CROWS AND OWLS|
This is the beginning of the third tantra, called "Crows and owls" and here is the first verse:
"Never trust a man who has always been your enemy and suddenly turns friendly towards you. This was the mistake the owls made and the crows burnt them all alive in their cave." This is how the story goes:
In the south of India, there was a city called Mahilaropyam. Not far from the city stood a huge banyan tree, with innumerable branches and leaves. On this tree, lived Meghavarana, king of the crows, and with him, his vast retinue.
Some way off, in a cave, lived Arimaradana, king of the owls, and his court.
Now, the king of the owls regarded the crows as deadly enemies. Every night, the owls would fly round the vicinity of the banyan tree and kill any crow they could catch hold of. As a result, the crow's numbers began to dwindle rapidly. As they say: "Suppress your enemy and diseases at the very beginning, or they will become strong and destroy you."
One day, Meghavarana, the crow king, called a council of his ministers and addressed them with these words, Gentlemen, our enemy is dangerous and untiring. As he knows how to take advantage of a situation, that's why he always attacks at night. He succeeds in killing us in great numbers for, how can we possibly fight him off in the dark, when we are unable to see. On the other hand, during the daytime, we can't possibly attack him, because we don't know where the owl's stronghold is. So now, we must choose between the six Diplomatic Methods: 'Peace, war, retreat, entrenchment, seeking the help of allies or intrigue.'
"Which one do we prefer? Think it over and let me know."
"Your Majesty," they replied, "it's a good thing you have asked us to express our opinions, for: 'Only when a minister is specifically asked for his opinion, should he say what he honestly thinks and then it should make no difference whether his opinion is palatable or not. For, if a minister is nothing but a flatterer, then he is in reality not a minister but an enemy.' "And so, Your Majesty," they went on, "we should all discuss this problem in secret and come to a decision."
Now, the crow king had five ministers: Ujjeevi, Sanjeevi, AnuJeevi, Prajeevi and Chiranjeevi. First of all he turned to Ujjeevi and said to him, "Ujjeevi, my friend, what would you suggest we do, as things stand?"
"Your Majesty," he replied, "Arimaradatia, the owl king, is strong and attacks at the right time. And so we should not fight him, for, Brihaspati has said: 'Make peace with an enemy who is as strong as you are, for, in a battle between equals, the victory hangs in the balance, never fight unless you are sure of success.'
Ujjeevi advised the king to make peace.
'Then the king turned to Sanjeevi and said to him, "Sanjeevi, my friend, I should like to hear your opinion.'
"Your Majesty," he replied, "Arimaradana, the owl king, is cruel and he has no ethics. Peace with someone like that cannot last long. I suggest that we do fight him. They say: 'If a weak man is full of fire, he can destroy an enemy who is stronger, just as a lion kills an elephant and rules over his domain.' " Sanjeevi advised the king to go to war.
Then the king turned to AnuJeevi and said to him, "AnuJeevi, my friend, you too express your viewpoint."
"Your Majesty," he replied, "Arimaradana, the owl king, is stronger than we are, so we cannot fight him. He is also cruel and without ethics, so we cannot make peace with him, for such peace won't last long. So, I suggest that we retreat. As they say: 'A ram retreats to attack and a lion crouches to pounce on his prey.' AnuJeevi advised the king to retreat.
Then the king turned to Prajeevi and said to him, "Prajeevi, my friend, what do you think?"
"Your Majesty," he replied, "in my opinion, these three suggestions, peace, war and retreat, are useless. I think entrenchment is the right course of action. For they say: 'A crocodile in water can drag an elephant but outside, on land, he is harassed by a mere dog.' And, 'A single archer, well entrenched, can withstand a hundred men of the enemy.' But, he who, in the face of a strong enemy, instead of entrenching himself, deserts his post, shall never see it again.' "And so, entrenchment is the right course of action." Prajeevi advised the king for entrenchment.
Then Meghavarana turned to Chiranjeevi and said to him, "Chiranjeevi, my friend, what do you think?"
"Your Majesty," he replied, "in my opinion, seeking the help of the allies is the only answer. For they say: 'Blazing fire, without the help of the wind, will go out.'"So we should seek assistance, preferably from someone very strong, but even a group of lesser people would do." Chiranjeevi advised the king to seek the help of allies.
Finally, the crow king turned to Sthirajeevi, his father's old minister, and said to him, "Sire, I have asked all these ministers for their opinions in your presence, merely for the sake of putting them to the test. Now that you have heard them all, kindly tell me the right course for us to adopt."
"Your Majesty," he replied, "all these ministers have expressed their views in accordance with the nitishastra and the courses of action they recommend, will indeed give good results, but, under different circumstances. However, in the present case, we should use intrigue, for they say: 'Only intrigue is effectual when your enemy is powerful. ' And, 'Just as sugar first increases the mucous And afterwards suppresses it, so the wise first puff up the enemy and afterwards destroy them.' "Now, what you must do, is find out your enemy's weak points and then take advantage of them at the opportune time."
"How can I know his weak points," said the king, "when I am not even aware of where he lives and have no contact whatsoever with him?"
"Through spies!" replied Sthirajeevi. "They say: 'Animals are guided by their sense of smell, Brahmins through the Vedas, Kings through spies and other men by their two eyes.'
When Meghavarana had heard this advice, he said to Sthirajeevi, "But tell me, Sire, why this deadly enmitY between crows and owls? There must be some good reason for it." And, by way of reply, 'Sthirajeevi told the story of 'The Enmity Between Crows And Owls'.