Week 5: Hitopadesa (Hitopadesha)

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BOOK TWO: The Separation of a Favorite

Reading time: 5 minutes. Word count: 900 words.

Despite Karattaka's advice, Damanaka has decided to interfere in the King's business, but you will see that Damanaka does not tell the King the whole truth. When Karattaka challenges Damanaka to ask him why he is not being entirely honest with the king, Damanaka tells a story to justify his strategy.

Damanaka, accordingly, repaired into the presence of Pingalaka, with hesitation, as it were; but as he was discovered by the Rajah at some distance, he entered with great marks of respect, and having performed that mode of prostration which is called Ashttangapata ("falling-down-on-all-eights"), he drew near; and the lion, stroking him with his right paw, the toes of which were distinguished by ornaments, accosted him in the following words, which were preceded by a great many compliments: "It is long since I have seen you, sir!"

Damanaka replied: "I have not the least occasion to attend your divine feet; nevertheless, a servant should indispensably attend the presence at proper times; and thence it is that I am now here. We are your faithful servants, attached to your Highness's feet; and we have no other place of refuge."

"It is good," replied Pingalaka.

Damanaka then said, "May it please your divinity, I am about to propose a question: What was the reason your Highness, when oppressed with thirst, refused to drink, and now remains at home in a state of amazement?"

"It is well spoken," answered Pingalaka. "How pleasant it is to repose a secret in a place of confidence! I am about to tell thee. Attend! Know that this forest is infested by some beast, before unknown to us; wherefore it behoveth us to abandon it. Hast thou not heard a strange loud noise? To judge by his voice, the strength of this monster must be excessive!"

"Please your divinity," replied Damanaka, "there is indeed great cause for apprehension. We too have heard the voice; but he is unworthy to be a minister who, in the first instance, adviseth either to quit the field or to fight. Besides, your Highness has now an opportunity to experience the use of your servants; for,

"By the touchstone of misfortune a man discovereth the quality of wife, relations, and servants; and of his own strength and judgment."

"It is good," replied the lion; "but I am prevented by my great apprehension."

Damanaka having considered what he should do, at length said, "What! dost thou speak to us about a total abdication of the enjoyment of thy dominions? I tell your Highness plainly, that as long as I live, I shall not be afraid; but it is necessary that the minds of Karattaka and the rest should be pacified also; for in times of necessity, it is difficult to assemble people together."

After that Karattaka and Damanaka together, having received their sovereign's gracious commission, promised to defeat the threatened danger, and departed accordingly.

As they were going along, Karattaka said to Damanaka, "Is the cause of apprehension possible to be defeated, or not possible? Till this has been determined, why did we, in promising to apply a remedy, accept of this great appointment? For it is said, that no one, unless he hath the power to perform, should accept of any one's commission, and, in particular, that of a king."

Damanaka, laughing, said, "Hold thy peace, friend; I am acquainted with the cause of this fear: it is only the bellowing of a bull, our proper food, as well as that of the lion."

"If this be the case," observed Karattaka, "why were not his Highness's fears instantly appeased?"

"If," replied Damanaka, "they had been satisfied immediately, how would this great commission have been obtained. They say,

"The master should never be rendered free from apprehension by his servants; for a servant having quieted the fears of his master may experience the fate of Dadhikarna ("White-Ear")."

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

FABLE 4: The Lion, The Mouse, and The Cat
(a story told by Damanaka the jackal to Karattaka the jackal in FABLE 1, which is a story told by Vishnu-Sarma to the young princes in the frametale)

Upon the mountain Arbuda-sikhara, there was a lion whose name was Mahavikrama ("Great-Courage"), the tips of whose mane a mouse was wont to gnaw, as he slept in his den. The noble beast, having discovered that his hair was bitten, was very much displeased; and as he was unable to catch the offender, who always slipped into his hole, he meditated what was best to be done; and having resolved, said he,

"Whoso hath a trifling enemy, who is not to be overcome by dint of valor, should employ against him a force of his own likeness."

With a review of this saying, the lion repaired to the village, and by means of a piece of meat thrown into his hole, with some difficulty caught a cat, whose name was Dadhikarna.

He carried him home, and the mouse for some time not venturing out for fear, the lion remained with his hair unnipped.

At length, however, the mouse was so oppressed with hunger, that creeping about, he was caught and devoured by the cat. The lion now no longer hearing the noise of the mouse, thought he had no further occasion for the services of the cat, and so began to be sparing of is allowance; and, in consequence, poor puss pined away and died for want.

Wherefore, I say,

The master should never be rendered free from apprehension by his servants; for a servant having quieted the fears of his master may experience the fate of Dadhikarna ("White-Ear").

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

  • why did Damanaka not immediately tell the King that the bellowing animal was nothing to worry about?
  • why did the lion go into the village and capture a cat to take home with him?
  • what finally happened to the cat who was in the service of the lion?

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