Tag: Panchatantra

The Panchatantra – Story 50

THE FARMER’S WIFE

There was once a farmer who lived with a pretty wife in a lonely farm and had no children. As the farmer was old and the wife was young, she was yearning for a young lover. A rogue, who was after the farmer’s wife, went up to her, one day, knowing her secret hankering, and said to her, “O you beauty, I have fallen in love with you at the very sight of you. My wife died recently, and I am lonely. Make me happy by showering on me your love.” She was delighted. She said, “If you feel that way, I too am agreeable. We shall run away from this place. I shall also take with me a lot of money which my old husband has kept in the box so that we may not lack the means to enjoy the pleasures of life.’ “Very good,” said the rogue, “come along then with me this very night when your husband is asleep”. She agreed. 

That night, when her husband was sleeping, she took all his money and reached the place of rendezvous. The rogue was delighted He went along with her, literally bouncing with joy. They reached a river. There was a boat there without a boatman, as passengers were expected to ferry themselves across. The rogue said to the woman, “My dear, I shall first row across with your money and costly clothes, put them on the other bank safe and then come back and take you.” She agreed. He took her money and clothes and ferried himself across to the other shore and made off. The wretched woman waited on the other bank for him to return in vain. 

Then she saw a she-jackal go to a spot carrying a piece of meat in its mouth. Just then a fish leaped from the water of the river and was stranded on the sands. On spotting that fat fish the jackal felt a desire to catch it and eat it and so put the piece of meat on the bank and went to catch the fish. The fish, on seeing the jackal approach him, made a desperate effort and struggled back into the river and escaped. When the jackal was going back to take its piece of meat, a vulture swooped on it and carried it off. The farmer’s wife smiled and said to the jackal : ”O poor jackal, the vulture has your meat and the river holds your fish. What is that you are waiting for, having lost both fish and meat”. The She-jackal retorted, “O woman, you think you are cleverer than I. You have lost both your lover and husband and now left abandoned on this river bank.”

The Panchatantra – Story 49

THE ASS IN TIGER’S SKIN

There was a washer-man called Suddapata in a certain town. He had a donkey which had grown very weak from lack of fodder. One day, as the washer-man was wandering through a forest, he saw a dead tiger add tiger and thought : “Now, if I put this tiger’s skin on the donkey and let him loose in the fields at night, the farmers will mistake him for a tiger and will run away from him and he can eat the paddy crop to his fill and become stout and strong and carry my clothes easily.” He skinned the tiger and put its skin on the donkey and carried out his plan. 

The farmers were afraid to chase this donkey which they mistook to be a tiger, and the hungry donkey ate the paddy crop to his fill and, returned home every morning, at dawn, with a well-filled belly, he became so stout and strong that he could hardly go into his stables through the door. One day, as he was grazing at night, the donkey heard the cry of a she-donkey grazing at a distance. At that sound he became possessed by lust for her and began to bray. The farmers recognized him from his braying to be merely a donkey in tiger’s skin, and killed him with innumerable blows with sticks, stones and arrows. 

The Panchatantra – Story 48

LOVE’S NECESSITIES

Nanda was a mighty monarch who ruled from sea to sea. His golden footstool reflected the concentrated magnificence of the costly crowns of countless kings who used to prostrate before him in humble submission. His fame was as spotless as the rays of the moon in autumn. He had a celebrated minister called Vararuchi who was well versed in all the Sastras’ and was famous for the brilliance of his intellect. 

One evening, there was a love quarrel between Vararuchi and his wife. She was very dear to Vararuchi who consequently wanted to make up the quarrel as soon as possible. He tried to pacify and please her in several ways but all in vain. Finally, he said, ‘Darling, tell me what I should do in order to make you at once pleased with me, and I shall certainly do so.’ After a great deal of persuasion she said, if you shave your head completely and fall at my feet I shall become as pleased with you as ever.’ Vararuchi did as she wanted, and she became as pleased with him as ever. 

