The laws of the jungle are different from those of the village
A Story from Panchatantram of Vishnu Sharma
In a forest there lived a lion called Madotkata. His constant companions and stooges were one tiger, one crow and as always, a fox.
Once when the daada lion was having his rounds with his chamchas, the saw a Camel names Kadhanaka who had strayed into the forest having run away from the caravan of a trader and was loitering around aimlessly in the forest.
It was perhaps for the first time that the lion was seeing a camel.. He was taken aback by the size and carriage of the animal.
"Oh God, this is not an ordinary beast. Do you know whether he is of the forest or of the village?" .
"My lord, he is a domesticated fellow. He has packed his body fat with flesh eating all sorts of grass and vegetables. His flesh is so delicious. He is eminently suitable for you dinner" chimed in the crow.
In his apparent grace and magnanimity, the lion said.
" This animal has come to my house with full trust. That too without any fear of danger. It is improper to kill him. Mind you, if one kills somebody who has come as a guest to his house, then the host incurs the ultimate sin of killing a Brahmin. Hence I am going to grant him refuge. Please escort him to my presence with all honour."
Accordingly the three chamchas approached the camel, delivered to him the message of their master and brought him to the lion's presence.
" You Kadhanaka ! you need not go back to the village and toil there carrying the heavy loads of merchandise for your master. You can wander in this forest without fear, eating all the grass and other shrubs which grow here aplenty. We can have your nice company also."
Ordered the lion.
The camel believed it and without any fear he continued to live on in the forest under the tutelage of the lion.
Meanwhile it so happened that the lion had to engage himself in a huge battle with a ferocious wild elephant. The elephant was more than a match to the elderly lion and the latter sustained heavy injuries in the encounter and was rendered practically immobile. Suffice to say that only a streak of fortune had just spared his life.
With the leader not fighting fit and weather also not very friends, it was hunger time not only for the lion but also for the three lieutenants. The lion ordered his followers to go and search for some food which was easily available.
The three fellows , however, could not take off their eyes from huge bundle of food in the shape of the poor camel, always present in their company.
The camel and the three others were wandering in the forest in the futile search of food for the master.
The fox told the crow beyond the earshot of the camel.
" You crow, this fat camel is strutting around.. why don't we arrange him as the food for our master and ..er..ourselves?"
The crow remonstrated.
" Our master is very old fashioned. He has promised protection for the camel. He will not hear of any idea of killing the camel"
"Do not worry, you silly crow. I will contrive things in such a way that the master will have no reservations against killing the camel without any prick of conscience. You just remain here and watch."
The fox approached the lion. "Master, we have wandered all around the forest for days together and could not find any animal of prey. We are about to lose our lives for hunger. Your case is also not far different.. Sir,. why don’t we finish off the camel and have some relief from hunger?"
The response was as expected,
" You wretch, you sinner, damn you, if you utter such word any more I will kill you first. I have given him refuge. How can I kill him? The gift of refuge is more noble than gift of land, gift of cows, gift of food and even gift of a daughter."
The fox was persistent. " My lord, you can call it a sin if you kill a person to whom you have offered refuge. But if the person offers himself as food out of devotion to you, can you refuse it?. The camel offers his flesh for you, If you do not want to kill him, you can kill one of the three of us. If you do not eat one of us, you will die of hunger and bereft of our dear master, we will be left with no choice but to commit suicide by entering fire. The great lore says that the important leader of the clan should be protected at any cost. If he is gone, the clan will be a chariot whose axle is shattered. "
The lion said. " If you feel so, you people decide what to do."
The fox returned to the other three and announced to them. " Our master is dangerously ill because of starvation. There will be no one left to protect us if he is gone. So to protect his life, it is our bounden duty to offer our own bodies as his food."
After this all the four of them went near the master and sat around him, in tears. The lion asked, "Could you find some food?"
The crow came forward. " My lord and master, we have searched every inch of this forest but we could not catch hold of any animal suitable for your food. So I am offering my own body as your food. Please eat me and be relived of your hunger."
The fox said. " You tiny crow. Your body is very small. It is not going to make any difference for the lord. Anyway it befits you eminently that you have exhibited your faithfulness to the master.
Now the fox offered his body as the food of the lion.
But the tiger chimed in. " Your words are appropriate. But you are also tiny. And the scriptures say one should not eat animals which have their nails as weapons. So a fox should not be eaten by a lion even if it is a question of life and death. So, I shall offer my body as the food for the master...
But the lion was not interested in killing the tiger either.
So the fat but fatheaded camel thought. " The lion is so noble. He did not accept the idea of killing his faithful servants. And now they have added themselves to his good books by uttering sweet words. I will also say some nice words, and endear the master to me. Sure, he will not kill me" .
And the follish the camel said, " it is rightly said by the tiger.. the animals using nails as its weapons should not be killed. But the tiger also uses his sharp nails in his paw to catch his prey. So he is also does not deserve death. Master, I am here, I have no such disqualifications. May you be pleased to eat this my body and be happy."
The other three were just waiting for these words, They jumped on the body of the camel and within seconds, a sumptuous dinner was ready for the lion and his three stooges.
The laws of the jungle are different from those of the village. If this is not properly understood, one will meet the fate of this camel.