WINNING OF FRIENDS|
Now, this is the beginning of the second tantra, called "Winning of friends." And here is the first verse:
"Clever people and those well versed in nitishastras even when they are without means, achieve success very quickly just like the crow, the mouse, the turtle and the stag."
This is how the story goes: In the south of India, there was a city called Mahilaropyam. Not far from the city, there stood a very big tree. All kinds of birds ate its fruits and many travellers rested under its shade.
Now, on the branches of the tree, there lived a crow by the name of Laghupatanaka. One day, as he was flying towards the city in search of food, his eyes fell upon a black hunter, creeping towards that very tree. He looked like a servant of Yama.
When Laghupatanaka saw this, he was scared, thinking to himself,, "Heavens! This wicked hunter is going to our tree! The birds who are living there will certainly come to some harm."
And so, the crow flew back to the tree and said, "Ho friends! There's a wicked hunter coming and he has brought a net and rice grains with him. Don't touch the rice! Treat it like poison."
Meanwhile, the hunter had reached the tree. He spread out his net, scattered the shining white rice on the ground underneath and hid himself near by. As the birds had been warned in advance by Laghupatanaka, they did not touch the rice and avoided being caught in the hunter's net.
Now, Chitragreeva, the king of the doves, happened to be flying in the neighbourhood at that time. He and his retinue were looking for food. They came to this tree and saw the ripe grains of rice. Laghupatanaka. warned them in the same way, not to touch it, but they took no notice of him, and Chitragreeva. and his entire court were caught in the net. As they say: "This is what happens when fate is hostile and it's nobody's fault: When disaster is imminent, a man's mind is in turmoil, Even his wits fail him."
When the hunter saw that he had caught the doves, he was overjoyed and went up to the tree. Seeing him coming, Chitragreeva said to his retinue, "Don't be afraid, for they say: 'He who holds on to his courage, In the face of disaster, will, with the help of his intelligence, ultimately surmount all his difficulties.'
'And so, let us all unite, lift the net together and fly with it, for they say: 'Small things united become strong: Even delicate threads of cotton, woven together, are very hard to break.'
-Then, when we are out of the hunter's sight, we can free ourselves. But unless we do this quickly, we shall all be dead! "
The doves followed Chitragreeva's plan. When the hunter saw them flying away with his net, he ran after them, saying to himself, "These doves have united and are flying away with my net, but should they quarrel on the way, they will all fall to the ground."
Aghupatanaka, the crow, was so curious to know what would happen that he forgot all about his food and followed the doves.
When the hunter saw the doves vanishing out of sight, he sadly recited the following verse: "Nothing happens that is not predestined, and what is predestined, always comes to pass, even when a man has something in his hand, if fate is hostile, it slips from his grasp."
"That's why I have lost not only the doves but my net too, the means of supporting my family."
When Chitragreeva saw the hunter disappearing out of sight, he said to the doves, "Friends, the wicked hunter is not following us any more, so we can all fly to Mahilaropyam with our minds easy. Now, I have a friend 'living there, a mouse, by the name of Hiranyaka. He will certainly bite through these meshes and set us free. As they say: 'When calamity befalls a man, only a true friend will help him; Others offer only lip-sympathy.' "
The doves agreed to Chitragreeva's suggestion and made their way to the mouse's home.
Now the hole, where Hiranyaka was living, had innumerable entries and exits. For the mouse, it was an excellent stronghold and he lived there quite fearlessly. As they say: "A snake without fangs, an elephant without fury and a king without a castle, are helpless, but a single archer, behind a castle wall, can withstand a hundred men of the enemy."
When Chitragreeva reached the hole, he called loudly, "Ho! Friend Hiranyaka! Come out quickly! I am in a bad spot."
But the mouse did not come out, instead he asked from inside, "Who are you? What do you want from me? Tell me, what is your problem?"
"My dear friend!" replied the king of doves. "It's Chitragreeva, the king of the doves! Please come out quickly, it's very urgent."
When Hiranyaka recognised his friend's voice, he came out immediately, beaming with delight, but when he saw the king of doves and his retinue, all caught in the net, his face fell and he asked, "What is the meaning of this?"
"Hiranyaka, why ask me?" replied the king of doves. You know me well enough to know that it's my love of food that has got me into this state."
