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.
Damanaka said “How did that happen?”
The story of the camel and the crow
Once, in a forest not so far away from here, lived a lion named Madotkata (the one who is arrogant). A leopard, a crow and a jackal were his closest followers. One day, as they were wandering in the forest, they saw a camel named Krathanaka (one who is fit to be slaughtered), who was sitting near a tree, abandoned by the merchants of his caravan.
Seeing him, the lion said “Aha! Now here is a unique creature! Go find out if he is from a forest, or from a village nearby.”
Hearing this, the crow replied “Master! This belongs to the village and it is a camel. It is an animal fit to be eaten by you. Kill it.”
The lion looked at the crow and said “I will not kill a person who has come to our house. It is said that one should not kill even an enemy who comes to your house fearless, and full of trust on you. Attacking him would be a great sin.”
“Promise him sanctuary, and bring him here,” continued Madotkata, “I will ask him for the reason he has come here.” The camel was thus promised sanctuary, and brought in front of the lion. Krathanaka bowed to the lion, and sat down. When questioned, Krathanaka told them that he had been abandoned by the merchants who had passed through the forest with their caravan.
The lion said “Oh Krathanaka! You don’t have to go back to that village and become a beast of burden again. Stay back in this forest and you can live here with me fearlessly.”
Krathanaka agreed and stated to live with the lion and spent his days happily grazing on the green grass on the banks off the river that ran nearby. He loved around with the tribe, without any fear, and felt a part of them as well. And so many months passed…
One day, Madotkata had an intense fight with a huge elephant that also stayed in the forest. The elephant was a strong – he fought well and heavily wounded the lion, who the retreated into his cave to tend to his wounds. He wasn’t able to even walk properly, and hence the next few days passed without him venturing out to hunt. As a result, his tribe had to stay hungry as well. Madotkata called them close to him and said “Go search for any animal whom I can kill even in this state, and bring him here. I will kill him and feed all of us.”
The leopard, the crow, the jackal and the camel wandered all around the forest, but could not find such an animal. The jackal, who was walking behind the rest, called out to the crow and said “Tell me something, why are we wandering so much? The camel is here and trusts our king. Let us get him killed today and feed ourselves.”
The crow agreed. “You are right! But our king has promised the camel sanctuary and hold him that he would not be killed…”
The jackal replied ” Let me go and try to convince the king in a way that he agrees to kill this camel. Wait here with everybody while I go to meet the king, and return with his orders.”
And so the jackal rushed to the cave, to speak with Madotkata.
The jackal reached the cave, bowed to the king and said “Master! We wandered all over the forest, but were unable to find a single animal. What do we do now? We are exhausted due to hunger, and cannot move anymore. You also need to eat – you are becoming weaker by the day.” The jackal lowered his voice and continued “If you command, we can have enough meat for a lot more days…by killing Krathanaka.”
Hearing him speak this way, the lion got livid. “You wretched soul! Don’t you dare speak such a thing again – I will kill you instantly! I have promised Krathanaka sanctuary. How can I kill him? It is said that offering a cow, land or food are of not much value, when compared to offering sanctuary to a person – it is the biggest of all charities – so say the wise.”
Hearing this, the jackal said “You are right my king…if you promise sanctuary, and then kill the person, it is wrong. But, if because of his excessive devotion to you, the camel offers himself to you, then it is not wrong. If he wants to get killed by his own free will, then you can go ahead and fulfil his wish. Else, you are better off killing any one of us. You are a patient, and need proper food to eat. A lot of things can go wrong, when you try to suppress your hunger. Of what use is our lives, if not in your service? If anything happens to you, we will give up our lives as well. It is said…”
यस्मिन् कुलॆ यः पुरुषः प्रधानः स सर्व-यत्नैः परिरक्षणीयः।
तस्मिन् विनष्टॆ स्व-कुलम्विनष्टम्न नाभि-भंगॆ ह्य् अरका वहंति॥३१४ ||
yasmin kule yah purushah pradhānah sa sarva-yatnaihi parirkshanēyah |
Jasmin vinasht sva-kulambinashtamna nābhi-bhāge hah arak vahanti || 314 ||
The most important person in a family, or a tribe, should be taken care of and protected at all costs. If he perishes, the tribe perishes. When the centre of the wheel is broken, the spokes alone cannot move the chariot ahead.
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.
to be continued…