The fox and the drum…

Read the previous part here…

I thought so in the beginning that this was filled with flesh, but after entering it I understood it to be just leather and wood.”

Pingalaka looked astonished- “How did that happen?”

Damanaka explained…



“Once, a fox named Gomāyu was wandering in the forest, feeling very thirsty and hungry. He came across a deserted battle-ground where two armies had fought long time ago. Hidden in the midst of some plants was a drum that had fallen there, possibly during the battle. Whenever the wind blew, the creepers next to it stuck the drum hard, thus creating weird sounds. The fox heard this sound…and panicked! He thought- “Oh no, it seems that I am done for. Let me run away, before the creature making this weird noise sees me. Or, may be I should not run away…because, it is said…”

भये वा यदि वा हर्षे सम्प्राप्ते यो विमर्शयेत् ।
कृत्यं न कुरुते वेगान् न स सन्तापम् आप्नुयात् ॥ ११८ ॥

evaṃ jñātvā narendbhaye vā yadi vā harṣe samprāpte yo vimarśayet |
kṛtyaṃ na kurute vegān na sa santāpam āpnuyāt || 118 ||

He who ponders a while when in fear or in joy, and does not do anything hastily, will never come to grief.

“Therefore, let me first find out where this sound is coming from.” In this manner, he gathered some courage and cautiously moved towards the sound, until he saw the drum. Cautiously, he inched forward until he reached closer, reached out with his paw, struck the drum, and jumped back.

Happy that it didn’t react (except for emitting that weird sound), Gomāyu thought happily –“Aha! I have obtained some food after quite a while! This seems to be filled with abundant flesh, sinews and blood.”

He somehow managed to tear open the hard leather covering the drum and made a hole in it. Feeling pleased with himself, he entered the drum through the hole, but his teeth broke in the process of tearing off the leather covering. Inside, he just found pieces of wood. Disappointed, he said to himself – पूर्वमेव मया ज्ञातं (I thought so in the beginning).

“Therefore”, said Damanaka, “one should not be frightened just because of hearing some sounds”.

Pingalaka said – “Oh! Look at all the people who are with me. They are all terribly frightened and want to run away from here. How do think I can remain brave in such circumstances?”

Damanaka replied-“Master! This is not their fault. Servants always act like their masters. It is said…”

अश्वः शस्त्रं शास्त्रं वीणा वाणी नरश् च नारी च ।
पुरुष-विशेषं प्राप्ता भवन्त्य् अयोग्याश् च योग्याश् च ॥ ११९ ॥

aśvaḥ śastraṃ śāstraṃ vīṇā vāṇī naraś ca nārī ca |
puruṣa-viśeṣaṃ prāptā bhavanty ayogyāś ca yogyāś ca || 119 ||

Horses, weapons, scriptures, the Veena, speech, and men, all become good or bad according to the person who controls them.

“If in the hands of capable people, they reach their best potential, and if in the case of incapable people, they are of no use.”

“Therefore you muster up some courage and wait for me here. I will go and find out the source of that sound. After that, we will do whatever needs to be done.”

Pingalaka looked shocked. “What!” he exclaimed. “Are you ready to go there?” Damanaka responded -“Is there anything that can or cannot be done by the good servant when the Master has commanded? It is said…

स्वाम्य्-आदेशात् सुभृत्यस्य न भोः सञ्जायते क्वचित् ।
प्रविशेन् मुखम् आहेयं दुस्तरं वा महार्णवम् ॥ १२० ॥

svāmy-ādeśāt subhṛtyasya na bhoḥ sañjāyate kvacit |
praviśen mukham āheyaṃ dustaraṃ vā mahārṇavam || 120 ||

When the master commands, there remains no fear at all in the mind of a good servant; he can enter even the mouth of a serpent or jump into the uncrossable oceans.

स्वाम्य्-आदिष्टस् तु यो भृत्यः समं विषमम् एव च ।
मन्यते न स सन्धार्यो भूभुजा भूतिम् इच्छता ॥ १२१ ॥

svāmy-ādiṣṭas tu yo bhṛtyaḥ samaṃ viṣamam eva ca |
manyate na sa sandhāryo bhūbhujā bhūtim icchatā || 121 ||

If the servant starts thinking of the level of difficulty of the task, even after receiving a command from the mastersuch a servant does not deserve to serve a master, especially one who desires to be prosperous.

Pingalaka said -“Good! If that is the case, then go. Let auspiciousness accompany you in your path.”

Damanaka saluted him and started towards the place where Sanjeevaka, the bull was making the sounds that had startled Pingalaka.

When Damanaka went away, Pingalaka stuck by fear started to think…

to be continued

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