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Chapter 111

Mahabharata English - SANTI PARVA

“Yudhishthira said, ‘Many persons here that are not really of tranquilsouls appear in outward form as men of tranquil souls. There are againothers that are really of tranquil souls but that appear to be otherwise.How, O sire, shall we succeed in knowing these people?’

“Bhishma said, ‘In this connection is recited the old story of thediscourse between a tiger and a jackal. Listen to it, O Yudhishthira! Inancient times, in a city called Purika, full of affluence, there was aking named Paurika. That worst of beings was exceedingly cruel and tookdelight in injuring others. On the expiry of the period of his life heobtained an undesirable end. In fact, stained by the evil acts of hishuman life, he was reborn as a jackal. Remembering his former prosperity,he became filled with grief and abstained from meat even when broughtbefore him by others. And he became compassionate unto all creatures, andtruthful in speech, and firm in the observance of austere vows. At theappointed time he took food which consisted of fruit that had droppedfrom the trees. That jackal dwelt in a vast crematorium and liked todwell there. And as it was his birth place, he never wished to change itfor a finer locality. Unable to endure the purity of his behaviour, theother members of his species, endeavoured to make him alter his resolveby addressing him in the following words fraught with humility: ‘Thoughresiding in this terrible crematorium, thou desirest yet to live in suchpurity of behaviour. Is not this a perversity of understanding on thypart, since thou art by nature an cater of carrion? Be thou our like. Allof us will give thee food. Eat that which ought always to be thy food,abandoning such purity of conduct. Hearing these words of theirs, thejackal replied unto them, with rapt attention, in these sweet wordsfraught with reason and inculcating harmlessness to all: ‘My birth hasbeen low. It is conduct, however, that determines the race.[341] I desireto behave in such a way that my fame may spread. Although my habitationis this crematorium, yet listen to my vows in respect of behaviour. One’sown self is the cause of one’s acts. The mode of life to which one maybetake oneself is not the cause of one’s religious acts. If one, while inthe observance of a particular mode of life, slays a Brahmana, will notthe sin of Brahmanicide attach to him? If, on the other hand, one givesaway a cow while one is not in the observance of any particular mode oflife, will that pious gift produce no merit? Moved by the desire ofgetting what is agreeable, ye are engaged in only filling your stomachs.Stupefied by folly ye do not see the three faults that are in the end. Ido not like to adopt the life led by you, fraught as it is with evil bothhere and hereafter, and characterised as it is by such censurable loss ofvirtue occasioned by discontentment and temptation.’ A tiger, celebratedfor prowess, happened to overhear this conversation, and accordingly,taking the jackal for a learned person of pure behaviour, offered himsuch respectful worship as was suited to his own self and then expresseda wish for appointing him his minister.’

“The tiger said, ‘O righteous personage, I know what thou art. Do thouattend to the duties of government with myself. Enjoy whatever articlesmay be desired by thee, abandoning whatever may not suit thy taste.[342]As regards ourselves, we are known to be of a fierce disposition. Weinform thee beforehand of this. If thou behavest with mildness, thou wiltbe benefited and reap advantages for thyself.’–Honouring these words ofthat high-souled lord of all animals, the jackal, hanging down his head alittle, said these words fraught with humility.’

