The Panchatantra – Mitrasamprapti

[This is the beginning of Part-2 of Panchatantra, also called ‘Mitrasamprapti’ or ‘The Acquisition of Friends’.]

In a mighty forest near the city of Mahilaroopya (Mylapore, now a suburb of Madras) in the South, there was a gigantic banyan tree with loads of fruits feeding multitudes of birds, and a spacious shade capable of harboring any number of travelers. It had many feeders and covered a large area. Its leaves were interspersed with nests of various birds, its branches were occupied by troops of monkeys, its hollows were filled with worms of different kinds, the honey of its flowers was drunk by swarms of bees, and its shape afforded protection to countless men and beasts. Its every limb was so useful to so many creatures that any other tree could in comparison with it be considered only as a burden to mother earth. 

In that tree lived the crow Laghupathanaka(The name means ‘A person of short flights’ – A crow prefers to fly like that) One morning, when he was going to Mahilaroopya in search of food, he saw a hunter, black in color, splayfooted with erect hair, and cruel look and with a net in his band,. Seeing him, the crow said to himself, ‘This wicked wretch is surely going to my banyan tree to catch the birds who live there. His marching in that direction shows that. I do not know whether the poor things will escape destruction. I must do something to avert this calamity’.

He forth with retraced his steps and returned to his banyan tree and told all the birds, ‘A wicked hunter is coming herewith net and rice. You should never trust him or be tempted by the rice which he offers. He will spread his net and scatter his rice. All of you should avoid that rice as you would avoid the deadliest of poisons.’ The hunter reached the banyan tree, spread his net underneath it, and scattered his tempting rice. Then he went to some distance and watched the net from a hiding place. All the birds of the tree, having been forewarned by the crow, avoided the rice like poison and concealed themselves. But soon a pigeon King called Chitragriva came along with his thousand followers in search of food. They sighted the rice from afar and flew towards it. The crow warned them of the danger, but in vain. Moved by greed of tongue, the pigeons swooped on the rice and were caught in the net. Verily, sudden and unexpected death, like the death which overtakes the fish in the waters, befalls those who are greedy of tongue, those who live in the midst of water, and those who are totally ignorant. But the pigeons were not wholly to blame. 

All humanity is like that. Why did not the otherwise religious Ravana (Ravana, the king of Lanka carried away Sita, the wife of Rama the prince of Ayodhya- The famous epic Ramayana deals with it) realize that it was a deadly sin to carry off another’s wife?” Why did not the divine Rama remember that a golden deer(The golden deer really the demon Mareecha in disguise, Rama was an incarnation of Vishnu and killed Ravana) was an impossibility and therefore find out its illusive nature? Why did the righteous Yudhistira(The eldest of the Pandavas and the model of righteousness. He gambled away his kingdom, wife and liberty. The celebrated epic, the Mahabharata, relates this) bring on himself sudden calamity by gambling with dice? Evidently, man’s intellect fails to perceive the danger lurking in the immediately fascinating act. Or, it may be that the intellects of even the great are affected by Fate and go astray when death or danger has to happen. The hunter saw from his hiding place that the pigeons had been caught securely in the net, and, with a joyous heart, rushed to the spot with an upraised stick for killing the birds. 

Chitragriva, on seeing himself and his people caught by the wiles of the hunter, told his followers, ‘Do not yield to despondency. That man whose mind does not desert him in calamity succeeds in surmounting it. Before the hunter reaches us, let us all with one united effort suddenly rise up into the air with the net and get out of sight of this wicked wretch. Then we shall be assured of safety, if not, if we get ourselves merely confounded and despondent and pull in different directions, and do not do as I suggest, death will overtake us all, as in the story of the “The Two headed Bird“. In unity and mutual co-operation is our hope. Even thin fibers, when joined together, become a powerful rope and withstand many mighty pulls. So too, the joint effort of the good will withstand any adversity.’ All the doves did as their King directed and flew up in the air with the net. The hunter ran along the ground following the net and said to himself, ‘ But they will surely quarrel among themselves soon, and then they and my net will together fall to the ground.’ 

