had buried it after performing its last rites.

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But, as fate would have it, Sanjivaka recovered. Slowly he was able to get up and hobble about. He made his way gradually to the place where the Jamuna flowed through the forest. There he fed freely on the rich forest grass on the river bank and drank the life- giving water of the Jamuna, and soon became strong and healthy, and equal to Nandi, Siva’s bull, in size and prowess, and began roaming about the place uttering huge bellows in sheer joy of life. In that forest there lived a lion named Pingalaka with his retinue of jackals and other animals. One day he went to the banks of the Jamuna to drink water. There he heard Sanjivaka’s prodigious bellows and was greatly frightened, not knowing what creature was making that terror-striking sound. He concealed his fear and returned to the banyan tree, his habitat, without drinking water.


There he stood thinking about the event. He was surrounded by his retinue of animals. Even in fright, he looked majestic and impressive, sitting under that banyan tree surrounded by the animals. The king of beasts needs no dress and no education, no ceremony and no anointing, like the human king, for nature has crowned him King. The elephant is the lion’s food. Even if it is starving, the lion will not eat grass, There were among the animals surrounding the lion, two jackals called Karataka and Damanaka, the sons of a former counsellor, but unemployed at that time. Damanaka had observed the lion’s march to the Jamuna to drink water and his return without drinking. He took his brother Karataka aside and said to him: “My dear Karataka, look at our master, Pingalaka. He went to the Jamuna to drink water. Why did he return so suddenly without drinking water, and why is he looking so sad and perplexed ?” 

“Brother,” said Karataka, “don’t meddle in matters concerning royalty. The meddler meets with sudden death as a reward for his uncalled for inquisitiveness, like the monkey which pulled the wedge and died.” “How was that ?” asked Damanaka. Then Karataka told him the story of “The Meddling Monkey” and said, “Well, you now see why I don’t advocate your meddling in this matter. My dear fellow, even though unemployed, we are getting on fairly well by eating the leavings from our master’s table. Why solicit an untimely end by an uncalled for meddling ?” 

“My dear brother,” said Damanaka, “never will a a person become an eminent person if he clings on only to his selfish interest and to a mere desire for his grub. Merely catering for one’s belly will never make one lead a worthy life Even a crow can fill its belly with such rubbish as it finds handy to its beak. Of what use is life if one cannot serve friends, teachers, servants and those in distress, A dog is satisfied if he gets a bone, a dirty thing with gristly strings and marrow fat and that too not enough to fill his belly. How can we admire such a creature which wags his tail and fawns and rolls before anyone, begging for food, exposing his bare mouth and belly? 

The elephant, on the other hand, is a self-respecting animal, and requires very much coaxing before he will eat anything. The lion scorns to hit a jackal even though it is directly under its paw. It will only kill the royal elephant. Even in killing, that is the law of nature, How much more so in living ? A tiny rill can be quickly filled like a mouse’s paw. So, mean and seedy people are delighted with small pickings. If there be no discrimination between good and bad, high and low,, and if religion does not make us better and challenge Fate, and if creature needs are to be the sole guide to action, where will be the difference between man and beast, as man will then be only a man-beast. People without ideals, however hard they toil and moil for their maintenance, will be only like cattle ploughing barren soil.” 

“But,” said Karataka, “where is your duty in this matter? You know that you and I are not employed under the lion.” “My dear fellow,” said Damanaka, “employment comes and goes, but duty remains. The worthy are never in lack of a job and the worthless will soon lose their jobs. Ultimately, honour and dishonour depend on our own efforts. Great effort is required to carry a stone uphill, though little effort is required to role it downhill. So too, great effort is required to become people of character and merit, and no effort at all to turn to cads and scamps caring only for their bellies,” “Well,” said Karataka, “What are you driving at ? What do you want to ask our master, the lion?” 


Damanaka replied, “You see our master is obviously frightened by something he saw or heard, and his servants, the other animals, are frightened at seeing him frightened. Our master is in a fix and does not know what to do.’. “How do you know that he is frightened?” asked Karat aka.” “Is it not plain?” asked Damanaka. “Meaner beasts, like the ox, horse, buffalo, and elephant, require a spoken word to understand things, but wise people, like us, can infer things from feature, gesture, gait, change of countenance, expression of the eye, etc. I have inferred’ from the lion’s countenance that he is greatly frightened.’ ‘‘But it will be very difficult for you to tell our master, the lion,” that he is frightened. The risk is too great. So drop it,” said Karataka. “No risk is too much for the brave. No road is too long for the enterprising. No country is alien to the wise man. No man, however strong, is a stranger to flattery,’ said Damanaka. “True,” said Karataka, “but how will you create the opportunity to put the question? You know that putting a question at an improper time will end in disaster.” 

