Jataka Tales – The Clever She-Goat
A Goat with wit and brains
Once, some goats lived in a cave near a thick forest. Every day, they grazed in a green pasture that lay near their cave. It had green luscious grass. The goats had plenty of grass throughout the year. They fed on the luscious grass and grew fat. One day, a jackal and his wife came near the pasture. They had not been able to find any food for the last two days. They saw the goats grazing in the pasture. Seeing them, they were very happy. The jackal rushed forward to kill one of the goats. However, his wife stopped him and said…
Wife: Do not be eager to kill the goats. If they come to know of our presence, they will run away. Wait till one of them comes this way. Then it will be easy to kill them one by one. We can kill one goat every day. We shall have plenty of food for many days.
The jackal said that it was a brilliant idea so they hid behind a bush and kept a watch over the goats. After some time, one of the goats came near the bush. Immediately, the jackal attacked it and killed it. The poor goat could not even bleat and warn off other goats. The jackal and his wife had a lovely feast.
From then onwards, the jackal and his wife came to the pasture and killed one goat every day. Life for them became very comfortable. Slowly, the number of goats decreased. In the end, only one she-goat remained. The she-goat was very clever and had come to know that all her friends had been killed by the jackal. Therefore, she became very cautious and never ventured out of her cave. She stopped going to the green pasture. Instead, she fed herself on the green grass that grew around her cave.
Meanwhile, the jackal and his wife thought that there were no more goats left. They decided to move away from there and find food somewhere else. As they were going, they happened to see the she-goat grazing on the green grass around her cave. She also saw the jackals and ran into the cave. She did not come out of the cave for a number of days. She ate the little patches of grass that grew inside her cave.
The jackals waited outside her cave for a number of days yet, they could not lay their hands on her. Finally one sunny day they made a plan. The jackal’s wife went to the goat’s cave and sat at its opening and said aloud,
Wife: Dear friend, I have come to make you my friend. I am very lonely and have no friends to share my secrets with. I have always admired you for your cleverness. Please be my friend so we can share all our joys and sorrows.
You are not worthy of becoming my friend, your wicked and your husband killed all my companions. Go away from here and never bother me again.
Jackal’s wife: I know you hate me. It is because of my cruel husband. My husband is now repenting all his evil deeds. He wants to mend his ways. He has promised that from now on, he will not kill any living being. We will feed only on green grass and plants. He wishes that you have lunch with us today. Therefore, he has sent me here to invite you. Please do not refuse. Do come for lunch.
The she-goat said from inside her cave,
Goat: If this is an invitation, I shall come for lunch. But I have some guests visiting me. They have come from the city and are staying with me for some days. I would like you to bring them with me to your house. Will you be able to manage a lunch for all of us?
The jackal’s wife thought that there must be other goats with her. She asked her,
Jackal’s wife: Who are your guests and how many of them are there?
Goat: There are my cousins, the dogs. There are around a hundred of them.
The jackal and his wife were frightened of the dogs. So, they decided to leave that part of the jungle. They ran away from there and never came back again. The she-goat continued to live in her cave. Soon, she gave birth to kids and had a family again.
So dear children, do you see how clever the goat was? So at times of difficulty, even all of you must be wise enough to come up with the wise decision quickly and fastly, so that you will never face difficulty in your life. The moral of the story is Act wisely in times of difficulty.