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Jataka Tales – A New King For The Birds

Proud but not found.

Jataka Tales – A New King For The Birds PR042 08


Once upon a time, a very long ago, the birds of a forest were ruled by the Hornbill. He had proclaimed himself the king without anybody’s consent. He was a cruel and unfair ruler. He was short-tempered and got angry very soon. Innocent birds would get scolded without any reason. The birds did not like him and wanted to choose a new king.

One day, they called a secret meeting of all the birds. The birds had chosen a tree quite far from the forest so that the hornbill would not know anything about the meeting. The agenda of the meeting was to choose a new ruler for them.

Many names were suggested for the new king and at last, bulbul was chosen to be their king. All the birds agreed to make bulbul their king, as she was kind and gentle. She humbly accepted the offer.

However, there was one problem before them. How to tell the hornbill that he was being dethroned? Whoever went to him with the news would be killed.

Owl: Don’t worry about this problem. I have made a plan. To carry out my plan, I will need the help of our friend, the woodpecker. If you all trust me, let me try out.


All the birds accepted his offer. The woodpecker agreed to help him.


Owl: Remain hidden and cut the branch. Stop pecking at it just when one blow is needed for the branch to fall.


After instructing the woodpecker, he flew to the hornbill. The hornbill was just wondering where all the birds had gone. Seeing the owl, he said

Hornbill: Where have all the birds gone today. There is nobody to attend upon me.

Owl: Your highness, all the birds feel that you should prove your capabilities. We have decided to hold a branch breaking competition. If you succeed in breaking the branch, we will know your strength and power. However, if you do not succeed and some other bird succeeds, he or she will be chosen as our king.


The hornbill was proud of his potentials. He said

I am strong enough to break a branch. Take me to the venue of the competition and I shall break the strongest of the branch.

Owl: Yes, your majesty.



The owl guided him to the tree where he had hidden the woodpecker. All the birds of the forest were also present there. The owl selected a strong branch of the tree and said to the hornbill

Owl: Your highness, this is the branch, you have to break.


The hornbill was sure of his success. He at once started pecking at the branch. He tried for a long time, but could not break even a portion of the branch. Soon he grew tired. The owl said

Owl: Your highness, the stipulated time is over. You could not break the branch. The next participant in the bulbul. If she succeeds in breaking the branch, she becomes our king.

Hornbill: When I could not break the branch, how can such a delicate-looking bird break it?



The owl led bulbul to the branch that had already been cut by the woodpecker. Only a last blow was needed to break it. The bulbul had to peck at it only twice and the branch broke and fell to the ground. Everybody cried out with happiness and cheered the bulbul and proclaimed her their king. The hornbill was so ashamed of himself that he flew away from that forest and never showed his face again.

The gentle and kind bulbul thanked all the birds for making her their king. She specially thanked the owl and the woodpecker. She justly ruled over the birds. The birds were happy to have such a kind and gentle king.


Dear children, did you understand where the fault lies? Never be proud of yourself. If you are proud, nobody will like you and then certainly leads only to your downfall. So the moral of the story is Pride leads to downfall.

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