“I know that,” said Damanaka. “Even the Lord of Wisdom will fail to persuade if he speaks on an improper occasion, and he will only earn rebuke. Never intrude on the king when he is meditating, or making love, or sleeping, or shaving, or taking food. Choose the proper time. Behave humbly, speak agreeably, and cater to the king’s temper and whim, and all will be well. It is the •duty of a- faithful subject to tell the king, even unasked what is for his benefit. Besides, people win royal favour by standing near the king, for kings, vines and women cling to those nearest to them. A servant following his master closely can soon learn his master’s ways and gain mastery over him. The brave and the learned and those clothed with authority, these three alone, can master wealth easily. It is no use serving the populace. No man reaps a harvest by ploughing the sand. Serve a King of merit, and you will soon get the fruit. Be deferential not only to the king, but also to the queen, the queen-mother, the ministers, the king’s chaplain, the Chamberlain, the gate-keeper and the body-guard, and all will be well. 

The surest way to win the king’s favour is to be in the fore front of the battle with his enemies, or to be always with him in the palace and cater to his whims and caprices. Flatter the king according to his mood, make timely presents to him and to his entourage, and you will never regret it. Never say a word by way of retort to the king. Never laugh at a joke at his expense. Never gaze at the queen, or at a woman the king fancies, and never boast of your services, and you will be loved by the king.” “Well,” said Karataka, “How will you proceed ?” “I shall put a question about his return from the river without drinking water, and he will reply, and the talk will then proceed naturally, even as a seed planted in fertile soil grows on,” said Daman aka. “How can you speak unbidden about his fright?” asked Karataka. “That is exactly where a true servant of the king differs from a flatterer and courtier,” said Damanaka. 

“But,” said Karataka, “Kings are like snakes. No one knows what they think, and they strike when no one thinks. Kings, rivers, women and soldiers are extremely unpredictable things, my brother.” “Quite true,” said Damanaka, “but a wise man can penetrate the mind of his subject and act accordingly, and, by clever words, accomplish his object. Besides, a kings mind is usually blank, and, like a white cloth taking on fast dyes, will take in wise advice. But, of course, we cannot expect too much. However grand the moonlight, it can never rival the whiteness of the snow on the Himalayan slopes.” “Well,” said Karataka, “since you have made up your mind, go and God bless you ! But be very careful, for, not only your fortune but mine too depends on only success or failure.” Then Damanaka bowed to his elder brother and went to meet Pingalaka. 


Pingalaka saw Damanaka approaching and he told his chamberlain, who was about to bar his path, “This is Damanaka, my old counsellor’s son. He has free entrance- Let him come in.” So, Damanaka entered Pingalaka’s presence, bowed to Pingalaka and sat down on the seat indicated to him. Pingalaka said to him, ‘ How is your health ? Why have you not seen me so long ? What made you come now ?” Damanaka replied: “though my master has not sent for me, I thought it my duty to come. Even a humble person like me can be of service. Even a straw will serve a king to clean a tooth or scratch an ear. Then how much more a counsellor like me. We are hereditary servants of your Majesty and are bound to follow you in good days and bad. Ordinary servants leave their kings, who ignore their good qualities and do not honour them, and go to other masters. But that applies only to the baser kind of servantry and not to people like us with ideals. 

We hold that even though a gem is not set in a golden frame by its master, but put into a brass frame, it should not leave its master or roll out of the frame, but should cling on, though its not being put into a golden frame will reflect discredit on the master. As for your Majesty’s question, ‘Why have you not seen me so long ?’ did your Majesty expect to see me when I was not appointed counselor or even summoned for for consultation? If masters do not distinguish between good servants and bad ones, the good ones lose their zeal and visit the masters seldom. In a market where there is no distinction between true gems and imitation gems, how .can genuine gems be sold ? If there is a real bond of love between a king and his servants, no king will lack faithful servants and no servant will lack a royal master* But, of course, even the nature of servants depends on the use to which their master puts them. It is well-known that the use of a horse, book, sword, woman, lute or word depends on the user.” “What are you driving at, O Jackal ?” asked Pingalaka. 

“Do not despise me because I am a jackal,” said Damanaka. “Silk comes from worms. Gold comes from stone. Fire comes from wood. It is not birth which is the standard to go by, but merit. Nor can ‘native or foreign’ be the test. A mouse, though born in your own house, ought to be mercilessly killed. A cat, though a stranger, should be fed in order to clear your house of rats. Do- not scorn me, O King. I am loyal and true. I do not go by selfish profit as others do.’’ “Don’t I know you ?” said Pingalaka. “You are my old counsellor’s own son. Come. Come. Tell me what it is that has made you visit me today.” “I have something very important to discuss with you,” said Damanaka. “Speak out freely,” said Pingalaka. “My master set out to drink water from the river Why did he return suddenly without drinking ?” asked- Damanaka. Pingalaka said to himself, “It is not good to tell this jackal about my fright,’’ and, so, told him, “Ob, it just happened so.” “My King,” said Damanaka, “if it is not a thing to be revealed to me, then don’t reveal it. Some things a man should tell only his wife, some only to his son and some only to a friend. He should not tell everything to everyone.”

