The fox who killed no elephants…

Read the previous part here…

My son! You are brave, learned and handsome. But in the family you were born into, no elephants are slain.

The potter said “How did that happen?”

The king replied…

सिंहशृगालपुत्रयोः कथा

The story of the lion cubs and the fox cub

In a forest, not so far away from here, lived a lion and his lioness. In the course of time, the lioness gave birth to two sons. The lion hunted animals in the day, and brought home the meat for his family.

One day, he was not able to find any animal to hunt. He wandered in search of food till it became dark, and then started to walk home. On the way, he saw a fox cub. As it was too young to be killed, the lion carefully lifted it by the scruff of it’s neck, and continued home. Once he reached, he handed over the cub to his wife.

“My dear”, said the lioness. “Didn’t you bring us any food today?”

The lion replied “Unfortunately, this is the only animal I found today. I didn’t have the heart to kill such a young thing, and besides, he is somewhat like us, since foxes too hunt with their nails. It is said that women, the elderly, children and sages should never be killed, even in the time of peril, and especially if they have trusted you.”

“So eat him for now, and tomorrow I will try and fetch a larger animal.”

The lioness said “My dear, when you did not kill him because he is still a child, how can I kill him just to satisfy my hunger? It is said…

अकृत्यं नैव कर्तव्यं प्राण-त्यागेऽप्य् उपस्थिते ।
न च कृत्यं परित्याज्यम् एष धर्मः सनातनः ॥ ४१ ॥

akṛtyaṃ naiva kartavyaṃ prāṇa-tyāge’py upasthite |
na ca kṛtyaṃ parityājyam eṣa dharmaḥ sanātanaḥ || 41 ||

Even if one’s life is in danger, one should not commit a wrong deed. And if any good deed is possible, one should not hesitate to do it. This is Dharma.

“And so, this cub will be my third child from now on.”

And so the lioness fed the fox cub her own breast milk, and started to take care of him. The three cubs, unaware of the differences between them, spent their days playing and roaming around the forest together.

One day, a wild elephant happened to pass by the area where the three cubs were playing. Seeing him, the two lion cubs rushed towards him, their faces red in anger. The fox cub however, stopped them by saying “Hey! This is an elephant, and a natural enemy of your family. Don’t go anywhere near it!” He then sprinted away towards their cave.

The lion cubs too lost their enthusiasm, and started to walk back home. It is said…

एकेनापि सुधीरेण सोत्साहेन रणं प्रति ।
सोत्साहं जायते सैन्यं भग्ने भङ्गम् अवाप्नुयात् ॥ ४२ ॥

ekenāpi sudhīreṇa sotsāhena raṇaṃ prati |
sotsāhaṃ jāyate sainyaṃ bhagne bhaṅgam avāpnuyāt || 42 ||

In battle, even if one person displays exceptional courage and enthusiasm, the entire army becomes courageous and enthusiastic. If even one person acts like a coward and runs away, the entire army runs away too.

That is why kings choose brave warriors, and throw cowards out of the army.

The two lion cubs reached home and started to make fun of the fox cub. “He ran away when he saw an elephant!”, they told their father between laughs. This enraged the fox cub – his eyes became red and his brows narrowed. He started shouting at the other two cubs. The lioness quickly intervened, took him aside and said “My son, don’t speak that way. They are your brothers.”

The fox cub got even more angry. ” Why should they make fun of me? In what way am I any lesser than them? Beauty? Bravery? Talent? No…This time, I will surely kill them.”

Knowing that the fox cub would be no match for the two lion cubs, the lioness smiled and said…

शूद्रश् च कृत-विघ्नश् च दर्शनीयो ऽसि पुत्रक ।
यस्मिन् कुले त्वम् उत्पन्नो गजस् तत्र न हन्यते ॥ ३९ ॥

śūdraś ca kṛta-vighnaś ca darśanīyo ‘si putraka |
yasmin kule tvam utpanno gajas tatra na hanyate || 39 ||

My son! You are brave, learned and handsome. But in the family you were born into, no elephants are slain.

“My child, you are a fox cub”, said the lioness, “I fed you and nourished you out of kindness. My cubs are young, but before they realize that you are a fox and not a lion, it would be good for you to run away and join a herd of foxes. Else, they will not spare you.”

The fox cub heard her and started to tremble with fear. The very next day, he ran away in the wee hours of the morning, and joined a herd of foxes, and was never seen near the lion cave again.

“And so”, concluded the king. “Before the other soldiers realize that you are not a brave soldier, but a potter, run away from here and save your life. Else, they will first ridicule you, and then kill you.”

Yudhishtira didn’t need a second warning. Like the fox, he ran away, never to be seen in that kingdom again.

“And that is why I say”, concluded RaktaMukha, “the fool who forgoes his greed and selfishness and instead attempts to speak the truth, does not get what he wants, much like Yudhishtira the potter.”

“Shame on you…for you betrayed our friendship for the sake of a selfish woman. It is said…”

यद्-अर्थे स्व-कुलं त्यक्तं जीवितार्धं च हारितम् ।
सा मां त्यजति निःस्नेहा कः स्त्रीणां विश्वसेन् नरः ॥ ४४ ॥

yad-arthe sva-kulaṃ tyaktaṃ jīvitārdhaṃ ca hāritam |
sā māṃ tyajati niḥsnehā kaḥ strīṇāṃ viśvasen naraḥ || 44 ||

I left my family for her, and gave her half my life, she left me now without a second thought, what man can trust such a wife?

KarālaMukha said “How did that happen?”

RaktaMukha replied…

to be continued…