The pigeons and the hunter…

असाधना अपि प्राज्ञा बुद्धिमनोत् बहु-श्रुताः ।
साधयन्त्य् आशु कार्याणि काकाखु-मृग-कूर्मवत् ॥ १ ॥

asādhanā api prājñā buddhimanot bahu-śrutāḥ |
sādhayanty āśu kāryāṇi kākākhu-mṛga-kūrmavat || 1 ||

The wise and the intelligent can accomplish their goals even in the absence of guidance, much like the crow, the mouse the deer and the tortoise who got together and were able to accomplish their goal.

It has been heard…There is a city named Mahilāropya (a maiden’s delight) in the southern region of Bharatvarsha. There existed a huge fig-tree not far from that city; it covered a large area, and varieties of birds ate the abundant fruits produced by the tree. It’s hollows were filled with various types of insects, and travellers who passed by rested under its cool shade. It has rightly been said…

छाया-सुप्त-मृगः शकुन्त-निवहैर् विष्वग्-विलुप्त-च्छदः कीटैर् आवृत-कोटरः कपि-कुलैः स्कन्धे कृत-प्रश्रयः ।
विश्रब्धं मधुपैर् निपीत-कुसुमः श्लाघ्यः स एव द्रुमः सर्वाङ्गैर् बहु-सत्त्व-सङ्ग-सुखदो भू-भार-भूतो ऽपरः ॥ २ ॥

chāyā-supta-mṛgaḥ śakunta-nivahair viṣvag-vilupta-cchadaḥ kīṭair āvṛta-koṭaraḥ kapi-kulaiḥ skandhe kṛta-praśrayaḥ |
viśrabdhaṃ madhupair nipīta-kusumaḥ ślāghyaḥ sa eva drumaḥ sarvāṅgair bahu-sattva-saṅga-sukhado bhū-bhāra-bhūto ‘paraḥ || 2 ||

Various animals sleep in its shade, their foliage is completely obscured by the countless birds that live there, the hollows are filled with insects, monkeys live on it’s branches and bees suck the honey of it’s flowers – such a tree is worthy of praise. It spreads happiness to various living beings and serves them;  other trees just add weight to the earth, and little else.

A crow named LaghuPatanaka (the one who floats lightly) lived on this tree. One day, when he started to fly towards the city to gather food, he saw a strange sight ahead of him. There stood a man, looking like Death personified, dark in complexion, with cracked feet and hair tied high on his head. He held a large net in his hand, and looked very frightful.

LaghuPatanaka thought to himself – “Oh God! This man looks dangerous, and he is walking towards the fig tree where I live! This can be bad for the birds who live there with me – will he try to catch them and kill them? Will they survive?

Thinking this way, he decided to warn the other birds. He flew back fast, anxious and worried. As soon as he reached the tree, he called out to everybody – “Listen everybody! A wicked hunter is coming this way – he has a huge net in his hand. Don’t trust him. He will spread the net and throw a few grains of rice on it, just to entice you all.

Those grains are not food – they are poison!”

As he was speaking, the hunter reached the tree, spread his net, and threw some rice on it. He then hid in a bush close by. The birds on the tree, now alerted by LaghuPatanaka, didn’t move from the tree – they just sat there, watching the scene.

In the meanwhile, a huge flock of pigeons arrived there, led by their king ChitraGreeva (the one with a beautiful neck), He saw the grains of rice from afar, and started to descend, along with his followers. LaghuPatanaka tried to warn him again and again, but ChitraGreeva was greedy – he ignored the crow and landed on the net, and got trapped instantly. It is rightly said…

जिह्वा-लौल्य-प्रसक्तानां जल-मध्य-निवासिनाम् ।
अचिन्तितो वधो ऽज्ञानां मीनानाम् इव जायते ॥ ३ ॥

jihvā-laulya-prasaktānāṃ jala-madhya-nivāsinām |
acintito vadho ‘jñānāṃ mīnānām iva jāyate || 3 ||

The ignorant, and the fish in water meet their end due to a common reason – excess greed.

