THE STORY OF THE JACKAL AND THE SANYASI FROM THE PANCHATANTRA
In the distant past, within the secluded confines of a solitary matha (spiritual hermitage), resided a Sanyasi of great renown, named Dev Sharma. This holy man was a magnet for visitors from far and wide who would present him with exquisitely woven garments. Dev Sharma would, in turn, sell these garments, amassing immense wealth in the process. However, his newfound riches had a curious side effect – he became incredibly mistrustful of everyone around him. Day and night, he clung to his treasure purse as if it were his lifeline, unwilling to part with it even for a moment. As the saying goes:
“Acquiring wealth is an arduous toil, But guarding it is a trial even more toil.”
In the vicinity, there was a cunning swindler by the name of Ashadhbhuti, renowned for robbing others of their wealth. Observing that Dev Sharma was unwaveringly attached to his money bag, Ashadhbhuti devised a devious plan. He thought to himself, “How can I relieve this man of his riches? Breaking into the matha or scaling its high gates is nearly impossible. I shall need to charm him with honeyed words and become his disciple. Once he trusts me implicitly, the opportunity to seize his wealth will present itself. As the wise say:
“A man without desires does no wrong, A man without passions remains strong, Fools don’t speak with deceitful guile, Honest words, they’ll speak with a smile.”
Determined to put his plan into action, Ashadhbhuti approached Dev Sharma with utmost reverence, uttering, “Om Namaha Shivaya!” He prostrated himself humbly before the Sanyasi and began, “Oh, Bhagawan, life is but a fleeting illusion! Youth slips away like a mountain stream. The pleasures of life are as transient as autumn clouds, and our relationships with friends, children, spouses, and servants are nothing more than fleeting dreams. I have realized this truth and seek your guidance to navigate this treacherous sea of existence.”
Touched by Ashadhbhuti’s plea, Dev Sharma replied kindly, “My son, you are blessed to seek renunciation at such a young age. You wish to cross the ocean of life, and I shall guide you accordingly. According to my philosophy:
‘A good man’s mind bears the peace of old age, While his body remains youthful, But the wicked man’s body shows the signs of age, While his mind remains ever youthful.’
With these words, Dev Sharma initiated Ashadhbhuti into the ways of a Sanyasi, laying out the conditions. He requested that Ashadhbhuti never enter the matha at night, as Sanyasis were meant to spend their nights in solitude. Dev Sharma explained his rationale:
“A king may be ruined by bad advisors, A Sanyasi by unwelcome company, A son through excessive indulgence, A Brahmin by neglecting the scriptures, A business or a farm by inattention, And a family’s reputation may be tarnished by association with the wicked.”
Ashadhbhuti readily agreed to these terms, and after taking the vow of initiation, he resided in a thatched hut near the matha’s entrance. The days passed, with Ashadhbhuti diligently serving Dev Sharma. He massaged his feet, waited upon him, and endeavored to make him happy. Despite their growing camaraderie, Dev Sharma remained steadfast in guarding his money bag, never letting it out of his sight.
However, as time went by, Ashadhbhuti began to harbor darker thoughts. He pondered, “Dev Sharma places no trust in me whatsoever. Should I confront him openly in broad daylight, perhaps with a knife, or poison him, or eliminate him like a wild animal?”
While he contemplated these sinister ideas, a fortuitous event occurred. The son of one of Dev Sharma’s disciples, hailing from a nearby village, arrived with a personal invitation. He said, “Bhagawan! Today, the sacred thread ceremony is being held in our home. We humbly request your presence to bless the occasion.”
Dev Sharma graciously accepted the invitation, and Ashadhbhuti accompanied him on the journey. Along the way, they encountered a river, and Dev Sharma, upon seeing it, concealed his money bag within his robe. He entrusted Ashadhbhuti with the safeguarding of his robe, saying, “Ashadhbhuti, guard this robe and its contents with the vigilance of a Yogi until my return.” Having said this, Dev Sharma ventured into the bushes for some private time.
In the blink of an eye, Ashadhbhuti, driven by greed, disappeared along with the money bag. Meanwhile, Dev Sharma, amidst his personal contemplation, witnessed a peculiar sight. Two golden rams were engaged in a ferocious battle, relentlessly ramming into each other until blood began to flow. Yet, neither showed any inclination to back down.
As Dev Sharma observed this spectacle, a bloodthirsty jackal entered the scene, drawn by the scent of blood. His desire for the crimson liquid overcame caution, and he inserted himself into the fray. Inevitably, a blow to the jackal’s head proved fatal, and he fell lifeless to the ground.
When Dev Sharma had concluded his own business, he returned to find Ashadhbhuti missing, with only the robe lying abandoned. Panicked and bewildered, he frantically searched the robe but found no trace of his precious money. Distraught, he cried out, “Alas! I have been robbed!” Overwhelmed by the situation, he fell into a swoon.
After regaining consciousness a short while later, Dev Sharma rose to his feet and began calling out, “Ashada Bhuti, you deceiver! Show yourself!” Shouting in vain, he followed Ashadhbhuti’s tracks until he stumbled upon a nearby village just before nightfall. There, he spent a brief period before returning to his matha.
And so, this incident unfolded, leading Damanaka to conclude, “As I said earlier, it is like the jackal caught between the battling rams and the Sanyasi who trusted Ashadhbhuti – both brought calamity upon themselves.”
Deep in thought, Karataka questioned, “What is the course of action under these circumstances?”
Damanaka, always quick-witted and full of humor, replied, “Right at this moment, I am receiving a divine revelation. I shall employ my cunning to sow discord between Dev Sharma and Ashadhbhuti, separating them in the process. As they say:
‘An arrow, shot from a bow, May or may not kill a man, But the wit of a clever man Can destroy a host of enemies.’
“Oh, but my dear brother,” Karataka hesitated, “if, somehow, Pingalaka or Sanjivaka discovers your scheme to foment discord, you may find yourself in grave danger!”
Damanaka chuckled and responded, “Don’t be so pessimistic, Karataka. When adversity strikes and luck seems unfavorable, one must persist and persevere, for as the wise say:
‘Lakshmi bestows her favor, Upon the zealous soul. She scorns the idle, Who rely solely on fortune’s role. Brush aside destiny’s disguise, Exert your strength, be wise. If still, you fail to see, Analyze where you went wrong.’
And so, my dear friend, I shall continue my efforts with such subtlety that neither Pingalaka nor Sanjivaka shall discern my hand in it.”
Listening to Damanaka’s words, Karataka couldn’t help but voice his concerns. “Very well, brother, but I must admit, I am anxious. Sanjeewaka is shrewd, and Pingalaka is formidable. Even with your sharp intellect, the task of separating them seems Herculean.”
Undaunted, Damanaka retorted, “It may appear insurmountable, my dear Karataka, but I shall manage it. As they say:
‘What force cannot accomplish, Deceit may achieve with ease. With a golden chain as her weapon, A crow killed a black cobra in her seize.’
Now, let me share the tale of the crow and the cobra with you.”
And so, Damanaka continued to plot and scheme, confident in his ability to manipulate the situation.
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