The Panchatantra – Story 17a


In a jungle there lived a crane and his wife in the hollow of a big banyan tree. Further down the hole there was also a king cobra. This cobra climbed up the crane’s, nest and ate up a young, helpless and unfledged crane. The crane, his father, was very sorry at this destruction of his child and sat on the banks of his usual tank immersed in sorrow, shedding profuse tears, and with downcast eyes. Seeing this, a crab asked, “Uncle, why are you weeping like this to-day? ‘ The crane replied, ‘Friend, what else can I do, unfortunate wretch that I am ? One of my children has been swallowed by a cruel serpent living in the hollow of the tree. So I am plunged in grief and am weeping. Tell me whether there is any way for destroying this serpent and saving my other young ones.” 

Hearing this, the crab thought. “The cranes are our hereditary enemies. I shall give this fellow a plan so mixed with the good and the bad, the true and the false, that the other young cranes may also be destroyed. It has been said that having made the words as soft and attractive as butter, and having hardened the heart, one should so advise one’s enemy that by adopting the advice he should die together with his family.”

Then he said aloud to the crane, “Uncle, do like this. Strew pieces of fish meat from a hole where a mongoose lives to the hole of the tree where the serpent lives.
The mongoose will follow the fish pieces, swallowing them, and will see the serpent in the hole and kill him.” The crane did as advised. The mongoose did follow the meat pieces and kill the serpent. But he followed the hole up to the crane’s nest and ate up all the other unfledged young ones also within the very sight of their parents.

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