The foolish turtle…

Read the previous part here...

The Tittibha flies with it’s feet spread out, thinking that it will hold back the falling sky with its feet! And like this, who does not feel proud of his own imagined superiority?

“I am also curious to know what he would do to save his eggs and prove himself, if I dare take them away”, though the ocean, as he lay back and waited…


After laying the eggs, the Tittibha birds flew away in search of food. In their absence, the ocean carried away the eggs through high-rising waves. The female bird saw the empty nest when she returned, and wept hard and said to her husband-“You fool! I had told you that the eggs will get destroyed when the waves ride high, and asked you to let us move further away from here. But you did not heed my words, due to arrogance and foolishness. It is true that…”

सुह्ड़्दाम्हितकामानाम् न करॊतीह यॊवचः। 
स कूर्म इव दुर्बुढिः काष्ठाद् भ्रष्टॊ विनश्यति॥
३४४

suhadām hitakāmanām n katotīh yovachah | sa kūrm iva durbuddhih kāśtād bhraśto vinaśayati ||

He who does not follow the advice of his friends and well-wishers will be destroyed, like the foolish turtle, which fell down, letting go the stick it was holding on to.”

Her husband asked “How did that happen?”. She replied…

मूर्खकच्छपकथा

The story of the foolish turtle

In a lake not so far away from here, lived a turtle named Kambugreeva (one one with a conch-like neck). Two swans named Samkata (the slim one) and Vikata (the fat one) were very friendly with him. They came to the lake everyday, sat with Kambugreeva and narrated to him the stories of many wise sages and matters of philosophy. As the sun set, they would fly off to their own nests a little far away from the lake.

As time passed, the lake started to dry up. The swans thought to themselves “It is time for us to move to another lake,. But first, let us say our goodbyes to our dear friend, who we have known for so long.”

When they visited Kambugreeva and conveyed their goodbyes, he said “why are you saying good-bye to me?If you love me, you should rescue me. When the lake dries up, you will suffer a little, but still live. I, on the other hand, will not survive, and will die. So what is worse? Loss of food, or death? It is said…

त्याज्यं न धैर्यं विधुरेऽपि काले धैर्यात् कदाचिद् गतिम् आप्नुयात् सः ।
यथा समुद्रेऽपि च पोत-भङ्गे सांयात्रिको वाञ्छति तर्तुम् एव ॥ ३४५ ॥

tyājyaṃ na dhairyaṃ vidhure’pi kāle dhairyāt kadācid gatim āpnuyāt saḥ |
yathā samudre’pi ca pota-bhaṅge sāṃyātriko vāñchati tartum eva || 345 ||

One should not give up courage in times of danger; it may be that due to this courage you are able to tide over hard times. A seafarer tries his best to reach the shore, even if his ship breaks down midway.

“And also…”

मित्रार्थे बान्धवार्थे च बुद्धिमान् यतते सदा ।
जातास्व् आपत्सु यत्नेन जगादेदं वचो मनुः ॥ ३४६ ॥

mitrārthe bāndhavārthe ca buddhimān yatate sadā |
jātāsv āpatsu yatnena jagādedaṃ vaco manuḥ || 346 ||

An intelligent person should always help his friends and relatives in hard times. It is through this constant effort, that difficulties are overcome.

“You both bring a strong rope, or a light stick. Search for a lake with abundant water. I will hold on to the centre of the stick, or the rope, with my teeth. You both can hold the ends of the stick with your beaks and carry me this way to that lake. “

Samkata and Vikata liked the plan. But they cautioned Kambugreeva and said “This is a good plan. We will help you. But you should remain calm and silent throughout the journey. Else you will fall down.”


The very next day, the swans brought with them a light stick, and Kambugreeva got ready to leave the lake. He said his prayers, and then held on to the middle of the stick, as the swans took the ends in their beaks, and started to fly away. As they flew northwards, Kambugreeva saw them pass a city below. Some people, witnessing this astonishing scene, called out to the others and said “Hey! Look up there! These two swans are carrying something and flying away!”

Hearing this commotion below, Kambugreeva said “What is this noise?”

Well, this is what he started to say, but as soon as he opened his mouth to say the first word, he fell down from the sky, onto the crowd below, who promptly killed it.

“And that is why I say”, said the female Tittibha,

He who does not follow the advice of his friends and well-wishers will be destroyed, like the foolish tortoise, which fell down, letting go the stick it was holding on to.”

“And also”, she continued,

अनागत-विधाता च प्रत्युत्पन्न-मतिस् तथा ।
द्वाव् एतौ सुखम् एधेते यद्-भविष्यो विनश्यति ॥ ३४७ ॥

anāgata-vidhātā ca pratyutpanna-matis tathā |
dvāv etau sukham edhete yad-bhaviṣyo vinaśyati || 347 ||

“Far-sighted” and “Quick-witted” both survived and lived happily, while “Whatever happens is inevitable” died.

Her husband asked “How did that happen?”

The female replied…

to be continued