Moral: Bow before the mighty, throw something before the low and fight the equally powerful.
Mahachataraka was a jackal living in a forest. One day, he found the body of an elephant and was happy that it would have food for many days. However, he was not able to bite into the thick hide of the elephant and was circling around the body when a lion came that way. The jackal humbly prostrated before the lion and said, “My lord, I am your obedient servant. At your command, I am keeping a vigil on the body of the elephant. Please help yourself.”
The lion said, “You know my friend, I do not eat something others have killed. You may take it as my gift to you.”
“I am touched by your magnanimity, my lord,” said the jackal.
After the lion had left, a tiger came on the scene. The jackal thought, “I got rid of one menace through humility. How do I escape this fellow? He will not yield to any strategy I know. The only way of keeping him at bay is cunning. Let me try it.”
The jackal then went half way to greet the tiger and said, “O uncle, why are you entering this area of death? The lion has killed this elephant and asked me to keep watch on it. He has gone to take bath. Before going, he told me to inform him if any tiger happened to come here. He vowed to kill all the tigers because long time ago a tiger had nibbled at an elephant he had killed. He told me that from that day he had sworn to kill all tigers.”
These words frightened the tiger.
He told the jackal, “Son, save my life. When the lion comes, don’t tell him I had come this way. Please.”
On receiving an assurance from the jackal, the tiger hurriedly left the scene. Then came a leopard.
The Jackal thought, “This fellow has strong and sharp teeth. I will persuade him to pierce the hide of the elephant.”
Addressing the leopard, the jackal said, “My son, you have come this way after a long time. You seem to be hungry. Why don’t you be my guest? See this body of the elephant killed by the lion. He has asked me to keep an eye on the body. So, have a feast before he returns.”
The leopard said, “Uncle, how can I accept your invitation. If I want to live long I should not touch this elephant. I will leave now.”
The jackal assured him, “Don’t worry, you go ahead. I will alert you when the lion comes.”
The leopard then began attacking the elephant and when he tore the hide, the jackal cried, “Run. The lion is coming.”
In this way, the jackal managed to get rid of the leopard also.
When the jackal began feasting on the elephant flesh, another jackal came that way. He was very angry and looked very strong. The first jackal remembered the last line of the stanza “crush equals with power” and attacked the trespasser with great ferocity and killed him.
Raktamukha told Karalamukha, “In the manner of the jackal in the story, you also kill that encroaching croc. Otherwise, it will be your end. But you must be wary like Chitranga, the dog, of your own kith and kin.”
“Who is this Chitranga? Can I learn anything from his story,” asked the croc.
“Why not?” said the monkey and began telling him the story of Chitranga.
Chitranga was a dog living in a city in the south visited by famine for many years. Dogs began dying by the hundreds because there was no food. There was a danger that they would disappear as species. So, Chitranga left that city and came to a far-off city in search of food. There he found the house of a wealthy man whose wife was a lazy and careless woman who would not close the doors of the house.
Every day, Chitranga would sneak into the open house and have his fill. But he really could not enjoy his food because as soon as he came out of the house, street mongrels attacked him and severely wounded him.
Chitranga thought, “Oh, I made a mistake in coming here. Home was better even if there was no food. There was no struggle like this for food. Let me go home.”
In the end, Chitranga left that city and returned home.
Seeing him return from abroad, Chitranga’s friends asked him, “Tell us everything about the country you have visited. How are the people there? What is their culture?”
The dog said, “The less said the better about that country. Everything is freely available because the women are careless. Yet your own kith and kin deprive you of this joy.”
The croc was then impressed by the monkey’s good advice and decided to fight the encroaching croc. He fought his enemy with great valor and killed him and regained the house occupied by him. The elders have said:
“There is no true happiness in
What you get without effort.
Even an old bullock survives
On food that comes his way.”
Thus ended the dialogue between Raktamukha and Karalamukha. With that ends the fourth Tantra of Vishnu Sarma.
The Jackal’s Strategy – Panchatantra Stories by Vishnu Sharma