Panchtantra Story: The Blue Jackal

Photo by Anand Dandekar on

A cunning jackal lived in a forest at the edge of the village. The jackal was smart but lazy and did not want to hunt for food. He had no interest in chasing prey and running behind animals that he could kill and eat. He wanted to sleep all day, and at night, he often went into the village. He went there to kill and eat the villagers’ goats and chickens. These animals were easy to catch and kill; since he was lazy, he made it a habit of stealing food from the village. This was an easy way to get food, and the lazy jackal always wanted the easy way in life.

The villagers were soon tired of finding their goats and chickens missing. Every morning chickens and goats would go missing, and they knew that some animal from the forest was coming into the village at night to kill and eat their animals. They thought long and hard how to protect their animals and, finally, they decided to keep some large dogs to guard the village at night. 

Like every other night, the jackal crept into the village, ready to kill and eat his next meal. But this time, it was different. Almost immediately, the large dogs saw him, and they chased him all around the village. He was sure that he would be dead soon, but just then he saw a shed. He ran into the shed, and inside he saw many large buckets. He jumped into one of the buckets and hid there, but the dogs found him anyway. 

When they found him, he jumped out of the bucket to try and escape. As soon as he jumped out of the bucket, the dogs cried out in fear. He could not understand why, but all of them ran away in no time. He was confused, but he was also feeling lucky to be alive. Wasting no time, he ran back into the forest once again. 

Once in the forest, all the other animals were scared to see him. He could not understand why, but just like the dogs, the animals of the forest stayed as far away from him as possible. By now he was hungry and thirsty, and since no one would come near him, he couldn’t catch any food, but he did make his way to the stream to get a drink of water. As he bent down to drink water from the stream, he saw his reflection, and he realized he was blue from head to toe. He had jumped into a bucket of blue dye while hiding from the dogs in the village. 

Now he understood why all the others were afraid of him, and right away, he decided to use their fear to get his way. From the stream, he went straight back to the center of the forest and demanded that all the others gather around him. Since the animals of the forest were scared, they decided to obey him. Even the ‘king of the forest’, the lion was there. When they had all gathered around him, he said out loud, “I am the great blue king, I have been sent by the Gods to rule this forest, from now on all animals must obey me or die”. 

The others were afraid of this strange blue creature, they believed him right away, and decided that they should obey him, or they would die. He took great advantage of this. Soon the others were like servants for him, he slept all day, while the others hunted and brought food for him. Even the lion was now his servant. 

The animals of the forest were always by his side; they would be ready to listen to his every word and carry out his every command. Many days and months passed like this, and he became even lazier. He had no worries about food; everything he needed, he got without any trouble. Months went by, and one day when the jackal was sitting surrounded by the other animals, he heard other jackals howling in the distance. He was overjoyed; he had not seen others like him for many years. 

He was glad at the chance of meeting new friends or even family that had left many years ago. He thought that maybe, just maybe, he could find a wife for himself, within this group, so he started howling loudly, and for a very long time. The others howled back at him from a distance. He howled, they howled, this went on for some time, while the other animals were shocked at their ‘Blue King’ howling like a common jackal. Then they realized that he was just that, he was indeed a jackal, who had somehow become blue. 

They were angry, he had pretended to be someone else, and he had been cheating them for all these days, making them hunt for him, and serve him. They were ready to kill him, the lion jumped forward to strike at him, and just then he realized that his game was up. He took off running with all the others running behind him; they chased him long and hard till he finally caught up with the other jackals and hid behind them. 

The jackals took pity on him and did not let him die. He was safe now, even though he had cheated so many. For his safety, he left the forest with the others. 

However, life was never the same for him again, mostly because of his laziness. To the others, he was strange and blue, and they often made fun of him. Life was difficult, but he had learned his lesson. He was not lazy anymore; he did not try to cheat anyone anymore. Just like everyone else, he now hunted and gathered his food. But he remained blue for the rest of his life. He was the strange one among the rest. 

Moral: Being lazy and cheating others into doing our work is sure to create troubles.

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