In a certain forest lived a lion who had three servants – a crow, a tiger and a jackal. The lion would hunt, eat his fill and leave the rest for his servants to feed on. They too were happy with this arrangement as they were lazy.
One day as they were roaming in the forest they came upon a strange looking animal with a hump. It was a camel which had strayed into the forest and lost its way. The jackal and the crow took it and presented it before the lion. Being well inclined that day the lion gave his word that the camel would be safe with them and asked it to join his group. So all the five lived in harmony for some time. Only the camel would find its own food as it would not eat flesh.
Suddenly one day the lion fell ill. Being very weak he was not able to hunt. The tiger and the jackal had grown too fat and were not able to catch anything. The lion’s health did not improve and the others were suffering from serve pangs of hunger. When the camel was out, the crow, the jackal and the tiger held a conference “Why should we all suffer this hunger when we have food right here amongst us?” asked the crow.
“So it is” said the jackal “We have to plan in such a way that our master will kill it and provide us with food”.
“But how can he?” The tiger spoke. “He has given his word to the camel that it will not be harmed”.
The crow replied, “Our master is weak and irritable with hunger which is unsatisfied. Hunger is a terrible thing. A mother will abandon her child and a serpent will eat its own egg. Under the powerful grip of hunger, anger, passion and madness one is not in full control of one’s senses. Poverty turns men cruel. Leave it to me. I will ask our master”.
So the crow went up to the ailing lion and asked how he was feeling. The lion asked if they had found anything to eat.
“O Master, even with all our combined efforts we have not been lucky enough to get even a single morsel. We can withstand the hunger. But I am worried about you Master. Due to your ill health and hunger you are becoming weak day by day I cannot simply stand by and see you deteriorating like this. There is only one solution. Ir you give me permission, I will procure the food for you,” answered the crow.
“What do you have in mind”? enquired the lion.
The crow whispered the camel’s name into the lions ears. Weakened by hunger the lion was easy to manipulate. “But I have given it my word of honor,” protested the lion.
“You need not worry on that account, Master. You will not break your word. I will plan in such a way that the camel will offer itself as food for your Lordship,” replied the crow. The lion did not answer on hearing this. The crow understood that silence means assent some times.
The crow then informed the others of its plan. That evening when the camel had returned and they were all sitting around the sick lion, the crow began, “O Master, it is distressing to see you in this condition. You are like a root to us. Without roots which plant can grow? It is important that you regain your health. So I am offering my body as a humble token of my love for you. Kindly eat me up and. recoup your strength.
The lion replied, “Thank you my friend. You have shown me the true depth of your devotion to me. But I would rather die of starvation than do such a thing”.
Then the jackal went up and repented the same thing. The lion declined its offer too. Next the tiger went up to the lion and offered its body. Again the lion refused saying how lucky he was to have such faithful servants. As the other three were looking at it, the camel too walked up to the lion, reassured by his refusal to touch the others.
As soon as it had made its offer the tiger pounced on it and tore it to pieces and presented it to the Lion.
Later on the other three feasted on the remains of the poor camel.
Moral – At times even the mind of the good waves by listening to the words of the wicked.