Panchatantra : Principle 1
Estrangement Between Friends (Mitra Bheda मित्रभेदः)
Story 1 : The Money and the Wedge
A merchant once started building a temple in the middle of his garden. Many masons and carpenters were working for the merchant. They took time off every day to go to the town for their lunch. One day, when the workers left for lunch a batch of monkeys landed at the temple site and began playing with whatever caught their fancy. One of the monkeys saw a partly sawed log of wood and a wedge fixed in it so that it does not close up. Curious to know what it is, the monkey began furiously tugging at the wedge. At last the wedge came off, not before trapping the legs of the monkey into the rift of the log. Very soon, not able to get his legs out of the closed wood, the monkey died.
“Therefore,” Karataka told Damanaka, “it is not wise to poke our nose into affairs that are not our concern. We have a food store. Why should we bother ourselves about this lion?” Damanaka retorted, “Food is not the centre of our life. The elders have said that wise men seek the help of the king to help friends and harm foes. There are hundred ways of collecting food. What matters is a life full of learning, courage and wealth. If living somehow is the goal, even the crow lives long eating leftovers.”
“True, but we are not ministers any more. The elders have always said that the stupid person who offers uncalled for advice to the king invites not only insult but also deceit,” said Karataka.
“No,” Damanaka said, “anyone who serves the king with devotion is bound to earn his favour in the long run. The one who does not remains where he is. Those who understand why the king is angry or generous will one-day rise in office. It is necessary to be in the good books of the king.”
“Okay, what do you want to do now?” asked Karataka.
“You know the king is scared now. We will ask him what frightens him and using the six ways of diplomacy get close to him.”
“How do you know the king is scared?”
“Changes in posture, signs, pace, actions, conversation, looks and expression indicate the working of the mind. I will approach the fear-struck king today and with my intelligence, I will dispel his fear and once again become his minister,” said Damanaka.
“How can you do it when you do not know principles of service?” asked Karataka.
Damanaka told him all he knew and learnt about what makes a good and loyal servant in the service of the king.
“In that case, I wish you all good luck,” said Karataka. Taking leave of Karataka, Damanaka then called on the king. Recognizing that he was the son of his old minister, King Pingalaka told his sentry to bring him into his presence. Damanaka came down on his knees to pay respects to the king.
“We haven’t seen you for a long time,” the king said.
“I don’t know of what use I can be to you, my lord. Yet, according to the learned, there are occasions when every person however high or low will be of use to the king. For generations we have served the king with devotion. Yet I am out of your majesty’s favour.”
“All right, competent or incompetent you are the son of our old minister. Go ahead and tell me whatever you have in your mind,” the king ordered Damanaka.
“May I ask you humbly, my lord, what made you come back from the lake without drinking water,” asked Damanaka reluctantly.
“O’ Damanaka, haven’t you heard the great and frightening sounds in the distance? I want to leave this forest. The strange animal that could make such sounds ought to be as powerful as the sounds he makes.”
“Your majesty, if it is only sound that is your problem; I wish to submit that sounds are misleading. I can tell you the story of the jackal, how it overcame the fear of sound.”
Let us hear it, said the king. and Damanaka started narrating the story of the Jackal and the Drum…