Panchtantra Story: The Tale of Two Snakes

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In a kingdom far away, there lived a wealthy King, who ruled over a big city and many people. The King was a strong man who had won many battles, and he was a father of two sons. One of them was strong and healthy, just like his father, the other was weak and sickly, and was getting sicker by the day. The King was worried about his boy and called in many doctors to try and cure his illnesses that were making him weaker by the day. 

But all these wise doctors could do nothing, all their many medicines failed, and he remained weak and sickly, while his brother grew bigger and stronger. When the boys were old enough, the King had to decide who would rule the kingdom after him. He chose the stronger of the two and ordered that the weak and sick one, leave the palace and live in another city.  

The sick prince had to leave the palace the very next day. He walked for many miles; resting under the shade of trees as often as he could, as he was weak and had very little energy. After walking for many days, he saw an old temple and decided that this would be his home. He slept on the steps of the temple and ate whatever little food was offered to him by visitors to the temple. Life was difficult, but he had food and shelter, even though his health was not getting any better. He continued to be sick and weak. 

Not far away from this temple, there was another palace that belonged to another king. He had two daughters, and he loved them dearly. Every day, he made sure he had a special gift to give each of them, and in return, each of them had their own way of thanking their father. The younger daughter would always say, “oh father, every happiness you give us with your many blessings and your endless love”. The second one would say, “may I receive what I deserve, and for that, I will be thankful”. 

The king did not understand the true meaning of his second daughter’s words and often thought that she was not grateful enough for the lovely gifts he got her. After hearing these words many times, one day he could not take it anymore. He ordered for her to be taken outside the palace and to be married to the first man, she saw. He said, “surely this is what she deserves if she is not thankful for my many costly gifts”. Right away the princess was taken to the temple not far from the palace and married off to the sick prince who lived there. 

The princess accepted her new husband right way, she had no doubt that God had chosen him to be with her for the rest of her life, and she decided right away that she would be a good wife to him. He was sick and weak, but she took good care of him, and soon both of them decided that they should find a better place to stay. So they left the temple and set off in search of a new home. This was a long and hard journey as the prince was very sick and they often had to take many breaks. 

After walking for three days, the prince was very weak and they stopped to rest under a tree, near an anthill. He was thirsty, so she asked him to wait under the tree, while she went searching for water. She was returning with her pot of water when from a distance she saw a snake coming out of the anthill. Her husband was asleep, and just then she saw yet another snake coming out of his mouth. 

They were talking to each other, the snake that came out of her husband’s mouth said to the other, “why do you spend all your time guarding that anthill with all its treasures buried underneath, that gold is of no use to you, and you could easily be killed if someone threw hot water on the anthill. The other replied, “I do as I want, but why do you live in that poor man’s stomach, if only he decided to drink the soup of cumin and mustard seeds, you could be dead as well”. After arguing for a while, both snakes went back to their places. 

The princess then rushed to her husband and woke him up, she said, “I know why you have been sick for so many years, there is a snake that lives in your stomach”. She went on, “a simple soup of cumin and mustard seeds could kill the snake, and then we could get rich by digging out the treasure under the anthill, but first, we must kill the snake that lives in the anthill as well”. So, they did just that. She built a small fire and prepared the healing soup for the prince. Soon, he vomited a large dead snake, and he was feeling better right away. The remaining hot soup, they poured over the anthill, and the other snake came rushing out and died sometime later. 

They dug up the anthill, and they found thousands of gold coins buried underneath. With the gold, they started a new business, and soon the two of them had a large palace of their own. When the father of the prince heard about how his son had made his fortune, he was very sorry for pushing him out of the palace. The father of the princess felt the same way, and finally understood what she meant when she said, ‘may I receive what I deserve’ for she deserved much happiness and great riches. Soon, the families were back together again. The two of them had a beautiful boy, and they lived happily ever after. 

Moral: When two people fight, there is always a third who benefits.

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