Gaining Friends

This is the second strategy of Panchatantra known as Gaining Friends beginning with this stanza:

Gaining Friends

Now the story. There was a city called Mahilaropyam in the south not far off from where was a large banyan tree. Many species of birds came there to eat the tree’s fruit. In the hollow of the great tree lived poisonous reptiles like snakes and scorpions. Travellers found the tree a great shelter in their journeys.

A crow called Laghupatanaka made this tree his home. As he was flying one day towards the city for collecting food, he sighted a hunter carrying a net and approaching the tree like a messenger of death. The crow at once sensed danger and, sure that the hunter came to trap the birds on the tree, told all the birds, Friends, this wicked hunter has seeds in his bag that he will scatter to lure you. don’t trust him and avoid the seeds like poison.” The hunter came, sowed the seeds and spread the net. He left the spot and sat elsewhere not to arouse the suspicion of the birds. Warned by Laghupatanaka, the birds stayed away from the seeds as though they were poisonous berries.

Meanwhile, Chitragriva, king of doves, saw the seeds from a distance and landed there with his retinue of one thousand doves. They came to eat the seeds ignoring the warnings of Laghupatanaka and soon the hunter spread his net and trapped all of them. That is why elders have said that fools can never foresee peril. People often lose sense when danger lurks in the corner.

Chitragriva and his retinue, however, kept their cool in the face of danger. He appealed to his friends not to panic. Elders have said that they tide over danger, who are not scared by crisis.

said Chitragriva. Thereupon, all of them flew together.

The hunter followed the flight of the doves and looking upwards chanted,

Gaining Friends

Laghupatanaka, the crow, also followed the flying doves to see what they would do. When he lost sight of the birds, the hunter gave up and went home ruing that he had lost his net also.

When he was sure that the hunter had failed to chase them, the king of the doves told his friends, The hunter has disappeared. Let us all now fly towards Mahilaropyam where I have a friend Hiranyaka, who is a rat. He is our only hope. It is only a friend who will come to the aid of those in trouble.” The birds, heeding the advice of the king, flew to the fort of Hiranyaka in Mahilaropyam.

Standing outside the fort, Chitragriva shouted,

Without coming out, Hiranyaka shouted back,

“I am your friend Chitragriva, king of the doves. Come out soon.” Hiranyaka came out and was happy to see Chitragriva with his retinue and asked what was the matter. The king of the doves said,

“All of us are trapped in this net because of our weakness for food. Come at once and free us from this trap,” urged Chitragriva.

Hiranyaka said,

After delivering this sermon, the rat set out to free Chitragriva first. But the king of doves pleaded with him to first liberate his friends. The rat was angry and reminded Chitragriva that it was fair that the king became free first and then the servants. “No, it is not like that,” countered Chitragriva. “They are all dedicated to my service and have left their families behind to come with me. I have to repay that debt,” he said.

Pleased with his friend’s love for his servants, Hiranyaka said, “Friend, I know the duties of a king. I was only testing you. I will free everyone now. This will win more doves for your retinue.” With the help of his servants, the rat then bit off the entire net and all the doves came out. Hiranyaka saw off Chitragriva and retinue and went back into his fort.

Seeing the whole drama of Hiranyaka liberating Chitragriva and his friends, Laghupatanaka, the crow, thought, “I don’t trust anyone. On top of it, I have a fickle mind. I will seek his friendship. Our ancestors have always said that even if a wise man has everything he needs, he should still seek friends. Even if all the rivers flow into the Sea, the Sea still waits for the Moon to come out.”