Best stories of Panchatantra

The Wisdom Of The Old Gander

A banyan tree once grew deep within a forest. Like all banyan trees, it was a friendly tree that spread its branches wide, and allowed a host of creatures to make it their home. A flock of geese arrived every year to build their nests in the tree's leafy green canopy. The geese were very happy living in the gracious old tree, but one year, as the geese were settling in, an old gander noticed that a small vine had sprouted at the base of the tree. He was alarmed to see it, and squawked loudly, and told the other members of his flock, "This vine will surely be a danger to us if we let it grow thick and strong. It will encircle the trunks of the tree and rise up, and then it will be easy for anyone to hold onto it and climb up and seize us. I think we should uproot the vine while it is still tender, and can easily be torn out of the ground." The other geese did not pay much attention to the old gander's words. "He's always predicting dire things that never come to pass," one young gander whispered scornfully to another, "so it's best to ignore him!"

As the days went by, the geese were very busy looking after their nests. The vine began to grow and become thicker and stronger. It twined itself around the banyan's trunk and reached right up into the heart of the tree. One day, when the geese were out looking for food, a hunter happened to pass by the banyan. His eyes lit up when he saw the number of nests nestled among the leafy branches of the tree. "Today is my lucky day," he said, rubbing his hands together in glee. "Not only have I found a tree full of birds, but it has a nice staircase too, to lead me to them!" Quickly and nimbly, the hunter climbed up the tree, set his snares and net, and went home. When the geese returned home in the evening, the hunter's strong net trapped them. Though they struggled with all their might, they could not free themselves. They were well and truly caught!

"I had warned you about the danger of letting that vine grow unchecked," said the old gander with a long sigh. "Now we'll all be dead by tomorrow morning! If only you had cared to listen to my words." The other geese began to tremble and weep when they heard this. "We're very sorry for our foolishness," they said, full of remorse. "But we don't want to die. Please tell us what we can do to save ourselves." "There is a way whereby we can escape from the hunter's clutches," said the gander after a while. "But you must all do exactly as I tell you." "Yes, of course," said the frightened geese eagerly. "We will!" "When the hunter comes back here tomorrow morning , you must all pretend to be dead. Don't move a limb or feather. The hunter will pick us up one and toss us to the ground. Then before he can climb down, we should all rise into the air together and fly away." 

This time, the geese did exactly as the gander had advised. When the hunter arrived, he found his net full of dead birds. He hurled them to the ground in disgust, but as he was slowly climbing down the tree along the vine, he heard a rustling sound. He turned and looked around and to his astonishment, he saw the geese he had thought to be dead rising into the air beating their wings strongly. The geese flew away safely, and as they winged their way through the skies, one of the young ganders said respectfully to the old one, "We used to make fun of you, Sir, but now you have proved that wisdom and experience lies with the old, your words are truly worth their weight in gold!"

The Foolish crab and The Crane

Once upon a time, a crane and a crab, who were very good friends, lived on the banks of a river. The crane was worried by a terrible problem though. There was a vicious and greedy snake in the area, who was always eating his wife's eggs. The crane and the crab put their heads together and tried to work out a way to solve this problem. Then the crab had a brilliant idea. "The snake is able to terrorize us because we are not equipped to kill such a powerful enemy. In order to kill him, we must invite an enemy of the snake to our neighborhood," he said. The crane was thrilled with this idea. But his wife, a sensible creature, was not too sure about the wisdom of this plan. "Dear husband," she said cautiously, "I think you should go over all the implications of this idea very carefully before committing yourself to it. We don't want it to backfire on us!"

"Nonsense!" said the crane airily. "How can a plan made on such sound reasoning backfire? I'm sure that it will go very well. Just you wait and see!" The crane picked up a basket of fish and set out towards the home of a mongoose. As he walked along the road to the mongoose's house, he dropped fish at regular intervals along the way. When the mongoose came out of his house, and spotted the first fish, he was delighted. "What a lucky day, this is for me," he exclaimed joyfully, "to find a juicy fish lying close to my doorstep!" He gobbled the fish quickly, and as he wandered along, he found, to his great joy, another fish a little farther away. He ate this too with relish. Then, to his great joy, he soon spotted the whole line of fish strewn on his way, just waiting to be devoured! The happy mongoose soon finished eating all the fish strewn along by the crane. Finally, he arrived at the tree where the crane lived.

Almost immediately, he spied the snake who lived there, and a fierce battle ensued between the two bitter enemies. After a long struggle, the mongoose was victorious. The cranes were delighted to see that the wicked snake had been killed. The next day, they flew oof to look for food very happily, convinced that their eggs would now be safe. In the meanwhile, the mongoose came out of his house, and looked around to see if anyone had left a fish at his doorstep once again. When he couldn't find one, he walked along the long road leading to his home, hoping that he could find some fish there at least. But there was not a single fish to be found, and the mongoose began to feel irritable and hungry too. He soon reached the tree where the crane lived. He climbed the tree and was delighted to find the crane's eggs nestling snugly in a nest. He quickly ate them. When the cranes flew back home, to their despair, they found that the mongoose had gobbled up their eggs. The crane hung his head in shame as his heartbroken wife chided him between tears, "You got rid of one enemy, but unwittingly invited another because you did not think before you acted. And now we have paid a heavy price for your foolishness."

The Blue Jackal

One day, a hungry jackal roamed about in the jungle in search of food. But though he searched long and hard, he could not find even a morsel. He was hungry and disappointed, yet he walked on and on, until he strayed into a city, although he knew it was an unsafe place for him, but because he was so famished, he was ready to take the risk. "I must find food," he said to himself, "but I pray that I am not attacked by men or dogs." Suddenly the jackal heard the barking of dogs. He immediately broke into a run because he was afraid that the dogs would pick up his scent, and chase him. But the dogs saw him anyway, and came in hot pursuit. The jackal ran as fast as he could to get away from them, but the dogs soon closed in on him. In despair, the jackal dashed into the home of a dyer. 

In the yard, there was a large tub filled with blue dye. The desperate jackal leapt straight into it without a second thought. The dogs looked around for the jackal, but when they couldn't find him anywhere, they went away. The frightened jackal stayed in the tub until he was quite sure the dogs had gone away. Then, very slowly, he climbed out of the tub of dye. To his astonishment and dismay, he found that he had become blue all over. His body was blue, his tail was blue - why even his nose and ears were blue! The bewildered jackal did not know what to do next. Quickly and quietly, he slunk back into the jungle. On the way, all the animals who spied him stepped back quickly and ran away in fear. They had never seen an animal that was blue all over. When the jackal realised they were afraid of him, his sharp mind began to think of a plan to take advantage of their fear, and turn the situation to his advantage.