"No, my dear friend," said the mouse, "it's the will of fate. As they say: 'When destiny so decides, however high the birds soar in the sky, they see the mutton, but not the trap, and however deep the fish swim in the water, they are caught in the fisherman's net. Yama stretches his hand in every direction and seizes both the wicked and the just, He makes no distinction.' "
When he had finished speaking, Hiranyaka began to free the king of the doves. But Chitragreeva stopped him and said, "Don't do that! Free my followers first and me afterwards."
Good heavens, no!" said Hiranyaka impatiently. "The master comes first and then the servants!"
My dear friend," replied Chitragreeva, "don't talk like that! All these trapped doves left their homes and famlies to follow me. The least I can do is show them this much consideration. They say: 'When a king shows respect to his servants, They will never forsake him in times of distress.'
'Besides, your teeth might break while you're biting my meshes through or the hunter may arrive. In both cases, I shall be the only one free and my followers will still be prisoners. And they say: 'When a master enjoys life While his devoted servants suffer, He will surely have to pay, both here and in hell.' "
When Hiranyaka heard this, he was very happy and he said, "My friend, I too know a king's duties very well. I just wanted to test you. So, I shall free your followers first and, for this noble action, they will always continue to respect you as their king."
Then Hiranyaka bit through,all the meshes of the net and set the doves free. Then he said to Chitragreeva, "Now, should you ever get into a similar situation again, you can come to me."
Chitragreeva thanked the mouse heartily , took his leave and flew off with his court. Hiranyaka also went back into his hole. It's very true what they say: "A wise man should develop friendship with the right kind of people, for with their help, even difficult problems can be tackled easily."
Now, Laghupatanaka, the crow, had seen all that had taken place and he was amazed. "How talented the mouse is!" he thought. "He actually succeeded in freeing the doves! Now, if I was caught in a trap one day, Hiranyaka could free me too. So I shall make friends with him, just in case. As they say: 'However great the volume of the sea, it must await the appearance of full moon to produce the high tide, and however talented a wise man may be, he nonetheless needs friends.' "
So the crow flew down to the mouse's hole. Imitating Chitragreeva's voice, he called, "Ho, Hiranyaka! Please come out!"
When the mouse heard this voice, he thought to himself, "Is there still a dove left in the net, calling for my help?"
However, he did not come out, but called from inside "Who is it?"
It's a crow called Laghupatanaka," replied the crow.
"Then, be off with you!" cried the mouse.
"But I have something very important to say to you replied the crow. "Why won't you come out and meet me?"
"Why should I" replied Hiranyaka.
"But, my friend, said the crow,"I saw how you freed Chitragreeva and I respect you for it. One day I might be caught in a net and you could free me too. So, I should like to make friends with you."
"But you are a hunter and I am your prey," replied the mouse. "How can I be your friend? Be off! How can anyone make friends with an enemy! As they say: 'Friendship is only possible between people who are equals in strength, wealth and status.'
"Well," replied the crow, "if you won't make friends with me, I'll starve myself to death, right here, at your door!"
"But how can I be your friend?" repeated Hiranyaka. "You, are my enemy! And it's so true what they say: 'However much you heat water, it Still extinguishes fire.'
"But mouse," said the crow, "until today we have never had the opportunity to meet each other. How then can you possibly speak of enmity between us?"
"There are two types of enmity," said the mouse. The hereditary enmity that exists between certain species and the enmity that arises as a result of some quarrel! As they say: 'Enmity that arises for some particular reason, vanishes when the cause is removed, but the natural enmity, between certain species, endures for ever. So it is with fire and water, carnivorous animals and grass-eaters, lions and elephants, the mongoose and the snake, dogs and cats, the hunter and the deer, devils and angels, atheists and believers, the fools and the learned, the immoral and the virtuous, and a man's two wives.' "
"But this natural enmity is pointless," said the crow, "Friendship or enmity should develop because there's some reason for it. And in our case, there is no reason whatsoever for us to be enemies. So make friends with me. They say: 'Friendship with the wicked Is like an earthenware pot: It is easily broken in pieces and cannot be cemented together again, but friendship with the good is like a pot made of gold, it breaks only with great difficulty and can easily be repaired. Friendship with the wicked Is like the morning shadows, which, to begin with, are the longest, but decrease with the passage of time, whilst friendship with the good Is like the shadows at noon, Which, at first, are very small, .But increase as time goes on.'
"Now, I swear to God, Hiranyaka, that I will do you no harm!"
"Even so, I can't trust you," said the mouse. "For they say: 'Never put your trust in someone Who is not to be trusted. Nor even in a trustworthy man beyond limit. A weakling who is wary, escapes being killed by the strongest of men, but a strong man, who puts too much faith in others, can be killed by a mere weakling.'