Laghupathanaka left off his search for food and, impelled by curiosity, followed the net. Soon, the birds flew with the net to such a distance that the hunter could not see it any more. Disappointed and chagrined, he said to himself, ‘That which is not destined to happen will not happen, and that which is destined to happen will happen even without effort. That which is not destined to live will perish even if placed on the palm of the hand and continuously watched. When Fate is adverse, one may sometimes get some wealth with very great effort as I got these birds. But, it is sure to go away suddenly taking away something more as these birds have done my net. Desirous of catching these birds, I have lost the net which was supporting my family. There is no use pursuing them any more’ and he desisted from the pursuit. 

Chitragriva said to his followers as soon as he knew that the hunter had turned back, ‘That wicked wretch of a hunter has desisted from the pursuit and returned. So let us all go without fear to a place to the north of Mahilaroopya where my friend, the mouse Hiranyaka, lives. He will surely snap all our bonds and set us free. In calamity, none but a friend will help us even with consoling words.’ Led by Chitragriva, the pigeons reached the fort-like hole of Hiranyaka which had a thousand exits and afforded absolute protection from danger. Here Hiranyaka lived without fear from any quarter. Well has it been said, ‘A snake without fangs, an elephant not in ruts, and a King without a fort are all easily conquered. That thing which Kings accomplish in battle with a single fort cannot be accomplished by a thousand elephants and a hundred-thousand horses. A single archer in a fort is equal to a hundred archers outside it. Hence it is that politicians praise forts.


The pigeon King stood at the mouth of the hole and cried out in a loud voice, ‘ Friend, Hiranyaka, come quick. A great calamity has overtaken me.’ Hearing this, Hiranyaka said from inside the hole ‘ Who are you ? Why have you come here ? What kind of calamity has overtaken you ? State everything in detail.’ Chitragriva said, ‘I am your friend Chitragriva, the pigeon king. So come quick. Your help is needed urgently by me.’ Hearing this, the mouse came out of his hole in great joy at the prospect of meeting his friend. Affectionate friends always crowd the house of the magnanimous householder. The joy of the host to whose house they resort cannot be paralleled even in heaven. Hiranyaka saw Chitragriva and his followers in bonds and asked with grief, ‘ What is this ?’ Chitragriva said, ‘Why do you ask ? Surely you ought to know. Is it not said that by the power of Fate one does all kinds of things dictated by the acts done in the previous birth ? This particular calamity came to us from our greediness of tongue. Please release us from our bondage without delay. 

Hiranyaka said, ‘A bird sights food even from a hundred miles, but the same bird does not unfortunately see even the net under its very nose. But having seen even the powerful sun and moon caught by Rahu(The reference is to eclipses. In Hindu Puranas, they were said to be brought about by the demon Rahu swallowing the Sun and the Moon), and having seen the mighty elephants, the venomous snakes, and the birds of the air confined by men, and having seen men of genius pine away in poverty, I have realized the inevitability of Fate. The birds sporting in the solitude of the sky come to grief ; the fish are caught even from the depths of the ocean by expert fishermen; what, then, is the difference in this world of leading a virtuous or vicious life, and what is the use of choosing a particular place to live in, seeing that death with its outstretched hands seizes all creatures even from afar at the appointed time ?’ Then the mouse began to bite the bonds of Chitragriva.

The pigeon King said, ‘ Friend, begin not with me. Finish with my followers before you come to me.’ Hiranyaka said in anger, ‘ What you talk is rot. First comes the master, then his servants.’ Chitragriva said, ‘ Friend, don’t say so. These are dependent on me and are poor fellows who have left their families to follow me. Am I not to show them in return at least this much consideration? Servants never desert that King who shows great consideration for them even though he may be poor. Confidence is the root of prosperity,. That is why the big tusker is trusted by the herd and made the leader. Besides, your teeth may be broken by constant biting of these bonds. Or, the hunter even may come here before you have finished biting the bonds of all my followers if you begin with me. Then, surely I shall go to hell. That leader who is happy while his righteous followers are in misery suffers pain in this world and goes to hell in the next’.

Hiranyaka said ‘ Friend, I too know the duties of Kings. I merely wanted to test you. You have stood the test well and deserve to be the King of thousands more of pigeons.’ A King who is compassionate and considerate towards his servants can rule the three worlds. I shall now release your followers from their bonds.’ Having done this, he snapped the the bonds of Chitragriva also and said to him, ‘ Friend, now go in peace to your own abode. If calamity overtakes you again, come to me without hesitation.’ Then he entered his hole again. Chitragriva and his followers went back to their dwelling. 

