The story of a dog and a leopard- from Vyasa Mahabharata.
Updated: Sep 8
(An excellent story told by Pitamaha Bhishma to King Yudhishthira)
King Yudhishthira humbly asked Pitamaha Bhishma, who was in the bed of arrows, about the duties of a king and what class of servants should be appointed by a king to rule his kingdom peacefully. Grandsire Bhishma said, ‘O son! Listen to an ancient story that will satisfy your query. This story I heard in the asylum of Parshuram recited by many Rishis.’ Thus, Grandsire began-———————
There was a great rishi who lived in a forest. The ascetic lived upon roots and fruits, practicing rigid vows and self-restraint. He indulged himself with Vedic recitation and he was very compassionate to all creatures. Seeing his nobility, all the creatures in that jungle approached him with affection. The dreadful animals, predators, and other animals used to come to the rishi and question him very politely. They obeyed his words like true disciples or servants and did what was agreeable to him.
Every day the animals made inquiries and then went away to their places. But one dog resided there permanently without leaving the ascetic at any time. The dog was greatly attached to the ascetic because of the great affection shown towards him. One day a strong leopard came to that place. Out of hunger and thirst, the leopard was licking the corner of his mouth and lashing his tail furiously when he saw the dog. Looking at the dreadful leopard, the dog spoke to the ascetic, ‘O Rishi! Save my life from this leopard. Do something so that my fear would be removed from this animal.’
The wise sage could read the mind of the animals. Thus feeling pity for the dog, the sage said, ‘You shall have no fear of death from this leopard any longer.’ Thus, he transformed the dog into a leopard. Having obtained the features of a leopard, the dog roamed around the jungle fearlessly.
Meanwhile, the leopard mistook the dog (transformed into a leopard) as his own species did no harm. After some time, a hungry tiger approached there and wished to drink the blood of the leopard (transformed dog).
Seeing the ferocious tiger, the leopard again sought the help of the great sage to save his life. The sage who had a great affection for his dog-( leopard), immediately transformed him into a tiger. The tiger also forgot the enmity of seeing his own species and went away. But this transformed dog into tiger, gradually living upon flesh and blood, abstained from his former food of fruits and roots. He preyed on the other animals frequently.
One day he took a rest in the yard of the asylum, and an infuriate elephant came there. The elephant was looking terrible. It had great strength and huge tusks. Looking at the arrogant elephant, once again the transformed dog into a tiger, took refuge under the ascetic. With his yogic power, the sage turned the tiger (dog) into an elephant and next into a ferocious lion as it encountered a lion too.
Thus, Rishi’s lion began to move freely in that asylum within that forest. Out of fear the other animals no longer ventured to approach the asylum. At last, one day a Sharabha (eight-legged part lion and part- bird beast) came there to that very asylum to kill Rishi’s lion. But as the ascetic changed his dog’s lion form into a dreadful strong Sharabha, the wild beast fled away from the forest.
Thereafter, the transformed Sharabha lived happily by the side of his master. His previous food habit was completely changed into a carnivorous food— blood and flesh! Happily, he roamed around and ate the other animals. One day, that ungrateful beast who was a dog first and was transformed into Sharabha by the noble-hearted sage, forgetting his gratitude towards his master, wished to kill the sage.
Reading the beast’s mind by his ascetic power, the sage said, ‘O wretch! From a dog, you were transformed into a leopard, tiger, elephant, lion, and at last a Sharabha. Out of affection, I turned you into various forms which by birth you did not, and do not belong to any of these species. Since, O sinful wretch, you wish to kill me, you will get back your own form and be a dog forever.’
After this, the wicked, foolish transformed Sharabha turned into his original form of a dog by the curse of his ascetic master. And the wise Rishi drove him away from that asylum.
Pitamaha Bhishma said, ‘O high-souled Yudhishthira, following this example, an intelligent king should appoint his servants, each fit for the office assigned to him. The king should have proper control over them. To enhance the beauty, and prosperity of his kingdom, a king must have good companions who endued with courage, wisdom, and great learning. A foolish and dishonest person never thinks