Jataka: The Wise Leader of the Birds

There was once a flock of birds who lived together in the forest. Their leader was very wise and, whenever he whistled, the whole flock would gather around and listen to his advice.

Meanwhile, there was a man living at the edge of the forest who wanted to catch the birds. He listened carefully until he recognized the leader's whistle. By imitating that sound, the man was able to lure the flock into his net. The birds shrieked in fear, unable to escape.

The leader, however, shouted down from above. "You must work together! Stick your heads into the holes of the net and then rise up together, carrying the net away with you."

The birds did as he ordered, lifting the net up off the ground. The leader then guided them to a thorn bush. The net got caught on the thorns, and so the birds escaped to safety, leaving the net behind.

The man was frustrated by these events, but he came up with a plan. "I will wait until the birds are quarreling and try again."  Sure enough, a few days later, he heard the birds making angry noises.

"You stepped on my tail," one of them was saying.

"No, you trod on my foot."

"You pecked me with your beak."

While the birds were arguing, the man ran up and threw the net over them. Their leader again urged them, "Work together! Pick up the net!"

"No, you pick it up!" shouted one of the angry birds.

"I will not. You pick it up!"

The man, meanwhile, gathered up the net and took all the birds away to the market where he sold them for a great price. The poor birds: if only they had been able to cooperate, they would have been able to save themselves!

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