Silk comes from worms. Gold comes from stone. Fire comes from wood. It is not birth which is the standard to go by, but merit. Nor can ‘native or foreign’ be the test. A mouse, though born in your own house, ought to be mercilessly killed. A cat, though a stranger, should be fed in order to clear your house of rats.

Damanaka in Mitrabheda, Panchatantra

Pingalaka reflected: ‘”This fellow seems to be shrewd and trustworthy. I will tell him what I have in ray mind, for by telling an honest servant, or a faithful Iriend or wife we get relief,” Then he said to Damanaka, “O Damanaka, did you hear that booming voice on the river bank, coming from a distance?” “Yes, Master, I did,” said Damanaka.” What about it?” “My dear fellow,” said Pingalaka, “I have resolved to leave this forest.” “Why?” asked Damanaka. “Because,” said Pingalaka, “some terrible animal with a booming voice has come into our forest. His power must correspond to his voice, and there appears to be no use contending against him.” “Good gracious!” said Damanaka. “Is my master frightened by a mere voice? Voices, noises, and words should frighten only cowards, and not strong men like your Majesty. It will be highly improper if your Majesty left this forest which was won by your ancestors and has been so long in the family. There is an old saying that one should not leave his dwelling till he finds a better one, or, at least an equally good one. Besides, many kinds of sounds are heard and all are not dangerous. 

We hear the sound of thunder. We hear the storm raging. We hear the lutes and the drums beating and the noise made by banging doors and working machines. Yet none of these are things to be frightened about. If a king is brave, he need fear nothing. Humiliation or grief will never touch him, however fierce the foe. A brave person does not fear even the blows of Providence. Summer dries up shallow pools and ponds, but the mighty Indus rises higher during summer. Don’t be like the mean grass drooping low before the slightest blast and allowing itself to be brushed aside. Master, steel your heart and- ignore this sound. You know the story: of the war drum which, but on examination, proved to be mere wood and skin and wind.” “What is the story?” asked Pingalaka. 


Abe's Animals: Tabaqui Jackal

Then Damanaka told him the story of “The Jackal and the War drum.” “Now you see,” said Damanaka, ‘the utter folly of going by sounds.” “But,” said Pingalaka, “all my retainers are terrified and want to run away from the forest.” “Master, they are not to blame,” said Damanaka “for, servants take the cue from the master. Summon your manhood and remain here till I go and ascertain the nature of the creature who makes this booming sound. Afterwards you can do as you consider best.” “Go and find out,” said Pingalaka. “But, my dear fellow, are you bold enough to go there?” Damanaka answered, “When the master commands, will any good servant hesitate ? Good servants cross the pathless seas and even enter flaming fire without hesitation at the command of their master.” “Then, go, and God bless you!” said Pingalaka. 

Damanaka bowed low and went in the direction from which the bellowing was being heard. Pingalaka thought to himself “Have I made a mistake in revealing to this fellow my fear ? Will he betray me to that terrible creature and bring him to this spot chtching me in his trap, and kill me? A neglected servant is apt to do harm to his master. I shall go elsewhere and wait.” So he went to another place, more easily defencible and waited there saying to himself, “The trusty strong are caught even by weaker fo s, and the wary weak are safe from even stronger foes.” Meanwhile, Damanaka saw Sanjivaka who was making the bellowing noise and discovered to his surprise that it was only a bull. He said to himself with glee, “Well, I am lucky, I shall soon get Pingalaka into my power by playing on his fears and exploiting his worries. 

All counsellors wish the king embarrassment so that they may become indispensable by relieving it and deriving solid profit for themselves in the process. Kings who have no worries do not need advisers or advice any more than healthy men ‘need doctors or drugs.” He then went to where Pingalaka was. On seeing him, Pingalaka assumed his former attitude of cordiality and said to him, “My dear fellow, did you see this terrible creature ?’” “I saw him,” said Damanaka, “through my master’s grace.” “Are you speaking the truth? asked Pingalaka. “How can I tell a lie to my master?” asked Damanaka. “Whoever tells a lie to his king goes to ruin in this world and to hell in the next, as kings are gods incarnate. So, please believe me and do not get angry with me.” “I suppose you really saw him,” said Pingalaka. “The great do not become angry with servants. The hurricane tears up the mighty trees but leaves the lowly grass alone”.

