Read the previous part here…
“And that is why, o wicked crocodile”, concluded RaktaMukha. “Just like GangaDatta, I will never enter your house!”
KarālaMukha heard this and said “My dear RaktaMukha, this is not right. I know that I have been ungrateful, and so please allow me a chance to redeem myself, by inviting you to my house. Else, I will fast unto death right here in front of you.”
RaktaMukha replied “Do you think I am as foolish as LambaKarna, who, even after he knew that danger lay ahead, let himself be killed?”
आगतश् च गतश् चैव गत्वा यः पुनर् आगतः ।
अकर्ण-हृदयो मूर्खस् तत्रैव निधनं गतः ॥ ३३ ॥
āgataś ca gataś caiva gatvā yaḥ punar āgataḥ |
akarṇa-hṛdayo mūrkhas tatraiva nidhanaṃ gataḥ || 33 ||
He came once and saw the might of the lion and went back, But that fool, who had no ear nor a heart, went back one more time, and got himself killed.
KarālaMukha seemed puzzled. “Who was LambaKarna? Why did he go back in spite of knowing the dangers that lay ahead? Tell me how that happened…”
The story of the lion and LambaKarna
In a forest not so far away from here, lived a lion named KarālaKesha (the one with a terrifying mane). He had a fox named Dhoosaraka (the one who is colored like dust) as his servant.
One day KarālaKesha fought with a huge elephant, and was heavily injured in the process. He managed to save his life, but was unable to walk due to his wounds. He rested in his cave for many days, but since he could not move well, hunting was out of the question. Dhoosaraka also went hungry, and became very weak as a result.
One day, unable to bear his hunger, he told KarālaKesha “My lord, I am very hungry. I cannot even walk properly. How will I be able to serve you in this condition?”
KarālaKesha replied “My dear Dhoosaraka, go and find an animal and bring him here. Even though I am wounded, I will be able to kill him. We can then have some food.”
And so Dhoosaraka went in search of an animal to take with him. He reached a nearby village, and there saw a donkey named LambaKarna (the one with the hanging ears), who was grazing on the fresh grass on the banks of a river. Dhoosaraka approached him and said “Uncle, namaskar! You have been seen after a very long time! Tell me, how are you? How did you become so weak?”
LambaKarna replied “Oh my dear nephew! What can I tell you? My master, that cruel dhobi (washerman) is heartless. He makes me work day and night, and does not feed me well. I manage to sneak up here and eat this grass, once in a while. With such a diet, how would I ever become strong?”
Dhoosaraka gave him an empathetic smile. “Uncle, this is unjust! I don’t think that you should stay here anymore. Come with me, I will show you a beautiful grassland near a river that I passed by…the grass is green and fresh, and the water of that river is sweet. You could live there happily, and I will also be able to spend quality time with you, discussing matters of philosophy and the scriptures.”
LambaKarna sighed. “You are right, dear nephew. But I am a domesticated animal, and the animals in the forest consider us as food. Of what use is that beautiful grassland, if it is in the forest?”
“Don’t you worry about that”, said Dhoosaraka in a reassuring voice. “That land is under my protection, and so nobody can enter it without my permission. Incidentally, three orphaned female donkeys are also staying there. They are beautiful and in the peak of their youth. Poor things, they are lonely and longing for company. When I was setting out, they implored me to search the nearby villages for a suitable donkey who could be their husband. And see the coincidence..here I am standing in front of a handsome and virile donkey! By the way, are you married?”
LambaKarna could not control his excitement. “Oh no, no I am not. And why are we wasting time discussing things? Lead me to the grassland, I would love to eat the grass, and while I am there, I can also meet those three donkeys that you spoke about….let’s hurry!”
It has rightly been said…
नामृतं न विषं किञ्चिद् एकां मुक्त्वा नितम्बिनीम् ।
यस्याः सङ्गेन जीव्येत म्रियते च वियोगतः ॥ ३४ ॥
nāmṛtaṃ na viṣaṃ kiñcid ekāṃ muktvā nitambinīm |
yasyāḥ saṅgena jīvyeta mriyate ca viyogataḥ || 34 ||
You are our nectar, o beautiful woman, and you are our poison too. For in your company, one finds life, and in your separation, death.
यासां नाम्नापि कामः स्यात् सङ्गमं दर्शनं विना ।
तासां दृक्-सङ्गमं प्राप्य यन् न द्रवति कौतुकम् ॥ ३५ ॥
yāsāṃ nāmnāpi kāmaḥ syāt saṅgamaṃ darśanaṃ vinā |
tāsāṃ dṛk-saṅgamaṃ prāpya yan na dravati kautukam || 35 ||
If passion arises in your heart, just by hearing the name of a pretty woman, without seeing her or being one with her, then why are you astonished when a man melts just by looking into her eyes?
And so the hapless donkey followed the fox, and reached the lion’s cave. The lion saw him enter, and tried to get up quickly. Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for LambaKarna, the hungry lion couldn’t muster enough strength to grab onto the donkey’s legs. He lashed out with his paw, but could only slap the back of LambaKarna, who beat a hasty retreat, and escaped into the jungle.
“Is that all you could do?”, shouted Dhoosaraka angrily. “I brought him all the way here, and you could not even catch him. Forget that, you struck him, but he still ran away. And you brag about fighting an elephant. I’m sure that was all a lie!”
“I’m sorry”, said KarālaKesha sheepishly. “I really was not prepared – the donkey just walked in when I was snoozing. Trust me, when I am alert, I can even defeat an elephant.”
“Well, it is ok”, replied Dhoosaraka, as he calmed down. “I will bring him here again. But this time, be prepared.”
“But he has already seen me”, protested KarālaKesha. “Even though it was dark…I don’t think he will come here again. Why don’t you find another animal?”
“You leave that to me”, retorted Dhoosaraka. “Just be ready to pounce, let me do the rest.” Saying this, he set out to the village.
to be continued…