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Stories By Grandpa

THE LION, THE JACKAL AND THE DONKEY

from PANCHATANTRA


Narrated by: Kanai L Mukherjee (Grandpa), Edited by: Bibha Mukherjee
Courtesy: Association of Grandparents of Indian Immigrants (AGII)



Panchatantra, published in Sanskrit, in India, is perhaps the oldest of the children's stories written over 2,200 years ago. The author, Vishnu Sharma, used animal characters to convey certain morals.

This is the story about a lion who had a clever jackal as his servant. Whenever the lion killed an animal, he would first have his fill and leave the rest for the jackal.

One day the lion made the mistake of attacking a fierce king elephant. The elephant was strong and wounded the lion so badly that the lion could barely walk. For a week the master and the servant starved. At last the lion came upon an idea.

The lion said to the jackal, "If you bring me an animal which I can kill without much effort, then we won’t have to starve." The clever jackal slowly rose to his feet and set out to guide an unsuspecting animal to the lion’s den.

The jackal saw a deer and thought, "This deer would be too fast for my wounded master."

Then in a few hours he saw a male donkey who was grazing hungrily on some dry, barren land.

"This is just I was looking for," thought the jackal happily.

He quickly approached the donkey and humbly said, "Oh Uncle, you look so feeble! Is there anything wrong?"

The famished donkey was parched with thirst and said, "I haven’t had any fresh, moist grass to graze on for ages. My master, a mean and miserly washer-man (dhobi), works me to death and starves me."

"Oh, really?" said the sly jackal. "Why don’t you come and live with me in the forest? There is plenty of delicious, green grass near my cave."

The donkey was interested but cautiously said, "That is very kind of you to invite me to your place, but I’m used to living in the village and the wild animals of the jungle may kill me."

"Uncle, you don’t have to worry about that. No one dares to come near my cave. They are afraid of my powerful paws and claws."

He further added, "Do you know that there are three she-donkeys whom I saved and now live under my protection?"

Stung by love bug and abandoning all common sense, the donkey thanked the jackal and immediately decided to follow him. "Lead me to them, dear nephew. Lead me to them. Waste no time."

From a distance the starving lion saw the jackal leading the donkey towards his den. The lion was amazed at the cleverness of the jackal.

He lost all patience due to extreme hunger. The lion sprang at the donkey with a loud roar and the terrified donkey ran for his life and escaped.

The jackal bit his teeth and murmured, "Hasty fool!"

The lion then realized he had been impatient and acted in desperation.

The jackal scolded the lion, "You couldn’t even kill a dumb donkey. How is it that you dared attack that elephant?"

The lion replied regretfully, "I’m sorry. I guess I wasn’t ready. I didn’t expect you to return so soon."

"OK," said the jackal, "I’ll bring him back here again but this time you must be ready."

The lion didn’t believe the jackal. "Bring him back? That’s impossible. He saw me and ran away. You have to bring some other animal."

The jackal assured the lion, "Don’t worry, master. I’ll bring him back but be ready this time."

Soon the jackal found the donkey. The donkey was still catching his breath. The donkey said, "So you are back, nephew. A fine spot you got me into. It is my good luck that I escaped."

Keeping his wits intact, the jackal laughed, "Uncle, that was only the love-sick she donkey. When she saw you, she sprang forward to kiss you. But you were too shy and ran away."

"Really?" asked the donkey with surprise.

The jackal could feel that his bait was working. He wasted no time to allure him again, "You must come back quickly and marry her."

"Oh, that’s great!" said the foolish donkey, "Let’s go right now."

The lion could hardly believe his eyes when he saw the wicked jackal leading the foolish donkey back to him. This time he was ready. When the lion sprang up, the donkey was not frightened because all he could think about was making love with his new wife.

The donkey was killed in seconds without even a fight. The lion then trusted the jackal and left to take a bath before his dinner. The jackal thought, "I can hardly wait. I’ll eat the best parts of the donkey, the heart and the ears, before the lion comes back."

When the lion came back he was furious to see the heart and ears missing. He shouted at the jackal for eating them, "Am I to eat your leavings?"

The jackal stayed calm and said, "Oh King, this animal was born without heart and ears or else why would he have come back after hearing you roar and running away in terror?"

The lion was suspicious but did not further question the jackal’s words because he was dying of hunger.

 

Moral: "If you don't lose your head in the face of calamities,
you may be able to overcome them.
"



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