Week 5: Hitopadesa (Hitopadesha)

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BOOK TWO: The Separation of a Favorite

Reading time: 4 minutes. Word count: 700 words.

The story of the crow, the mouse, the tortoise and the deer provided one lesson for the young princes. Now Vishnu-Sarma is going to launch into another story. This time it will be about two jackals, Damanaka and Karattaka, and their adventures in the court of the Lion-King, Pingalaka. These adventures are provoked by the unexpected arrival of a bull, named Sang-jeevaka, who is a newcomer to the kingdom.

FABLE 1: The Bull, The Lion and The Two Jackals
(a story told by the teacher, Vishnu-Sarma, to the young princes in the frametale)

On the southern road is a city, by name Ratnavatee, where used to dwell a merchant's son, who was called Varddhamana ("Growing-Great"), though possessed of abundant wealth, seeing others his relations very rich, his resolution was that his own greatness should still be increased. They say,

"A man should try to obtain what he hath not; having obtained it he should keep it with care; what hat been preserved he should increase, and being increased he should give it away at places of holy visitation.

"He whose days are passed away without giving or enjoying, puffing like the bellows of a blacksmith, liveth but by breathing.

"By the fall of drops of water, by degrees, a pot is filled. Let this be an example for the acquisition of all knowledge, virtue, and riches."

These were the cogitations of the merchant; who accordingly took two bulls, the one called Sang-jeevaka, the other Nandana, and having yoked them to a cart loaded with sundry precious articles, departed for Kasmeera, for the purpose of trade. As they were going over the mountain which is called Sudurga, Sang-jeevaka fell down and brake his knee; seeking which, Varddhamana meditated in this manner:

"Hesitation should be abandoned as the opponent of every action; whence, having forsaken hesitation, let success attend the performance."

Having thus determined, Varddhamana quitting Sang-jeevaka, pursued his journey; and the poor bull by resting his whole weight upon three feet contrived to get up; for,

The destined age of every one defendeth the vitals of one plunged into the water, fallen from a precipice, or bitten by a serpent.

In a few days, by feeding well upon what was most agreeable to him, he grew plump and full of spirits; and as he wandered about through the tracks of the forest, he made a great bellowing.

In this same forest there resided Pingalaka, a lion, in the full enjoyment of the pleasures of a dominion acquired by the strength of his own arm; for it is said,

There is no ceremony of anointing, or inauguration, performed by the other animals upon the lion. To be head of the beasts is the natural right of him who subdueth the kingdom by his prowess.

One day, the lion being thirsty, went to the riverside to drink of its waters; when, hearing the bellowing of Sang-jeevaka, a kind of noise he had never heard before, and which to him appeared as dreadful as the unseasonable roaring of a cloud, he turned away without drinking, and went back to his abode trembling with fear; where he stood silently meditating what it could be.

In this situation the Rajah having been discovered by two jackals of his council, Karattaka and Damanaka, the latter said to the former, "How is this, my friend, that the lion, although thirsty, has not drunk his usual draught, and stays at home so dull and dejected?"

"Friend Damanaka," replied Karattaka, in my opinion we ought not to serve this same Rajah any longer; and that being the case, for what purpose should we investigate his motions, when we have served him so many years and experienced nothing but trouble?

"So far life is worth having: to possess a livelihood without constraint; for if those who dwell under the authority of others live, pray who are the dead?

"He humbleth himself to be exalted; for a living he expendeth his vitals; he suffereth pain to acquire ease. Who is there so great a fool, as he who serveth?"

"What thou proposest, my friend," said Damanaka, "is by no means to be put in practice."

"Notwithstanding all this," observed Karattaka, "what have we to do with this affair? One should always avoid meddling with other folks' business. See what is said upon this occasion:

"The man who will have to do in matters with which he hath no business, may be repulsed and sleep upon the ground; like the ape who drew out the wedge."

"How was that?" demanded Damanaka; and he related the following story:

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

  • why did the merchant abandon the bull Sang-jeevaka in the forest?
  • how did the lion Pingalaka react when he heard the roaring of the bull?
  • how did the jackal Karattaka react to Damanaka's curiosity about the king's behavior?

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