Of camels and bells -2

Read the previous part here…

He who is arrogant and foolish enough to disobey the words of the wise and his well-wishers, perishes quickly, much like the camel with the bell tied around it’s neck.

KarālaMukha said “How did that happen?”

RaktaMukha replied…


The story of the camel with the bell around it’s neck

In a city, not so far away from here, lived a chariot-maker named Ujjvalaka (the one who shines). He was very poor, and was hardly able to make a living. After struggling for many years, he decided to leave the village and go northwards, to try his luck in the city.

On his way there, he had to pass through a forest. As he was walking through, he noticed a camel that had just given birth. The camel was hungry, and so Ujjvalaka took both her and her calf back home. He tied the camel to his gate, and brought back some fresh grass for her. The camel ate the grass and thanked Ujjvalaka by shaking her head.

This continued every day, and soon both the camel and her calf put on good weight. Ujjvalaka started to milk the camel and sell the milk in the market nearby, and was thus able to make a decent living. He took good care of the camels – he even bought a huge bell and tied it around the neck of the calf, and petted her everyday.

Slowly, Ujjvalaka started to develop a herd of camels, and in a few years, he was rich enough to employ servants to look after his camels. He even paid his servants a camel calf as salary. Ujjvalaka had managed to turn his life around.

The calves used to travel to a grazing ground a little far away from the village, near the brink of the forest. They used to have their fill of grass, drink sweet water from the pond nearby, and then return home leisurely in the evenings.

The calf that was rescued by Ujjvalaka had been named Ushtrāksha (the one with camel-like eyes). He had grown, but was indisciplined and always wandered away from the group. The other camels often talked about this. “Ushtrāksha is stupid. He always strays from the herd, and keeps ringing his bell and walking slowly. One day, he may attract undue attention from a wild animal in the jungle, and that would be the end of him. “

He had been warned many times, but Ushtrāksha didn’t heed their words. He felt that freedom meant being able to do what one wants to do, and he wanted to ring his bell, and ring his bell well.

And so the inevitable happened. A lion, who happened to be passing by one day, was attracted to the sound of the ringing bell, and chanced upon the herd of camels, who were drinking water at the pond.

“There are too many camels to attack at once”, thought the lion. And so he waited.

In the evening, the herd started back home. Ushtrãksha, the free soul that he was, walked behind the group, swinging joyfully and sounding his bell. After a while, he suddenly realized that he was alone. It was dark too. Panicking, he started to walk faster, and the bell rang louder and louder. The lion waited, and waited patiently, until he heard the sound of the bell very near to where he was hiding. He leapt out of the bushes, pounced on Ushtrāksha, caught him by the neck, and killed him.

“That is why I say”, concluded RaktaMukha. He who is arrogant and foolish enough to disobey the words of the wise and his well-wishers, perishes quickly, much like the camel with the bell tied around it’s neck.

KarālaMukha replied “My friend…It is said…”

सतां साप्तपदं मैत्रम् इत्य् आहुर् विबुधा जनाः ।
तस्मात् त्वं मित्रतां प्राप्तो वचनं मम तच् छृणु ॥ ६६ ॥

satāṃ sāptapadaṃ maitram ity āhur vibudhā janāḥ |
tasmāt tvaṃ mitratāṃ prāpto vacanaṃ mama tac chṛṇu || 66||

The wise say that a friendship is developed even if one walks seven steps with the other. And so, you have now become my friend. Please listen to what I have to say to you. 

उपदेश-प्रदातॄणां नराणां हितम् इच्छताम् ।
परस्मिन्न् इह लोके च व्यसनं नोपपद्यते ॥ ७५ ॥

upadeśa-pradātṝṇāṃ narāṇāṃ hitam icchatām |
parasminn iha loke ca vyasanaṃ nopapadyate || 75 ||

Those who wish for the good of others, and who give others good advice, never face any troubles here, or in the afterlife.

“And so, even if I have wronged you in the past, please forgive me and advise me on what I should do.”

उपकारिषु यः साधुः साधुत्वे तस्य को गुणः ।
अपकारिषु यः साधुः स साधुः सद्भिर् उच्यते ॥ ७६ ॥

upakāriṣu yaḥ sādhuḥ sādhutve tasya ko guṇaḥ |
apakāriṣu yaḥ sādhuḥ sa sādhuḥ sadbhir ucyate || 76 ||

How is your goodness worthy, if you only good to people who are good to you? He who is good to people who have even harmed him, is a truly good man, so say the wise.

RaktaMukha replied…

to be continued…