"Why do you run away?" he called out to the animals. "Come back and listen to me!" The animals hesitated and stopped running. "I have something very important to tell you." One by one, all the animals slowly moved towards the jackal. There were tigers, elephants, monkeys, rabbits and deer, amongst others. They stood around the jackal in wonderment. "You need not be afraid of me and my strange appearance," said the jackal. "You are safe with me. I am a very special creature indeed, quite unlike all other beasts in the jungle! God has sent me here to be your king. I shall protect you." The animals, observing the jackal's unusual appearance and his bold, confident manner, believed him blindly. "Your Majesty," they said, bowing low, "we are happy that you want to be our king, and we accept you with gratitude. We thank God for sending you to us. Please tell us what we have to do to please you." 

"You must look after your king well," said the jackal. "You must provide him with all the comforts and the food that he needs." "Certainly, Your Majesty," the animals promised. "We will do everything for our king's comfort. What else can we do for you?" they asked respectfully. "You must always be loyal to your king," the jackal replied. "Then the king will protect you from your enemies." The animals were content and satisfied to hear these words. From that moment onwards, all the animals in the jungle vied with one another to please their jackal king. They sent the jackal all kinds of delicious food, and fawned over him, and looked after him well. The jackal truly lived like a king. Everyday the animals went to him with their problems. One day, as the king sat in his court, a noise was heard in the distance. It was the howling pack of jackals. The jackal king had not heard the voice of jackals for a very long time. He was overjoyed to hear the sound and his eyes filled with tears of joy, as memories of his earlier days as an ordinary jackal came flooding back to him. In his joy, he quite forgot that he was a king, and the blue jackal lifted his head and howled.

All the animals immediately realised who he really was - just a common jackal, who had tricked them for a long time! They were so angry that they rushed towards him to tear him to pieces. But the quick-witted jackal had already leapt off his throne and run away. He learnt too late that a lie does not live long - it is always found out!

The Frog King And The Snake

A long time ago, a king of frogs called Gangadatta lived in a deep well. He had scores of relatives, and they made such incessant demands on him, and nagged him so much that he grew very tired and angry. One day he climbed up the waterwheel of the well, slipped out and thought, "I wish I could find a way to take revenge on my tiresome relatives!" As he was pondering over this, Gangadatta saw a snake creeping into his hole. He immediately had a brainwave. "If I find a way to take this snake down into the well, he will surely eat all my relatives," he thought. The more Gangadatta thought about this idea, the more it appealed to him. So he went and stood outside the entrance of the snake's hole and challenged, "Hey you! Come out!" When the snake heard this, he thought, "I am sure that is not one of my own kind calling out to me, for he speaks differently from us snakes. I had better stay inside my hole until I find out who it is. Perhaps the person calling out to me wants to trap me."

So, very cautiously, the snake called out, "Who is it?" The frog king replied, " I am Gangadatta, the king of frogs, and I have come to make friends with you." "Well!" said the snake. "That is very hard to believe! Can grass and fire ever be friends? So why are you talking such nonsense?" "What you say is true," said Gangadatta. "You are indeed my natural enemy. But I am being tormented to death, and I have come to you for help. I want you to eat my enemies." The snake was interested in this immediately. "Tell me," he said, "who is tormenting you?" "My relatives," said Gangadatta wearily. "And where do you live?" asked the snake curiously. "In a well, a pond, or a lake?" "In a well built by layers of stone," replied Gangadatta. "But I have no legs," said the snake, "so how can I get into the well? And even if I could, where could I sit and eat your relatives? Be off with your foolish ideas!" "Please listen to me," Gangadatta pleaded. "I'll show you how to get into the well comfortably and inside, at the edge of the water level, there is a very nice hole where you can sit and eat them. Come with me, and I'll show you."

And so, the snake said aloud, "Gangadatta, if this is really true, then lead the way and I shall follow you." Gangadatta replied, " I shall take you by an easy route and show you the hiding place, but you must spare my own friends. You must eat only the ones that I point out to you." "We are friends now," said the snake glibly, "so don't be afraid. I shall do exactly as you've told me." With these words, the snake came out, embraced the frog king, and followed him. When they reached the well, the frog king led the snake down by the waterwheel, and took him to the hole. He made the snake comfortable, and then pointed out to him those relatives who were not on good terms with him. And, one by one, the snake ate them. Gangadatta was delighted that his plan was working so well. When these frogs had been killed, the snake told the frog king, "Please provide me with some more food. After all, it was you who brought me here, so you are responsible for feeding me and keeping me well."

"Snake," said the frog king, "you have done me a great service, and I am grateful to you. But now you had better go home the way you came, via the waterwheel." "Gangadatta!" said the snake indignantly. "How can you be so mean enough to send me away? By now, someone else must have occupied the hole where I once lived, so I am homeless! I'm going to stay here. You must keep giving me your relatives one by one. If you don't I will eat every single one of you." When the frog heard this he was overwhelmed with grief, and realised what a dreadful thing he had done. He thought, "What a stupid thing I have done by bringing the snake here. But if I oppose him, he will eat us all. So I have no choice but to allow him to eat a friend everyday." The frog king continued to offer the snake one frog everyday. The snake ate what was offered to him, but he also began to eat other frogs on the sly, without the knowledge of the frog king.

One day, the snake also ate Jamnadatta, Gangadatta's son, along with some others. When Gangadatta learned about this, he wailed in a loud voice, "Oh, what a wretched fellow am I! I have brought misery and ruin on my kith and kin!" The frog king was inconsolable. Eventually, the snake devoured all the frogs in the well. Only Gangadatta was left. Then the snake told the frog king, "Gangadatta, I am hungry! There are no frogs left. Please get me something to eat because, after all, you brought me here." "My friend," replied Gangadatta, "as long as I am here, you have no need to worry on any account. Now if you allow me to leave this well and go to another one, I shall win the confidence of other frogs and bring them here." "You have been like a brother to me!" said the snake. "I shall never eat you. Now, if you carry out what you have promised, you will be like a father to me. So, please go."

The snake waited anxiously for his return, but in vain. After a long time, the snake told a lizard living nearby, "Please help me. You have known Gangadatta for a long time. Would you find him for me in one of the other wells and give him a message? Tell him, "If the frogs aren't coming, at least you return quickly. I can't bear to be separated from you." Also tell him, "If I harm you, may I lose all the merits I have earned in my life so far!" The lizard found Gangadatta in one of the other wells and said, "Gangadatta! You friend the snake is anxiously waiting for your return. He won't harm you. He has staked all his good deeds as a guarantee for your safety. So come along, don't be afraid." Gangadatta replied, "What sin will a starving man not commit? Please tell the snake that Gangadatta will never again return to the well." And with those words, the sorrowful frog king turned away the lizard. 

The Stupid Demon

Once upon a time, there was a great kingdom that was ruled by a wise and powerful king called Bhadrasen. He had a daughter who was so beautiful that even the moon and the stars sung her praises when they appeared in the sky each night. One evening, an ugly demon, who was uncouth and as black as the night, passed by the king's palace. As he looked in through one of the windows, he saw the sleeping princess, and he was so taken up by her beauty that he decided to carry her away. The princess, however, had some special magic charms under her pillow that protected her, and so the demon could not succeed in his evil plan. He kept trying for several days, and one dark, moonless night, he entered the princess's royal bedchamber and hid himself carefully in a corner of the room. The observant princess had seen the demon though, and she remarked worriedly to her ladies-in-waiting, "Look, the evil creature who comes every night at the darkness's hour has returned to torment me! I wish I could find a way to get rid of him." 

