A wise man should think of a good plan to get out of danger; but he must be also be aware of the danger that can arise due to his plans. All the cranes were killed by the mongoose, because of the foolishness of one crane.
Dharma-Buddhi said “How did that happen?”
The story of the crane and the mongoose
In a forest not so far away from here, lived a group of cranes near a large fig tree. A black serpent lived in the hollow of that tree. It was a wicked serpent – it used to kill and eat the young ones of the cranes, in order to satisfy its hunger. The cranes felt sad when they saw this happen, but they used to try to overcome their grief by hoping that the snake would leave the tree one day. Unfortunately for them, this day just did not come.
One day, the serpent ate the babies of a young crane, whose wife had just given birth. He could not bear this, and flew to the banks of a lake nearby, his eyes filled with tears.
Seeing him cry, a crab who lived near the lake, walked up to him and asked “My friend, why are you crying?”
The crane replied “Oh what do I do? The evil serpent has eaten my young ones. I am unable to bear this pain, and so I came here to cry. If you want to help me, please tell me a way to get rid of that serpent.”
The crab thought to himself “By nature, cranes are our enemies. Let me suggest him something, that he thinks is a plan to help him, but will actually be a way to get rid of all the cranes living near that tree. It is said that – नवनीतसमां वाणीं कृत्वा चित्तं तु निर्दयं (navanīta-samāṃ vāṇīṃ kṛtvā cittaṃ tu nirdayam) – one should speak words as soft as butter, but the heart as strong as rock, and so shall one kill the enemy and all his people.”
And so the crab replied “My dear, here is something that you can do. Take a few pieces of meat and lay them along the path to the tree, right up to the hollow where the snake lives. I know a mongoose who lives nearby – he will surely follow the smell of the meat, and reach the tree and kill the serpent.”
The crane did as he was told. He placed pieces of meat all along the path leading up to the tree, and some inside the hollow of the tree as well. As predicted by the crab, the mongoose smelt the meat, and came along the path, eating the pieces of meat on the way. As he reached the hollow of the tree, he saw the serpent, fought and killed it. He then saw the cranes near the tree, and killed all of them as well.
“That is why we say”, concluded the judges, a wise man should think of a good plan to get out of danger; but he must be also be aware of the danger that can arise due to his plans. All the cranes were killed by the mongoose, because of the foolishness of one crane.“
“Paapa-Buddhi thought of a plan to steal the money, but failed to anticipate the adverse consequences of his actions.”
“And that is why”, said Karataka, “I know both Dharma-Buddhi and Paapa-Buddhi. It is due to the stupidity of the son that the father nearly died from smoke.”
“Oh Damanaka”, continued Karataka, “you thought of a plan to get your way, but failed to see the consequences of your actions, just like Paapa-Buddhi. Now, because of your foolishness, our master Pingalaka is in danger of getting killed. If you can bring such misfortune to our powerful master, what chance do ordinary beings like us stand? And so, I do not want your company anymore. Furthermore, it is said…
तुलां लोह-सहस्रस्य यत्र खादन्ति मूषकाः ।
राजंस् तत्र हरेच् छ्येनो बालकं नात्र संशयः ॥ ४४२ ॥
tulāṃ loha-sahasrasya yatra khādanti mūṣakāḥ |
rājaṃs tatra harec chyeno bālakaṃ nātra saṃśayaḥ || 442 ||
Where rats can eat a huge and heavy balance made of iron , O king, the hawk can easily carry off a child; there is no doubt about it.
Damanaka said “How did that happen?”
to be continued…