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The laws of the jungle are different from those of the village (Panchatantram Story)

A Story from Panchatantram of Vishnu Sharma



In a forest there lived a lion called Madotkata.  His constant companions and stooges were on tiger, one crow and as always a fox.



Once when the dada lion was going around with his chamchas, the saw a Camel  names Kadhanaka who had strayed into the forest  from the caravan of a trader and was loitering around aimlessly in the forest.



It was perhaps for the  first time that the lion was seeing a camel.. He was taken aback by the size and carriage of the animal. “Oh God, this is not an ordinary beast.  Do you know whether he is of the forest or of the village??  .   “My lord, he is a domesticated fellow. He has filled his body with flesh eating all sorts of grass and vegetable. His flesh is so delicious. He is eminently suitable for you dinner? Chimed in the crow.



In his apparent grace, the lion said. “ This animal has come to my house with full trust.  That too without any fear of danger.  It is improper to kill him.  Mind you, if one kills somebody who has come as a guest to his house, then he incurs  the ultimate sin of killing a Brahmin.  Hence I am going to grant him refuge.  Please lead him to my presence with all honour.?



Accordingly the three chamchas approached the camel, delivered to him the message of their master and brought him to the lion’s presence.  “ You Kadhnaka !  You need not go back to the village and toil there carrying the heavy loads of merchandise for your mater. You can wander in this forest without fear, eating all the grass and other shrubs which grow here aplenty.  We can have your nice company also.?  Ordered the lion.



The camel believed it and without any fear  he continued to live in the forest under the tutelage of the lion.



Meanwhile the lion had to engage himself in a  huge battle with a ferocious wild elephant once.  The elephant was more than his match and the lion  sustained heavy injuries in the encounter and was rendered practically immobile.  Suffice to say that only a streak of fortune had  left spared his life.



Now it was hunger time not only for the lion but also for the three lieutenants.  The lion ordered his followers to go and search for some food which was easily available.



The three fellows were always having the huge bundle of food in the shape of the poor camel, at sight.



The four were wandering in the forest  in the futile search of  food  for the master.



The fox told the crow beyond the earshot of the camel.? You crow, this fat camel is strutting around.. Why don’t we arrange him as the food for our master and ourselves??  The crow remonstrated.? Our master is very old fashioned.  He has promised protection for the camel.  He will not hear of any idea of killing the camel?  “Do not worry, you silly crow. I will manage in such a way that the master will be enabled to kill the camel without any prick of conscience.  You just remain here and watch.?



The fox approached the lion. “Master, we have wandered all around the forest for days together and could not find any animal of prey. We are about to lose our lives for hunger. Your case is also not far different..  Sir... Why don't we finish off the camel and have some relief from hunger??  The response was as expected,  “ You wretch, you sinner, damn you, if you utter such word any more I will kill you first.  I have given him refuge.  How can I kill him.  The gift of refuge is more noble than gift of land, gift of cows, gift of food and even gift of a daughter.?



The fox was persistent.  “ My lord, you can call it a sin if you kill a person to whom you have offered refuge.  But if the persons offers himself as food out of devotion to you, can you refuse it?.  The came offers his flesh for you,  If you do not want to kill him, you can kill one of the three of us.  If you do not eat one of us, you will die of hunger and bereft of our dear master, we will be left with not choice but to commit suicide by entering fire.  The great lore say that the important leader of the clan should be protected at any cost.  If he is gone, the clan will be a chariot whose axle is gone. “



The lion said. “ If you feel so,  you people decide what to do.?



The fox returned to the other three and announced to them. “ Our master is dangerously ill out of starvation. There will be no one left to protect us if he is gone.  So to protect his life, it is our bounden duty to offer our own bodies as his food.?



After this all the four of them went near the master and sat around him, in tears.   The lion asked, “Could you find some food??



The crow came forward. “ My lord and master, we have searched every inch of this forest but we could not catch hold of any animal suitable for your food. So I am offering my own body as your food. Please eat me and be relived of your hunger.?



The  fox said.  “ You tiny crow.  Your body is very small.  It is not going to make any difference for the lord.  Anyway it befits you eminently that you have exhibited your  faithfulness to the master.



Now the fox offered his body as the food of the lion.  But the tiger chimed in.  “ Your words are appropriate.  But you are also tiny.  And the scriptures say one should not eat animals which have their nails as weapons.  So a fox should not be eaten by a lion even if it is a question of life and death.   So, I shall offer my body as the food for the master... But the lion was not interested in killing the tiger either.



So the camel thought. “ The lion is so noble.  He did not accept the idea of killing his faithful servants. And now they have become in his good books by uttering sweet words.  I will also say some nice words, and endear the master to me.  Sure, he will not kill me? .  So the camel said, “ it is rightly said by the tiger.. the animals using nails as its weapons should not be killed. But the tiger also uses his sharp nails in  his paw to catch his prey.  So he is also not deserving death.  Master, I am here,  I have no such disqualifications.  May you be pleased to eat  this my body and be happy.?



The other three were just waiting for these words,  They  jumped on the body of the camel and withing seconds, a sumptuous dinner was ready for the lion and his stooges.



The laws of the jungle are different from those of the village.  If this is not properly  understood, one will meet the fate of this camel.
 


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