Laghupathanaka saw all this with astonishment and thought ‘Hiranyaka’s goodness and wisdom are equal to his fort in impregnability. I can never trust to combat fickle Fate alone. So, I too will make him my friend. Wise men, even though powerful and wealthy, will always love to make friends. The ocean, though full of water, seeks the help of its friend, the moon, to rise higher still.’ Thinking thus, he went to the hole of Hiranyaka and called out in the voice of Chitragriva ‘Hi, Hiranyaka, Hi.’ Hearing that sound, Hiranyaka thought that he had perhaps by oversight not snapped the bonds of some pigeon and so asked from within his hole ‘ Who are you?’

The crow replied, ‘ I am Laghupathanaka the crow.’ The mouse crept deeper into the hole on hearing this and said, ‘ Get away from my place, quick.’ The crow said, ‘ I have come to you on an important business. Why then do you refuse to see me?’ The mouse replied, ‘Because no good purpose will be served by my mixing with you’. The crow said, ‘I have seen you deliver Chaitragriva and his friends from bondage and have been delighted with it. If I too get caught in some net, I want to be released in like fashion. So I want to make friends with you.’ The mouse replied, ‘You are the eater and I am the food. How then can you and I be friends? Friendship and marriage can take place only between those whose birth and wealth are equal and not between, those who are rich and poor or powerful and weak. That fool who makes friends with those who are higher or lower than himself ends by becoming the ridicule of the world. So get away from here.’ 

Friendship and marriage can take place only between those whose birth and wealth are equal and not between, those who are rich and poor or powerful and weak. That fool who makes friends with those who are higher or lower than himself ends by becoming the ridicule of the world.

Hiranyaka the mouse in Mitrasampati, Panchatantra

The crow said, ‘If you do not come out and make friends with me, I shall remain at the mouth of your hole and starve myself to death.’ Hiranyaka said, ‘How unreasonable you are I How can I make friends with one who is my natural enemy ? Is it not said that one should not make friends with an enemy though he is keen on it and appears to be of like nature? Water, though boiling hot, will yet extinguish fire.’ The crow said, ‘ How unreasonable you are! You have not seen me and yet say that I am your natural enemy.’ Hiranyaka said’ There are two kinds of enemies, the one who is born an enemy and the one who becomes an enemy for some cause, or other. You are my born enemy’. An enmity generated by some cause or other in the ordinary intercourse of life can be overcome by clever means whereas an enmity by birth cannot be ended without the death of one party.

The crow said, ‘Kindly tell me how to distinguish these two types of enemies.’ The mouse replied, ‘an enmity by association is brought about by some cause or other and is removed by the removal of that cause. The natural enmity is that between the mongoose and the snake, the herbivorous animals and the carnivorous ones, water and fire, the rich and the poor, the lion and the elephant, the hunter and the deer, the Brahmin learned in the Vedas and the atheist, the wise and the foolish, chaste women and adulteresses, the good and the wicked, and the gods and demons. None of these classes have succeeded in exterminating the other class. Still, their life is one long fight against their opponents and their mind is full of sorrow at not having exterminated them. This kind of enmity can never be eradicated’.

The crow said, ‘It is a most unreasonable kind of enmity. One becomes another’s friend or enemy from some cause or other. A wise man should form new friendships and not nurse old enmities. So form a friendship with me. Hiranyaka said, ‘The great authors of the Sastras have said, “He who makes friends with one who is not like unto him meets with death even as the ass mating with the horse gives birth to the barren mule and has his line extinguished forever”. It may be that you are good and intend to do no harm to me, but no good can come of such friendships. Nature will assert itself at last. It may be said that I, being virtuous, cannot come to grief by anybody’s enmity. But a lion took away the life of Panini(The most celebrated of Sanskrit grammarians. He lived in the 7th century BC and was a native of Salatura near Attock in the North West Frontier Provinces. Lions were fairly common in North India in ancient times) the grammarian, an elephant killed Jaimini(A pupil of Vyasa and the teacher of the Sama Veda) the philosopher, an alligator tore to pieces Pingala the Vedic scholar; these instances will show that neither virtue nor accomplishment will be a protection against the lower animals who are passionate and sunk in ignorance and cannot appreciate merit or virtue’. 

