The Old Man, His Young Wife and The Thief
There lived an old widowed merchant in a city in the south.Though old, he did not give up his desire for another wife. Therefore, he gave lots of money to a poor merchant and married his young daughter. She never loved her old husband. One day, when the husband and wife were sleeping on different sides of the bed, a thief entered their house. Shocked by the sight of the thief, the wife embraced her husband in fear.
The husband was both thrilled and surprised by the embrace and began thinking about what made her do so. He searched every nook and corner of the house and at last found the thief lurking in a corner. He then realised that his wife had embraced him because the thief had frightened her. The husband told the thief, “My dear young man, today I had the fortune of being hugged by my wife. Thanks to you. Take away whatever you want.”
The thief replied, “My dear sir, I do not find anything in your house that I could take with me. But I will come back soon and see if there is anything to carry away. Or, you could call whenever you need love from your wife.”
“That is why,” Deeptaksha said, “when even a thief could do some good for someone, why not this Sthirajeevi who has sought asylum? He will give us useful information about the handicaps of the enemy. Therefore, in my view he should not be killed.”
Then Arimardana turned to another minister, Vakranasa, and asked him, “Tell me what should we do with this crow?” Vakranasa told him that “the refugee’s life should be spared because it may benefit us when two rivals fight each other like the quarrel between a thief and a monster had saved the life of a Brahmin and his two calves.”
“How was that?” asked the owl king.
Vakranasa narrated him the following story.
Drona was a poor Brahmin who was living in a small town. He was so poor that he never wore good clothes, or used cosmetics, or indulged in the luxury of eating a paan (betel leaves). He had matted hair, an unshaven beard and uncut nails. He was extremely weak and emaciated because he had no cover from cold, sun or wind or rain. Taking pity on him, a rich man donated two calves to him.
With all care and love, he fed them well with butter oil and grass. The calves grew into two fine and healthy animals. A thief set his eyes on them and decided that he should somehow steal them. As he set out for the Brahmin’s house, he saw on the way an awesome figure with loose teeth as long and sharp as fangs, an arched nose and blood-red eyes. He had a lean body with varicose veins and his hair and beard looked like two torches.
Though he was frightened, the thief asked him, “Who are you, sir?”
“I am Satyavachana, a monster. Let me know who you are.”
“I am a thief. My name is Kroorakarma. I am going to steal the calves of the Brahmin.”
The monster trusted the words of the thief and told him that he took only one meal a day in the evening and that he would kill the Brahmin for his dinner.
Both of them went to the Brahmin’s house that night and waited for the Brahmin to go to sleep. When they were sure that the Brahmin had slept, the monster stepped in to kill the poor Brahmin. The thief held him back saying it was unjust to kill the Brahmin before he (the thief) could take away the two calves.
The monster said, “If the sound of the resisting calves disturbs the sleep of the Brahmin, all our effort will be in vain.”
The thief replied, “Suppose there is some obstacle in your killing him, I cannot take the calves. Therefore, wait till I finish my job first.”
The thief and the monster began quarrelling about who should be the first to finish his job.
The Brahmin woke up due to the commotion they were making and asked them who they were and what was the matter.
The thief told him, “This monster wants to kill you.”
The monster denied and said, “O Brahmin, this thief wants to steal your calves.”
The Brahmin then invoked his deity through prayer and the power of the prayer forced the monster to flee. The Brahmin then took a stick and drove off the thief.
“That is why,” Vakranasa said, “I had told you that if two rivals quarrel among themselves, we would be the beneficiaries.” Then the king asked his fourth minister, Prakarakarna for his opinion.
The minister said, “My lord, I think we should spare the life of the crow. It is possible that he will co-operate with us and that will be a gain for us. Where there is no co-operation, people will perish like the two snakes.”
The king said, “In that case, let us hear that story.”