Once upon a time, a village merchant named Vardhmanaka, was going to Mathura town on his bullock cart. Two bullocks-Sanjeevaka and Nandaka were pulling the bullock cart.
While the merchant’s cart was moving along the bank of the river Yamuna, Sanjeevaka, all of a sudden, stepped into a swampy spot. He tried to come out of the swamp, but couldn’t succeed.
The merchant too tried his level best to pull out Sanjeevaka from the swamp, but to no avail. Ultimately he had to leave Sanjeevaka there and proceed on with his onward journey.
Sanjeevaka thought sadly, “How I have served my master so loyally throughout my life and how my master has repaid my loyalty.”
Now, Sanjeevaka was left to his fate. The only alternative he had either resign to fate and die in the swamp or fight till the end. Sanjeevaka gathered up courage. He began applying his enormous muscle power.
There is a saying-‘God helps those who help themselves.’At last after great effort, he managed to wriggle his way out of the swamp.
Now, as he had nowhere to go and he didn’t want to return to his master’s house, he started moving along the banks of the river. He ate green grass in the nearby forest and drank fresh water from the river.
Soon he became healthy and stout. He started bellowing like a lion. His thunder like bellowing could be heard miles away.
Once, king lion whose name was Pingalaka, came to the river to drink water. Suddenly, he heard thunder-like bellowing. He got frightened and ran away into his cave.
King lion had two jackals named Damnaka and Kartaka as his ministers. When Damnaka came to know that some kind of fear had overpowered his king, he asked him, “Your Majesty, tell me who is he you are afraid of? I’ll bring him to you.”
The lion, being the king was not ready to admit the fact, but after great hesitation, he told Damnaka the real cause of his fear.
Damnaka assured king lion that he will find out the actual source of the thundering sound.
Soon Damnaka brought Sanjeevaka to the court of his king. “Your Majesty, this is the animal, who has been making the thundering sound.
He says that Lord Shiva has sent him to roam about in our kingdom.” King lion was very pleased to talk to Sanjeevaka. Soon he became friendly with him. He spent much of his time chatting with Sanjeevaka.
Gradually, king lion became very spiritual. He stopped killing his preys and even neglected his kingdom. This worried Damnaka and Kartaka and the other animals of the jungle.
Damnaka thought of a plan to solve the problem. One day, he went to king lion and said, “Your Majesty, Sanjeevaka has an evil eye on your kingdom. He wants to kill you and become the king himself.”
And the next day, Damnaka went to Sanjeevaka and told him a different story. “King lion has a plan to kill you and distribute your flesh to all other animals of the jungle.
Better you kill king lion with your pointed horns, before he kills you.”
Sanjeevaka became very angry to hear Damnaka’s words. He went to the court of king lion and started bellowing in a thundering tone. This annoyed king lion and he pounced upon Sanjeevaka with a thundering roar.
Both were strong. With the result they engaged themselves in a fierce fight. Sanjeevaka tried to kill king lion with his pointed horns, but in vain. King lion killed Sanjeevaka with his sharp claws and ate his flesh.
Though king lion killed Sanjeevaka but he felt very sad about it. After all, Sanjeevaka was once his friend. But’since, Damnaka had convinced king lion that Sanjeevaka was a traitor, he had to act upon his advice.
Later, he made Damnaka the chief minister of his kingdom.