The crow said, ‘What you say is true. But listen to me. Friendship is formed among men by reason of obligations mutually conferred, among beasts and birds with some motive, among fools through fear or greed, and among the good at the very first sight. I am a virtuous soul. I also swear unto you that I shall do no harm whatever to you.’ The mouse replied, ‘I have no faith in your oaths. No confidence should be placed in an enemy though he has sworn several oaths. Indra killed the demon Vritra after a terrible oath not to kill him. Even the gods themselves cannot kill an enemy unless he is foolish enough to put faith in them, Indra destroyed the fetus of Diti, the mother of demons, when she had put her faith in him ; therefore even a man wiser than Brihaspati(The preceptor of the gods and proverbial for his wisdom) should never have faith in an enemy if he desires his own prosperity, life and happiness. An enemy will in the course of friendship find some tiny loophole or other in us and destroy us gradually like water entering a boat through a small hole and sinking it altogether finally. Neither a worthy nor an unworthy man should be trusted too much, for he may destroy us root and branch one day. Even a weak person is not destroyed by his powerful opponent unless he trusts him. The most powerful are destroyed by the weak once they put faith in them. 

The crow was impressed by these arguments and could not readily reply to them. He thought to himself, ‘How clever is this mouse in politics. My inclination to strike a friendship with him grows even greater.’ He said to him, ‘Oh, Hiranyaka, the wise say that friendship is formed even by walking seven steps together. How much more so by having had this long conversation ? So you have already become my friend even against your will. Listen to me. Even though you distrust me and keep to your hole and never come out, you and I can have such delightful discussions on virtues and vices every day.’ Hearing this, Hiranyaka thought, ‘This crow appears to be a clever one, and he has spoken the truth. He deserves to be made a friend. But he should not be allowed to set foot in my hole. An enemy being afraid at first, approaches with slow steps and then rushes forward taking undue advantage as does the arm of the paramour on a woman not yet conquered.’ He said to the crow, ‘So be it, O crow But you are never to come inside my hole.’ The crow readily agreed. 

From that day onwards they met together daily and enjoyed delightful discussions. They also conferred obligations on each other. The crow used to take to the mouse pieces of meat, remains of sacrifices and grains of cooked rice. The mouse in his turn used to give the crow the grains of raw rice and other dainties secured by him during the night. The friendship of the two agreed well with both owing to these mutual returns. It has been said – ‘Sixfold is the way of exhibiting friendships, namely, giving something, taking something in return, confiding a secret, asking for a secret, eating something from the friend, and causing the friend to eat something.

There can never be any real friendship without conferring obligations. Even the gods grant favours only by their being given something as per vows. Affection will last only so long as something is continued to be given, Even the calf of a cow will leave its mother as soon as she gets no more milk from her. A gift will make even an enemy friend in no time. With beasts, the love of making gifts is even greater than love for the offspring. The she-buffalo gives the whole of her milk even to a wicked person though her calf might be alive.’ The mouse and the crow, though naturally enemies, became inseparable friends like the nail and the flesh. Daily they used to meet and hold friendly discussions. 

Then, one day, the crow went to the mouse and, with tears in his eyes and a faltering tone, said, ‘Oh, Hiranyaka, the time has come for our separation. I have to leave this country and go elsewhere.’ Hiranyaka asked, ‘Why ?’. The crow replied, ‘There is a terrible drought in this country. The people are all starving and do not offer sacrifices from which alone I used to get my best food. People are catching all kinds of birds for eating in order to somehow fill their bellies. In every house I see only these miserable captive birds. My heart bleeds for them. I too was caught hold of, but somehow managed to escape. That is the reason for my resolve to leave this country.’ 

Hiranyaka said, ‘Where do you intend to go ?’ The crow replied, ‘There is in the South a big lake in the midst of a dense forest. I have got there a tortoise friend called Mantharaka(The name means ‘The Slow One’) who is dearer to me than even you. He will give me pieces of fish meat. I shall pass my time merrily with him eating them and having friendly discussions. I do not wish to remain here and see the race of birds undergo bondage and death. You may consider the journey an arduous and difficult one and may think it inadvisable to go to a distant foreign country. But, what task is too difficult for the able, what is distance to the persevering, what country is foreign to a learned man, who is a stranger to him who can talk sweetly ? Learning and Royalty can never be equal. A King is respected only in his own kingdom while a learned man is respected everywhere. When a country is stricken by famine and when the crops are all withered away, blessed indeed are they who do not remain there to see their families perish and their country go to ruin.’ Hiranyaka said, ‘If that is so, I too shall come with you. I also will come to grief if I continue here.’ The crow asked, ‘How so?’ Hiranyaka replied, ‘It is a long story. I shall tell it at length after we reach the lake.’