Damanaka replied, “I know that the gracious master would speak only thus, I went and saw the creature, and impressed him with your Majesty’s might and power, and the need for submission. I shall bring him now into your gracious presence, and make him do obeisance. When Pingalaka heard this, he was full of joy. “Go,” said he to Damanaka, “and bring the fellow right now,” Damanaka went to Sanjivaka and said to him, “Come here, you wicked bull. Our master Pingalaka wants to know why you were doing that impertinent bellowing within his hearing?” Sanjivaka replied, “My good fellow, who is this Pingalaka you are talking about ?” “What !” said Damanaka, “You don’t even know our master Pingalaka ! Hear and tremble. He is a mighty lion, the lord of this forest and has a retinue of all kinds of animals. He holds court under that spreading banyan tree. He is the lord of all the creatures who live in this forest.” 

The lament of Sanjeevaka

When Sanjivaka heard this he was frightened and said to Damanaka, “My dear fellow, you appear to be a friend. So, if you must take me to him, at least get a safe conduct for me from him.” “Your demand is reasonable,” said Damanaka “For we can find out the earth’s boundaries and measure the heights of mountains and the depths of the seas, but the thoughts of kings are unfathomable. Remain here. I shall get you your safe conduct.” Then Damanaka returned to Pingalaka and said, “Master, that fellow is no ordinary creature. He has served as the vehicle of Siva(Siva’s vehicle is a bull, Nandi) and he told me, “Great Siva has been pleased with me and has granted me permission to graze freely in this forest.” Pingalaka was frightened at hearing this and said “I knew it, my dear fellow. Only with the favour of the gods can a creature like this wander about this forest bellowing so fearlessly. But what did you tell him ?” “Master,” said Damanaka, “I said to him, ‘This forest has been granted already to my master, Pingalaka, by Siva’s warlike wife, Parvati(Siva’s wife Parvati, has a lion as a vehicle and is called Simhavahini), whose vehicle he is. So, you have come here only as a guest. You must meet my master and make your terms with him and live in this forest in brotherly love, eating, drinking, working, playing and living here with his permission.’ The creature promised to do so, begging of me to get a safe conduct for him from your Majesty. That is a matter for your Majesty to give or withhold.” 

On hearing this, Pingalaka was delighted and said, “Splendid, my dear fellow, splendid. I grant him a safe conduct. Conduct him here at once.” Damanaka’s heart was glad as he went to fetch Sanjivaka, and he said to himself: “My master is highly pleased with me. The king’s favour is as welcome as milk porridge or fire in cold weather or meeting one’s near and dear ones.” He went to Sanjivaka and told him, “My friend, I have won my master’s favour for you. He has given you a safe conduct. You can come now without anxiety. But, remember, it was I that got you his favour and you must act as I tell you. Never play the haughty favourite but allow me to carry on the entire adminis- tration. Thus we shall both enjoy to our heart’s content. One starts the game and the other kills it and both share it. That is the law of the game. Besides, if you displease me, you will come to grief. He who does not please the king’s servants, will surely come to grief like Danlila.” “How was that ?” asked Sanjivaka, and Damanaka told him the story of The King’s Sweep. “My dear fellow,” said Sanjivaka, “your story is quite convincing. Let it be as you say.” Afterwards Damanaka took him to Pingalaka and said: “Here is Sanjivaka, O king. The future rests with you.” 


Sanjivaka bowed respectfully and sat before Pingalaka in a humble and suppliant attitude. Pingalaka extended his right paw, plump and firm and massive, and adorned with formidable claws, and said to Sanjivaka cordially, “Welcome. How is your health and why did you come to this forest Sanjivaka told him the story of his separation from Vardhamana’s caravan and the sequel. Pingalaka then, said to him, “Have no fear, friend. Lead your own life in this forest freely. But be always in my vicinity, for there are many savage and unscrupulous animals in this forest who may do harm to you if you go outside my view.” Sanjivaka said, “Very well.” Then Pingalaka went to the Jumna and drank his fill and roamed about the forest as before, free from fear. Days passed, and the mutual affection between Pingalaka and Sanjivaka increased daily. Pingalaka was always consulting Sanjivaka. Sanjivaka was very intelligent. He found out the secret dealings of Damanaka and Karataka and others and warned Pingalaka about them. Pingalaka, therefore, kept Karataka, Damanaka and all other animals at a distance and took only the advice of Sanjivaka. The two jackals were not even allowed entry to his court and suffered hunger terribly. They took counsel together. Damanaka said: “Karataka, my brother, we two seem to be utterly neglected. Pingalaka takes such delight in Sanjivaka’s company and conversation that he neglects his business of hunting, and we are left without anything to eat. What is to be done?””

