Week 5: Hitopadesa (Hitopadesha)

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BOOK TWO: The Separation of a Favorite

Reading time: 3 minutes. Word count: 600 words.

Having pondered for a while, he said to Damanaka, "It behovest thee, my dear friend, to afford me such advice on this fatal occasion, as the nature of the case seems to demand. Let me clearly understand, my friend, how I am to discover when he is to put me to death."

"When the Rajah shall cock his tail, lift up his paws, and look at thee with his mouth open," replied Damanaka, "then will be the time for thee also to display thy prowess."

Having said this, Damanaka went to join Karattaka; who asked him what was effected.

"Why," replied the former, "a reciprocal breach has been effected between the two."

After this Damanaka went to the lion, and cried out, "Please Your Highness, that vessel of iniquity is coming! Prepare thyself, and let him approach!"

Having said this, he caused the lion to put himself in the attitude before described; and Sang-jeevaka being arrived, upon seeing the lion with his countenance thus altered, began himself to display a corresponding show of defiance.

At length there ensued a furious battle, in which the poor bull having been killed by the lion, the latter overcome with fatigue, and standing, as it were, full of affliction, exclaimed, "Alas! what a cruel action have I been guilty of!

"The loss of territory, or of a wise and virtuous servant, is a great loss. The loss of servants is death to sovereigns, and the loss of empire; for servants are not easily to be found."

"What novelty is this?" asked Damanaka. "It is very unusual for one to lament having put a faithless enemy to death; and indeed it is very improper to do so.

"Or father, or if a brother; or son, or if a friend, be a conspirator against his life, he should be put to death by a prince who wisheth his own welfare.

"It is a virtue in hermits to forgive their enemies, as well as their friends; but it is a fault in princes to show clemency towards those who are guilty.

"There is no other but one expiation for him who, from pride and the lust of power, shall wish for his master's station, and that is death!"

"But the following lines give a very particular picture of the behavior of princes:

"The conduct of princes, like a fine harlot, is of many colors: true and false, harsh and gentle; cruel and merciful, niggardly and generous; extravagant in expense and solicitous of the influx of abundant wealth and treasure."

The lion having been thus composed by the arts of Damanaka, at length recovered his natural temper of mind, and seated himself on his throne; and Damanaka, with his heart full of exultation, having wished victor to the mighty king, and happiness to all the world, lived ever after according to his wish.

--- END OF STORY: back to the FRAMETALE ---

Vishnu-Sarma, having thus concluded his second head, The Separation of a Favorite, gave notice to the young princes; who declaring they were well pleased with it, he gave them his blessing and repeated the following lines:

"May such a breach between friends never happen but in the house of your enemies! May traitors, day by day, be led by Time to their destruction! May the people be perpetual possessors of abundance, and all the blessings of life! And may youth for ever find amusement here in this pleasant garden of fable!"

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

  • how did the lion feel after he had killed the bull?
  • what became of the jackal Damanaka?
  • what is the lesson that Vishnu-Sarma wants the young princes to learn from this story of the lion and the bull?

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