The demon, who was listening carefully, perked up when he heard this. "Oh, so there is another demon around called darkness who wants the princess too," he said. "I must carry her off before he does, but first I'll turn myself into a horse and stand in the stables. Then I can find out what form this demon called darkness will take to carry her off." The demon promptly turned himself into a magnificent thoroughbred stallion and went and stood in one of the stalls in the palace stables. Now it so happened that there was a thief prowling around the stables that night, and when he spied the magnificent stallion standing unattended in the stables, his eyes lit up. "What a splendid animal," he murmured in admiration. "He must be worth a lot of money too. He's an animal worth stealing!" he leapt onto the stallion's saddle in a trice, and was soon galloping away. "This fellow on my back must be the demon called darkness," thought the stupid demon. "But if he wants to get rid of me and snatch the princess himself, he had better think again. He doesn't know what I'm made up of!" 

The demon-horse then began to gallop at top speed, and though the startled thief tried his best to rein in the horse, it was of no use. The powerful stallion galloped on at a frightening speed. The thief soon realised that this horse was no ordinary creature, and he became so frightened that he decided to get off the bolting horse as soon as he could. As the horse thundered past a huge old banyan tree, the thief reached out and grabbed one of the branches of the tree. As he held on to it tightly, the rider-less horse continued to gallop furiously. A monkey who was the demon's friend lived on the banyan tree. When he saw his friend bolting, he called out encouragingly, "Don't run away my friend! The creature on your back is just an ordinary man. You can eat him in one gulp!"

When the demon heard these words, he immediately switched back to his usual form, and stared at the form of the thief dangling from the branch of the banyan tree. He wondered - was the form that he saw wildly swinging from the tree the demon called darkness? He stepped forward to investigate, and the thief was so furious with the monkey for drawing the demon's attention to him, that he bit its long dangling tail. The monkey shuddered in great pain, but he was so afraid that he did not dare shout out aloud. The demon laughed at the monkey. "You poor fool," he said. "it would have been better for you if you had remembered, that he lives long and well who knows to flee when the going is good!"

The Cobra And The Ants

Long ago, a big king cobra lived in a dense forest. The snake was a skillful hunter who liked to eat, and he usually ate birds's eggs, lizards, frogs and other small creatures that he caught himself. He hunted during the nights and during the day, when the sun appeared, he would creep back into his hole to sleep. Gradually the snake became stouter and stouter. In fact, he grew so fat that it became difficult for him to squeeze into, and slither out of his hole without getting scratched. Finally the fat snake had to abandon his hole, and search for a new home. He selected a huge tree as his residence. It was quiet and shady, but there was a large anthill at the root of the tree. The king cobra felt that it was impossible for him to put up with hoards of ants living in the anthill. 

He slithered up to the anthill angrily, spread his hood and hissed angrily as he addressed the ants, "I'm King Cobra, the king of this forest. I have decided to live here, and I don't want any of you around. I order all of you to leave this place at once, and find some other place to live." The other small animals living in and around the tree heard the snake's angry threats, trembled with fear, and ran away as fast as they could. But the ants paid no attention at all to the cobra's threats. Instead, thousands of ants streamed out of the anthill in neat, orderly lines. They marched up to the cobra calmly and swarmed all over his large fat body, stinging and biting him. The snake hissed and wriggled furiously, but he could do nothing to combat the thousands of thorny pricks all over his body. Finally writhing in pain and agony, the arrogant snake died a painful death. The triumphant ants marched back into their anthill happily. Even though they were such tiny creatures, working together in perfect harmony and unison had helped them defeat a mighty enemy. 

The Crocodile, The Priest And The Fox.

Once upon a time, a crocodile who lived on the banks of a small pond pleaded eloquently with a priest to carry it to Benares, so he could live and die in the river Ganges. The compassionate priest was moved by this request, so he put the crocodile into his bag, and carried him all the way to the holy river. However, just as he was about to release the crocodile into the water, the reptile turned on him, and seized him in his huge jaws, snapping viciously. He was about to kill and devour the priest, when the terrified man cried out. "O cruel beast!" he said with tears in his eyes. "What an ungrateful creature you are! I tried to help you, and instead you are going to repay me by eating me!" "My dear," said the crocodile, "don't you know that according to custom, you are allowed to eat the person who has sustained you if your survival depends on it? So, I am not ungrateful at all. I am doing the correct thing."

"I don't agree," said the priest firmly. "And since my life is at stake, I think we should let this matter be decided by three impartial judges. Let them decide whether you should be allowed to devour me. I promise I will abide by the decision of the judges." Since this seemed a reasonable request, the crocodile agreed. The two first turned to a big mango tree. The priest addressed the tree. "The crocodile and I have a dispute," he said. "We would like you to settle it. Is it permitted to repay a good deed with an evil one?" Then he told the tree what he and the crocodile were fighting about. The mango tree let out a long sigh. "Well, the treatment that I and my kind always receive from humans is such that they repay our kindness with cruelty. They partake of our fruits and our shad, and then uproot us," the tree said. 

The crocodile laughed triumphantly. Next, the priest and the crocodile turned to an old cow. After she had heard them out, she said, "Alas! I too have found no mercy or kindness after doing good deeds. Humans have drunk my milk to their heart's content, but when they found that I was helpless and of no more use to them, they abandoned me. Any moment I expect to fall prey to a wild animal." "What did I tell you?" the crocodile told the priest delightedly. Since a third judgement was still needed, the crocodile and the priest turned to a fox. He too seemed inclined to give a verdict against the priest, like the other two judges had done. But before finalizing his decision, he said he wanted to see how the two had journeyed together. To demonstrate, the unsuspecting crocodile crept back into the priest's bag. Acting on a cue from the cunning fox, the priest struck the now helpless crocodile dead with a stone. "Such an ungrateful creature surely deserves to die," said the wily fox before he began to eat the crocodile. 

The Princess And The Weaver

In a faraway kingdom, there once lived a weaver and a chariot-maker who were best friends. They had grown up and played together as children and, even as adults, they still spent a lot of time together, although they followed different professions. One day, both friends had a holiday because an important festival was being celebrated in the kingdom. A big procession was being taken out in the town where these two friends lived, and they decided that they too would join the merrymakers in the procession. They set out eagerly, and as they were cavorting with the dancers and musicians, the crowd suddenly parted to make way for a majestic elephant. As the great beast passed, the weaver craned his neck to have a better look at the passenger it was carrying. Seated on the elephant was the king's daughter, and as the weaver stared at her, his heart began to pound madly. The princess was more beautiful than any girl he had ever seen. She had long lustrous hair, twinkling dark eyes, and skin that glowed like pearls.