An eye for everything...: The Panchatantra - Story 1

“Karataka replied, “You should admonish him and make him correct his ways. Good counsellors should warn a king even if he does not heed to the warning. In introducing this grass-eater to our master, you did a most foolish thing, O Damanaka.” Damanaka replied, “You are right. The fault is mine and not our master’s. It is a self-created evil. In the story Self-created Evils, the jackal by interfering in the fight of rams, Sannyasin by believing in Ashadhabhuti and the barber’s wife by meddling in other people’s .affairs, brought calamities on themselves.”

“How was that?” asked Karataka, and Damanaka told the story of Self-created evils. “Well,” said Karataka, after heaving the story, “what are we to do now?” Damanaka replied, “We have to retrieve our master who has fallen into a vice. Kings suffer from several evils viz. deficiency, corruption, over-attachment, calamities, and mistaken policy. Deficiency consists in the non-existence of one or the other of these seven things, viz. kingdom, counsellor, people, fortress, treasure, punitive power and friends. Corruption makes the subjects rise in revolt whether en masse or in sections. Ones attachments lead to the seven vices of drink, women- hunting, finding fault, gambling, greed and cruelty. Calamities consist of several kinds, like earthquake, fire, flood, plague and famine. Mistaken policy consists of the mistaken use of these expedients, viz., peace, war, change of front, fortifications, alliance and diplomacy. Our master Pingalaka is now suffering from deficiency by not having any counsellors. He has adopted a completely vegetarian morality by making this grass-eating bullock his sole friend and adviser. We must wean him from it.”

“But how can you?” asked Karataka. “He is so strong and you are so weak.” “Where brute force fails, shrewd device will succeed,” said Damanaka, “just as the female crow used the gold chain to kill the dreadful snake.” “What is that story?” asked Karataka, and Damanaka narrated the story of “Crows Kill a Serpent“, “Intelligence is power,” said Damanaka after concluding the story. ‘Even the feeble but intelligent rabbit killed the strong lion by playing on his pride and rivalry.” “How was that?” asked Karataka, and Damanaka narrated the story of “Killed by a Shadow’‘. ” “How are you sure that such tricks will always succeed?” asked Karataka. “We must take the risk,” said Damanaka. “No risk, no gain. We must challenge Fate and prove ourselves men. Why grieve if the brave effort fails? The gods befriend those who are brave. The weaver who was bold enough to play Vishnu’s part embraced the lovely princess he loved.” 

“How was that?” asked Karataka and Damanaka then told him the story of “Weaver as Vishnu“. Karataka listened to the story and said, “Well, since you are so confident, go to Pingalaka and put your plan into effect. May god bless you.” Damanaka went to Pingalaka bowed low, and seated himself on the seat indicated to him. “Why have you not seen me so long and what made you come today ?” asked Pingalaka. Damanaka answered, “I have come on business of the highest importance for your Majesty’s safety and security. There are times when a servant must speak out his mind, even though the things he says may be distasteful to the master. It is only a true and faithful servant who can be bold enough to speak such unwelcome truths.” Pingalaka was impressed and asked: “What is this news you want to convey to me?” Damanaka said “O king, Sanjivaka, who has crept into your Majesty’s confidence, has proved a traitor. He has told several people of his plan to kill your Majesty and seize your Majesty’s throne. He intends to carry out his design this very day. That is why I have come here to warn your Majesty, as it is ray duty to do so, being your Majesty’s hereditary counsellor.” Pingalaka was flabbergasted at the news. Damanaka took advantage of his fright and said, “Your Majesty, a loosened tooth must be pulled out, a growing disease must be nipped in the bud, and a likely foe exterminated. By entrusting the whole affairs of the kingdom to this bullock, your Majesty has landed yourself in grave danger.” “But,” asked Pingalaka, “why should Sanjivaka turn against me so suddenly? I never did anything to estrange him.” “Wicked fellows need no motive, O King,” said Damanaka. “Besides, I think that he was always intending only treachery. This forest cannot hold two strong people like Your Majesty and that bull. He has, by his cunning, wormed himself into your Majesty’s affections and is prepared to strike at the very hand which fed him.” “But, I gave him a safe conduct. Why should he be ungrateful to me?” asked Pingalaka. “No reason is needed for a rogue to do wicked things, or for a saint to do kind acts. Nature prevails in such things, O King. Sugar will be sweet, and the margosa fruit will be bitter and nothing that you do can change this. Favour a rascal as much as you like, he will remain a rascal still. Put a dog’s tail into a tube in an effort to straighten it. The moment the tube is removed it will again revert to its crooked state. Kindness shown to lofty souls is repaid hundredfold. Kindness shown to vicious fellows will be lost like a good argument on fools. What is the use of offering perfume to a corpse or kindness to a rogue dead to all sense of decency ? You know the story of The Ungrateful Man?” 