“The jackal said, ‘O king of beasts, these words of thine with referenceto myself are such as befit thee. It is also worthy of thee that thoushouldst seek for ministers of pure behaviour and conversant with dutiesand worldly affairs. Thou canst not maintain thy greatness without apious minister, O hero, or with a wicked minister that is on the look-outfor putting an end to the very life. Thou shouldst, O highly blessed one,regard those amongst thy ministers that are devoted to thee, that areconversant with policy, that are independent of one another, desirous ofcrowning thee with victory, unstained by covetousness, free from deceit,possessed of wisdom ever engaged in thy good, and endued with greatmental vigour, even as thou regardest thy preceptors or parents. But, Oking of beasts, as I am perfectly contented with my present position, Ido not desire to change it for anything else. I do not covet luxuriousenjoyments or the happiness that arises from them. My conduct, again, maynot agree with that of thy old servants. If they happen to be of wickedconduct, they will produce disunion between thee and me. Dependence uponanother, even if that other happens to be possessed of splendour, is notdesirable or praiseworthy. I am of cleansed soul, I am highly blessed. Iam incapable of showing severity to even sinners. I am of greatforesight. I have capacity for great exertion. I do not look at smallthings. I am possessed of great strength. I am successful in acts. Inever act fruitlessly. I am adorned with every object of enjoyment. I amnever satisfied with a little. I have never served another. I am,besides, unskilled in serving. I live according to my pleasure in thewoods. All who live by the side of kings have to endure great pain inconsequence of evil speeches against themselves. Those, however, thatreside in the woods pass their days, fearlessly and without anxiety, inthe observance of vows. The fear that arises in the heart of a person whois summoned by the king is unknown to persons passing their dayscontentedly in the woods, supporting life upon fruits and roots. Simplefood and drink obtained without effort, and luxurious food procured withfear, widely differ from each other. Reflecting upon these two, I am ofopinion that there is happiness where there is no anxiety. A few onlyamongst those that serve kings are justly punished for their offences. Alarge number of them, however, suffer death under false accusations. If,notwithstanding all this, thou appointest me, O king of beasts, as thyminister, I wish to make a compact with thee in respect of the behaviourthou shouldst always adopt towards me. Those words that I shall speak forthy good should be listened to and regarded by thee. The provision whichthou wilt make for me shall not be interfered with by thee. I shall neverconsult with thy other ministers. If I do, desirous of superiority asthey are they will then impute diverse kinds of faults to me. Meetingwith thee alone and in secret I shall say what is for thy good. In allmatters connected with thy kinsmen, thou shalt not ask me what is for thygood or what is otherwise. Having consulted with me thou shalt not punishthy other ministers afterwards, yielding to rage thou shalt not punish myfollowers and dependants.’ Thus addressed by the jackal, the king ofbeasts answered him, saying, ‘Let it be so,’ and showed him every honour.The jackal then accepted the ministership of the tiger. Beholding thejackal treated with respect and honoured in all his acts, the oldservants of the king, conspiring together, began ceaselessly to displaytheir hatred towards him. Those wicked persons at first strove to gratifyand win him over with friendly behaviour and make him tolerate thediverse abuses that existed in the taste. Despoilers of other people’sproperty, they had long lived in the enjoyment of their perquisites. Now,however, being ruled by the jackal, they were unable to appropriateanything belonging to others. Desirous of advancement and prosperity,they began to tempt him with sweet speeches. Indeed, large bribes evenwere offered to allure his heart. Possessed of great wisdom, the jackalshowed no signs of yielding to those temptations. Then some amongst them,making a compact amongst themselves for effecting his destruction, tookaway the well-dressed meat that was intended for and much desired by theking of beasts, and placed it secretly in the house of the jackal. Thejackal knew who had stolen the meat and who had conspired to do it. Butthough he knew everything, he tolerated it for a particular object. Hehad made a compact with the king at the time of his accepting theministership, saying, ‘Thou desirest my friendship, but thou shalt not, Omonarch, mistrust me without cause.’