The crow said, ‘I am a bird of the sky, and you are a beast of the land. How then can you and I march together ?’ The mouse replied ‘If you want to save my life, you can take me on your back and fly with me to the lake. There is no other way.’ The crow said, ‘I shall gladly do so. I am indeed lucky, for my life at the lake will be even more merry with you too to keep company. 1 know the various modes of flight, how to fly up and fly down, to fly straight and to fly crooked, to fly at a stretch and to fly in stages. So get on my back, and I shall take you safely to the lake.’ Hiranyaka got upon the crow’s back, and the crow flew with him gently and comfortably to the lake. Seeing the crow approach with the mouse on his back, Mantharaka, who was very prudent and cautious, said to himself, ‘Here comes a most extraordinary crow. I had better keep away’ and dived into the water. 

The crow left the mouse in a hole at the root ‘of a tree on the bank and, perching on the end of a big branch, cried out loudly, ‘Mantharaka, come quick. I am your friend Laghupathanaka and have arrived here in great anxiety. So, come and embrace me quick. Sandal mixed with camphor and ice is not half so cool and refreshing as the loving embrace of a friend.’ Hearing this, the’ tortoise, with tears in his eyes and a palpitating heart, came to the bank and said, ‘Friend, embrace me, I could not recognize you since we have not met for a long time and you have changed much in the interval. That is why I entered the water. Has not Brihaspati said, “One should not form a friendship with him whose valour, actions and family are not known The crow then got down from the tree and embraced the tortoise, It has been said, ‘Even nectar itself is not half sweet as the loving embrace of a friend after long separation’, 

The two friends remained at the bottom of the tree engaged in loving conversation about their adventures after they left each other. Hiranyaka went and prostrated to Mantharaka and sat near the crow. The tortoise asked the crow, ‘Who is this mouse ? Why did you carry him on your back when he ought to have been in your belly, being your natural food ? There must be some extraordinary motive for this.’ The crow replied, ‘This is Hiranyaka the mouse, my steadfast friend whom I love like myself. The virtues of this great soul are as innumerable as the sands of the sea, the drops of rain, and the stars of the sky. Being now greatly dejected, he has come to you’.

Mantharaka asked, ‘What is the cause of his dejection ?’ The crow replied, ‘Questioned by me he said that it was a long tale and that he would relate it at length after reaching this lake. So, I too have not heard about it. Friend, Hiranyaka’ said he turning to the mouse, ‘Tell us both your story and the cause of your dejection. Then Hiranyaka narrated his story. The three friends, the crow, the tortoise and the mouse, lived happily on the banks of the lake feasting and sporting at will. One day, when they were engaged in friendly conversation, a deer called Chitranga(The name means, ‘One of charming limbs’) rushed into the lake in great haste like one pursued by hunters Apprehending danger from hunters who might be pursuing him, the tortoise at once leapt into the water, the mouse entered his hole and the crow flew up the nearest tree. 

After keen scrutiny, the crow found that nobody was in sight. He also saw the deer drinking the water greedily. So he called his friends again and said to the tortoise ‘Mantharaka, this deer is not pursued by any hunter. He has come here only from excess of thirst. So our fears were groundless.’ Mantharaka replied after great deliberation, ‘ Friend, you are wrong. The very appearance of the animal shows that he must have been pursued by hunters. He was looking back now and then even in the course of his precipitate flight here, and his heart is palpitating at such a pace that mere thirst would not account for it. Only he who is frightened breathes heavily, looks about him often and often, and is never serene.’ Then, turning to Chitranga. he said, ‘Friend, tell me whether I am right.’ Chitranga replied, ‘ Mantharaka, you have correctly guessed the cause of my fright. A number of hunters followed me and I narrowly escaped from their arrows. My whole herd has been caught and slain by those wicked wretches. I seek asylum with you. Please allow me to remain here. Befriend me and save me from the hunters.’ 