“What is the story?” asked Pingalaka, and then Damanaka told him the story of “The Ungrateful Man.’’ He added, “The law-givers tell us that even a friend, a kinsman, teacher or king, must be punished if they cling to evil. O King, this bull is a traitor. Your Majesty must deal with him as such, you can no more leave him alone than sleep on a pillow full of snakes, or live in a house on fire.” “I agree with you, my dear friend,” said Pingalaka, “So I shall warn him” “What, warn him” said Damanaka. “In the case of such fellows, action is needed, not words. He has sponged on your Majesty too long. He must be killed at once like the bug in the story. “Too much Sponging Leads to Death“. “What is that story?” asked Pingalaka. Then Damanaka narrated the story. After doing so, he said, “All who leave their tribe and mix with strangers like this bull will meet with an untimely end even as King Kukudruma, the blue jackal, did.” “What is that story?” asked Pingalaka and Damanaka narrated the story of “King Kukudruma“. “How am I to verify whether Sanjivaka really intends treachery? And what is his fighting technique? asked Pingalaka.

Damanaka replied, “If he approaches your Majesty with his horns thrust forward, ready to attack, you may understand that he is about to carry his traitorous design into effect.” After taking leave of the lion, Damanaka went to Sanjivaka. He appeared before him like one bent down with sorrow, Sanjivaka asked him: “My dear fellow, why are you so downcast?” “How can any dependent of a king be but downcast?’’ asked Damanaka. “Those who serve a king are always in dread of their lives and the lives of their friends. The life of a servant of a king is a never-ending series of woes. The poor man, the sick man, the exile, the fool and the servant of a king are living corpses. They cannot do or say an independent thing. Even dogs can do what they like, but not the servant of a king. His life is worse than a dog’s life. He must be chaste, must eat and sleep little, and live like a saint. For what? To lead the life of a sinner. The king and a fire burn you to cinders if you are too close to them. Friend, you have not realized it yet!”

Sanjivaka said: “Do you mean to say that I am in danger, because I am close to the king?” ‘‘I am afraid you are,” said Damanaka. “Since you are my friend I will speak out plainly, whatever the consequences to me. Our master Pingalaka is angry with you for some reason I cannot understand. He said to me today, I shall kill Sanjivaka and provide a feast for all those who eat meat.’ “Needless to say, I was dejected on> hearing this. You must now do what the crisis demands.” This news came like a thunderbolt to Sanjivaka. He’ said, “Ah, me! What is this that has befallen me? I have- served the king most faithfully and yet enmity and death are my reward. If there is a cause for the enmity I can set it right. But what can i do to remedy this causeless- hate? What wrong have I done to our master Pingalaka?” “Friend,” said Damanaka, “it is the nature of kings- to strike without cause, injure without motive, those whom they deem to be too powerful.” “True too true,” said Sanjivaka. “The fault is mine,. I trust people too readily. Pingalaka was all honey at first. Now he is seen to be a poison cup with honey on top. Woe unto me! A vegetarian like me should never have made friends with this lion who lives only on flesh. Marriage and friendship should be contracted only with equals. A trusting fool is trapped by a cunning, rogue like the unfortunate camel in the story.” “What is that story?” asked Damanaka, and Sanjivaka narrated the story of “The Camel Trapped”. After finishing the story, Sanjivaka said: “My dear fellow,. I suspect that some rascally counsellors have poisoned Pingalaka’s mind against me. A good king with a bad counsellor is worse than a bad king with a good counsellor.

File:Panchatantra-jackal-bull.png - Wikimedia Commons

Better have as king a vulture advised by swans than a swan advised by vultures. It is plain that some evil advisers have set up Pingalaka against me. The question is what I am to do now. Indeed, there is nothing left but to fight. Fair words, gifts and intrigue are of no use now, A fight alone is indicated. If I am slain in the battle, I go to heaven. If I win, I lead a victorious and joyful life.” When he heard this, Damanaka thought: “This fellow has plenty of vigor and very sharp horns. He may even kill my master in the fight, if Fate favors him. That should be avoided at all events. I shall use ray wits to turn his thoughts from fighting.” He said to Sanjivaka: “My dear friend, it is no good fighting without reckoning the adversary’s might. How can a bull like you win in an open fight with a Lion likePingalaka? Powerful allies may of course, make a difference, as in the story of the ocean defeated by the strand-bird.” “How was that?” asked Sanjivaka, and Damanaka told him the story of “The plover who fought The Ocean” Damanaka went on, “But you have no such allies. So, drop the idea of attacking him.” “Tell me, friend, how am I to know whether Pingalaka will attack me or not?” asked Sanjivaka. “That is easy.” said Damanaka. “It he receives you sitting on his throne, that big slab of stone, with limbs relaxed and with a gracious smile, he means no mischief. But, if you see him with tail curled up, all his paws bunched and ears pricked up and watching you from afar with alert eyes, then you must understand that he has made up his mind to spring on you and finish you off.” Sanjivaka thanked him, and Damanaka left to meet Karataka.