When Laghupatanaka heard this clever reply from the mouse, he was amazed at Hiranyaka.'s knowledge of nitishastras and was at a loss for an answer. Then he said to the mouse, "Oh, all right then, if you still don't trust me, stay inside your hole, but please talk to me a bit, speak about politics and moral stories."
When the mouse heard this, he thought to himself, "This crow, Laghupatanaka, seems to be very intelligent and perhaps he is even telling the truth. I think I will make friends with him." Then the mouse said, "All right then, my friend, I agree!"
And so, from that day onward, the two of them became good friends. The crow would bring fruits and delicacies for the mouse and the mouse, in return, would save a few titbits for the crow. And they would entertain each other, telling stories. As they say: "The indications of friendship are mutual entertainment and the exchange of confidences and presents." And, "Unless you offer oblations to the gods, Your wishes will not be fulfilled."
In the course of time, the mouse trusted the crow so much that he would even sit under his wings and talk with him. But one day, the crow came to the mouse with tears his eyes and said, "Oh Hiranyaka, I feel absolutely fed up with this part of the country! I would like to fly off to some other place."
But, my dear fellow," said the mouse, "why do you say that?"
Listen, Hiranyaka," said Lagliupatauaka, "there has been no rain here for a long time and, as a result, the people don't have enough to eat. As they haven't sufficient for themselves, they don't feed the crows any more. On the contrary, they have set traps everywhere to catch us. I myself was caught in one of those traps, but I was destined to live longer and so managed to free myself. So that is the reason, why I am fed up with this country. And I am shedding these tears, because, if I leave and go somewhere else, I must also leave such a good friend as you are."
"Where do you mean to go?" asked the mouse.
"Well," replied Laghupatanaka, "further south, deep in the jungle, is a lake. A very dear friend of, mine, a turtle, by the name of Mantharaka, lives there. He feeds me on bits of fish and I can pass my time very happily with him, discussing moral tales and talking philosophy. I can't bear to stay here and see, the destruction of my own people. As they say: 'Blessed indeed are those who do not see the destruction of their land and family due to drought and the ruination of crops.'.
"So, I would prefer to leave and go somewhere else."
"I would like to come with you," said the mouse, "for, I too have experienced something dreadful here."
"What do you mean?" said the crow. "Explain to me.
"It's a very long story," said the mouse. "I'll tell you about it, when we arrive at your friend's place.
"But," said the crow, "I shall be flying in the air and you will be crawling on the land, so how can you accompany me?"
"Well," replied the mouse, "you can carry me on your back and take me. For me there is no other way of getting there."
When the crow heard this, he said delightedly, "Well. if that's the case, I'm a very lucky fellow, for I shall be able to enjoy your company over there too. Let's go immediately. So, get on my back and hold on tight, and I shall take you there without any difficulty."
'And so, the mouse seated himself firmly on the crow's back and the crow started the journey to the lake. Flying slowly, by stages, the crow and the mouse finally arrived at the lake.
The turtle saw the crow and the mouse come flying down and he was so astonished that he plunged headlong into the water.
The crow saw what had happened and landed at the bottom of a tree. The mouse jumped down to the ground and crept into a hole. Then the crow seated himself on a branch of the tree and shouted, "Ho, Mantharaka! It's your friend, Laghupatanaka, the crow! Come out quickly and give me a big hug!"
When the turtle heard his, voice, he recognised Laghupatanaka and came out of the water. He was overcome with emotion and cried, "Laghupatanaka! Welcome! Please forgive me for not recognising you straightaway, but it's so long since I saw you."
Then the crow flew down to meet the turtle. They hugged each other delightedly and spent some time telling each other about their experiences. The mouse came out of the hole, bowed before Mantharaka and sat down.
When the turtle saw the mouse, he turned to Laghupatanaka and said, "My friend! Who is this mouse? You feed on mice, so why have you brought this one along with you, on your back! You must have some definite reason for it."
Mantharaka," replied the crow, "this mouse is a very dear friend of mine. His name is Hiranyaka. He is even dearer to me than my own life. He is always gay but at the moment, he is very sad and dejected."
'Why?" asked Mantharaka.
I've already asked him about it," said the crow, "but he said that it was a long story and so he would prefer to tell it here beside the lake."
The crow then turned to the mouse and said, "Now, my dear friend Hiranyaka, what about your story?"
And by way of reply, Hiranyaka told 'the story of the Sadhu and the Mouse'.