Mantharaka said, ‘ Oh deer, you are welcome to remain here and to share whatever we have got. There are two means of escape from enemies, one by the power of the feet and the other by the power of the arms. You can rely on us for both. Let us go away speedily to the dense jungle before the hunters come here.’ The crow watched from the tree and said, ‘ The hunters are returning to their tents, and there is no danger now. So all of us four can quietly enjoy binder the delightful shade of this big tree in this hot noontime.” The deer Chitranga said that he was anxious to make friends with the crow, the mouse and the tortoise, Mantharaka asked him, ” What use will our friendship be to you? We are such small folk,” Chitranga said. “Even the humblest of beings, as friends, can render vital help to the mighty, as the story of “Mice Free Elephants” will show. “Mantharaka requested him to narrate that story, and Chitranga narrated it. The four then lived together on the banks of the lake in great joy.

Another day in the cool of the evening, at the usual time of their friendly discussions, Chitranga was missed. The other three said to one another, ‘ Where is he? Has he been killed by some lion, or by some wicked hunter, or has he perished in a forest fire, or fallen into an abyss going after some tempting grass ?’ Then Mantharaka said to the crow, ‘I and the mouse cannot search for him. effectively owing to our slow progression. So you please go and search for him all through this forest to see if he is still alive.’ Laghupathanaka went out accordingly. Not far from the lake he found him caught in a snare. 

Filled with grief, he asked, ‘ Friend, what is this?’ The deer burst into tears at the sight his friend, for grief always increases at the sight of a dear friend. He then replied, ‘My days are ended. I am very glad to see you at this time. When life is drawing to an end it is always good to see a friend whether the person lives or dies thereafter. Forgive me for whatever harsh words I might have spoken to you in the course of our conversations. Take Hiranyaka and Mantharaka this message from me, “Friends, both of you should forgive me for whatever bad words I might have uttered to you consciously or unconsciously”.’ The crow said, ‘Friend, there is no need for despair when there are friends like us to help you. I shall fetch Hiranyaka at once and he will snap your bonds in no time with his powerful teeth’.

Consoling Chitranga thus, the crow went to the tortoise and mouse and told them how the deer had been caught in a snare. The crow took Hiranyaka on his back and flew with him at once to the deer. Chitranga’s hope of escape was roused by the sight of the mouse and he said, ‘Such friends like you should be made by a wise man if he is to be served by them in adversity.’ Hiranyaka ‘said, ‘Friend, you seem to be well versed in worldly wisdom. How then did you fall into this snare?’ Chitranga said, “This is not the first time I fall into a snare. I fell into it once before but was ultimately free.” Tell us that story,” said Hiranyaka.

Chitranga said, ‘This is no time for it. The wicked hunter may come at any time. Please snap my bonds at once’. Hiranyaka said smiling, ‘There is no need to fear the hunter while I am near by. I consider myself to be learned in the Sastras, and you too appear to be equally learned. That is why I ask of you.’ Chitranga replied, ‘ Friend, you know well that even the intellect of the wise is overpowered by Fate. The greatest intellects deviate from the right path by Fate’s decree. Great scholars who write volumes and volumes and cancel several volumes of their own writing are not able to cancel one letter written on their foreheads by Fate.’ Then the deer narrated the story of his former captivity

While they were talking thus, Mantharaka being anxious as to why his friend hd not returned, reached the spot slowly. Seeing him from afar, the crow said to the mouse, ‘ It is not good that he should have come here.’ The mouse asked, ‘What! Is the hunter coming?’ The crow said. ‘ No. But Mantharaka is coming, having been rendered anxious by the delay caused by your untimely discussions. He has acted imprudently in coming here. Should the hunter come, I can fly up into the sky, you can rush into any hole, and the deer can flee afar. But I do not know how this water-animal will fare on land and am grieved to think of it.’ By that time Mantharaka reached the spot. The mouse said to him, ‘ You should never have come here. Rush back as speedily as you can before the wicked hunter comes.’ Mantharaka said, ‘Friend, what could I do ? I could not bear the burning anxiety caused by our friend Chitranga’s captivity and your extraordinary delay in returning. There is nothing so powerful as anxiety for dear friends. If there be no such friends, who can put up with the death of his beloved ones and the loss of his wealth?’.

While they were talking thus, the crow descried the hunter coming with his bow strung and his arrow at his ear ready for discharging. He immediately raised an alarm. The mouse at once snapped the bonds of the deer, and Chitranga took to a precipitate flight looking behind him now and then. The crow flew up a tree, and the mouse ran into a neighbouring hole. Then the hunter, chagrined and disappointed at the escape of the deer, saw to his delight the plump tortoise walking along the ground slowly and said to himself, ‘If the wretched deer escaped, this plump tortoise will be a very good substitute and will give me and mine a good meal.’ He caught the tortoise and tied him with darbha(A long and strong grass used for making ropes) grass to his bow and started for home. 