"What a beautiful princess!" the weaver murmured in a daze. Cupid's arrow had found its mark and, as the elephant moved on, the weaver fell to the ground in a faint. His friend the chariot-maker was very scared when this happened, and he quickly moved the weaver to a quiet corner. He shook him hard and sprinkled some water on the weaver's forehead, but to his dismay, the weaver still did not wake up. Thoroughly frightened by now, the chariot-maker rushed his friend to the doctor. After the doctor had administered some strong medicine, the weaver slowly opened his eyes. "Thank the lord!" exclaimed the chariot-maker in relief. "What happened to you, my friend?" The weaver let out a great sigh of anguish. "I have been hit by an arrow," he said faintly. "An arrow?" exclaimed the shocked chariot-maker. "How can that be? I was there right next to you, and I did not see an arrow hit you." "It was an arrow of love," said the weaver dramatically. "The moment I saw the beautiful princess on elephant back, my heart ached for her. But it is of no use, there is no cure for my heartache, and I think it is better that I die. Although I have fallen in love with a princess, I cannot hope to even go near her." So saying, he burst into tears. 

The chariot-maker smiled. "Do not worry, my friend," he said. "I will help you, for I cannot bear to see you suffer. I have thought of a way by which you will be able to meet the princess today!" "I know you are trying to cheer me up, but need not lie to console me," the weaver said mournfully. "Just wait and see what I have in mind," the chariot-maker replied confidently. "But I'll have to spend a few hours at my worktable before everything falls into place." He hurried away to his workplace and for the next few hours, he was very busy cutting, sawing and nailing pieces of wood together. Finally, he summoned the weaver to see what he had created. The chariot-maker had fashioned a huge wooden bird that looked exactly like Garuda, the sacred mount of Lord Vishnu. It was a wonderful piece of woodcarving, and in its arms it held a conch shell, a lotus blossom, and a mace. As the weaver gaped at it in awe, the chariot-maker said: "Now you'll have to learn to fly this Garuda. It's as easy as driving a chariot." "But how is this going to help me?" the weaver asked in bewilderment. "I am going to dress you as Lord Vishnu," said the chariot-maker triumphantly, "and when you soar through the air in this wooden Garuda you will be able to fly straight to the top floor of the royal palace where the princess has her quarters. And when she sees you, I guarantee she will welcome you with great joy, for she will believe that Lord Vishnu has come to her!"

"What a clever idea!" said the weaver excitedly, embracing the charioteer. After the weaver had learnt to fly his wooden Garuda, the chariot-maker dressed him up. As the weaver looked at his reflection in the mirror, he could scarcely believe his eyes. He looked splendid, holding Vishnu's personal disc-like weapon, the chakra, in his hand and wearing a shiny glass stone around his neck, which was supposed to be Lord Vishnu's personal gem, Kastubha. The chariot-maker waved his friend goodbye, and the weaver set off on the Garuda. He flew through the air, and soon landed in the palace, at the corridor right outside the princess's bedroom. The princess was fast asleep in her bed. The weaver leant over her and said, "My beautiful princess, are you awake?"

The princess woke up with a start, and rubbed her eyes in astonishment to see Lord Vishnu in her room on his mount Garuda, complete with conch and lotus. She blinked hard to make sure she was not dreaming, and then bowed reverently. "Are you really Lord Vishnu?" she asked in a whisper. The weaver smiled slowly in what he felt was a god-like way, and said, "Yes, I am Lord Vishnu! In an earlier birth, you were Radha and I was Krishna, and we lived together at Vrindavan. I long to be united with you again, and that's why I have come here tonight. You must marry me and make me happy." The princess was astonished to hear this but happy too. "It will be an honor for me, but I cannot marry you without my father's consent," she said. "Once you get permission, I will be very happy to be your wife." The weaver was most disconcerted to hear this, but he thought quickly. "How can I speak to your father when I am invisible to everyone but you?" he asked. The princess did not appear convinced by this, and the weaver realized that his big chance could slip away if he did not act soon. He made his expression as stern as possible and said, "If you do not marry me, I will reduce your father and his entire kingdom to ashes. You may disobey one of the Gods at your own peril!"

The poor princess was so nervous to hear this that she immediately agreed to the weaver's request. And so, the weaver's dream came true - the beautiful princess became his wife. For several weeks after this, the weaver continued to visit the palace to see his princess during the nights, and in the morning, before dawn broke, he would slip away on his Garuda. One day, as the palace guards were patrolling the grounds outside the princess's room, they heard a man's voice from within. They mentioned this to the king the next morning, and he was very worried when he heard this, and immediately went to the queen. "Find out if there's any truth in what the guards are saying," he told her. "If there is, I will ensure that the man is put to death." The alarmed queen hurried to her daughter's quarters and demanded to know the truth at once. The frightened princess immediately blurted out to her mother the story of how she had secretly married Lord Vishnu. The queen was thrilled to hear this wonderful and extraordinary piece of news, and hurried to share it with her husband.

"We are truly blessed," she said. "Our daughter has married Vishnu the Preserver himself, and he visits her every night. He reveals himself only to her, and he will be coming to see her tonight. Let's hide outside our daughter's room and see if we can catch glimpse of him." The delighted king agreed to this, and so the royal pair hid themselves as planned, and waited. Then, around midnight, the king and queen saw an enormous Garuda appear in the sky. Seated in it, with his Chakra, was the great God Vishnu himself. "How fortunate we are," murmured the king joyfully, "that our daughter has married mighty Vishnu." Then another thought struck him. "Now that Vishnu is my son-in-law, I can conquer the world, and become the most powerful king." This idea elated him, and from the very next day, he set things in motion to achieve his ambition. He mustered his army, and attacked all the neighboring countries in the hope of conquering them. But alas! Time and again, his army was vanquished and had to flee after ignominious defeats. After this had gone on for a while, the king became anxious and sent for his daughter.

"My dear daughter," he said, "I am losing every war that my army fights, even though Lord Vishnu is my son-in-law. Now it is getting rather embarrassing, so I must ask you to tell your husband to defeat my enemies." That night, when the weaver arrived in the princess's quarters, she told him what her father had said. The weaver was astonished to hear the princess's words, but once more, he thought of a way to get out of a tight situation. "Tell your father not to worry," he said airily. "I will vanquish all his foes in a twinkling!" When the king heard this, he was so pleased that he sent costly gifts to his son-in-law to show his appreciation - fine silks, jewels, and the choicest foods and drinks. The weaver enjoyed all these but, of course, he did nothing at all to help the king. Then one day, the king's enemies, tired of his unwarranted aggression, attacked his kingdom. Huge armies began to march towards the capital. The terrified king sent for his daughter once more. "Our city is soon going to fall because we don't have enough weapons or soldiers to fight the enemy. So now, I am going to leave everything in your husband, Lord Vishnu's hands."

