Only he who has intelligence is strong; a foolish person can never be strong. Because, the arrogant lion, king of the forest, was killed by a mere rabbit.”
“How did that happen?”, asked Karataka.
The story of the Lion and the Hare
In a forest not too far away from here, lived a lion named Bhāsuraka. He was very strong, and used to kill many deer and rabbits as he moved about the forest. Some he used to eat; the others, he killed just for fun. One day, all the animals of the forest got together and approached Bhāsuraka. They said “Master! What is the use of killing so many animals daily, when you can eat just one? Let us come to an agreement. From tomorrow, you do not need to hunt, or go anywhere for food. Every day, one of us will come to you to be eaten. This way, you can save your energy and time, and live happily. And we will be saved from wasteful destruction. Would you be able to follow this?
Hearing this, Bhāsuraka said “Ok, I will agree to this. But remember – if an animal does not reach me even for one day, I will kill all of you.”
The animals promised to abide by this. They then started roaming in the forest, fearlessly and at peace that they wouldn’t be killed for no reason. Every afternoon, one among them went to the lion and offered himself to be eaten. And so this continued for a few months.
One day, it was the hare’s turn to go to the lion. He didn’t want to go – but since his turn had come, he wasn’t able to refuse. As he was walking reluctantly towards the lion’s den, he noticed a well on the way. He had an idea.
It was near nightfall when he finally reached Bhāsuraka’s cave. The lion was there, waiting impatiently. His throat had dried up, and he was furious. “Tomorrow morning, I will kill them all and eat them” he thought to himself. As he was thinking, he noticed the rabbit walking slowly towards him. Enraged, he shouted “You idiot! First of all you are so small; you will not be able to satisfy my hunger. Secondly, you took all day to reach here! Now, all the animals will be killed, because of you.”
The rabbit trembled. “Master”, he said pleadingly, “It wasn’t my mistake, and certainly not a mistake of the other animals. I was delayed for a valid reason.”
The lion refused to calm down.” Speak fast, before I sink my teeth into your neck”, he bellowed.
The rabbit spoke. “Master! It was the turn of the rabbits today. Since we are small, five of us set out, in the morning, to come here. As we were coming towards your cave, another huge lion jumped out of a hole in the ground and roared ” Where are you all going? I will eat you!”. I told him “We are going to our Master Bhāsuraka, so that he can eat us, as per what was agreed between him and all us animals.”
That lion laughed and said “If that is so, then know this – the forest belongs to me now. So all your animals should feed me, as per your agreement. Bhāsuraka is a scoundrel, he thinks he is king. I will hold these other four rabbits as ransom – go fetch him. Let him fight me and the winner can eat all your rabbits.”
“And so”, concluded the rabbit, “I have come to you, as per his order. That is why I was delayed.”
Hearing this, Bhāsuraka said “Nonsense! Show me that fraud of a lion. I was furious at all of you; now I will take it all out on that other lion.”
It is said…
to be continued…