Monday, June 30, 2014

Panchatantra: The Lion and the Ram

Now, at last, you get the end of the story of the plover which began so long ago! Just as a reminder, here is how those stories were organized:

The Plover Who Fought the Ocean
Inside that story, the lady plover told the story of...
Shell-Neck, Slim, and Grim
Then the lady plover told the story of...
Forethought, Ready-Wit, and Fatalist
Then the lady plover told the story of...
The Duel between Elephant and Sparrow

But the stories did not work, and the lady plover's husband still wanted to fight the ocean, but that effort failed. Then one of the plover's allies told the story of...
The Shrewd Old Gander

And then the plover and the other birds went to see Garuda, and one of the birds told him the story you are about to read:
The Lion and the Ram.

As you will see, this story inspires Garuda to ask the Lord Vishnu to help the birds, so you will reach the end of the plover story at the bottom of this page.


[Notes by LKG]

This story is part of the Panchatantra unit. Story source: The Panchatantra of Vishnu Sharma, translated by Arthur W. Ryder (1925).

The Lion and the Ram
(inside the story of The Plover)

In a part of a forest was a ram, separated from his flock. In the armour of his great fleece and horns, he roamed the wood, a tough customer.

Now one day a lion in that forest, who had a retinue of all kinds of animals, encountered him. At this unprecedented sight, since the wool so bristled in every direction as to conceal the body, the lion's heart was troubled and invaded by fear.

"Surely, he is more powerful than I am," thought he. "That is why he wanders here so fearlessly." And the lion edged away.

But on a later day, the lion saw the same ram cropping grass on the forest floor, and he thought: "What! The fellow nibbles grass! His strength must be in relation to his diet."

So he made a quick spring and killed the ram.

"And that is why I say:

The poor are in peculiar need
Of being secret when they feed:
The lion killed the ram who could
Not check his appetite for food."

While they were thus conferring, Vishnu's messenger returned and said: "Garuda, Lord Vishnu sends orders that you repair at once to the celestial city."

On hearing this, Garuda proudly said to him: "Messenger, what will the master do with so poor a servant as I am?"

"Garuda," said the messenger, "it may be that the blessèd one has spoken to you harshly. But why should you display pride toward the blessèd one?"

And Garuda replied: "The ocean, the resting-place of the blessèd one, has stolen the eggs of the plover, who is my servant. If I do not chastise him, then I am not the servant of the blessèd one. Make this report to the master."

Now when Vishnu learned from the messenger's lips that Garuda was feigning anger, he thought: "Ah, he is dreadfully angry. I will therefore go in person, will address him, and bring him back with all honour. For the proverb says:

Shame no servant showing worth,
Loyalty, and noble birth;
Pet him ever like a son,
If you wish your business done.

And again:

Masters, fully satisfied,
Pay by gratifying pride;
Servants, for such honour's pay,
Gladly throw their lives away."

Having reached this conclusion, he hastened to Garuda, who, beholding his master a visitor in his own house, modestly gazed on the ground, bowed low, and said: "O blessèd one, the ocean, made insolent by his service as your resting-place, has stolen — behold! has stolen the eggs of my servant, and thus brought shame upon me. From reverence for the blessèd one, I have delayed. But if nothing is done, I myself will this day reduce him to dry land. For the proverb says:

A loyal servant dies, but shrinks
From doing deeds of such a kind
As bring contempt from common men
And lower him in his master's mind."

To this the blessèd one replied: "O son of Vinata, your speech is justified. Because

For servants' crimes the master should
Be made to suffer, say the good,
So long as he does not erase
From service, cruel folk and base.

"Come, then, so that we may recover the eggs from ocean, may satisfy the plover, and then proceed to the celestial city on the gods' business."

To this Garuda agreed, and the blessèd one reproached the ocean, then fitted the fire-arrow to his bow and said: "Villain, give the plover his eggs. Else, I will reduce you to dry land."

On hearing this, the ocean, while all his train shook with fright, tremblingly took the eggs and restored them to the plover, as the blessèd one directed.





(600 words)






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