Panchtantra Story: The Clever Snake and the Lazy Frogs

 

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An old snake had no more strength left in him to hunt for food as he once did. He could not crawl up trees to eat the eggs of the birds. He could not slither fast enough to catch lizards and frogs to eat. Because he was weak, and he had had nothing to eat for a long time, he was very sick. He had very little energy left in his body, and he was worried. He thought to himself, “my life will soon come to an end if I do not get food to eat. But what can I do; I’m so old and weak, I cannot hunt like I used to before”. 

Just then, he had a brilliant idea. He thought to himself, “this idea has to work, and if it does; then I won’t have to hunt for food, my food shall come to me”. The next day, he slowly crawled to the nearby pond. In the pond, there were many frogs. These frogs were ruled by a king who had many helpers. They didn’t do much, they just played all day and ate the insects in the water. Many of them were fat and lazy, especially the king, and they were not very willing to swim around, as it made them tired. The snake knew of the laziness of the frogs and their king. And he planned to take advantage of their laziness. So, he quietly laid down beside the pond. He did nothing, he said nothing, he just lay there. 

Seeing him, at first, the frogs were scared. They stopped playing around, and swam away, as far from him as possible. They kept an eye on him. For a long time, he said nothing or did nothing. He did not try to catch any of them; he just lay there. Finally, from across the pond, the king frog shouted out, “what do you want here, we have never seen you here before, are you here to hunt and kill us”? The snake finally spoke up; he said, “no frog king, I’m not here to hunt and kill anyone, you see I do not have the power to hunt and kill anymore”. He went on, “just two days back I went into the village searching for food. A Brahmin’s son tried to step on me, and I bit him. Since then, the Brahmin has cursed me. I cannot kill and eat anymore. I am cursed to serve frogs for the rest of my life”. 

The king asked, “how can you serve us, you are a strong snake, and we are small frogs. In what ways can you serve us”? He replied, “I see that you and the others do not wish to swim around the pond anymore, I can serve you and the rest by giving all of you rides, whenever you need it. Just jump onto my back, ad I will take you wherever you want to go”. Hearing this, the lazy frog king and all of the others were very happy. From now on, they wouldn’t have to swim anymore. They would have a ride to reach any part of the pond whenever they needed it. That day itself, the king, his helpers, and most of the others took many rides on the back of the snake. He was tired, and he was hungry, but he did nothing. He gave them as many rides as they wanted, did not try to catch them or eat them. He knew that this was the only way for his plan to work. 

The next day, he was back at the pond again. He was tired, weak, and hungry, and the frogs saw that he did not look very well. The king asked him, “what is wrong with you today; you do not look like you have the energy to give us any rides, how will you serve us”? He replied, “oh king, it is my bad luck. Since I have been cursed that I cannot hunt or kill, I have been hungry, and that is why I am unwell”. The king talked to his helpers, they did not want to lose the snake that was giving them rides, but if he didn’t eat, he would soon be dead. So they made a plan. Every day, the snake would get to eat one frog, and he would give them as many rides as they wanted. When they told the snake of this plan, he was secretly very happy. This was just what he wanted. This was his brilliant plan all along. No hunting, no killing, from now on, his food would come to him. And that’s just what happened for a long time. 

The snake would give the frogs as many rides as they wanted, and he would eat one of them every day. With enough food, the snake was getting healthy again, and he was also becoming greedy. When no one was watching, he would swallow up a frog without letting anyone know. For many months, he enjoyed these meals, and the frogs started to get less in numbers. Soon they were very few left. Only the king and his helpers were still alive, but they were so busy enjoying free rides on the snake’s back, that they failed to see that all their friends had been killed and eaten. 

One day, when the snake was going back home from the pond, he met an old snake friend. His friend was surprised to see him fat and healthy and asked him how he was getting so much food. He told him the whole story about how he had fooled the frogs. But just then, a stork was flying overhead, and she heard everything. There and then, she went flying to the king frog and told him everything. He was ashamed of his laziness and how the snake had fooled him so easily. The next day when the snake was back at the pond, there was no more rides and no more frogs to eat. 

Moral: If you are lazy, someone else will enjoy all the rewards.

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