Read the previous part here…
The pearl is smooth, beautiful and unbroken…yet gets bound in a thread when a hole is pieced in it’s centre. Similarly, a man could be without enemies, well-behaved and pleasant in character. But he is defeated by his smallest weaknesses.
And so, the fox approached the tiger, with his head held high, and said…
“Uncle! Why are you entering this death trap? DOn’t you know that this elephant lying dead here has been killed by the king of this forest, the lion? He has asked me to stand guard here, and has gone to take a bath before the meal. He also said that if I happen to spot a tiger, I should inform him, since he wants to rid this forest of all tigers. Rumor has it that some tiger ate a portion of his kill a few years back, and since then the lion has been angry with all tigers, and has resolved to end their menace once and for all…”
“My dear nephew”, replied the frightened tiger. “Please spare my life, and don’t mention anything about me when he is back. I promise that I will not be seen in this forest ever again!” Saying this, he ran away faster than any cheetah that MahāChaturaka had seen.
The fox smiled to himself, sat down again, and waited.
In a few minutes, a leopard came his way. “The leopard has strong teeth…I should be able to make him tear this elephant’s thick hide”, thought MahāChaturaka, as he stood up again.
“Hey there! My nephew! It’s been so long since I saw you…how have you been? You have grown so thin, and look hungry too. Well, now that you are my guest, come and feast on this elephant. It was killed by a lion, but he has now gone to take a bath. Quickly, have your fill before he comes back…”
The leopard replied “Uncle, if a lion has killed this elephant, then I should not eat it. One can achieve a lot in life, but only if one is alive. It is said – यच्छक्यं ग्रसितुं शस्तं ग्रस्तं परिणमेच्च यत् हितं च परिणामे यत्तदाद्यं भूतिमिच्छता – One should only eat what is suitable for one’s self, what can be well-digested and what results in good health and well-being…I will not be able to digest this meal, because the lion will not leave me alive. And so, I think it is better than I keep walking.”
“Don’t be a coward”, said MahāChaturaka, “I have heard so many stories of bravery about you, your exploits in the battlefield…and you act this way? I insist – eat, and eat well, I will warn you well in advance, when the lion is about to make his way back.”
The leopard, who was actually very hungry, didn’t need any further coaxing. He sat down, and started to tear at the elephant’s hide. As soon as he tore it, MahāChaturaka shouted loudly. “Oh no! He is coming back already! Quickly, run!”
The poor leopard run away.
MahāChaturaka settled down to eat, but then another fox, who saw the dead elephant, came that way. As they stood in front of each other, MahāChaturaka remembered…
उत्तमं प्रणिपातेन शूरं भेदेन योजयेत् ।
नीचम् अल्प-प्रदानेन सम-शक्तिं पराक्रमैः ॥ ७८ ॥
uttamaṃ praṇipātena śūraṃ bhedena yojayet |
nīcam alpa-pradānena sama-śaktiṃ parākramaiḥ || 78 ||
One should bow before enemies who are superior, deceive enemies who are adept at fighting, bribe enemies who are of low character, but fight those who are equal in strength, so say the wise.
And so MahāChaturaka jumped on the other fox, fought hard, and killed him. He then was able to enjoy delicious elephant meat for many days to come.
“And so”, said RaktaMukha as he concluded his story “Go fight and defeat your enemy, since he is equal in strength. If you don’t act now, he will settle down there, and one day will kill you as well. It is said…
सम्भाव्यं गोषु सम्पन्नं सम्भाव्यं ब्राह्मणे तपः ।
सम्भाव्यं स्त्रीषु चापल्यं सम्भाव्यं जातितो भयम् ॥ ८२ ॥
sambhāvyaṃ goṣu sampannaṃ sambhāvyaṃ brāhmaṇe tapaḥ |
sambhāvyaṃ strīṣu cāpalyaṃ sambhāvyaṃ jātito bhayam || 82 ||
Where there are cows, you can expect prosperity, where there are learned men, you can expect self-discipline, where there are women, you can expect undue attention, and where there are relatives, you can expect fear of being judged.
सुभिक्षाणि विचित्राणि शिथिलाः पौर-योषितः ।
एको दोषो विदेशस्य स्वजातिर् यद् विरुध्यते ॥ ८३ ॥
subhikṣāṇi vicitrāṇi śithilāḥ paura-yoṣitaḥ |
eko doṣo videśasya svajātir yad virudhyate || 83 ||
There are many comforts, the women are beautiful too, there is only one problem in foreign lands…one’s own go against you.
“How did that happen?”, said KarālaMukha.
to be continued…