‘What have you accomplished?” asked Karataka, Damanaka replied; “I have set them at odds with each other.” “Have you, really?” said Karataka. “You will presently see the outcome of my efforts,” said Damanaka. “I have snapped the strong friendship between the lion and the bull,” “I am not surprised,” said Karataka, “Even a constant flow of water will wear out a hard rock, and your persistent intrigue must have sapped the friendship. But what is that you hope to gain, by all this elaborate planning and ingenuity?” “What!” said Damanaka, “I shall become the chief Minister and prosper exceedingly. They say that a man who studies books and yet does not make use of his learning for becoming rich and powerful learns in vain, and that his books are only a mental strain to him.” “But, selfish profit is too low a thing to aim at,” said Karataka. “This body, full of filth and worms, is not such a precious thing that we should cater to it at all costs. Besides, your duplicity may end in your death as in the story of “The Humbug’s Fate“.

“What is that story?” asked Damanaka. Karataka told him the story. Then he said, “dont proceed further with this dangerous intrigue.” “Nonsense!” said Damanaka. “A ton of your theory is not worth an ounce of my practice. Why, my dear fellow, even the carcass of that dead bull-I already see him dead – will feed us for many a month. But, keep all this a secret, even as Smart, the jackal, did, till the object was accomplished.” “What is that story?” asked Karataka, and Damanaka narrated the story of “The cunning jackal“. When Damanaka had gone, Sanjivaka said to himself: “What am I to do now? Shall I go elsewhere? No, that will be useless. Some other merciless creature, like the tiger or leopard, will attack me and finish me off. This is a wild forest. There is no safety anywhere in it, now that the lion has become my enemy. My best course, there fore, will be to approach the lion and beg of him to spare my life.” So, he went towards where Pingalaka was seated. He saw him with his tail raised, paws bunched, eyes alert, just as Damanaka had warned, and so even from a distance, put out his horns as if for a fight. Pingalaka perceived in him just the signs that Damanaka had warned him against and made a sudden spring on him and tore at his body with his formidable claws. Though Sanjivaka was wounded, he succeeded in goring the belly of Pingalaka with his horns and get away from him to a short distance. He stood there in a fighting posture ready to gore again.

Karataka saw both of them ready to fight once more and intent on killing each other. He rebuked Damanaka and said to him, ‘You fool, you have done a wicked thing by making these erstwhile friends enemies. You have brought trouble and confusion into this peaceful forest. You are no statesman. You are simply a pretender to statecraft. A true statesman tries fair words, gifts and intrigue in succession before resorting to war. You have put the last thing first and brought our master into danger. You think you are learned. What is the use of learning if it does not make persons less selfish, less passionate, more loving, more self-control led and more virtuous? All other learning is only a vain straining after name and fame. Without thinking of our master’s resources and determining the place and time and counter-measures for mischance, you have brought about this fight and landed our master in peril. You fool, it would have been easy to secure your object without bringing our master to danger. By warning the bull and making him fight you have brought our master to peril. People like you can destroy things but can never construct things. You are like a rat which can eat paddy and foul it but cannot grow it. Sunlight makes others see but makes the owl only blind. So too your learning. How can a man like you help our master? You would not even like him to consult others, and you want to be the sole counsellor, forgetting that the sea shines because of its many waves, and a king shines because of his many courtiers and counsellors. You are not even modest as a good counsellor should be. You are vain and shallow.

