Madotkata thought for a moment, and then said “If this is so, then you have my permission. Go ahead.”
The jackal bowed, and quickly rushed back to the others.
The jackal reached his three friends, who were waiting nearby. Catching his breath, he said “Listen to me. Master is serious – his health is deterioating. In this situation, what is the use of roaming around trying to find food? Who will protect us if he is no more? He may die any minute. Let’s all go back, and offer ourselves to him. That is the least we can do! It is said that if the servant lives, and the master dies in his presence, the servant is sure to end up in hell.”
They reached the cave, and stood in front of Madotkata, their eyes filled with tears. Seeing them, Madotkata said “So you are back…did you find any creature that we can eat?”
The crow replied “Master! We searched everywhere, but it was fruitless. There is no food. And so, eat me and save your life. You will live, and I will be liberated, since the wise say that a devoted servant who gives up his life for his master, attains the highest goal of life.”
Hearing this, the jackal stepped forward and said “Oh no! You are too small in size! Master would not be able to fulfil his hunger by eating you, and he will also commit a sin by killing you.” The jackal continued ” You have shown your devotion to your master, and hence freed yourself from the debt of the food offered by him. You will be praised in all the three worlds. Now step aside. I have to say something to the master.”
The crow stepped back, and the jackal saluted Madotkata and said “Master! Please eat me and save yourself today. Give me the chance of becoming famous in all the three worlds. The wise say that the lives of servants belong to their master – and so if he kills them, he commits no sin.”
hearing this, the leopard said “Wait! You are right, o Jackal, but you are small in size, and you have long nails, that can hurt the master. But you have shown how high your ideals are. You are praiseworthy!”
The leopard continued “But for now step aside. I have to say something to the master.”
The jackal bowed and stepped back.
The leopard saluted Madotkata and said “Master! Kill me and save yourself! Give me a place in heaven. Let my fame spread far and wide. I have nothing to lose. It is said that those servants who die for their masters, find immortality in the three worlds!”
Hearing them speak, Krathanaka thought to himself “All of them have spoken and offered themselves, yet the master didn’t kill any of them. Let me also say something nice so that I earn their admiration and praise.” And so he called out “My dear leopard! What you say is true. But you also have sharp nails. How can the Master eat you? So move away. I want to say something to the master.”
The leopard moved away and Krathanaka stepped forward.
“Master! These three are not fit to be your food. And so, save yourself by eating me. I will also attain fame in all the three worlds.
It is said that even yogis do not attain that high a state, as a servant who sacrifices himself for the master.”
As soon as these words came out of Krathanaka’s mouth, Madotkata quickly nodded and the jackal and the leopard pounced on the camel and tore him to pieces. And so they ate good camel meat for many days to come.
“And that is why I say”, said Sanjeevaka, “when those who scheme, who are mean, and who cheat, all get together, they are capable of anything, however proper or improper it may be. Much like the crow and the others who cheated the camel. “
अशुद्ध-प्रकृतौ राज्ञि जनता नानुरज्यते ।
यथा गृध्र-समासन्नः कलहंसः समाचरेत् ॥ ३२४ ॥
aśuddha-prakṛtau rājñi janatā nānurajyate |
yathā gṛdhra-samāsannaḥ kalahaṃsaḥ samācaret || 324 ||
People are never happy with the king who is surrounded by wicked men, for even a good natured swan will imitate the cruel vulture if it lives in its company.
गृध्राकारो ऽपि सेव्यः स्याद् धंसाकारैः सभासदैः ।
हंसाकारो ऽपि सन्त्याज्यो गृध्राकारैः स तैर् नृपः ॥ ३२५ ॥
gṛdhrākāro ‘pi sevyaḥ syād dhaṃsākāraiḥ sabhāsadaiḥ |
haṃsākāro ‘pi santyājyo gṛdhrākāraiḥ sa tair nṛpaḥ || 325 ||
If the king is like a vulture, but is surrounded by swan-like courtiers, he should be served well. But, if a swan-like king is surrounded by people who act like vultures, then he should be discarded.
Sanjeevaka continued ” It seems like some wicked-hearted person has poisoned Pingalaka’s mind, and that is why he is angry with me. It is said…
to be continued…