Panchtantra Story: The Lion and His Helpers

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A mighty, wise, and kind lion lived in a big forest. All the animals respected the lion, as he was not only powerful but was also kind-hearted, and good. The lion only hunted and killed others for food when hungry. All of them knew of his kindness. And they all agreed that he was the king of the jungle, and there was no other animal, as strong, as wise, or as kind as him. As everyone hoped, he ruled with kindness and wisdom.

One day the lion decided that he needed three helpers, three others who would stay by him all the time, helping him find and hunt food. In return, he would give them whatever leftovers he could not eat himself. He would make sure that they were never hungry or in need of anything. Soon there was a meeting, all the others gathered before the lion, and from among them, he chose his three helpers. He wanted helpers who were loyal, faithful, wise, and always ready to serve him. He also needed those who could be of use to him with hunting and ruling the jungle. First, he picked out the crow, as she could fly high up in the sky, and go off in search of food. Then he went with the leopard, as he was almost as powerful as him, and could help him during the hunt. He was fast on his feet and had strong and powerful jaws to hunt big animals. Last, he chose the jackal, as this was a smart animal, and could advise him about ruling the jungle. 

The lion’s helpers were useful to him. They were also very obedient. They listened to every word he said and did as he told them to do. They were always ready to serve him; they found food for him, went with him on hunts, and even helped him rule the jungle. He was pleased with them, and whatever animals he hunted, he made sure to leave enough leftovers for them, so that they could eat as much as they wanted. Because of him, they were able to eat all kinds of tasty meats, and they never were hungry. But, they soon became greedy, wanting more than what they were already getting. 

With much greed, one day, the crow said to the lion, “wise king, it is sad that you have eaten the meat of all animals, apart from camel’s meat. It is so tasty; you should get a chance to feast on it”. He replied, “there are no camels in this jungle, so there is no point in thinking about it”. The crow then responded, “wise king, camels do not live in the jungle; they live in the big desert at the edge of the jungle. Maybe I could fly over the desert tomorrow, and the rest of you can follow me. We will hunt a big camel.” 

He agreed, and the next day, all four set out on a camel hunt. It took many hours of walking to get to the edge of the jungle, and then they walked in the desert for many hours. The sun was out, and the sand was burning hot. Except for the crow; all had burned their paws. 

Finally, the lion had walked enough on his burnt paws, and he said, “let us turn back, my paws are burning because of the hot sand, and I cannot walk anymore”. But, the greedy crow and the rest were not ready to give up. They asked him to rest while they bought the camel to him. The crow flew up ahead and finally spotted the camel. She said to him, “kind friend, our king, the lion, needs a ride back to the jungle as he is injured, please help us”. He was kind, so he instantly agreed. They both went back, and the camel carried all of them back to the jungle. 

Now the lion had changed his mind; he was not willing to eat the camel anymore, as he had saved his life. As a reward, he made him his fourth helper. The others were angry as they were eager to eat camel’s meat, but nothing had come out of their best plans. However, they were not ready to give up just yet. They had to come up with another plan. So they planned among themselves and found another way to try to get the lion to kill and eat the camel. 

Since they could not come up with any food while hunting in the desert, the lion sent them out to look for food in the jungle. After a few hours, they were back, but with no food. They told the lion that they couldn’t find any food and each offered that he should eat them, as he was hungry, and they couldn’t bear to see him hungry. The crow offered herself as a meal for him. The leopard did the same. The jackal was also ready to be killed by the lion, but finally, the camel said, “since I am the biggest, kill me, I have the most meat, and all of you can eat till you are satisfied. 

The lion was listening quietly, and finally, he said, “I think I am hungry enough to eat all of you, ill start with the crow and end with the camel”. Hearing this, all of them ran away, except for the camel. He saw that all his helpers, except for one, had run for their lives and he could not stop laughing. He knew that they were just greedy and cunning, and this was his wise plan to get rid of them. He did not want helpers like them. Instead, he wanted a helper who was loyal and faithful, just like the camel. 

For many years after that, he ruled the forest. He was always kind and wise, and his faithful helper was by his side. 

Moral: When life brings troubles, your fake friends run away.

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