Moral: Fight your own battles; else you will surely be destroyed.
A big well was the home of Gangadatta, king of frogs. Unable to bear harassment by his relatives, the king abandoned his kingdom and came out of the well and thought,
“He who certainly retaliates
Him who harmed him in peril
And ridiculed him in misery
Is a man without rebirth.”
Deeply lost in such thoughts, the frog king saw a big cobra entering the burrow of a tree and thought, “We must set an enemy to fight an enemy, set a strong person to crush another strong person. Their end will bring us happiness.”
With this aim in view, he went to the burrow and called the cobra, “Priyadarsana, please come out.”
The cobra, however, was careful. He thought, “Who is this fellow? He does not seem to be one of us. I don’t have any friends outside my circle. I will stay inside and find out who the caller is. He could be a magician or someone seeking my help in killing his enemy.”
Then, the cobra shouted from inside, “Who are you, sir?”
“I am Gangadatta, king of frogs. I have come to seek your help,” said the caller.
“I cannot believe you. Can there be friendship between a blade of dry grass and fire? Haven’t the learned said that he, who is natural prey to the predator never, even in a dream, gets closer to him? I cannot trust your words,” said the cobra.
“O Priyadarsana, what I tell you is true. You are my born enemy. But I have come to you seeking help to avenge my humiliation. The learned have said,
“When your life is under threat
When danger stares you in the face
It is better to bend before an enemy
And save life and property.”
“Who humiliated you,” asked the cobra.
“It is my relatives.”
“Where do you live? Is it a well or a pond or a tank?”
“It is a well with stone walls.”
“But I have no legs. How can I reach the well and kill your enemies?”
“Sir, please don’t say no. I will show you how to enter the well. There is a crevice in the wall that opens into the well. It’s a nice hiding place for you. Come, I will show you,” said Gangadatta, king of frogs.
The cobra then thought, “I have become old. Rarely can I get a frog to eat. This fellow has come to give me a new lease of life. I will go with him and have a daily feast of frogs.”
Addressing the king of frogs, the cobra said, “Let’s go.”
“But there is a condition,” said Gangadatta, “Priyadarsana, I will take you there and show you the place. But you should spare frogs that are close to me. You should eat only those I select as food for you.”
The cobra replied, “You are now my friend. I give you my word. I will eat only those marked by you as my food.”
The cobra then emerged from its burrow and accompanied the king of frogs to the well. The frog king showed him the crevice in the well and his relatives who deserved to be killed. The cobra happily settled in the crevice and finished in course of time all those frogs their king had marked for extermination.
Now, without frogs to eat, the cobra told the king, “I have destroyed all your enemies. Now show me prey for food. It is you who brought me here.”
Gangadatta told him, “You have done your job to help me. Now, it is time for you to leave this place.”
“How can I leave?” protested the cobra. “Someone else will occupy my place. So, I will not go, I will stay here only. You offer me one frog every day from your circle of relatives.”
Repenting for making friends with a natural enemy, Gangadatta thought it was better to offer the cobra one friend a day, remembering the saying that “he who befriends a stronger enemy invites certain death. A wise man does not lose all his wealth to save a paltry sum.”
Accordingly, the king of frogs began offering the cobra a frog a day. But the wicked cobra swallowed all the frogs. One day, it was the turn of Yamunadatta, son of the king of frogs. The king cried bitterly over the loss of his son. His wife then told him that there was no point in crying over the past and that he should immediately leave the place and look for ways to end the menace of the cobra.
As days passed, the cobra finished off the entire tribe of frogs with the exception of king Gangadatta. So, he asked Gangadatta, “Look, my friend, there is now no frog left for me to eat. I am very hungry. Show me where and how can sate my hunger.”
The king replied, “Priyadarsana, don’t worry about food as long as I am your friend. You get me out of this well. I will go and look for wells full of frogs. I will tempt them to come here and you can have your fill.”
The cobra said, “You are like a brother to me, Gangadatta. I can’t kill you. But if you bring me food, you will be as good as my father. I will get you out of this well.” Thus, the king came out and disappeared. The cobra was eagerly waiting for the king to bring him food. When Gangadatta failed to turn up even after a long time, the cobra sought the help of a chameleon.
“My friend, you know Gangadatta very well. Please go to him and tell him that it does not matter if he cannot bring me a frog. Let him come. I cannot live without such a trusted friend.”
The chameleon carried the message of the cobra to the king of frogs and told him, “Your friend Priyadarsana is eagerly looking for you to return.”
Gangadatta told him, “Excuse me sir, who can trust a hungry man. You may please go.”
Concluding the story, Raktamukha, the monkey, told the crocodile, “You wicked creature, I will never visit your home.”
Karalamukha, the croc, pleaded with him, “My friend, this is not proper. Please come and sanctify my home. Otherwise, I will be guilty of ingratitude. If you don’t come, I will fast and die.”
The monkey said, “You are an idiot to think that I would, like Lambakarna, invite death knowingly.”
“O my friend, let me hear that story of Lambakarana,” asked the croc.
Then the monkey told the croc the story of Lambakarna.
The Greedy Cobra and The King Of Frogs – Panchatantra Tales by Vishnu Sharma