For the fowler the meaning of sacrifice was alien
Another episode from Panhatantram of Vishnu Sharma
In a city there lived an erudite brahmin by name Jeernadhana. As if by a quirk of fate he became a thief and he took up cheating others as his means of livelihood. With his great knowledge he was quite successful in this field also. It is a fact of life that t most of the people with great knowledge also possess the capacity to cheat but usually they practice the deceit discreetly. Maybe, only in old parables that one can see the professions like burglary and steling being listed as a practical means of livelihood. But in reality, in the present context burglary seems to be a not so hidden part of any profession.
Once it came to his knowledge that four brahmins from another town had reached the city as traders and that they had amassed substantial wealth in very little time by selling their merchandise. Our Brahmin the thief was now eager to apply his own professional skills to divest them of their wealth by hook or crook. So he cultivated their friendship meticulously, taking out his extraordinary charm and gift of the gab and applying them to good use. The four traders fell flat to his friendly overtures.
It would appear to be a fact of life that when the circumstances suit her even a prostitute will feign shyness. The arrogant will exhibit good sense and feign humility and even the garrulous rogue will hover around you with sweet words.
Time passed, and the brahmins has sold all their merchandise, and with the profit, they purchased some valuable gems and started their journey back to their own town.
Our Brahmin the thief who was clinging to their doing odd works for them and awaiting a chance to cheat them and steal away their wealth, was now desperate.
" Fie, on me, these fellows are ready to leave with all their money converted to precious stones. Had I been good and true to my profession, the gems should have been mine by now. I have allowed a golden chance to slip away. Now the choice left with me is that, I have to join their company by hook or crook when they travel to their native town, and en route I can try my hands in poisoning them and then the gems can be mine. "
Having chalked out his action plan, he presented himself before the four brahmins with effusive cordiality manifesting itself as tears in the eyes flowing as if out of pangs of imminent separation.
" My venerable friends, are you going away leaving me alone? I have developed very great affection for you in the course of the last few months of jubilant company with you and a separation from you four is unthinkable for me. It breaks my heart So pray, have kindness on me and take me also with you on your journey. I shall justify my company with you by any service that you may deem fit to expect and order."
The brahmin traders were very kind and magnanimous by nature. The pleas of the glib thief offering them his company was irresistible for them. They permitted him to join them in their journey homewards.
While they were travelling through a village inhabited by wild fowlers, the crows in the trees of the locality started crowing,
"People who are owning lakhs in money are coming.. fowlers can come running and rob them"
The group of fowlers believed in the signals given by the crows and duly accosted the five travelers and having beat them to pulp removed their clothes to see where the money was hidden securely . Their search proved futile. They could not find any cash or valuables. Apparently the four brahmins had swallowed the gems. ( to be taken out when they reached safe locations.. we see smugglers do that even these days)
The leader of the fowlers guessed this and ordered that the five brahmins be killed and their stomach cut up to get the gems.
At this juncture, as if by miracle, the power of knowledge and the greatness of the sastras came to the mind of the brahmin who had been a thief all his life . He thought, " By my activities till day I have lost all the virtues of a brahmin. It would seem that I have already secured my firm berth in hell by my sinful life. However, If I could be of some service to these poor brahmins, there would be some expiation and my existence in the nether world at least will be less miserable. I have to do something about it. "
Thinking so, he addressed the chief of fowlers. “You say you are going to kill all of us to find the gems. In truth we do not have anything with us or within us. Those crows should be mad. But to satisfy your doubt I offer myself to be killed, cut up and searched. If you find nothing inside me it should be sufficient proof for you that all the five of us have nothing with us. “
The king of fowlers agreed. They cut up the brahmin who even though he was a thief throughout his lifetime has through his noble gesture of trying to save his four friends from sure death by offering the supreme sacrifice, had atoned for all his sins and started his journey towards heaven.
The other four brahmins were saved because the leader of the fowlers was sure that no one would have given up his life if the group really carried such wealth .
For the fowler life meant only money and loot and the meaning of sacrifice was alien and strange to him.
He could never imagine that a man could give up his life just to save others.
Apparently, even the worst persons have some magnificent streaks of greatness left in their character. The knowledge, nobility of birth and the background of life ultimately shows.