“Bhishma continued, ‘When the king of beasts, feeling hungry, came toeat, he saw not the meat that was to have been kept ready for his dinner.The king then ordered, ‘Let the thief be found out.’ His deceitfulministers represented unto him that the meat kept for him had been stolenaway by his learned minister, the jackal, that was so proud of his ownwisdom. Rearing Of this injudicious act on the part of the jackal, thetiger became filled with rage. Indeed, the king, giving way to his wrath,ordered his minister to be slain. Beholding the opportunity, the formerministers addressed the king, saying, ‘The jackal is ever ready to takeaway from all of us the means of sustenance.’ Having represented thisthey once more spoke of the jackal’s act of robbing the king of his food.And they said, ‘Such then is his act! What is there that he would notventure to do? He is not as thou hadst heard. He is righteous in speechbut his real disposition is sinful. A wretch in reality, he has disguisedhimself by putting on a garb of virtue. His behaviour is really sinful.For serving his own ends he had practised austerities in the matter ofdiet and of vows. If thou disbelievest this, we will give thee ocularproof.’ Having said this, they immediately caused that meat to bediscovered by entering the jackal’s abode. Ascertaining that the meat wasbrought back from the jackal’s house and hearing all thoserepresentations of his old servants, the king ordered, saying, ‘Let thejackal be slain.’ Hearing these words of the tiger, his mother came tothat spot for awakening son’s good sense with beneficial counsels. Thevenerable dame said, ‘O son, thou shouldst not accept this accusationfraught with deceit. Wicked individuals impute faults to even an honestperson, moved by envy and rivalry. Enemies desirous of a quarrel cannotendure the elevation of an enemy brought about by his high feats. Faultsare ascribed to even a person of pure soul engaged in penances. Withrespect to even an ascetic living in the woods and employed in his own(harmless) acts, are raised three parties, viz., friends, neutrals, andfoes. They that are rapacious hate them that are pure. The idle hate theactive. The unlearned hate the learned. The poor hate the rich. Theunrighteous hate the righteous. The ugly hate the beautiful. Many amongstthe learned, the unlearned, the rapacious, and the deceitful, wouldfalsely accuse an innocent person even if the latter happens to bepossessed of the virtues and intelligence of Vrihaspati himself. If meathad really been stolen from thy house in thy absence, remember, thejackal refuses to take any meat that is even given to him. Let this factbe well considered (in finding out the thief). Wicked persons sometimesput on the semblance of the good, and they that are good sometimes wearthe semblance of the wicked. Diverse kinds of aspect are noticeable increatures. It is, therefore, necessary to examine which is which. Thefirmament seems to be like the solid base of a vessel. The fire-fly seemsto be like the actual spark of fire. In reality, however, the sky has nobase and there is no fire in the fire-fly. You see, there is necessity.therefore, for scrutiny in respect of even such things as are addressedto the eye. If a person ascertains everything after scrutiny, he is nevercalled upon to indulge in any kind of regret afterwards. It is not at alldifficult, O son, for a master to put his servant to death. Forgiveness,however, in persons possessed of power, is always praiseworthy andproductive of renown. Thou hadst made the jackal thy first minister. Inconsequence of that act, thou hadst earned great fame among allneighbouring chiefs. A good minister cannot be obtained easily. Thejackal is thy well-wisher. Let him, therefore, be supported. The king whoregards a really innocent person falsely accused by his enemies to beguilty, soon meets the destruction in consequence of the wicked ministersthat lead him to that conviction.’ After the tiger’s mother had concludedher speech, a righteous agent of the jackal, stepping out of that phalanxof his foes, discovered everything about the manner in which that falseaccusation had been made. The jackal’s innocence being made manifest, hewas acquitted and honoured by his master. The king of beastsaffectionately embraced him again and again. The jackal, however, who wasconversant with the science of policy, burning with grief, saluted theking of beasts and solicited his permission for throwing away his life byobserving the Praya vow. The tiger, casting upon the virtuous jackal hiseyes expanded with affection and honouring hit’ with reverential worship,sought to dissuade him from the accomplishment of his wishes. The jackal,beholding his master agitated with affection, bowed down to him and in avoice choked with tears said these words: ‘Honoured by thee first, I haveafterwards been insulted by thee. Thy behaviour towards me is calculatedto make me an enemy of thine. It is not proper therefore, that I shouldany longer dwell with thee. Servants that are discontented, that havebeen driven from their offices, or degraded from the honours that weretheirs, that have brought destitution upon themselves, or have beenruined by their enemies (through the wrath of their master). that havebeen weakened, that are rapacious, or enraged, or alarmed, or deceived(in respect of their employers), that have suffered confiscation, thatare proud and desirous of achieving great feats but deprived of the meansor earning wealth, and that burn with grief or rage in consequence of anyinjury done to them, always wait for calamities to overtake theirmasters. Deceived, ‘they leave their masters and become effectiveinstruments in the hands of foes.[343] I have been insulted by thee andpulled down from my place. How wilt thou trust me again? How shall I (onmy part) continue to dwell with thee? Thinking me to be competent thoutookest me, and having examined me thou hadst placed me in office.Violating the compact then made (between us) thou hast insulted me. Ifone speaks of a certain person before others as possessed of righteousbehaviour, one should not, if desirous of maintaining one’s consistency.afterwards describe the same person as wicked. I who have thus beendisregarded by thee cannot any longer enjoy thy confidence. On my part,when I shall see thee withdraw thy confidence from me, I shalt be filledwith alarm and anxiety. Thyself suspicious and myself in alarm, ourenemies will be on the look-out for opportunities for injuring us. Thysubjects will, as a consequence, become anxious and discontented. Such astate of things has many faults. The wise do not regard that situationhappy in which there is honour first and dishonour afterwards. It isdifficult to reunite the two that have been separated, as, indeed, it isdifficult to separate the two that are united. If persons reunited afterseparation approach one another again, their behaviour cannot beaffectionate. No servant is to be seen who is moved (in what he does) byonly the desire of benefiting his master. Service proceeds from themotive of doing good to the master as also one’s own self. All acts areundertaken from selfish motives. Unselfish acts or motives are very rare.Those kings whose hearts are restless and unquiet cannot acquire a trueknowledge of men. Only one in a hundred can be found who is either ableor fearless. The prosperity of men, as also their fall, comes of itself.Prosperity and adversity, and greatness, all proceed from weakness ofunderstanding.”[344]

“Bhishma continued, ‘Having said these conciliatory words fraught withvirtue, pleasure, and profit, and having gratified the king, the jackalretired to the forest. Without listening to the entreaties of the king ofbeasts, the intelligent jackal cast off his body by sitting in praya andproceeded to heaven (as the reward of his good deeds on earth).'”



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