Shanku-karna immediately replied “Please go ahead Chaturaka. Tell me what needs to be done so that I can get it done fast, and save the master and all of us. One such good act, will bring me the merits of a hundred good acts.”
“My dear Shanku-karna, offer your body to the master so that he returns it with interest. This way, your body will become double, and the master will also be able to satisfy his hunger and live on.”
Hearing this, Shanku-karna said “This is a great plan! If it is true, it will benefit me the most. You can go and tell our master to accept my body to satisfy his hunger, and give me two bodies in return. Let Dharma be the witness in this transaction.”
And so they all walked back to the cave, where Vajra-Danshtra was waiting.
When they reached, Chaturaka bowed to Vajra-Danshtra, and said “Master! We searched the whole forest; no animal could be found. The sun has set now. But there is an alternative. If you accept, Shanka-karna is willing to give you his body on double interest – you would have to return two bodies, one of which you can keep to satisfy your hunger.
Vajra-Danshtra was pleased. “I agree to these terms! Let Dharma be the witness in this transaction. “
As soon as Vajra-Danshtra spoke, the wolf and the jackal pounced on poor Shanku-karna and tore him to pieces.
Vajra-Danshtra got up from his seat, looked at Chaturaka and said “Chaturaka, I am going to the river to have a bath and perform a puja. You wait here and take care of this meat – don’t let anyone touch it. And control yourself as well. ” He then set out for the river.
When the lion was gone, Chaturaka thought to himself “What can I do so that I get to eat this whole camel by myself?” Having thought this, he turned to Kravya-mukha and said “My friend! You look very hungry. It seems like the master will take some time to return. In the meanwhile, feel free to have this meat. Don’t worry, I will prove you innocent once the master returns.”
The wolf agreed, and started eating the meat. He had just bit in a little when Chaturaka said “Kravya-mukha! The master is coming. Step away and stand there at a distance, so that the master does not suspect anything.”
Kravya-mukha got frightened; he stepped away and stood in the corner of the cave. Vajra-Danshtra walked in, and immediately noticed that the camel’s heart was missing. He became furious, and roared “Who has dared touch this camel before me? Speak up, so that I can kill him as well!” Kravya-mukha started to tremble; he looked at Chaturaka expecting him to say something to redeem this situation.
Chaturaka laughed and said ” Why are you looking at me now? I told you not to touch the meat. You disregarded me and ate it anyway! Now bear the consequences of your actions.”
Hearing this, Kravya-mukha knew that he had to escape, else he would be killed by the lion. He turned around, and ran as fast as he could, until he crossed the forest. Kravya-mukha was never seen again.
Vajra-Danshtra was just getting ready to bite into the meat, when a herd of camels was heard passing by. A huge bell hung on the neck of the leader, and it made a loud noise as the camel walked slowly through the forest. Vajra-Danshtra heard this sound and said “Chaturaka, can you go and see what this terrible sound is? I have never heard anything like it in my whole life!”
Chaturaka promptly rushed into the jungle, and was back within minutes. Panting hard, and gasping for breath, he said “Master! Please run away! As far as you can, right now!”
Vajra-Danshtra said “Why? What happened? Tell me why you look so frightened?”
Chaturaka said ” Master! The God of Dharma (Lord Yamaraj, also the God of Death), is very angry with you. He blames you for killing the camel belonging to him, much before that camel was destined to die. He now has tied a huge bell to a very tall camel, and sent him here, along with the relatives, friends and close ones from that camel’s tribe – they are all here to take revenge. “
As Chaturaka spoke, Vajra-Danshtra saw a huge herd of camels coming towards him. The lead camel had a huge bell around his neck. So it was true! Vajra-Danshtra didn’t wait a second. He ran out of the back door, never to be seen again. Chaturaka enjoyed the camel for many days, and lived happily ever after.
“And that is why” cncluded Damanaka,
A wise man who hides his intentions can get away without being noticed, even after harming his enemy, much like Chaturaka the jackal was able to get his way, defeat his enemy and yet not get caught.
to be continued…