When the princess repeated these words to the weaver that night, he was very quiet, "If the city falls, then I will lose my beautiful princess," he thought sadly, " and I just cannot live without her. The only thing I can do to save the situation is to fly out on my Wooden Garuda and show myself to the people. Perhaps the sight of me will give the soldiers courage to fight, and rout the enemy, and maybe the sight of Lord Vishnu in the sky will frighten the enemy away. I might die in the process of course, but it's the only chance I've got, and it's worth taking." The weaver instructed the princess to tell the king to array his entire army on the outskirts of the city the next morning, and he, Lord Vishnu, would appear in the sky. The next day, the king did exactly as he was told. As his tired army lined up outside the city and prepared to face the advancing enemy, a wonderful sight greeted them. Lord Vishnu appeared in the sky, seated on Garuda with the chakra in his hand! Meanwhile, the real Lord Vishnu looked down from the heavens and saw the weaver's antics. He chuckled in amusement and told his mount Garuda, "Look at the weaver on a wooden bird pretending to be me! I admire his audacity in the face of certain death. But I cannot let him die, for if I do, then everyone will say that Vishnu and Garuda are dead and they will no longer worship us. So let us help the poor weaver. I will enter his body, and slay all the enemies converging on the town, and you can enter the form of the wooden bird to help me." 

And so, Garuda entered the wooden bird, and Vishnu became the weaver as the townspeople gasped and stared in wonder. Then, before their amazed eyes, the great God Vishnu sucked all the strength out of the enemy armies, causing them to flee in disarray. As the townspeople began to cheer loudly, the weaver looked on in astonishment. He just couldn't believe his eyes! Grinning happily in delight, he flew down into the city square on his wooden bird. Then he stepped out of it, waving. The townspeople immediately recognized him as the common weaver who lived in the city. "Hey weaver, what on earth are you doing?" they asked in bewilderment. The weaver was so happy that he told everyone the whole truth, right from what happened from the time had seen the princess for the very first time. The king was so pleased all his enemies had been vanquished that he was not at all cross with the weaver. "It doesn't matter at all if you are not Vishnu," he said with a smile. "I admire your enterprise and so, I will get you married to my daughter in the presence of all the citizens." That's how the weaver won a princess and a kingdom too, all because of a clever plan!

The Singing Donkey

Once upon a time, a washerman had a donkey. The donkey was old and lean and tired and his ribs stuck out of his flanks. During the day, the donkey had to carry heavy bundles of clothes on his back, but at night, he was free to wander about as he wished. One night, as he was roaming about as usual, the donkey happened to meet a jackal. They got talking and struck up a friendship. Soon the pair began to wander together in search of food. Late one evening, they stumbled upon a garden full of juicy, ripe cucumbers. They went into it eagerly, and ate as much as they could before leaving. The next night, they visited it again, and once more, they ate their fill of cucumbers. This went on night after night. The happy pair visited the garden daily and feasted on the ripe cucumbers. Soon the donkey became fat and plump, and glowed with health and energy. In fact, the donkey was so happy and pleased with himself that one night, after he had finished filling his belly with cucumbers, he told the jackal, "Look, it's a glorious night! The moon is glowing in the sky, the stars are twinkling, and I feel like singing."

The jackal's eyes widened and he looked at his friend in alarm. "Please don't sing," he pleaded urgently. "It will only get us into trouble. The farmer who owns this place will certainly hear your loud voice, and he will come after us with a stick and stones. Don't forget that we are thieves here. Don't you know that thieves must always keep quiet?" But the donkey was in no mood to listen to his friend. Instead he brushed aside his words and said, "Everything here is so perfect tonight and I am in such a good mood. I really feel like singing a nice song." "No, you mustn't!" said the jackal again. "Do you want to invite trouble? Besides, your voice is harsh and unpleasant." "You are jealous of me," said the donkey. "You are an uncouth fellow without a taste for fine music!" "That may be true," said the jackal. "But your music is sweet only to you. If you sing, the farmer will surely hear you, and come out with his stick to reward you. So you had better keep quiet and not sing." 

"You are a big fool, my friend. Do you think I cannot sing sweet songs? Now listen to me..." The donkey threw back his head, opened his mouth and got ready to bray. "Very well," said the jackal in resignation. "You can sing as much as you like, but I shall go and wait for you outside the garden." The donkey began to bray noisily and energetically. Soon the farmer heard the enthusiastic braying. He knew that a donkey was loose in his garden and he charged out with a stout stick. The donkey was still braying when the farmer began to thrash him. He beat him so hard that the donkey fell down. Then the farmer tied a heavy millstone around the donkey's neck and left. The jackal was waiting outside the garden when the donkey staggered out wearily with the millstone dangling from his neck. "I see that the farmer gave you a medal for your melodious singing," said the jackal with a knowing smile. "I'm very sorry," said the donkey sadly, "that I did not listen to your sound advice. The next time sometime advises me for my own good, I'll not be so quick to dismiss it!"

The Girl Who Married A Snake

In a little village far, far away, a man called Sharma lived with his wife. They were very unhappy because they had no children. Everyday, they prayed and offered sacrifices to the Gods so that they might be blessed with a child. At last, after several years, the woman had a baby. But the child turned out to be a snake! The poor husband and wife were greatly shocked, and all their friends and relatives advised them to get rid of the snake as quickly as possible. But the woman, who had received the gift of a child after so many years, refused to listen to them. "The snake is my son," she said, holding him tenderly. "I love him with all my heart." She looked after him with love and care. Everyday, she bathed him carefully and fed him with the best food. She made a soft bed for him in a beautiful, carved wooden box and let him sleep in it. As time went by, the snake grew up. His mother loved him more and more. Whenever there was a wedding in the neighbourhood, she began to think of getting her son married, too. But she wondered rather anxiously, how could she find a bride for her snake-son? She spent many long hours thinking about this.

One day, when Sharma came home, he found his wife in tears. "What is wrong?" he asked anxiously. "Why are you crying?" She did not reply, but continued to cry. Finally the desperate man pleaded with her to tell him the reason for her sorrow and tears. "I know you don't like my son," she said at last. "But do you realize that now he is grown up? It is time for him to be married. But to my everlasting sorrow, you are so indifferent that you do not even think of getting him a bride." "A bride for your son? Do you think anyone will give a girl in marriage to a snake?" Sharma asked in astonishment. The woman cried inconsolably on hearing this, so much so that her husband could bear it no longer. He decided to set out in search of a bride for his son. Sharma travelled far and wide, but he could not find a girl anywhere who was willing to marry a snake. At last, he came to a big city where one of his best friends lived. Since he had not seen him for a long time, he decided to look him up. Sharma's friend was very happy to see him, and they spent several happy hours together.