That very evening, Nanda’s wife had a love quarrel with her husband. Thought the king tried to please her in several ways, she would not be pleased but continued to be angry. Ther King said to her, ‘Darling, I cannot live without you even for an hour. I shall fall at your feet and please you.’ She said, if you put the bit in your mouth, take me on your back and allow me to race you like a horse and also neigh like a horse when I am driving, I shall be as pleased with you as ever’. He did so. 

The next morning Vararuchi attended the King’s Council. Seeing him, the King, who had heard through his spies the reason for his shaven head, asked him with a view to hold him up to ridicule ‘Oh, Vararuchi, why have you shaved yourself so ridiculously and on an inauspicious day too ?’ Vararuchi, who in his turn had learnt about the King’s racing through his spies, replied, ‘Sire, you know that even we sometimes cannot get our things done without doing some things ourselves. Nothing given, nothing got done. Is it not so ?’ Nanda kept ominously silent.

The Panchatantra – Story 47

THE UNGRATEFUL WIFE

In a certain city there lived a Brahmin with his wife. He loved her to distraction, but she was daily quarrelling, with his relatives and making life a hell for him. So he resolved to leave that city and go to a distant place and live in peace, away from his relatives. As they were going along, they had to cross a great sandy waste. In the hot sun his wife was tortured by thirst and cried to him for water. He went to fetch water He had to go a long distance and when he returned after a long time, he found her dead of sunstroke and thirst. ‘ As he loved her dearly he lamented loudly and prayed to God to bring her back to life. A voice from heaven said to him : “If you will give half your remaining life for her, she shall be made alive again for that period.” The Brahmin gladly agreed and cried out, “I give half my life. “The moment he said this, his wife recovered. She drank the water he had ‘brought and then they ate the food they had carried with them and proceeded on their journey. 

By and by they entered a flower garden near another city. The Brahmin said to his wife: “My dear, stay here while I go to the city and fetch some food for us both’. When she was sitting in the garden, she saw a cripple turning a water-wheel and singing with an enchanting voice. When she heard him sing, she fell in love with him and asked him to be her lover, saying that she would commit suicide otherwise. He told her: “I am a cripple. What can you do with me?”. Never mind,” she said “leave it to me.” Thereupon he agreed to be her lover. The Brahmin returned with the food and invited his wife to cat with him. But she said, “Why not give this cripple also some food ? He is hungry”. The Brahmin agreed. After meals, the wife said to the Brahmin: “We have no children. When you go out I feel ever so lonely and I will have nobody to do a bit of work in the house also. So, why not take this cripple with us The Brahmin replied: “That man cannot walk. Who will- carry him? I find it difficult even to carry myself about. How can I carry another?”.

Then she said, “If you will get me a basket we will put him into it and I can carry him.” The foolish Brahmin, infatuated with has wife, agreed to this strange proposal, and brought a basket and she carried the cripple in it. As they were going along they came to a big deep well with a large quantity of water,, and rested on its parapet wall. The wife, aided by the cripple, suddenly pushed the Brahmin into the well. Then the wife put the cripple in the basket and carried him along and proceeded on her journey. 

When they reached a big city ruled over by a righteous king, the police, seeing the woman carrying the cripple in a basket had their curiosity roused and took her and the basket with the cripple to the king. She said “This is my invalid husband. Your Majesty. “Because he was a cripple, his relatives harassed him and even tried to kill him so that they might inherit his property. So , one night, unknown to them, I put him in a basket and travelled to this city.” “You are the noblest woman I ever saw,” said the king. “I regard you as my sister hereafter and grant you two villages as inam in perpetuity”.

The woman rejoiced. Buts just as she was about to leave, her husband, the Brahmin, arrived at the spot. He had been rescued from the well by a wandering Sanyasin who had heard his cries for help some time after the woman had left him. Seeing him, the cunning wife told the king; “Here comes my husband’s principal enemy chasing me.” The king thereupon said : “Kill the fellow.” The Brahmin replied: “O king, before you execute me ask the woman to give me back with interest what I have given her.” The king asked the woman, “What did he give you?”. The woman said: “He gave me nothing.” The Brahmin retorted : “Did I not give you half my life when you fell down dead on that sandy waste in order to bring you back to life?”. Sir, said he turning to the king, “I left my family for her. I gave her half my life and she has, in turn, behaved so ungratefully to me and taken this cripple as paramour and is trying to make you sentence me do death unjustly.” The king questioned the woman sternly, and she confessed. Then he forced her to give back her husband’s debt by saying, “I give back the life loaned to me by my husband”. When she uttered those words she fell down dead. 

