The Lion and The Jackal

In a part of a forest lived a lion named Vajradaunstra, in company with three counselors, a wolf, a jackal, and a camel. One day he fought with a furious elephant whose sharp-pointed tusk tore his body and he could not get out of bed for a week.

Then, suffering from a seven-day fast, his body lean with hunger, he said to his famished advisers: “Round up some creature in the forest, so that, I may provide needed nourishment for you.” The moment he issued his orders, they roamed the wood, but found nothing.

After that the jackal reflected: “If the camel here were killed, then we should all be nourished for a few days. However, the master is kept from killing him by friendly feeling. In spite of that, I will trick the master into killing him. For, indeed, nothing is impossible for clever & wise people.”

After these reflections, he said to camel: “Friend camel, the master is starving. If the master goes, our death is also a certain thing. So I have a suggestion for your benefit and the master’s. Please pay attention.” “My good fellow,” said the camel, “make haste to inform me, so that I may unhesitatingly do as you say. Besides, one earns credit for a hundred good deeds by serving his master.”

And jackal said: “My good fellow, give your own body at 100 per cent interest, so that you may receive a double body in next life, and the master may prolong his life.” On hearing this proposal, camel said: “If that is possible, my friend, my body shall be so devoted. Tell the master that this thing should be done. I stipulate only that the Death-God be requested to guarantee the bargain.”

Having made their decision, they all went to visit the lion, and jackal said: “O King, we did not find a thing today, and the sun is already nearly set.” On hearing this, the lion fell into deep despondency. Then jackal continued: “O King, our friend camel makes this proposal: ‘If you call upon the Death-God to guarantee the bargain, and if you render it back with 100 per cent interest, then I will give my body.’” “My good fellow,” answered the lion, “yours is a beautiful act. Let it be as you say.” On the basis of this pact, camel was struck down by the lion’s paw, his body was torn by the wolf and the jackal, and he died.

Then jackal thought: “How can I get him all to myself to eat?” With this thought in his mind, he noticed that the lion’s body was smeared with blood, and he said: “Master, you must go to the river to bathe and worship the gods, while I stay here with wolf to guard the meal.” On hearing this, the lion went to the river.

When the lion was gone, jackal said to wolf: “Friend wolf, you are starving. You might eat some of this camel before the master returns. I will make your apologies to the master.” So wolf took the hint, but had only taken a taste when jackal cried: “Drop it, friend. Master is coming.”

Soon the lion returned, saw that the camel was minus a heart, and wrathfully roared: “Look here! Who turned this camel into leavings? I wish to kill him, too.” The wolf expected the jackal to convince the lion of his innocence. But the jackal was cunning and said, “I had warned you against eating the meat. Why do you expect me to help you now?” Realizing that there was danger, the wolf fled as fast as possible to save himself.

At this moment, as fate would have it, there came that way a great camel caravan, heavily laden, making a tremendous jingling with the bells tied to the camels’ necks. And when the lion heard the jingle of the bells, loud even in the distance, he said to the jackal: “My good fellow, find out what this horrible noise may be.”

On receiving the instructions, jackal barely went out of sight of lion, then darted back, and cried in great excitement: “Run, master! Run, if you can run!”

“What’s the matter,” the lion asked him. “Why are you frightening me? Let me know clearly what’s happening.” And jackal cried: “Master, the Death-God is coming, and he is in a rage against you because you brought untimely death upon his camel, and had him guarantee the bargain. He intends to make you pay a thousand fold for his camel. He also plans to make inquiries about the father and grandfathers of that one. He is coming. He is near at hand.”

When the lion heard this, he, too, abandoned the dead camel and scampered for dear life. Whereupon the jackal ate the camel bit by bit, so that the meat lasted a long time.

The Trusting Camel

Once a merchant was leading a caravan of a hundred camels loaded with valuable cloth. Not able to bear all the load, one of his camels, named Kradanaka, fell limp. Moved by his plight, the merchant divided his load and distributed it on other camels. But since he found himself in a wild forest region where delay was impossible, he proceeded, leaving Kradanaka behind.

When the caravan was gone, Kradanaka hobbled about and began to crop the lush grass of forest. Thus in a very few days the poor fellow regained his strength.

