Of crows, serpents, cranes and crabs – part 2

Read the previous part here…

The small creatures believed the crane, and agreed immediately. They all lined up, jostling for space and trying to be the first to climb onto the crane’s back. The wicked crane started to carry them one-by-one. He would fly to a nearby rock, throw them on it and then eat them till his stomach was full. He would then fly back, carrying the good messages of those who had been ‘rescued’, and repeat this when he felt hungry again. And so this continued for a few months. 

One day, the crab walked up to the crane and said…

“Oh good sire! I was the first to empathise and speak with you, when you were feeling down and lonely. Then why are you helping the others first, and not me? Please save me also…can you take me today?”

Hearing this, the evil crane thought to himself “Actually, I have got tired eating fish everyday. Let me try crab today!”..and so he agreed. The crab climbed on his back, and they set out from the lake.

They were a short distance away from the ‘rock’, when the crab saw the huge heap of fish bones, and understood what had happened. Keeping calm, he asked the crane in an innocent voice “My dear sire! You must be tired by now…how far is the lake?”

The crane, hearing this, thought “This dumb creature is used to staying in a lake; he cannot be of any harm to me now”, and so he laughed sarcastically and told the crab “Lake? What lake? You fool, this is how I have been surviving all this while. Now that you know your fate, it’s time to say your prayers. I will throw you down on that rock, and then eat you!”

As he completed his sentence, the crab dug his claws into the soft neck of the crane, and the crane died instantly.

Dragging the dead crane by his claws, the crab reached back to the lake in some time. His friends saw him from far, and shouted out to him “Hey! How come you are back? And where is our saviour? Why is he taking so much time today? There are so many of us waiting to get to that lake…”

The crab laughed and said ” You fools! That wicked crane was a cheat…he used to throw all the fish he took from here, onto a rock nearby, to kill them and then eat them. I was fortunate and saved myself in time. I killed him, and now you all will not face any sort of danger.

“And that is why I say”, concluded the fox…

भक्षयित्वा बहून् मत्स्यान् उत्तमाधम-मध्यमान् ।
अतिलौल्याद् बकः कश्चिन् मृतः कर्कटक-ग्रहात् ॥ २३२ ॥

bhakṣayitvā bahūn matsyān uttamādhama-madhyamān |
atilaulyād bakaḥ kaścin mṛtaḥ karkaṭaka-grahāt || 232 ||

A crane that ate fish of all sizes, became greedy and died at the hands of a crab.

The crows nodded in agreement. “So tell us, how do we get rid of this serpent?”

The fox said ” Listen to me carefully. A king lives in a city not very far from here. Go to his palace, and pick a gold chain from his room, ensure that you are seen, and then fly back here, so that they follow you. Put that chain inside the hollow of the tree, where the serpent lives. His soldiers will try to retrieve the ornament, and in the process, kill the snake.”

The two crows were delighted. They quickly flew to towards the city. As they approached the outskirts, they noticed a lake where the ladies of the palace were playing, with a few guards standing by. Their ornaments were on a rock near the banks of the lake. The female crow quickly grabbed a gold chain, and ensured that one the guards spotted her doing so. As she flew towards the tree, the guards followed, chasing her with spears in their hands. The crow reached the tree, dropped the chain into the hollow of the tree where the serpent lived, and flew away.

The soldiers climbed the tree and looked inside the hole to retrieve the gold chain. Seeing this, the serpent, who was lying inside, came out with its hood raised…and the soldiers quickly killed it, retrieved the chain, and went away. And so the crows were now free from danger – they raised many kids and lived happily ever after.

“And that is why”, said Damanaka,

उपायेन हि यच् छक्यं न तच् छक्यं पराक्रमैः ।
काकी कनक-सूत्रेण कृष्ण-सर्पम् अघातयत् ॥ २२८ ॥

upāyena hi yac chakyaṃ na tac chakyaṃ parākramaiḥ |
kākī kanaka-sūtreṇa kṛṣṇa-sarpam aghātayat || 228 ||

What is possible through trickery, cannot be done by valor. It is through trickery that the crow used the golden chain to destroy the serpent.

“And therefore, nothing is impossible for an intelligent person. It is said…”

यस्य बुद्धिर् बलं तस्य निर्बुद्धेस् तु कुतो बलम् ।
वने सिंहो मदोन्मत्तः शशकेन निपातितः ॥ २३७ ॥

yasya buddhir balaṃ tasya nirbuddhes tu kuto balam |
vane siṃho madonmattaḥ śaśakena nipātitaḥ || 237 ||

Only he who has intelligence is strong; a foolish person can never be strong. Because, the arrogant lion, king of the forest, was killed by a mere rabbit.”

“How did that happen?”, asked Karataka.

Damanaka replied…

to be continued