Of swans and pigeons…

Read the previous part here

If one does not help those who come to him seeking shelter, his prosperity vanishes, much like the swans in the lotus pond.

His relatives asked him “How did that happen?

Haridutta replied…


The story of the golden swan

In a city not so far away from here, lived a king named ChitraRatha. He owned a large and beautiful lake called PadmaSara, in which lived swans of gold. Every six months, they shed a feather each, which were then delivered to the king and became part of the royal treasury.

One day, a huge golden-coloured bird came to the lake. Seeing him, the other swans said “Go away from here. This lake has been rented by us, and we pay the king in golden feathers.”

The huge bird did not take to this kindly, and a dispute arose. When he saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere by arguing with the swans, he flew to the king, and said “Oh powerful king of the universe, listen to what those birds said! They told me that they wouldn’t allow anyone else to live at PadmaSara, and that you cannot do anything to them, since they pay you in golden feathers. I now appeal to you, since I have come to seek your refuge. What has to be done, is in your hands.”

The king heard this, got angry and ordered his servants “Get rid of this huge ugly bird. And what do those swans think of themselves? Go and kill all those birds and bring their dead bodies to me!”

The servants went towards the lake, swords and clubs in hand. Seeing them from afar, an old swan cried out to the rest of his clan “Listen, listen, we have trouble. Let’s all fly away from here.”

And they all flew away, leaving PadmaSara forever.

“That is why I say”, concluded HariDutta, if one does not help those who come to him seeking shelter, his prosperity vanishes, much like the swans in the lotus pond.

The next morning, HariDutta took some milk in a bowl and went to the snake house near the field. He bowed down to it, and started to sing praises of the snake.

The snake heard him, but did not come out of it’s hole. Instead, he just peeped outside and said “Oh Brahmin, you have come here only because of greed. You do not even grieve on the death of your son. And because of the circumstances, it is better that we don’t remain friends anymore. Your son was arrogant, he hit me, and so I bit him. How can I forget that hard blow he dealt to me, and how can you forget the pain of the death of your son? And so, we cannot remain friends.”

Having said this, the snake gave HariDutta a large diamond, and concluded “Do not come here ever again.” He then crawled back into his house.

Haridutta took the diamond home, all the way thinking about his son’s foolishness and repenting.

“And that is why I say”, concluded Raktāksha, चितिकां दीपितां पश्य फटाम् भग्नां ममैव चभिन्नश्लिष्टा तु या प्रीतिर्न सा स्नेहेन वर्धते – Look at the flames of my funeral pyre. Look at my broken hood. Once broken, love cannot be rejoined, even after demonstrating much affection. A diya with a broken wick cannot burn, however much oil is added to it.”

“Kill him without delay, that is my recommendation”, said Raktāksha.

AriMardana now turned to Kroorāksha. “And what is your opinion?”

Kroorāksha replied “What Raktāksha says is cruel, because a person seeking shelter should not be killed. It is said…”

श्रूयते हि कपोतेन शत्रुः शरणम् आगतः ।
पूजितश् च यथा-न्यायं स्वैश् च मांसैर् निमन्त्रितः ॥ १३४ ॥

śrūyate hi kapotena śatruḥ śaraṇam āgataḥ |
pūjitaś ca yathā-nyāyaṃ svaiś ca māṃsair nimantritaḥ || 134 ||

It is heard that the pigeon not only welcomed his enemy who sought shelter, but also offered his own flesh as food.

AriMardana said “How did that happen?”

Kroorāksha replied…

to be continued…