Of singing donkeys and clever foxes…

Read the previous part here…

The one with a hundred tricks sat on the head of the fisherman, the one with a thousand tricks is hanging by the fisherman’s arm…I with only one trick am happily swimming in the water!

VairāgyaKumar continued “You also said that intelligence is better than education, but I don’t believe it to be the case. It is not always that intelligence is better than learning.”

TruptaKumar replied “Even in that case, you should have listened to my advice, one that I gave as a true friend. But what could you do? I tried to stop you, but you wouldn’t stop. You were greedy for more, and you were arrogant and proud because of your education. It is rightly said…”

साधु मातुल गीतेन मया प्रोक्तो ऽपि न स्थितः ।
अपूर्वो ऽयं मणिर् बद्धः सम्प्राप्तं गीत-लक्षणम् ॥ ४९ ॥

sādhu mātula gītena mayā prokto ‘pi na sthitaḥ |
apūrvo ‘yaṃ maṇir baddhaḥ samprāptaṃ gīta-lakṣaṇam || 49 ||

Uncle! You didn’t stop singing even when I told you to. Now you wear a beautiful gem around your neck…what an apt reward for your singing!

VairāgyaKumar said “How did that happen?”

TruptaKumar replied…


The story of the donkey and the fox

In a village, not so far away from here, lived a donkey named Uddhata (the arrogant one). He belonged to a washerman, and carried huge bundles of clothes every day in the mornings. His evenings were usually free, and so he used to sneak out and wander freely at night. He did make it a point to be back by sunrise, out of fear of being punished.

During his night travels, he made friends with a fox named Chatura (the clever one). They used to graze in random fields and spend time wandering near the hills.

On one such outing, they tried to enter a cucumber field. The donkey was fat, and as a result, he broke the fence when he was trying to squeeze in. But get into the field they did, and ate delicious cucumbers to their heart’s content.

They returned to their respective houses in the morning, but the taste of the cucumbers was not lost on them. And so, they returned to the same field the very next night, and this continued for a while.

One starry night, as they were having their fill of cucumbers, Uddata looked up at the sky and remarked “My dear nephew…look how beautiful the night is…the stars shine through, and the moon looks on….”

Chatura nodded his head, as he kept munching.

“I feel like singing tonight”, said Uddata, “tell me, what raaga would you like to hear?”

Chatura choked on the cucumber that he was chewing. “Uncle, what are you saying? Why would you want to invite trouble? We are thieves, and are in the middle of a heist. Those who steal, and those who go to meet women on the sly, should not attract undue attention to themselves. It is said…”

कांसी विवर्जयेच् चौर्यं निद्रालुश् चेत् स पुंश्चलीम् ।
जिह्वा-लौल्यं च रुजाक्रान्तो जीवितं यो ऽत्र वाञ्छति ॥ ५० ॥

kāṃsī vivarjayec cauryaṃ nidrāluś cet sa puṃścalīm |
jihvā-laulyaṃ ca rujākrānto jīvitaṃ yo ‘tra vāñchati || 50 ||

Those who cough excessively, should not become thieves, those who sleep excessively, should not become casanovas, and those who are sick should not speak excessively – if they want to be happy in life.

“And by the way, your singing is not melodious. It is also loud and heard over a long distances…the owners of this field sleep quite close by, to guard it against thieves like us. If they happen to wake up, hearing your ‘melodious’ singing, they will tie us up and beat us, or maybe even kill us. And so, silently eat these cucumbers, and relish them. Please drop the idea of becoming a singer….”

Uddata looked a bit offended. “Common, you live in the forest. What do you know of the fine art of singing? It is said…

शरज्-ज्योत्स्नाहते दूरं तमसि प्रिय-सन्निधौ ।
धन्यानां विशति श्रोत्रे गीत-झङ्कार-जा सुधा ॥ ५१ ॥

śaraj-jyotsnāhate dūraṃ tamasi priya-sannidhau |
dhanyānāṃ viśati śrotre gīta-jhaṅkāra-jā sudhā || 51 ||

Oh, what bliss if murmurs sweet to hear, of music’s nectar woo your ear, when darkness flees from moonlight clear, in autumn, and your love is near…

Chatura smirked. “Uncle dearest, it’s fine, the poetry and all. But the fact is that you don’t know to sing. All you do is bray. And so, why take unnecessary risks, when you can be silent and enjoy the delicious cucumbers?”

Now Uddata became furious. “Are you implying that I don’t know to sing? Let me educate you on the art of classical singing….”

to be continued…