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  • Writer's pictureanjali mohapatra

The story of A jackal and A tiger!

Updated: Jan 4

(Shanti Parva- Mahabharata) Vyasa Mahabharata.

King Yudhishthira humbly asked, ‘O Sire! Sometimes, people appear very peaceful by heart though in reality they are not so, and on the other hand, those who possess truly a tranquil soul but appear otherwise! O Pitamaha! How shall we be able to know these people? O foremost of all men! Remove my doubt on this.’

Bhishma said, ‘O Yudhishthira, there is a beautiful story regarding what you asked. The discourse between a tiger and a jackal will satisfy your query. Listen to this story, O Yudhishthira! Thus, Pitamaha Bhishma began——————

There was a very wealthy city called Paurika. The king who ruled in that city was also named Paurika. He was a ruthless, wicked king and tortured his subjects. He was getting pleasure in injuring others! After a while, his life came to cease. As he did many evil deeds, he was born again as a jackal. Remembering his past misdeeds his heart was filled with grief. He decided to purify himself by observing austere penances and to follow a better life! Thus, observing austere vows he abstained from meat even offered by others. He became generous and merciful to all living creatures. He only ate fruit that was dropped from the tree.

This purity of conduct of that jackal was not tolerated by the other jackals. They tried to break his resolution saying, ‘O jackal! It is irrational that living in this dreadful crematorium you desire to show your nobility. Be like us and give up this purity of conduct like a saint as you are by nature a carrion! It doesn't suit you.’

Hearing the words of others, the jackal spoke to them in a sweet voice, ‘Look, I am born as an inferior animal. But it is one’s conduct that determines his birth! Though I live in this vast crematorium I wish to act in such a noble way that my name and fame would spread! One’s self is responsible for one’s act! Out of foolishness, all of you are running to satisfy your stomachs. I don't want to live a life like that which yields evil both in this world and in the next. It only creates discontentment and temptation without any virtue.’

Somehow, a mighty tiger overheard the discourse of the jackal with other jackals. He was impressed with the jackal’s words. Knowing him a pious being, the tiger offered him a respectful post. He earnestly requested him to be his minister and also to take part in his administration. Even the tiger granted him full liberty to choose and dismiss whatever he desires and offered him all luxury.’

Bending low his head with respect, the jackal said, ‘O lord of beasts! I am honored! It is a wise decision on your part to search for a righteous and pious minister in your government. Without a good minister, you cannot maintain your great power! O king, choose a minister who is conversant with worldly affairs and duties. You should honor those your ministers who think or do good to you, those who desire victory for you, those who ever engaged in your well-being, and those who are conversant with policy. O mighty-armed! You must also honor those who are free from covetousness, and free from deceit. Treat them as you treat your preceptor! And O mighty king, I do not wish any luxury. I do not want any dissension would be there between you and me. I would give you advice in a secret place and most importantly you have to trust me. Never punish anyone after listening to my advice and never seek my advice for your family matter. And I will never consult with your other ministers. If you ever violate these conditions then no more I would be your minister.’

Listening to his wise words the tiger said, ‘So be it.’ 

Thus, the jackal worked for the tiger. In due course of time, the other ministers those who were enjoying their life robbing other people’s property were unable to grab for themselves. Those old servants of the tiger (the king) at first tried to please and win over the jackal with friendly behavior. Even they offered large bribes to the jackal to tempt his heart. But, the highly wise jackal didn't move from his resolution. At last, the wicked-minded servants thought of a plan to remove him from the service and to create a hatred feeling of the tiger for this jackal of pure conduct. 

Once, when the fresh food was kept ready for the dinner of the tiger, these sinful servants stole it and kept it secretly in the jackal’s house. The jackal knew who had taken it but kept quiet to observe the reaction of the tiger towards him.

When the tiger came to have his dinner, he found the place empty. Out of anger, the tiger rolling his red eyes commanded, ‘Who has stolen my food? Find out the thief immediately.’ 

Getting the opportunity to take revenge upon the pious jackal, the other deceitful ministers told him that the meat had been taken away by his learned minister- the jackal who was so proud of his wisdom! They also added, ‘O King! The jackal is only righteous in words but in reality, he is a sinful creature!’ Thus, they convinced the tiger about the theft and brought back the meat from the jackal’s house.

Being convinced by the words of his old servants, the tiger ordered saying, ‘Let the jackal be killed.’

Hearing the order of the tiger, his mother came to her son and said, ‘O child! Do not take any decision in haste! O son! Wicked men always impute faults to even an honest person. A noble person of pure soul performing penances is often blamed unjustly. O wise son remember———

The rapacious (greedy) hates the pure (ascetic)

The idle hates the active

The poor hate the rich

The ignorant hate the learned

The unrighteousness hates the righteous

And the ugly hate the beautiful

O son! Sometimes a learned person who is endowed with knowledge and virtue like Brihaspati is falsely accused by the ignorant. If the meat has been stolen by someone then you should not conclude that it was the jackal. Let the proper verification be done. Remember that because of this virtuous jackal, you earned a name and fame among the neighboring chiefs! 

When a good person makes progress, it is his enemies who out of jealousy impute faults to degrade him before the eyes of his boss! And listening to the false accusation of these deceitful ministers, if the king punishes the good one, then one day he would be killed by them! So, O son! Think about it. It is easy for a master to put his servant to death. But, forgiveness is always praiseworthy for a person who is endowed with power.

When the tiger’s mother had finished her say, a righteous agent of the jackal came out from the array of his enemies and revealed the truth about the in which the false accusation had been made. The jackal’s innocence was proved! Knowing his own mistake, the tiger embraced the jackal again and again. Burning with grief, the highly wise jackal who was endued with worldly affairs and policy saluted the king and expressed his wish to sacrifice his life by observing Praya's vow.

The tiger spoke to him affectionately and admiring all his attributes requested him to give up the idea of Praya's vow. Out of courtesy, the jackal bowed down to him and with tearful eyes, and a choked voice said, ‘O Lord! I was honoured by you first and then I have been insulted by you now! No longer I can work with you! O mighty king! You have broken the promise that you had made to me!

O King! Keep it in your mind that I heard from the scriptures———-

Servants who have been degraded from honorable situations,

Or who have been dismissed from their offices, 

Or who are greedy, or warned, or who are discontented for any reason, or who burn with grief or anger for any harm done to them—- they always wait for misfortunes to befall their masters. Being deceived, they forsake their masters. Eventually, they become powerful instruments in the hands of their enemies!

Violation of words (promise) is a sinful act. You have already broken our agreement! How can you or I trust otherwise? And, if I continue to work with you then I will be always in fear and anxiety! If two persons reunited after separation, then their behavior is not the same or affectionate as before! Once you have disbelieved me, I cannot any longer enjoy your confidence!

And, O Lord! Not a single servant is there who always wishes to do good to his master! Without any self-interest, no one works under his master! If anybody does that unselfish work then it is very, very rare like- one in thousands! O king! Prosperity, adversity, and greatness, all originate from poor or lack of understanding!’

Having said these conciliatory worthy words, the wise jackal retired to the forest. Without paying any attention to the tiger’s request, the jackal left his body sitting in Praya vow and blessed with heaven!

Tiger- the king repented for his own mistake!

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