In that forest lived a lion named Madotkata, who had as hangers-on a leopard, a crow, and a jackal. As they roamed the forest, they encountered the abandoned camel. The lion said: “This is an exotic animal in our forest. Ask him what he is.” So the crow informed him: “This goes by the name of camel in the world. He is an herbivore and is fit to be killed for food”.  But the lion said: “I shall not kill someone who came seeking hospitality. According to our elders, you cannot kill even an enemy who came trusting you.” Thereupon the lion asked Kradanaka: “My good friend, where did you come from?” And the camel gave precise details of his separation from the caravan, so that the lion experienced compassion and guaranteed his personal security.

In this course of affairs, the lion fought an elephant one day and got seriously wounded by the elephant’s tusk. He had to restrict himself to his cave and could not hunt. After about a week had passed, the lion and his servants could not bear the hunger anymore. So the lion said to them: “I am crippled by this wound and cannot hunt as usual. Bring me a food-animal. I will kill him somehow and provide food for you all.”

The leopard, the jackal, the crow and the camel looked everywhere for an animal but could not find anyone. The crow and the jackal conferred together, and the jackal said: “Friend crow, why roam about? Here is Kradanaka, who trusts our king. Let us provide for our sustenance by killing him.”

“A very good suggestion,” said the crow. “But after all, the master guaranteed his personal security, and so cannot kill him.”

“Leave it to me. I shall convince Madotkata to kill the camel. Wait here. I will meet the lord and get his permission,” said the jackal and left to meet the lion.

When he found the lion, he said: “Master, we have roamed the entire forest, and are now too famished to stir a foot. Since my lord is also in the same condition, I humbly suggest that we make a meal of this camel.”

Highly annoyed with the ruthless proposal, the lion said, “Shame upon you, most degraded of sinners! If you repeat these words, I shall first kill you. I have given him my word. How can I kill him? Haven’t our elders said that no gift is greater than the gift of an assurance?”

“You are right my lord,” replied the jackal, “It would be a sin to kill him who has your word. But if the camel voluntarily offers himself as food to his lord and king, then it is no sin to accept the offer. If he does not volunteer, you can kill anyone of us. You are hungry and close to your end. If we are not of use to our gracious master at this time then our lives have no value.

After listening to this, Madotkata said: “Very well. This seems to be more reasonable.”

The jackal told the other three assistants: “Friends, our lord is very low. The life is oozing out of him. If he goes, there would be no one to protect us from others. So, let us go and voluntarily offer our own bodies to him. Thus we shall pay the debt we owe our gracious master.”

So they all went, their eyes brimming with tears, bowed low before Madotkata, and sat down.

“What’s the matter? Did you find an animal?” asked the lion. And the crow replied: “Master, though we roamed everywhere, we still did not catch any creature. But I request my lord to have me for his meal. Thus the lord will survive while I shall go to heaven.”

On hearing this, the jackal said: “Your body is too small. If he ate you, the master would hardly prolong his life. You have shown your loyalty, now make way, while I address the master.” So the jackal bowed respectfully and said: “Lord, I request you to have me for your meal and ensure me a place in heaven. The lord has rights of life and death over his servants. Therefore, it is no sin in exercising his rights.”

Hearing this, the leopard said: “Very praiseworthy, indeed, my friend. However, your body is rather small, too. Well, you have shown yourself a loyal servant. Make way, then, so that I, too, may win the master’s grace.”

Thereupon the leopard bowed low and said: “Master, let me give away my life to save your life. Please allow me to earn a permanent berth in heaven.”

Hearing this, poor Kradanaka thought: “Well, they used the most elegant speech. Yet the master did not kill a single one of them. So I, too, will make a speech befitting the occasion. I have no doubt that all three will contradict me.”

Having come to this conclusion, he said: “Very admirable, friend leopard. But you too are carnivorous. How, then, can the master eat you? Make way, then, so that I, too, may address the master.” So poor Kradanaka stood in the presence, bowed low and requested the lion to have him for that day’s meal.

Hereupon the lion gave the word and at once, the jackal and the leopard pounced on him, tore him to pieces and all of them had a sumptuous feast.