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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Our eyes become blind when fate is ready to strike its blow

Our eyes become blind when fate is ready to strike its blow.

A story from Panchatantra of Vishnu Sharma


There was a city named Mahilaaropya in the Southern Region. Not far away from the centre of the city there grew a huge banyan tree and the grand old tree was a virtual city by itself for various kinds of birds who built their comfortable nests in the various branches. The fruits of the tree and the worms that hid in the holes between branches provided sumptuous food for the birds. 

It is wisely stated. "A tree is worth its existence only if worms live in their crevices, birds built their nests in the foliage, the wayfarers and animals rested in their shadows, monkeys jumped from branch to branch and beetles drank honey from its flowers. Other trees are only waste loads for the mother earth." 

A crow by name Laghupatanaka stayed in the tree. Once when he was on his foray for food, he saw the fearful figure of a fowler with hair tied up, pitch dark in colour with flat feet, holding a trap for the birds in his huge hand and walking along the jungle path. He feared that the fellow was making a beeline towards their tree and immediately flew home, called a conference of the birds and informed them that there was a Fowler on the prowl, and the inhabitants should not get hoodwinked by the antics of the fellow. It was warned that the fowler would come near the tree, spread his invisible net with many catches on the ground and spread fulsome grains of rice and corn in plenty to attract and ensnare the birds. 

" My dear friends, even if you see the entire ground filled with rice and other grains, you should not move from your nests. Stay close to your kin and confine yourself to the safety of your nests." The crow warned. 

The birds who had heard this from the wise crow obeyed his advise in letter and spirit. The fowler spread the net and the grains and waited in vain.

As luck would have it, the king of doves, Chitragreeva with his subjects numbering one thousand flew that way. All of them had been in flight for quite some time and were tired. They saw the grains spread over the ground but could not see the net spread with so much of cunning by the fowler. Laghupatanaka sitting in the banyan tree was shouting warning words to the doves not to come to ground to eat the grains. But greedy were the doves, and they were tired too. They suspected that the crow was trying to drive them away because he wanted to have all the grain for himself. And hunger took the upper hand.

Even otherwise who can answer the questions like, why did Ravana who knew that it was a sin to steal the wife of someone else commit the sin? Why did the most knowledgeable Rama believe that there could be a deer made of gold? How did Dharmaputra, fully knowing the dangers and evil consequences of playing dice, perform so many bids opposed even to dharma and got defeated and went to forest in disgrace? The only answer could be that when one is about to fall prey to the wiles of cruel fate, his good senses will take leave of him, and he will do silly and foolhardy things. Once bound by the rope of fate even the greatest of people will lose their good sense. Such fate befell Chitragreeva and his team. 

With competitive avarice and greed the descended upon the ground to gobble up all the grain and the wily fowler released the catch of his net and every dove was trapped with iron fetters. The fowler was quick on his heels running towards the trapped birds with a huge stick to beat them all to death. The ingenuity in Chitragreeva started working. He told his colleagues."We are trapped, and that man is going to beat us to death. Let us all work together and fly in unison carrying the net along with us." The doves flew away with carrying the net along in their flight. The fowler cursed his fate. 

Chirtagreeva was telling his friends.

" Let us fly as far away from the fowler as we could. We can land in some safe ground and try to untie the traps on our legs and fly to liberty. When our destruction is almost sure, we should not lose our heart. We should do our best in us to survive. If we die meekly, we will have no peace even in the netherworld." 

Once out of the eye-range of the fowler, Chitragreeva said.. "Friends, in the town of Mahilaropya, I have a dear friend, a rat named Hiranyaka. He is very wise. He will definitely find some method to release us.” So the doves flew toward Mahilaropya and landed before the wide living hole of Hiranyaka the wise rat.

Hiranyaka was always extremely 

conscious of his own safety. He would take extra care to avoid cats and snakes. So his hole was a virtual fortress with hundred doors for exit. He could escape through any one of the holes if there was sign of any danger. 

He lived upto the dictum, " A snake without its poison fangs, an elephant without rut, and a leader without a fortress can be defeated by anyone." So he was careful. 

Chritrgreevaa knocked at one of the doors of the fortress and shouted, " My friend, come out and help us. Hiranyaka, this is your friend Chitragreeva the king of doves facing utter danger". 

Hiranyaka recognized his friend through his voice, and came out eager to help. He said. " A dear friend is always welcome to my house. My existence has found its meaning by the visit of my bosom friend and his companions." Chitragreeva explained to his friend his predicament. 

The rat came out and started to cut the knot at the feet of Chitragreeva first with his sharp teeth. Chitragreeva did not agree. " If you are a true friend, you should release all my dependents first and then alone I will think of my liberty. If you start cutting my trap and your teeth get broken, then the fate of all who are dependent on me would be miserable". 

Hiranyaka was pleased beyond measure. " You are a real king and a real friend. The welfare of others are more important to you than that of your own. An ideal king should be like that."

Saying this, he gradually cut the traps of all the doves and gave them a sumptuous feast in honour of his friend. 

However, the rat could not help wondering to himself, " A bird sees its food from hundreds of feet away but does see the trap which is very near it. The sun and moon get eclipsed. The cunning elephants, snakes and other animals fall into traps. How does it happen?'

Chitragreeva replied, "It is fate that is at work. Our eyes become blind when fate is ready to 
strike its blow."