Seeing the tortoise being taken away, the mouse was filled with grief and said. Oh what a calamity has befallen us ! Before I have got over one calamity another has befallen me, like a traveler crossing one sea with difficulty only to see another beyond it. Verily, misfortunes never come single. First, all my hoarded provisions were robbed ; then, when I had got -over it, my dear friend Chitranga was ensnared; and when I had just got over it, my dearest of all friends Mantharaka is taken captive and carried away. Friends alone can give those three inestimable benefits, service in adversity, confiding of secrets, and insurance against calamity. Why does Fate persecute me with so many calamities one after the other? First, loss of wealth, then exile, then separation from friends. But, after all, is not the life of every created being like this ? Calamity is near at hand for every being born. Wealth is the abode of misery, and the joy of meeting with friends and relatives is eclipsed by the grief of separating from them. Everything is transitory. Repeated blows fall on a wound, hunger increases when the means of appeasing it are gone, and enemies multiply in adversity. Surely, misfortunes never come single’.

Meanwhile, Chitranga and the crow came to the spot and cried aloud in grief. The mouse said to them, ‘What is the use of this vain grief ? Before Mantharaka is out of our sight, let us devise some means of rescuing him. He who foolishly laments when calamity overtakes him only increases the grief and never finds out a remedy. The only wise course in a calamity is to give up feeling sorry for it and to devise measures to end it. The best course for a man is to keep the gains already secured, secure further gains and to rescue his friends from the calamities which have overtaken them.’ 

Hearing this, the crow said, ‘I have an idea. You know that there is a tank by the side of the hunter’s route home. He will reach that spot in a few minutes. Let Chitranga run there by a short cut and lie on the bund of that tank motionless like one dead. I shall take you on my back there and leave you on the bund. Then I shall perch on Chitranga’s head and pretend to be pecking at him. The hunter will see all this and will be convinced by my pecking that the deer is dead. He will leave the bow with the tortoise on the bund at some distance from us and rush after the deer. Meanwhile, you are to snap the darbha grass by which Mantharaka is bound. And Mantharaka, thus set free, is to leap into the tank forthwith. As soon as the hunter comes close to us, I shall perch up a tree and Chitranga will take to headlong flight’. 

Chitranga said, ‘Mantharaka may be considered as already saved. This plan is ‘wonderful. Only a wise one can concoct such a plan acting on the psychology of all with knowledge gained from experience. Let us act upon this plan.’ Then he ran in advance to the bund of the tank and lay there motionless as if he were dead. The crow flew with the mouse and deposited him on the bund. He then settled, on the head of Chitranga pretending to peck at it. Soon the hunter came along. Seeing the deer lying rigid and motionless on the tank bund and the crow pecking at him, he thought to himself, ‘It is clear that the deer was so exhausted by having been ensnared and the consequent starvation that he dropped down dead no sooner than he came here. This tortoise is securely tied, and cannot escape. Let me secure the dead deer also’. Thinking thus, he put the bow with the tortoise on the bund at some distance from the deer and went towards- the spot where the deer was lying.

Hiranyaka at once snapped with his teeth the darbha grass with which the tortoise was bound, and Mantharaka immediately leaped into the tank. As soon as the hunter neared the deer Chitranga ran away at full gallop. The crow too flew up a tree. Then the hunter, disappointed, chagrined and ashamed, turned back to the spot where he had left the tortoise and found him too gone. He cried out in despair, ‘Oh Fate, as soon as this big deer was caught in my snare, you snatched him away. Even the tortoise who was secure in my hand escaped under your orders. I wander in this forest parched with hunger and separated from my wife and children whom I dare not face as I have nothing to give them. Then do your worst. I am ready for whatever you do.’ Grieving like this in various ways, he returned home.

When he was out of sights the crow, the tortoise, the mouse and the deer met together in great joy, embraced one another fervently, returned to their lake and lived there ever after in great happiness with merry dinners and happy discussions. 


This is the end of part-2 of Panchatantra, also called ‘Mitrasamprapti’ or ‘The acquisition of friends’.

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