Kid’s Stories, Hitopadesha Tales – The Caged Lion
Always do your best to keep your promises.
Once a cruel lion was caught in a hunter’s cage in a forest, He tried his best to free himself from the cage but in vain. Because of his cruel nature, none of the forest animals came forward to rescue him, Time passed by and after a while, a poor Brahmin came upon the caged lion. The lion requested the Brahmin to rescue him.
Lion: Sir! Please stop for a moment, I was caught inside the hunter’s cage by mistake. Please help me to come out of this cage sir, I will be grateful to you.
Brahmin: Do you think I am a fool to do such a stupid act? Don’t I know that if I release you from this cage, you will eat me up the next moment!
Lion: No Sir, I promise that I won’t kill you. If you help me out, I’ll give you a precious gem. It has the power to make your wishes come true.
The Brahmin’s heart filled with greed so he released the lion from the cage. The lion came very near to the Brahmin and said,
Lion: Dear Brahmin, won’t you now come with me and then take your reward?
Brahmin: Go home soon to your family. Your family members are worried about you. I don’t want any rewards.
Lion: Dear Brahmin, stop for a moment and listen to me. I have not eaten for the last two days. Do you think I am a fool to let a ready meal like you get away from me?
The words alarmed the Brahmin. He stopped there and said
Brahmin: Hey Lion, you are being unjust. It is not fair to kill your savior. Ask anyone, they will say I am correct, you cannot do this. Just go away from me.
Lion: Justice and injustice. Killing and eating are part of my nature. Everyone knows this and I am correct to act naturally. Ask anybody. I will give you an hour to prove yourself; otherwise Brahmin I think you’ll be my lunch this afternoon.
Tree: I think the lion is correct. Humans are selfish like the lion. Look at me. I give shade and shelter to the tired travelers, yet they don’t stop cutting my branches for firewood and my leaves for their animal feeds. They also take fruits and flowers from me. If all people do this, then the lion also has the right to behave in such away.
Road: I see nothing wrong with the lion’s behavior. He is not being unfair. Look at me. I lead lost and tired travelers to their safe and warm homes. In return, they spit on me and litter me. I get nothing in return for the service I provide. If all you do is right, then the lion is also right.
Hare: In spite of all the details that you have provided me now, I still cannot make out a thing. Can you lead me to the spot where all this happened? If we go, there it will be really helpful for me to solve this problem for you. What Brahmin? Shall we go?
Brahmin: Come with me! I will take you.
The hare went near the cage and saw it for a while, and then he said.
Hare: I don’t understand how a large lion-like you could go into a narrow barred cage like this. Will you show me so that I can get a clear picture?
Lion: You! Silly creature! You don’t understand. Watch me now!
The lion promptly got into the cage to show off but, the clever hare had a plan up his sleeve. He quickly went and bolted the cage door. The lion was caged once again. The hare then asked,
Hare: What Brahmin? Is this how the lion was when you saw him?
Hare: Come Brahmin, let’s go. We will leave this lion in the cage. You did a mistake releasing him. Come, Let’s go!
Brahmin: Thank you, friend. Thanks a lot. I cannot forget you for saving me from this cruel animal. Thanks once again.
The Brahmin and the hare went on their way. And for the unjust lion, the cage became his home.
The Moral of the story is: Children did you see what happened to the lion. If it had kept its word, it would have been free now. Since it was unjust, the cage became his home. So if you promise something, always keep it up.