When it was time for Sharma to leave, his friend happened to ask why he was travelling around the country. "I am looking for a bride for my son," replied Sharma. "Why didn't you tell me about this before?" asked his friend. "You have come to the right place! I have a daughter and she is beautiful and virtuous, and will be a good wife to any man. I will give her to your son in marriage." Sharma was surprised to hear this, but replied doubtfully, "I think it will be much better if you saw my son before you decide." "No, no!" said the friend. "It is not necessary at all. I know you and I know your wife well, so a son of yours is good enough to be my son-in-law. Let us not waste anymore time. My daughter will go with you, marry her to your son." Sharma returned to his own home, taking his friend's daughter with him. His wife was truly delighted when her husband returned successfully from the mission that he had set out to accomplish. He had brought back a beautiful girl to marry her son! With great eagerness and excitement, she started making preparations for the wedding. 

When the people of the village heard that the snake was going to be married they were shocked and amazed. They went to the girl and advised her not to enter into the marriage that had been arranged for her. "The bridegroom is just a reptile - an ordinary snake," they warned. "How can he ever be a husband to you?" they asked. The girl refused to listen to them. "My father promised his friend that I would wed his son," she said. "And I, his daughter, will never do anything to go against his wishes. Even if my father's friend's son is a snake, then a snake shall I marry." The next day, the marriage between the snake and the girl took place. Then the girl began to live with her husband. She was devoted to him, and did everything for him like a good wife. The snake slept in his carved wooden box. One night, as the girl was going to bed, she saw a handsome youth in the room. She did not know who he was. She was very frightened and wanted to run away. But the young man said, "Do not run away, my dear. I am your husband. Don't you know me?"

The girl did not believe him, of course, and she shrank back in fear. So, to prove to her that he was really the one she had married, the man entered the snake skin. Then he slipped out of it once more, as the young man. When she saw this, the girl was so happy that she fell at his feet. After this, every night, after everyone had gone to bed, the young man would slip out of the snake's skin and stay with his wife till daybreak. Then, he would go back to being a snake. This went on for quite a long time. One night, Sharma grew suspicious when he heard voice coming from his daughter-in-law's room, so he kept watch. When he saw the snake turning into a young man, he seized the snake's skin and threw it into a fire, where it was burnt to ashes. "Thank you very much, dear father," said the young man happily. "I had to remain a snake because of curse until somebody, without my asking, destroyed my earlier form. Today you have done so, and I am now free from the curse." And the young man never became a snake again. 

The Golden Goose 

Once upon a time, a king called Chitrarth lived in a beautiful palace that stood beside a lake full of lotuses. The lake was guarded by a flock of beautiful golden wild geese that lived beside it, and swam on its limpid waters. Every six months, the geese gave the king one pure golden feather as a tribute in gratitude for being allowed to live on the lake. One morning, a strange new bird - golden from the top of its beak to the tip of the tail - flew over the lake and alighted on its water, feathers fluttering. As soon as the wild geese caught sight of this stranger, they rushed towards it, flapping their wings and honking nastily. "Who are you? How dare you come here!" they cried angrily. "We live on this lake, and since we pay a tribute to the king, you have no right to be here at all. Be off with you!"

The golden bird tried to reason with the angry geese that the lake belonged to everyone, but the geese were in no mood to listen. They surrounded the golden bird and jabbed him with their beaks till he was forced to fly away. The golden bird was very angry. He flew straight to the king and told him sadly, "Your Majesty, the wild geese say that your lovely lake of lotuses belongs to them. They did not even allow me to swim in its waters for a little while. They said that they pay you tribute, so the lake belongs to them, and you can do nothing to them." Predictably, the king was furious when he heard this. He immediately sent for his palace guards. "Go to the lake and kill the arrogant geese who live on it," he shouted angrily. "How dare they disrespect me!" The guards went to the lake armed with bows and arrows. When the wild geese saw them approaching, they fluttered their wings in alarm. The chief of the geese, an old gander, ordered his companions to rise into the air and fly away.

"We are done for," he cried. "The king's men are here to kill us. We have no other choice but to leave the home that we have loved and paid for so faithfully." The geese rose into the air as one, and flew away, leaving the lake forever. When the king realized what he had done, he was filled with remorse. "How thoughtless it was of me," he wept sadly, "to drive away the beautiful geese who had lived on my lake for so long because of the casual words of a stranger! I have paid a very dear price for acting on impulse and not bothering to check facts before acting on the words of the strange golden bird."

The Merchant And The Lie

A poor merchant who lived in a small town decided that he would travel to faraway lands to try and make a fortune. He packed his meagre belongings, and took his only valuable possession -  a set of old weighing scales - to a rich pawnbroker to raise some money. The scales were very heavy and made of solid iron. The pawnbroker gave the merchant a reasonable sum of money for the scales. The merchant then told the pawnbroker, "Please keep this weighing scale very safe. It is a family heirloom, and I am pledging it only because I desperately need money now. But someday I will return to pay you back, and collect my scale." "I will keep it safe till you return, no matter how long it takes," the pawnbroker promised. The merchant went on his way. As time went by, he travelled to many lands, and worked hard, trying his hand at many different businesses. Eventually, he built a fortune and became a rich man. He bought a fine house for himself in a beautiful city and then, he decided that the time had come to return to his old hometown to collect his scale.

When he reached there, he went straight to the rich pawnbroker's shop. The pawnbroker's eyes widened when he saw the finely clad merchant. "Do you remember me, my friend?" the merchant asked with a smile. "I had entrusted you with my family's precious weighing scale, and you had kindly lent me some money against it. Well, I've brought back all the money that I owe you, and I'm eager to get my scale back." The pawnbroker looked at the merchant with an expression of sorrow. "Oh friend, I had kept your scale safely in my store room, but mice gnawed away at it and ate it!" The merchant was dismayed to hear this lie, but he did not flinch or show his anger. Instead, he shrugged and said, "I'm really sorry to hear that mice ate my scale. They must have been very strong mice though, to eat an iron scale! But since there's nothing more to keep me here in this town, I'll be on my way." He turned to leave, but then paused and told the pawnbroker, "I'd like to have a bath in the river before I start my journey. Would you send your son along with a towel and some soap?" "Certainly!" said the pawnbroker quickly.

The merchant and the boy set off towards the river. Once they got there, the merchant seized the boy, pushed him into a nearby cave, and covered its entrance with a big stone. He then bathed and hurried back to the pawnbroker's shop. "I'm quite refreshed after my bath and ready to make the journey back home. I've come to say good-bye," the merchant told the pawnbroker cheerfully. "Where is my son?" asked the pawnbroker anxiously. "Oh dear! A big hawk swooped down as I was bathing and carried him away!" said the merchant sadly. "What?" shrieked the pawnbroker. "How can a hawk carry away such a big boy? How dare you tell such a big lie!" "If mice can eat an iron weighing scale, then a hawk can surely carry away a boy in its beak!" the merchant replied quietly. "If you return my scale, I'll return your son to you too!" "But mice did eat your precious scale," the pawnbroker shouted furiously. "And a hawk did carry away your son before my very eyes," the merchant retorted calmly. The pawnbroker was beside himself with rage. "I'm going to take you to the courthouse, and when the judge hears the lie that you have told, you'll surely receive big punishment," he threatened the merchant.

