The Panchatantra – Story 46


A potter got one day intoxicated by excess of drink and ran about his courtyard where dozens of broken pots- were lying. While thus running, he fell with great force against a very sharp and strong piece of broken pot. His forehead received a terrible gash, and became covered with blood. He rose up with great difficulty. Owing to gross neglect and lack of proper treatment, the wound festered and took a long time to heal. Even when it healed, it left a dreadful scar behind. Some time after the wound healed, there was a famine in the potter’s district. So he left his place, went to a distant town and sought service there under a King, The King was mightily impressed by the terrible scar on the potter’s forehead and thought. ‘ This man is certainly a great warrior. The wound denoted by this scar must have been caused in some war when he heroically fought the enemy without flinching- and got a sabre cut on his forehead. Evidently, he is one who will never turn his back on the enemy and so will be a priceless acquisition to me.’ So thinking, he at once offered the potter a good post in his army and loaded him with honours and presents. 

This special favour of the king was not liked by his Rajput warriors. They were terribly envious of the potter, but dared not speak their thoughts from fear of the King’s displeasure and also because they too mistook the potter to be a Rajput warrior and did not like to incur his wrath. In a few days after the potter’s entertainment, the King had to engage in a war with a rival king. The elephants were got ready, the horses assembled, and the soldiers selected for being sent to the front. The King held a review of his troops and honoured and gave presents to deserving warriors according to their merits. Taking advantage of this opportunity, he called the potter to him and asked, ‘Oh Rajput, what is your name and caste ? In what war did you get that terrible wound on your forehead?’

The potter replied, ‘Sire, I am called Yudhishtira and am a potter by caste. That scar was not caused by a sabre cut. When once I got intoxicated by excess of drink and ran about wildly in my courtyard which was full of broken pots I fell on a very sharp and strong piece of broken pot and got the wound whose scar you see.’ The King thought to himself  “Ah, what a fool I was! I was taken in by the warrior-like appearance of this potter and his deceptive scar”. So he ordered the potter to be necked out. While the potter was being necked out, he said, ‘Sire, don’t neck me out. Test my courage and dexterity in war.’ 

The King said. You may be the repository of all virtues, but still you deserve only to be necked out. Well has it been said “You may be brave, learned in all sciences, and handsome, oh child, but no son born in your family will kill an elephant”. The potter asked, ‘What is the story you refer to ?’ The King replied, ‘Listen then to the story of “the jackal nursed by the lioness.’ ‘So too’, said the King, ‘my warriors have not yet found out that you are but a potter, So, get away from here at once. Else, they will all ridicule you to death’. The potter heard these words and lost no time in making a hurried departure.

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