I pity our master for acting on the advice of fools like you. Of course, it is also partly our master’s fault. In listening to a person like you, ha ignored all the six expedients and the four devices for attaining success. Foolish kings are satisfied with flatterers like you. Their prosperity and glory depart. What is the use of giving advice to a fool like you. Good advice is thrown away upon you as on the stupid monkey in the story.” “What is the story?” asked Damanaka, and Karataka told him the story of “Unwanted Advice“. After narrating it he said to Damanaka: “What is the use of educating a fool? Education imparted to him will be as useless as light hidden in a tightly sealed jar. But, why blame you? You are born like that. Your nature is like that. You are like Dushtabuddhi in the story.” “What is that story ?” asked Damanaka, and Karataka told him the story of ”Villainy Comes Home to Roost” After telling him that story, Karataka continued: ‘‘You fool, by your thoughtless action you have not only imperiled your own future, but the future of our entire family, including me. But, what else can be expected from a fool like you? Rivers end only in the salty sea. Quarreling women break up a joint family. Traitors but reveal vital secrets or open fortress gates and a wicked son brings a long-lived glorious dynasty to an end. What else can we expect from a person like you, inciting both the lion and t he bull? Where the. tongue is double, you may be sure that there will be trouble, just as a snake with a forked tongue always brings trouble. A fire will burn though it is kindled in fragrant sandalwood. A fool will be a fool though born in a wise family. Such is your folly that even the story of the mice eating iron can be believed.” “What is that story?” asked Damanaka and Karataka narrated the story of “When Mice Ate Iron” After narrating the story, Karataka continued? “You did all this because you could not bear to see the favour bestowed on Sanjivaka by Pingalaka. No wonder they say that envy is a potent source of evil in this world. Cowards hate heroes, low-born fellows hate men of birth, misers hate generous people, paramours hate the husbands, dishonest rogues hate honest men, cripples hate healthy men, unlucky fellows hate lucky ones and fools hate wise men. But what is the use of my telling you all this? Instruction does good only to those who can grasp it. But you are like a stone or a piece of wood, brainless and uneducable. Indeed, living with a fool like you brings danger, just as a foul smelling thing transmits its foul smell even to a fragrant thing beside it. There is much truth in story about two birds which were brought up by a saint and a hunter respectively and became radically different in character and outlook.” “What is that story?” asked Damanaka. Then Karataka narrated to him the story of “Upbringing determines Character.” 

Rivers end only in the salty sea. Quarreling women break up a joint family. Traitors but reveal vital secrets or open fortress gates and a wicked son brings a long-lived glorious dynasty to an end. What else can we expect from a person like you, inciting both the lion and t he bull? Where the. tongue is double, you may be sure that there will be trouble, just as a snake with a forked tongue always brings trouble. A fire will burn though it is kindled in fragrant sandalwood. A fool will be a fool though born in a wise family.

Karataka in Mitrabheda, Panchatantra

After narrating the story Karataka went on: “Your defense is that you did all this as a friend of the lion. But, let me tell you, a wise foe is better than a foolish friend, as in the story of how the robber died for his victims and the monkey killed his friend, the king.” “How was that?” asked Damanaka. Karataka narrated the story of “Wise Foe Better Than Foolish Friend“. After narrating it, he said to Damanaka, “It is far better for the lion to have a wise foe than a foolish friend like you. Remember, wrong is wrong, wherever it is found, and right is right wherever it is found. Men do not drink gutter water even when afflicted with thirst. But the judgment of politicians, like you, is perverted. The firefly seems to be fire, the sky looks flat, the true appears to be false, and the false appears to be true, all because selfish personal profit is the sole guide. Let masters learn a lesson from your act and consult a number of experienced counsellors instead of listening only to one and that one motivated by selfish considerations”. Damanaka shrugged his shoulders and walked away from his elder brother with a cynical smile, unconvinced.

Pingalaka and Sanjivaka renewed their fight, blinded by rage. Ultimately, Pingalaka killed Sanjivaka, though he also sustained some minor injuries. After he bad killed Sanjivaka, Pingalaka, on viewing the gory corpse of his erstwhile friend, was swept by a wave of pity. He exclaimed to himself, “Ah, me! What have I done! He was my alter ego and best friend. In killing him I have half killed myself.” Damanaka went to him and said: “Master, why are you sorry? A king must kill his enemies be he father, brother, son or friend. A feeble king, a weak magistrate, an immoral wife, a false friend and an impudent servant should be got rid of as early as possible. Kings cannot follow the standard of morality of ordinary men. What is a vice in other men will often be a virtue in a King. A King must be true and false, harsh and gentle, cruel and kind, generous and avaricious, spending lavishly and saving carefully, as policy requires. You did well in killing Sanjivaka who sought to usurp your throne.” After having been thus consoled by Damanaka Pingalaka recovered his composure and continued his sovereignty over the forest as before, with Damanaka as his Minister.

A king must kill his enemies be he father, brother, son or friend. A feeble king, a weak magistrate, an immoral wife, a false friend and an impudent servant should be got rid of as early as possible. Kings cannot follow the standard of morality of ordinary men. What is a vice in other men will often be a virtue in a King. A King must be true and false, harsh and gentle, cruel and kind, generous and avaricious, spending lavishly and saving carefully, as policy requires.

Damanaka in Mitrabheda, Panchatantra

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This is the end of part-1 of Panchatantra, also called ‘Mitrabheda’ or ‘The separation of friends’.

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