Week 5: Hitopadesa (Hitopadesha)

Assignments - Reading - Resources - Images

BOOK ONE: The Acquisition of a Friend

Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 1000 words.

Now that you are done with the story of the cat and the jackal, you are back in the story of the crow and the deer and the jackal - remember that story? The jackal saw the deer in the forest and pretended to be friendly, but now the crow told the story of the cat and the jackal in order to warn the deer that you cannot trust everybody who pretends to be your friend. Will the deer follow the advice of the crow and drive the jackal away... or not?

back to FABLE 3 - The Deer, The Crow and The Jackal
(a story told by Hiranyaka, the mouse, to Laghu-patanaka, the crow, in FABLE 1, which is a story told by Vishnu-Sarma to the young princes in the frametale)

The jackal having heard all this, replied in anger, "Hear me, thou fool! The first time thou wast seen by the deer, thy family and profession were unknown. How is it, then, that your mutual kindness and attention grow higher and higher?

"Is this one of us, or is he a stranger? Such is the enumeration of the ungenerous; but to those by whom liberality is practised, the whole world is but as one family.

Wherefore, I say, be thou my acquaintance in the same manner the deer is."

"What is the use of all these replies?" observed the deer. "Let us dwell together, and spend our time happily in agreeable conversation."

There is no one the friend of another; there is no one the enemy of another: friends, as well as enemies, are created through our transactions.

So, at length, the crow said, "Let it be so."

Early in the morning they used to go abroad to those parts they liked best. One day the jackal said to the deer, in great secrecy, "In a particular part of this wood, my friend, there is a field full of corn, to which I will conduct thee;" and which being performed accordingly, the deer used to go there every day to feed upon the corn; but, in time, this being discovered by the master of the field, he laid snares for him.

After this, the deer coming there again, and being confined in the snares, thus reasoned to himself: "Who but a friend can deliver me from these snares of the huntsman, so like the snares of death?"

In the meantime, the jackal, having arrived at the spot, stopped short, and began to consider what he should do. "So far," said he, "my scheme has succeeded, and by means of these deceitful snares, my wishes will be accomplished in great abundance; for when he is cut up, I shall get his bones all covered with flesh and blood."

The deer was exceedingly glad to see him, and called out to him, "Friend jackal, pray gnaw my bonds asunder, and speedily deliver me!

A friend may be known in adversity, a hero in battle, an honest man in a loan, a wife when riches are spent, and a relation in trouble.

The jackal eyed the deer in his confinement again and again, and considered whether the knots were secure.

"These snares, my friend," observed he, "are made of leather thongs, and it being Sunday, how can I touch them with my teeth? But, if it will suit thee, my friend, early n the morning I will do whatever may be thy wish." So having made this proposal, he went on one side, and laying himself down, remained silent.

In the meantime the crow, Subuddhi, finding the deer did not come home, had gone about in search of him. At length he found him in this condition, upon which he exclaimed, "What, my friend, is this the promise! Is this the fruit of the word of a friend!

He who doth not hearken to the voice of a friend and well-wisher in adversity, is the delight of his enemies."

"But where is that jackal?" added the crow.

"Alas," said the deer, "he is here anxiously waiting for my flesh!"

"My friend," observed the crow, "I foretold this from the beginning.

I am not to blame: he was not a subject for confidence. From the cruel, even the virtuous have cause for apprehension."

Saying this, he heaved a deep sigh, and cried, "O deceitful wretch! what hath been brought to pass by thee, thou agent of wickedness!

A man should forsake such a friend as speaketh kindly to his face, and behind his back defeatheth his designs. He is like a pot of poison with a surface of milk.

"Is not this," continued the crow, "the character of bad men?

"A man should not form any acquaintance, nor enter into any amusements, with one of an evil character. A piece of charcoal, if it be hot, burneth; and if cold, it blackeneth the hand.

"Although one of an evil character speak kindly, that is no motive for his being trusted. The serpent is ornamented with a gem, but is he not to be dreaded?

"Before one's face, he falleth at one's feet; behind, he biteth the flesh of one's back. In one's ear, doth he not softly hum his tune with wondrous art! And when he findeth a hole, fearless, he boldly entereth. Thus doth the mosquito perform the actions of a deceitful man!"

About this time the owner of the field was seen coming, with a staff in his hand, and his eyes red with anger. So the crow, having considered what was to be done, said, "Friend deer, feign thyself dead, and stay quiet till I make a noise, and then get up and run away as fast as thou canst."

The deer was now perceived by the master of the field, whose eyes sparkled with joy; but upon his approaching nearer, and thinking him dead, he exclaimed, "Ha! thou art dead of thyself from confinement, art thou?" and having said so, he began to employ himself in collecting and bundling up his snares; and upon his moving to a little distance, the deer, hearing the voice of the crow, started up in great disorder, and ran away. The master of the field, upon seeing this, flung his staff at him, which, by chance, struck the jackal, and so he was killed, and not the deer.

Wherefore I repeat: Harmony between the food and the feeder is the forerunner of misfortune. A deer, through the artifice of a jackal, is caught in a snare, but is preserved by a crow.

Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:

  • what excuse did the jackal use to not chew the straps which trapped the deer?
  • how was the deer finally able to escape from the hunter?
  • what finally happened to the jackal?

Source: Fables and Proverbs from the Sanskrit, Being the Hitopadesa. Charles Wilkins (1787), with an introduction to the second edition by Henry Morley (1886). Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing (www.kessinger.net). There is no online edition of this text. IMPORTANT NOTE: The text has been substantially abridged. Where you see one or two proverbs in the text here, there are frequently four or five or more proverbs in the original edition.

Modern Languages MLLL-2003. World Literature: Frametales. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.
Page last updated: October 9, 2004 12:48 PM