of quick thinking and close shaves…

Read the previous part here…

As they moved towards deeper waters, RaktaMukha got frightened, held the crocodile tightly, and said “KarālaMukha, please swim slowly. These waves and splashing water on me, and I am afraid that I will drown!”

KarālaMukha heard him and thought to himself “I have reached the deep sea now. RaktaMukha is in my control – he cannot move an inch since he is seated on my back. It is time for me to tell him the truth. At least let me give him time to say his last prayers…”

And so he said “My dear RaktaMukha, my wife convinced me to bring her your heart, and so I deceived you and got you all the way here to kill you. I am telling this to you now, so that you can say your last prayers.”

RaktaMukha was shocked. “I thought you were my friend! What wrong have I done to offend your wife or you, that you decided to kill me?”

KarālaMukha replied “My wife has been longing to eat that heart of yours. She said that you have been eating sweet jamuns for so many years, that your heart will also be sweet by now. And so I brought you here to kill you and take your heart to her.”

RaktaMukha thought fast – after all, his life depending on what he was going to say next.

“Is that so? Oh no. You should have told me this earlier, before we left the shore. I always keep my heart in the jamun tree, so that it remains safe and secure. I would have brought it with me to give it to your wife, but you didn’t say a word about this. What is the use now of going to meet her, without my heart?”

The crocodile felt relieved. “If this is the case, then give me that heart of yours. I will take it to my wicked wife, so that she can let go of her tantrums and start to eat again. Let’s turn back, and go to that jamun tree.”

And so KarālaMukha started to swim back towards the shore. RaktaMukha didn’t have time to lose – he kept praying to all the gods he liked, and those that he didn’t like as well, until they reached the shore. Once there, he jumped off the crocodile’s back, rushed to the tree, and climbed onto it’s highest branch, safe from the reaches of KarālaMukha.

“It’s my good fortune that I am back to safety…what a close shave with death!”, he thought to himself.

It is well said…

न विश्वसेद् अविश्वस्ते विश्वस्तेऽपि न विश्वसेत् ।
विश्वासाद् भयम् उत्पन्नं मूलान्य् अपि निकृन्तति ॥ १४ ॥

na viśvased aviśvaste viśvaste’pi na viśvaset |
viśvāsād bhayam utpannaṃ mūlāny api nikṛntati || 14 ||

One should not trust those who are not to be trusted. One should also not blindly trust those who should be trusted. Because, the fear that arises out trusting someone destroys one from the inside.

“Today I have been born again”, he thought, and thanked his lucky stars.

As he was lost in thought, he heard the crocodile call out to him from below ” My dear friend, bring me that heart of yours so that I can take it to your bhabhi and she can break her fast.”

RaktaMukha laughed sarcastically and said “You fool! You cheat! You ungrateful person! Can anyone have a second heart? Go away from here, and never come back again!”

सकृद् दुष्टं च यो मित्रं पुनः सन्धातुम् इच्छति, स मृत्युम् उपगृह्णाति – He who trusts a person who has betrayed him and believes that he can still be a friend, invites certain death and destruction.

KarālaMukha heard his words, and felt embarrassed. “What a food I am”, he thought to himself. “Why did I reveal my true intentions? Anyway, what is done is done Let me try again. Maybe I can still convince him.”

“O my dear RaktaMukha”, he said. “I was only testing your friendship! It was all a joke. Did you really believe it? What use will my wife have for your heart? You passed the test, and now let’s forget all that and set out to my house. Your bhabhi is waiting eagerly!”

RaktaMukha said “No, you wicked crocodile. I will not step down from this tree. It is said…

बुभुक्षितः किं न करोति पापं क्षीणा जना निष्करुणा भवन्ति ।
आख्याहि भद्रे प्रिय-दर्शनस्य न गङ्गदत्तः पुनर् एति कूपम् ॥ १६ ॥

bubhukṣitaḥ kiṃ na karoti pāpaṃ kṣīṇā janā niṣkaruṇā bhavanti |
ākhyāhi bhadre priya-darśanasya na gaṅgadattaḥ punar eti kūpam || 16 ||

What sin will a hungry man not commit, in order to satisfy his hunger? Those who are hungry, have no pity. O Good lady, tell Priyadarshana the snake, that GangaDutta will not enter the well again.

KarālaMukha said “How did that happen?”

RaktaMukha replied…

to be continued…