Hitopadesha Tales – The Caged Lion
When a man strikes a deal with a lion and releases him from captivity, an interesting set of events are set in motion!!
Once upon a time, a lion was caught in the cage of a hunter which was set as a trap. The hunter did not return and so the lion was stuck in the cage for many days. The other animals too refused to help as they were afraid of him. But one day, a man happened to pass by the lion and the lion was ready to convince the man to open the cage by hook or crook.
The lion called out to the man and asked him to open the cage, but he refused saying that he was not a fool to let a lion out of a cage. But the lion said that he would be grateful and in return, he would even grant him a precious gem which had the power to grant any wish he wanted. The man’s greedy thoughts got the better of him and soon he yielded to the pleas of the lion. Opening the latch, he released the lion from the cage. The lion came and told the man to accompany him to the cave so that he could give him the gem. But the man now realised that the lion did not have any gem and he was making this up in order to eat him. So the man tried to get away from him.
But the lion went closer and kept his huge paw on the man, not allowing him to move. He told the man that he would not allow him to go. The man then told the lion that he should keep in mind that he was his saviour and should act justly. But the lion said that he was an animal and in nature everything was fair and just. The lion then decided to give the man a chance and so he told the man to find someone who would stand against his point of view.
So they both went and asked the tree and the road and both of them agreed to what the lion had to say. They said that nature did not see what was fair and survival was most important. The lion became more happy as the man grew more dejected. Then, they finally went to a rabbit and asked him about the same. The rabbit then asked the lion to show him the cage and the exact location of his escape, so that he could then make a proper decision. The lion then took the rabbit and the man back to the trap where he was caught.
There, the rabbit asked the lion how he was trapped and how the man had saved him. When the lion explained to him, the rabbit feigned to misunderstand and he said that he would understand it better if it was demonstrated to him. The lion, who was irritated, got into the cage in haste to show him how he was trapped. Without wasting a split second, the rabbit leaped and bolted the cage shut with the lion inside. The lion grew furious and roared and clawed at the cage, but it was of no use. He was back to square one and he had paid the price for being greedy and unjust. The man thanked the rabbit and they both went their separate ways. The lion remained starving and died from hunger.
Moral – One should always be grateful. Ungratefulness will only result in sad fate such as that of the caged lion.