The Lion and The Foolish Donkey
A lion named Karalakesara was living in a forest, loyally served by Dhoosaraka, a jackal that used to accompany the lion wherever he went. One day, an elephant badly injured the lion in a fight. The injuries were so serious that the lion could not go out hunting. As a result, the jackal also had to go without food. Both the master and the servant became very weak. Unable to bear hunger, the jackal pleaded with the lion to get him some food.
“You know my plight. I cannot move out of this place. However, if you manage to lure some animal to come here, I will kill him and both of us can have a good meal,” said the lion.
So, the jackal set out in search of some animal and saw a donkey feeding himself on weeds. The jackal approached him and said, “O my friend, please accept my regards. I have not seen you for a long time. You have become very weak. What is the reason?”
The donkey said in sad tones, “How shall I tell you my suffering? The washer man is tormenting me by placing too much weight on my back. He does not feed me at all. I exist on weeds. That is why my body is weak.”
The jackal said, “If that is the case, why don’t you come with me? I shall show you a place where you can have your heart’s fill of green and fresh grass. We can happily spend our time there.”
“You have given me good news. But there is a problem. We are domestic animals and you are all wild animals. One of them will certainly kill me,” said the donkey whose name was Lambakarna.
Allaying his fears, the jackal said, “O uncle, don’t say like that. This place is in my control. Nobody can enter this area. Just like you are suffering at the hands of the washer man, there are three female donkeys in this area, which are waiting for a suitable husband. They are all young and told me, “If you are really our uncle, go and get a suitable husband for us.” It is on that mission I have come here and seen you.”
The donkey replied, “If that is the case, let’s go now.”
That is why the elders have said,
In the end, the jackal and the donkey reached the forest and came to the lion. When Lambakarna saw the ailing Karalakesara, the lion, he began running away from him. The lion made a great effort to reach him and strike him with his paw but failed to get the donkey.
Angry at the lion’s failure, Dhoosaraka, the jackal protested, “O my lord, you are useless. If you cannot tackle a foolish donkey, how can you fight an elephant? I have now realised how powerful you are.”
Ashamed, the lion told the jackal quietly, “O my friend, I was not ready for attack. Otherwise, even an elephant cannot escape my strike.”
Satisfied, the jackal said, “All right, let us forget the past. I will bring the donkey here again. You must be ready and strike him this time.”
“But how can Lambakarna forget his experience and come back here again,” asked the lion.
“You leave it to me,” said the jackal and set off to look for the donkey. Lambakarna was there on the bank of a lake feeding on grass.
He came to the jackal and said, “Friend, you have taken me to a nice place. I escaped death by inches. Who is that animal who had nearly killed me?”
“You are mistaken,” said Dhoosaraka, “It is, after all, the female donkey I promised to take you to. She was getting up to come and embrace you. You ran away in scare. She cannot live without you and so was trying to reach out to you. She told me that if you do not marry her, she would commit suicide. So please come and spare me the sin of causing the death of a woman. The God of Love will punish you if you do not heed my word.”
Beguiled, the donkey followed the jackal. The lion was prepared for the attack this time and when the donkey came; he fell on him and killed him instantly. The lion asked the jackal to keep an eye on the donkey’s body and left to take a bath in the river. Unable to resist the temptation of fresh flesh, the jackal snipped off the ears of the donkey and scooped his heart out and made a good meal of them. When the lion returned, he noticed that the ears and heart of the donkey were missing.
The lion angrily asked the jackal to tell him what had happened to the ears and heart of the donkey. Dhoosaraka told him that the donkey had no ears and heart. If he had, he would not have come again. The foolish lion believed every word of the jackal and shared the donkey with him.
“So, like the donkey in the story, you too are a fool,” said Raktamukha, the monkey to Karalamukha, the croc.
“You have deceived me but like Yudhishtira in the story I am going to tell you, you too spoke the truth when you ought not to and lost everything.”
“Please tell me everything about this Yudhishtira,” pleaded the croc.