Panchtantra Story: The Kind Trader, the Greedy Tigress, and the Clever Jackal

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on

There was once a trader who went from one village to the next, selling jewelry and perfumes. He often traveled on foot and had to walk through jungles and forests to reach far off villages. One day after visiting one village, he had to go to the next and to get there he had to walk through a forest. 

It was going to be a long walk, but the hard-working trader needed to get his goods sold, and he started his journey through the jungle. After walking for a while, he heard the sounds of a tiger roaring, and he was quite scared.  He was ready to be attacked by the tiger at any time, but all he heard was roaring sounds till he peeped behind the bushes, and what he saw was a large tigress trapped in a small cage. 

Knowing that the tigress was in a cage, and could not get out without any help, he wasn’t that scared anymore. He walked behind the bushes, and just then the tigress shouted out to him, “please help me, open this cage and let me out, I am trapped here for two days now, I need to get back home to my little children who are now without their mother.” The trader felt pity for her right away. But, he was also scared of being attacked and eaten as soon as he released her from the cage. 

So, he said, “There is no way I can open this cage, I am sure that as soon as I do, you will kill me, and make a fine meal out of me.” “How can I be so foolish?” – he asked her. She replied, “Sir, let me out, it will not be foolish at all, it will be the kindest deed you have ever done, I have little children deep in the forest, waiting for their mother.” I will not eat you; I will not harm you; I will serve you for the rest of my life” – she said. 

Now the trader was a kind man; he couldn’t bear to think that she and her babies were sure to die if he didn’t let her out. He believed every word she said, and he went ahead and opened the cage. Just then, the tigress came rushing out, and she pounced on him. Begging for his life, he said, “how is this fair; I opened the cage and set you free, and now you want to kill me and eat.” She replied, “humans are never fair, why should we be; let’s ask others if you deserve fairness.” 

Just there was a tree; who was watching everything quietly. He finally spoke up, “silly man; you do not deserve fairness, look at me, I provide shade to humans, but you still cut my arms and legs so that you can have wood for your fires.” “You are not fair; why should anyone be fair to you?” The trader was now sure that he was a dead man, but just then there was an old ox passing by. He stopped the ox; and asked him if what the tigress was about to do was fair, even after he had saved her life. 

The ox looked at him with anger and said, ‘why do you expect animals to be fair, look at me, I have plowed the fields for humans for many years, but now that I am old and weak, my master has left me in this forest to die.” – “Why should your life be spared?” The trader had lost all hope; there was not a single one on his side. He was sure to be eaten now, but just then a jackal came out of the bushes nearby. 

“What’s happening here; why have you caught this poor man?” – the jackal asked the tigress. She then told him the whole story about how the trader had released her from the cage, but now he would be her meal because humans were not fair, and she could be unfair just like humans. The jackal looked at her up and down and said, “I don’t believe your story; you are lying.” She shouted, “what makes you think I’m lying; I’m telling you the truth.” He replied, “look at you, you are so large, how did you get into that small cage – I’m sure you are lying.” 

The tigress was very angry; she kept saying that she was saying nothing but the truth, but the jackal wouldn’t believe her. Finally, she asked, “what can I do to make you believe me?” He replied, “why don’t you get into that tiny cage and prove to me that you can fit in there – if you can, I will believe every word you say.” Without thinking twice, the tigress squeezed herself into the cage, and in no time, the trader jumped up and locked her in. 

The tigress was now trapped, she begged and begged to be released, but who would believe her. She would surely go back on her word, and the trader would be a dead man. He ignored her and thanked the jackal, and praised the smart animal for his brilliant idea. He was very thankful and couldn’t wait to get to the next village, and then get back to his family. After thanking the jackal many times, he quickly walked along and made his way out of the dangerous jungle. 

The jackal walked on, leaving the tigress trapped and scared, but he had no plans to let her die. Deep in the forest, he told the monkeys about her. He asked them to free her from the cage. They were too fast for her and cleverly opened the cage without being caught. Also, this time she had learned her lesson and did not try to catch and eat them. She went on her way, back to her children, feeling shame for her greedy ways. 

Moral: It is wrong to take advantage of anyone’s kindness. 

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