AriMardana and his ministers…

Read the previous part here

The first sign of intelligence is to not begin any task. The second sign of intelligence is to always finish a task that has been started.

“It is better not to begin anything, rather to begin and then leave it midway when a problem arises.

And so, Sthirajeevin let out a series of groans, soft, but enough to attract the attention of the owls who were looking for anyone that had been left back. They spotted him, and immediately surrounded him, advancing menacingly, threatening to kill him on the spot.

“I am MeghaVarna’s minister and my name is Sthirajeevin”, he said, in between groans. “MeghaVarna has brought me to this state. Please take me to your king. I have a lot to tell him.”

The owls went and reported this to AriMardana, who flew down and saw the ‘wounded’ crow. “How did this happen to you?” he asked.

“My lord”, said Sthirajeevin. “I have myself to blame. So many years I gave to this kingdom, selfless service, with nothing but the welfare of my people in return for my sacrifices. And what did I get in return?” he spat out some blood and continued “MeghaVarna insulted me, attacked me physically, and left me here to die.”

“But why did he do that?” asked AriMardana curiously.

“He saw what you owls had done – killed so many of our tribe, and he couldn’t control himself anymore. He wanted to go to war with you the very next day. I cautioned him, and told him that “they are very strong, and we are very weak, and so it is not wise to fight. After all, it is said…

बलीयसा हीन-बलो विरोधं न भूति-कामो मनसापि वाञ्छेत् ।
न वध्यते वेतस-वृत्तिर् अत्र व्यक्तं प्रणाशो ऽस्ति पतङ्ग-वृत्तेः ॥ १२८ ॥

balīyasā hīna-balo virodhaṃ na bhūti-kāmo manasāpi vāñchet |
na vadhyate vetasa-vṛttir atra vyaktaṃ praṇāśo ‘sti pataṅga-vṛtteḥ || 128 ||

A weak person who covets wealth and prosperity should not even entertain the thought of making enmity with a stronger foe. The stronger foe cannot be defeated for sure; instead, the weaker person is surely destroyed, much like a moth that flies towards a flame.

“And so I asked him to seek peace and become your ally. After all,

बलवन्तं रिपुं दृष्ट्वा सर्वस्वम् अपि बुद्धिमान् ।
दत्त्वा हि रक्षयेत् प्राणान् रक्षितैस् तैर् धनं पुनः ॥ १२९ ॥

balavantaṃ ripuṃ dṛṣṭvā sarvasvam api buddhimān |
dattvā hi rakṣayet prāṇān rakṣitais tair dhanaṃ punaḥ || 129 ||

An intelligent person should protect oneself from a stronger enemy by offering him all that he has. Because only if one stays alive, can wealth be earned back once again.

“I offered him wise counsel. But MeghaVarna got angry with me, and accused me of being sympathetic to you, and of supporting you over our own tribe. He attacked me and left me here in this condition.” Sthirajeevin coughed and spat out some more blood. “Anyway, why waste time speaking all this? I am grievously injured now, and so will take some time to recover. But when I do, I will lead you to the place where he is hiding so that you can kill him, and I can get my revenge.”

AriMardana went into a huddle with his most trusted advisors. It had been over an hour since he had that conversation with Sthirajeevin, and not being able to decide on what to do, AriMardana thought of seeking counsel with those who had served his father, and his father’s father before him.

AriMardana had five ministers. They were: Raktāksha (the one with blood-red eyes),Kroorāksha (the one with the cruel eyes), Deeptāksha (the one with the blazing eyes),Vakranāsa (the one with the crooked nose), and PrākāraKarna (the one with the rampart-like ears).

He first addressed Raktāksha. “Oh learned minister! As you are aware, I have the enemy’s minister under my control. What should we do now?”

Raktāksha replied…

to be continued…