Week 5: Hitopadesa (Hitopadesha)

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BOOK TWO: The Separation of a Favorite

Reading time: 6 minutes. Word count: 1200 words.

Damanaka is going to visit with the bull, and then return to the lion in order to make a report. He also tells the lion a story about a woman who was not fooled by a sound that had completely terrorized all her village. The bull ends up becoming a member of the lion's court... but then something happens that causes the bull to become an enemy of the jackals Damanaka and Karattaka.

back to 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)

After this Damanaka and Karattaka advanced towards the bull Sang-jeevaka; and Karattaka seated himself in state at the foot of a tree, whilst Damanaka addressed the bull in these words,

"Friend bull," said he, "he who is sitting there is appointed General for the protection of these forests, by Rajah Pingalaka."

Then Karattaka gravely said, "Come here directly, or else retire at a distance from these woods, otherwise the fruits of thy disobedience will be painful. The poor bull, ignorant of the affairs of the country he was in, fearfully advanced towards Karattaka, and made him a profound reverence.

Sang-jeevaka, with a loud voice, said, "What, O General, am I to do?"

And Karattaka replied, "If it be thy wish to remain in these forests, bow down to the dust of his Highness's feet."

"Give me thy word, that there is no danger," said Sang-jeevaka, "and upon those terms I am ready to go."

"These suspicions," observed Karattaka, "are unnecessary; for,

"The tempest never rooteth up the grass, which is feeble, humble, and shooteth not up on high; but exerteth its power even to distress the lofty trees; for the great use not their might, but upon the great."

Saying this, leaving Sang-jeevaka at a little distance, they repaired unto the presence of the lion, by whom having been received with attention, they made their reverence, and sat down; and the Rajah was well pleased.

"Know, your Highness," said Damanaka, "we have seen this animal, and he is humbled; nevertheless, he is of amazing strength! According to your divine commands, he is desirous of visiting your Highness's feet, wherefore, arm yourself, and let him draw near; for,

"The bank is penetrated by the waters, although protected by a charm; friendship is broken by maliciousness, and a coward is to be overcome by words alone.

"By this it is seen that one should not be alarmed at a mere sound; for, it is said,

"It is not proper to be alarmed at a mere sound, when the cause of that sound is unknown. A poor woman obtaineth consequence for discovering the cause of a sound."

The lion asked how that was; and Damanaka recounted the following story:

FABLE 5: The Poor Woman and The Bell
(a story told by Damanaka the jackal to Pingalaka the lion in FABLE 1, which is a story told by Vishnu-Sarma to the young princes in the frametale)

Between the mountains Sree-parvata there is a city called Brahma-puree, the inhabitants of which used to believe, that a certain giant, whom they called Ghantta-karna ("Bell-Ear"), infested one of the adjacent hills. The fact was thus: A thief, as he was running away with a bell he had stolen, was overcome and devoured by a tiger; and the bell falling from his hand having been picked up by some monkeys, every now and then they used to ring it.

Now the people of the town finding that a man had been killed there, and at the same time hearing the bell, used to declare, that the giant Ghantta-karna being enraged, was devouring a man, and ringing his bell; so that the city was abandoned by all the principal inhabitants.

At length, however, a certain poor woman having considered the subject, discovered that the bell was rung by the monkeys. She accordingly went to the Rajah, and said, "If, divine sir, I may expect a very great reward, I will engage to silence this Ghantta-karna."

The Rajah was exceedingly well pleased, and gave her some money. So having displayed her consequence to the priesthood of the country, to the leaders of the army, and to all the rest of the people, she provided such fruits as she conceived the monkeys were fond of, and went into the wood; where strewing them about, they presently quitted the bell, and attached themselves to the fruit.

The poor woman, in the meantime, took away the bell, and repaired to the city; where she became an object of adoration to its inhabitants.

Wherefore, I say,

It is not proper to be alarmed at a mere sound, when the cause of that sound is unknown. A poor woman obtaineth consequence for discovering the cause of a sound.

back to 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)

Having concluded his story, Damanaka and Karattaka brought Sang-jeevaka, and introduced him to the lion; after which the bull resided in that forest in great good fellowship.

Some time after, a brother of the lion's, whose name was Stabdha-karna ("Stiff-Ear"), coming to see him, Pingalaka having entertained him, they went forth to hunt for prey. Upon their return, Sang-jeevaka asked the lion what had become of the flesh of the deer which had been killed that day; and the Rajah told him that Damanaka and Karattaka knew.

"Let it be understood," said Sang-jeevaka, "whether there is or is not any."

"There is not, then," replied the lion, laughing.

"What!" said Sang-jeevaka, "has so much flesh been eaten by those two?"

"Eaten, wasted, and given away," answered the lion; "and this is what happens every day."

"How are such things transacted," demanded the bull, "without the knowledge of your Highness?"

"Why not?" said the lion.

"Because it is not proper," said the bull: "for it is said,

"A servant should never do anything of himself, without having informed the sovereign his master; except it be what he may do to prevent a misfortune."

"Again: The minister should be like a Kamandalu (begging-dish), in which there is deposited a vast collection. Of what use to a sovereign is a poor idle fool, or a mere empty hull?"

Stabdha-karna, the Rajah's brother, having attended to these words of the bull, declared his sentiments as follows: "Hear me, brother; it is my opinion that these two, Karattaka and Damanaka, being employed in the superintendence of the affairs of peace and war, are improper persons to reside at the head of the treasury."

The Rajah then said, "It is even so, that these two are not always ready to obey my commands."

"And that," replied his brother, "is at no time becoming in them; for,

"A sovereign should not forgive those who disobey his commands, although they were his sons. Especially if it be to the hurt of revenue, or relative to anything he may have fixed his heart upon.

"Particularly as it is declared:

"The Rajah should, like a father, protect his subjects from robbers, from the officers of government, from the common enemy, from the royal favorites, and from his own avarice.

"Brother," continued he, "let my advice be followed: We have made our meal for today. Then let the bull, Sang-jeevaka, who eats nothing but grass and corn, be appointed to superintend the provisions."

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

  • why did the villagers think they were in danger from a homicidal giant?
  • how did the old woman become a heroine to the people of the village?
  • what new role did the bull Sang-jeevaka assume at court that would make him the enemy of the jackals Damanaka and Karattaka?

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