"Lead the way," said the merchant quietly. After the judge had heard the angry pawnbroker's outburst, he frowned at the merchant. "How dare you suggest that a hawk made off with this man's son! It's an outrageous lie!" "It's only as outrageous as the story that mice ate a strong iron scale," the merchant countered. "What do you mean by that?" asked the judge, looking puzzled. "Well sir, many years ago I had borrowed some money from this pawnbroker after pledging my heavy iron weighing scale to him. It had been in my family for years, so I told him that I would return to collect it, when I had made enough money. When I did, and I asked him for the scale, he said that mice had eaten it!" The judge chuckled, and glared at the pawnbroker. "Return this man's scale to him, and you will have your son back too." Later, as the merchant returned happily with his weighing scale, he smiled to himself. "I'm sure the pawnbroker has realized that when you tell a lie, it sometimes puts you in such a tricky situation, you wish you had been truthful after all." 

The Flea And The Bedbug

Once upon a time a bedbug had made its home in the grand, ornamental bed of a king. The bedbug led a regal and peaceful life, roaming happily among the smooth, expensive silken sheets and velvet quilts that lined the bed. During the day, he slept undisturbed in a corner of the bed, and at night, he feasted on the king's sweet blood. Then one day, a flea drifted into the king's bedroom, and he flew straight to the king's bed. The bed bug immediately scolded the intruder and told him that he had come to the wrong place. "You had better leave before someone notices you," he warned. "If you are discovered lurking here, you will be destroyed at once." The flea replied, "My dear friend, how inhospitable and rude you are! Is it proper of you to ask a guest to leave when he has come to visit you? Don't you know that you must welcome a guest with polite words? Besides, I have come here with a purpose. Though I have tasted the blood of many people and beasts, never have I tasted the royal blood of a king. I have heard that it is delicious beyond compare, and I long to have a sip of it! Please can you allow me a bite of the king just once? It will be just a very tiny bite." 

The bed bug was horrified to hear this. "I cannot allow you to bite the king, for I am sure that you would wake him up and cause him pain, and that would be ruinous," he said firmly. "Please don't be so harsh," pleaded the flea persuasively. "I promise you that I will bite him so stealthily that he will not feel anything. And anyway, the king has so much blood flowing in his veins. I don't think it is fair that you are drinking it all by yourself and refusing to share a bit with me!" he said, rather peevishly. The bug replied, "Oh, flea, I suck the blood of the king when he is fast asleep. And I am careful to bite him so gently that he never feels my bite. You are much too impatient. I'll agree to let you have one bite of the king, but you will have to wait till I am finished myself. After that, you can have your fill." The flea was delighted to hear this. A little while later, the king entered his bedroom to sleep. The flea grew very excited when he saw the king's plump body. "His blood must taste delicious!" he whispered excitedly to the bed bug. "Remember what I told you," the bed bug warned. "We have to wait till the king is in deep sleep before we begin to feast, and you will get your turn only after I have finished." 

The flea was very impatient, however, and could restrain himself no more. Just as the king was beginning to doze off, he bit the king hard on his arm. The king leapt from his bed when he felt the bite, and he was very cross indeed. He immediately ordered his servants to strip his bed and find the insect that had caused him such discomfort. The king's men pulled the linen off the bed, and examined it closely. The flea, seeing the commotion, flew away to the corner of the room and hid himself behind a curtain, but the servants found the poor bed bug and killed him at once. The bug died because he had forgotten that sometimes it's foolish to invite strangers into your abode and put yourself at risk. 

The Sparrow And The Elephant

Once upon a time, a sparrow and her mate worked hard to build a nice little nest on top of a tall tree deep within a forest. The sparrow was pleased with the home that she had built, and she laid four eggs in it and settled over them very comfortably. Then one day, a wild elephant passed by the tree. He was a young, high spirited, and powerful beast, and he stomped through the forest recklessly, testing his strength by uprooting plants and bushes and pushing aside huge boulders. As the elephant passed by the tree on which the sparrow lived, he reached up with his stout trunk and broke the branch upon which the sparrow had made her nest. The nest crashed to the ground, and all the sparrow's precious eggs were broken. The sparrow wept inconsolably as the elephant went on his way. After she had mourned for while, the sparrow told her husband determinedly. "I must do something to take revenge on the elephant for his cruelty." "My dear, what can you possibly do to the elephant?" Mr Sparrow asked quietly. "He is one of the largest and strongest creatures in the jungle, and you are just a small sparrow. You cannot stand against him. It's better you forget about our loss. In time, we will build another nest and you will lay some more eggs." 

"I may be small compared to the elephant," replied Mrs Sparrow emphatically, "but I am clever. I will think of a way to humble the elephant." So she set out to meet three of her friends - a gnat, a woodpecker, and a frog - and to ask them for help. After much discussion, the frog came up with a plan to trouble the elephant. He instructed the gnat to sing in his sweetest voice close to the elephant's ears. The elephant loved music, and the frog knew that the great creature would close his eyes and sway as he listened to it. The frog instructed the woodpecker that when this happened, he should fly straight at the elephant's eyes and peck them with his sharp beak. The elephant would then trumpet in pain, and stumble along unable to see. The frog announced that he would position himself at the edge of a deep pit, and as the wounded elephant staggered past it, he would croak loudly. The elephant would think that he was close to a pond and would rush towards it to bathe his eyes in the cool waters, only to fall headlong into the pit. 

The sparrow was delighted with this clever plan, and the next day it was put into action. Each of the sparrow's friends played their part perfectly and the elephant fell into the pit trumpeting in anguish. "When friends unite and work together, even if they are very small, powerful foes can be brought down," Mrs Sparrow later chirped to her husband in satisfaction. 

The Greedy Crane And The Crafty Crab

There was once an old crane who lived beside a lake. He was so old and weak that he was no longer able to move around swiftly to hunt for food. Shoals of fish swam around him, but he was too slow and feeble to catch them. One day, as the crane stood by the lake, he felt very tired. He hadn't eaten for days together, and hunger gnawed his belly. He was so depressed that he sat on the bank of the lake and began to weep. As the tears flowed down his cheeks, and he sobbed loudly, a crab who was passing by spotted him. "Why are you crying, Mr Crane?" the crab asked in concern. As he was about to reply, the crane suddenly had a brainwave. Bending his head low he told the crab, "I'm in a terrible state as you can see. Please give me a few moments to calm myself, and then I'll tell you why I'm crying." The sympathetic crab waited quietly. Finally the crane pretended to pull himself together, and he said in a sad tone, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but soon all the creatures living in this lake will die without water." "Why do you say that?" asked the crab in shocked tones. 