The Panchatantra – Story 46a

THE JACKAL NURSED BY THE LIONESS

In a certain forest, there lived a lion and lioness. The lioness had just delivered two cubs. The lion used to kill some animals every day and take them to the lioness for food. One day, he wandered about all through, the forest without finding anything till sunset. When he was returning to his den, he found a baby jackal lying on his path. As it was a baby, the lion had pity it and so did not kill it but took it alive between his teeth to the lioness, The lioness asked, ‘ Oh, beloved, have you brought anything for me to eat?’. The lion replied ‘Darling, I could get nothing to-day except this baby jackal. Even this is a clawed carnivorous animal like us and is also a baby. Thinking of this, I have not killed it. It has been said, Even when life is ebbing for want of food, one should never kill a woman or a person(A saivite sanyasi or Lingayat) wearing the sacred linga or a Brahmin or a child and especially those who have confided in one’. 

But you are now in a delicate state of health and have to take food for medical reasons. So, you may kill and eat it. Tomorrow morning, I shall bring some better animals for you, The lioness replied, ‘Beloved, when even you did not kill it, thinking that it was a baby how can I, a woman and a mother, kill it for filling my own belly? it has been said, “Even when life is in imminent danger, one should never do a forbidden act or leave undone a prescribed act, such is the ancient law of Dharma(Rules of virtuous conduct prescribed for attaining salvation),'”So, this baby jackal will be treated by me as a third son.’ So saying, she forthwith fed the baby jackal on her own breast milk. 

The baby jackal, fed on such powerful milk, grew exceedingly stout and big The two lion cubs and the jackal, not knowing of the difference in caste between- them, grew up like three brothers, playing and going out together. One day, when the three were wandering in the forest, a wild elephant crossed their path. Seeing him the two lion cubs sprang at him in fury, eager to kill him.. Then the jackal said to them, ‘ Oh, don’t go near him, for he is the enemy of your race,’ and precipitately fled in the direction of the lion’s den. The lion’s cubs also became dispirited at the fright of their eldest brother and desisted from the pursuit of the elephant. It has been said by the wise, “One bold and energetic leader is enough to inspire courage and enthusiasm in a whole army; but, when he breaks down or takes to flight, the whole army breaks down, loses its courage and is put to rout. It is for this reason the kings want soldiers who are strong, brave, bold and energetic, and avoid those who are cowardly.

The two lion cubs went home and laughingly told their parents about the cowardly conduct of their elder brother, ending ‘Seeing the elephant from afar, he took to a precipitate flight and covered much distance in the twinkle of an eye.’ The jackal got very angry. With quivering lips, blood-red eyes, a dreadful frown, and a most ferocious countenance, he reviled his brothers in very harsh and threatening language. The lioness saw the growing anger of her cubs and, anxious to save the jackal she had suckled, took him aside and remonstrated with him thus. ‘Child, never talk like this to them. They are your little brothers’. He got a hundred times more angry by these soft words and replied, ‘How am I inferior to these in courage or learning or beauty that they should ridicule me thus ? I must therefore kill them both and retrieve my honour.’

Hearing this, the lioness, who was anxious to save his life, said with a suppressed smile, ‘You may be brave, learned in all sciences and handsome, oh child, but no son born in your family will kill an elephant. So listen to me carefully. Child, you are a jackal by birth and were, out of pity, fed by me on my own milk. My children, owing to their tender age, have not yet found out that you are only a jackal. So, go at once and join the other jackals. If not, these cub of mine will kill you, and you will come to a miserable end.’ Hearing this, the jackal, trembling with fear for his life, fled at once to the other jackals and mingled with them.