The Panchatantra – Story 16

UNWANTED ADVICE

There was a herd of monkeys in a forest. In a cold winter, when their bodies were shivering, they saw a glow-worm. Mistaking its phosphorescence for fire and intending to light a fire with it, they caught it and put several dry leaves over it. Then they spread their arms and legs and lay down in front of this heap to warm themselves. One monkey, who was feeling the chill more than the rest, began to blow on the glow- worm in order to make the leaves catch fire and burn in a blaze. A small bird called Soochimukhi (Needle-face) saw this from the branches of a neighboring tree, and got down and told the monkey, ‘Friend, your trouble is in vain. This is not fire. This is a glow-worm. So, don’t waste your time and energy.’ 

The monkey did not heed her advice and went on blowing. Soochimukhi again and again repeated her advice. The monkey grew terribly angry and asked her to mind her own business. Still, the foolish Soochimukhi persisted in tendering her unwanted advice. Well has it been said, “A wise man who is desirous of his welfare should not talk to him who hates to be talked to, or to a gambler, or to a drunkard, or to a fool in difficulty, or to one who is defeated and disappointed, Advice should be given only to one who asks for it and not to one who has no faith in it. A timber that cannot be bent will never bend but will only break; a razor will not operate on stone but will only lose its edge; and good advice will fall flat on a fool and will only land the giver in danger.” The infuriated monkey caught hold of the unfortunate bird and dashed her brains on a neighboring stone. 

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