"A fortune teller has told me that very soon this lake will go dry and all the creatures living in it will die," the crane said gravely. "The thought of this impending doom is so depressing, it makes me weep." After a pause, the crane continued, "I know another lake some distance from here. It is a wonderful place with clear deep water that will never dry up. All the bigger creatures living here like the crocodiles, tortoises, frogs etc. can go to that lake themselves, but I am worried about those who cannot travel by land, like the fish. They will all perish here without any water. The thought really breaks my heart. I would like to help them." All the creatures living in the lake were anxious and afraid when they heard that their lake was going to dry up. But when told that the crane was ready to help them, they were filled with hope and optimism. Their friend would surely help to save them! "There is a big lake, full of sweet, fresh water, a few miles away from here. I'll carry all those who can't go there themselves on my back," said the crane graciously. "When we reach the lake, I'll slip you into it." 

Everyone in the lake agreed to this proposal happily. Then the crane began to make trips to the new lake, carrying one creature at a time, on his back. First, he started with the fish. He carried them away one by one on his back, but instead of taking them to the new lake as he had promised, he took them to a nearby hill and ate them. In this way, the crane ate a large number of fish everyday. Within a few days, he regained his health and turned stout. One day, the crab told the crane, "Friend, you seem to have forgotten me. I thought I would be the first one to be carried to the big lake, but now I get the feeling that you are ignoring me." "No, I haven't forgotten you," said the cunning crane. In fact, he was getting rather tired of eating fish everyday, and was ready for a change. So he told the crab, "Come my friend. Sit on my back. I'll take you to the lake right away." The crab clambered onto the crane's back eagerly. The crane soared into the sky and began his flight. After a while the crab asked him, "How far is the lake now?"  Since the crane felt the crab was securely within his clutches, he decided to drop pretense of friendship. With a wicked laugh, he said, "You foolish creature! Do you think I am your servant? There is no other lake anywhere around here. I made this plan in order to eat you all. Now you too better prepare to die." 

Then as the shocked crab looked down, he saw a big rock piled high with fish bones. It was the spot where the evil crane had eaten his victims one by one. The crab was terrified and dismayed but not yet ready to die. He lunged forward and quickly seized the crane's long slim neck with his sharp claws. Then he squeezed it with all his might till the crane choked to death and fell from the sky. The crab then hurried back to his old home as fast as he could. All the creatures living there were astonished to see him return. "Why have you come back here?" they asked in surprise. "We thought you would be settled in the new lake by now." "There is no new lake," said the crab in tones of deep sadness, and he told his friends how the wicked crane had cheated them all. "But eventually the crane was done in by his own treachery and deceit, and now we can all live happily without any fear," he ended. 

The Bird With Golden Droppings

A long time ago, on a big tree in the lap of a mountain lived a bird named Sindhuka. He was a rather special bird because his droppings turned into gold as soon as they hit the ground. One day, a hunter came to the tree in search of prey and he saw Sindhuka's droppings hit the ground and turn into gold. The hunter was struck with wonder. He thought, "I have been hunting birds and small animals since I was a boy, but in all my eighty years, I have never seen such a miraculous sight." He decided that he had to catch the bird somehow. He climbed the tree and skillfully set a trap for the bird. The bird, quite unaware of the danger he was in, stayed on the tree and sang merrily. But he was soon caught in the hunter's trap. The hunter immediately seized him and shoved him into a cage. The hunter took the bird home, joyfully. 

But as head time to think over his good fortune later, he suddenly realized, "If the king comes to know of this wonder, he will certainly take away the bird from me, and he might even punish me for keeping such a treasure all to myself. So it would be safer and more honourable if I were to go to the king and present the unique bird to him." The next day, the hunter took the bird to the king and presented it to him in court with great reverence. The king was delighted to receive such an unusual and rare gift, and he told his courtiers to keep the bird safely and feed him with the best bird food. But the king's prime minister was reluctant to accept the bird. 

He said, "O king, how can you believe the word of a foolish hunter and accept the bird? Has anyone in the kingdom ever seen a bird dropping gold? The hunter must either be crazy, or he's telling lies. I think it is best that you release the bird from the cage." After a little thought, the king felt that his prime minister's words rang true, so he ordered the bird to be set free. But as soon as the door of the cage was thrown open, the bird flew out, perched himself on a nearby doorway and defecated. To the surprise of everyone who was watching, the dropping immediately turned into gold. Before Sindhuka flew away, he recited a line about fools: "First, I was a fool because I allowed myself to be caught by a hunter. Later, the hunter was foolish enough to give me away, and then the king and his ministers were foolish enough to let me go!" 

The Camel With A Bell

A long time ago, in one town there lived a poor cart maker. He grew so tired of his poverty, and the unending struggle to make ends meet, that he decided to leave the town with his family and settle elsewhere. On the way, whilst they were still deep in the jungle, the cart maker spotted a tired female camel suffering labour pains. She had been left behind by a caravan. Soon, she gave birth to a baby camel. The cart maker fed her, and the next morning, when the female camel had partly recovered, he took her and the baby camel with him to his new home. As time went by, the female camel recovered her health, and the baby grew up to be a handsome young camel. The cart maker was very fond of the young camel, and tied a bell around its neck. The cart maker sold the female camel's milk and, in this way, he was able to support his family. He once thought, "I can support my family very well by merely looking after the camels and selling their milk!"

So, he told his wife, "My dear, this business seems to be very profitable. I am going to borrow some money and go to Gujarat to buy another young camel. Whilst I am away, please look after these two precious camels as well." His wife agreed. The cart maker went to Gujarat and returned after buying a young camel. Soon fortune smiled on him and, in due course, the cart maker was the owner of a large number of camels. He employed a helper to look after them, and paid him one baby camel every year in return for his services. He also gave him free camel milk everyday to drink. And so the cart maker lived happily, looking after his camels and their young, and selling the animals too, as and when required. The camels that the cart maker owned had a very good life. They grazed in the jungle nearby and ate tender creepers and delicious fruits too. They drank sweet fresh water from a big lake and spent hours playing in a light-hearted way. Now the first young camel, the cart maker's favourite who wore a bell around his neck, was conceited, and thought that he was special creature indeed. He always walked alone, a little distance behind the other camels.

When the others noticed this, they said, "This foolish fellow always strays away and walks behind us, with his bell ringing. This makes him very vulnerable. One day he'll get into the clutches of a vicious beast and get himself killed." They all scolded the camel about his conduct, and tried to make him understand the foolishness of his actions, but he took no notice. One day, a lion heard this bell ringing in the jungle. He followed the sound and saw a caravan of young camels moving ahead after they had finished grazing. They were going to drink water from a lake. But one camel with a bell around his neck had stayed behind, all alone, and was still grazing in a leisurely way. Soon the other camels finished drinking and set off towards their home. The lone, belled camel, however, was in no hurry to follow them, and he wandered around curiously. The lion followed the sound of his ringing bell, overtook the camel, and crouched in hiding in his path. When the camel came within striking range, the lion sprang at him, struck him on the neck, and killed him. Poor Camel! The refusal to heed good advice led to a cruel end!

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