Or, such adversity can also happen due to fate – a person’s greed increases uncontrollably and he gets caught in someone else’s trap and struggles to get out of it. So one can also say that this wasn’t entirely ChitraGreeva’s fault. It is said…

पौलस्त्यः कथम् अन्य-दार-हरणे दोषं न विज्ञातवान् रामेणापि कथं न हेम-हरिणस्यासम्भवो लक्षितः ।
अक्षैश् चापि युधिष्ठिरेण सहसा प्राप्तो ह्य् अनर्थः कथं प्रत्यासन्न-विपत्ति-मूढ-मनसां प्रायो मतिः क्षीयते ॥ ४ ॥

paulastyaḥ katham anya-dāra-haraṇe doṣaṃ na vijñātavān rāmeṇāpi kathaṃ na hema-hariṇasyāsambhavo lakṣitaḥ |
akṣaiś cāpi yudhiṣṭhireṇa sahasā prāpto hy anarthaḥ kathaṃ pratyāsanna-vipatti-mūḍha-manasāṃ prāyo matiḥ kṣīyate || 4 ||

How is it that Rāvana, the son of Pulastya, did not know that kidnapping another’s wife is wrong? How is it that Rama did not doubt the reality of a golden deer? How is it that Yudhishthira lost everything in an instant through gambling? When your bad time is imminent, it is evident that the best of minds become inert, and intellect becomes inefficient!

Rāvana was a learned and wise man, Rāma was the avatar of Sri Vishnu, and wise beyond his years, Yudhishthira was the epitome of Dharma and wisdom – and still they made such fundamental mistakes. It is thus evident that when the time is bad, and fate does not favour you, even the brightest of minds make the worst of decisions!

In the meantime, the hunter was happy – so many birds had got trapped in his net! He stepped out of the bush, and holding a huge stick, started walking towards the birds, in order to kill them. ChitraGreeva saw the hunter approaching them and said “My dear pigeons, don’t be afraid. It is said…

व्यसनेष्व् एव सर्वेषु यस्य बुद्धिर् न हीयते ।
स तेषां पारम् अभ्येति तत्-प्रभावाद् असंशयम् ॥ ६ ॥

vyasaneṣv eva sarveṣu yasya buddhir na hīyate |
sa teṣāṃ pāram abhyeti tat-prabhāvād asaṃśayam || 6 ||

He, whose mind does not waver even in difficult situations, will be able to overcome adversity, with the help of his intelligence.

A person should be calm and strong, even in adverse situations.

सम्पत्तौ च विपत्तौ च महताम् एक-रूपता ।
उदये सविता रक्तो रक्तश् चास्त-मये तथा ॥ ७ ॥

sampattau ca vipattau ca mahatām eka-rūpatā |
udaye savitā rakto raktaś cāsta-maye tathā || 7 ||

The Sun is red at the time of rising, and red at the time of setting too. Likewise, great men remain alike in both good times and bad times.

And so, here is what we will do…

to be continued

And thus starts the second book of the Panchatantra – मित्रसंप्राप्तिः – or the gain of friends.

After a long first book – मित्र-भेद (Mitra-bheda) – the loss of friends, we come to the second tantra – or strategy. How to win friends and influence people – well not that book, but much more deeper and insightful. While the first book was about scheming and creating rifts, the second book is about working together, even when you are from different sections of society, with different competencies.

While the main characters of book 1 were Karataka & Damanaka (two jackals), Pingalaka ( a lion) and Sanjeevaka ( a bull), the central characters of book 2 are LaghuPatanaka ( a crow), Hiranyaka (a mouse), Mantharaka (a tortoise) and Chitraanga ( a deer). What an unusual combination, you must wonder. Well..

The crow is called LaghuPatanaka – the one who floats easily – an easy-going person, who makes friends easily and is content with what life has to offer. Just as a crow does not hoard, and eats whatever it can find, and whose needs do not extend beyond the basics.

The mouse is named Hiranyaka – it represents the wealthy middle class – those who have worked hard to acquire property and a good lifestyle, those who do not trust easily, but who always lend a helping hand to others. They are hard-working, diligent and respected.

The tortoise is named Mantharaka (the one who can analyse), and represents the wise old men and women of society. They are always kind and compassionate, and understanding, especially towards younger people, and are content with their position and place in life.

The deer is named Chitraanga, and represents the youth – pleasant to look at, always ready for adventure and always getting into problems since they act out of haste.

A king of pigeons called ChitraGreeva also makes a good appearance, and represents the higher class – born rich, having a lot of admirers around them, always ready to take advantage of the lesser-fortunate, and having a high-handed attitude.

Why are these the central characters? Well, read on and we will understand by the end of this series…happy reading!

2 thoughts on “The pigeons and the hunter…”

  1. Pingback: Meeting old friends…

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